Sunday, February 11, 2007

Can magazines help newspapers navigate Web 2.0?

Newspapers navigating the tricky Web 2.0 Age should look to the magazine industry for some coordinates, Alan Moore suggested at the 5th Journalism Leaders Forum in Preston last week:
"Trust, engagement, connectivity, life-enhancement, life-simplification and navigation sums up magazines and their current success, not least through internet contact with their readers."

Perhaps Moore is on to something. A look at the 2006/2007 World Magazine Trends report from the International Federation of the Periodical Press or FIPP (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Périodique) certainly suggests rather more optimistic figures than those typically reported in the newspaper sector:

The [UK] consumer magazine industry was valued at £2,984 million in 2005, up by £135 million on the previous year. Consumer expenditure increased by 6.2% year-on-year to reach £2,157 million while advertising expenditure rose by 1% to £829 million. Total annual sales increased by 7% to 1,438 million copies per annum which means that since the year 2000, consumer magazines have enjoyed continuous year-on-year growth in both annual sales volume and purchasers’ expenditure. The number of consumer titles published rose by 42 to 3,366 between 2004 and 2005, the fourth consecutive year of growth.

The magazine industry is certainly not suffering the declines that are so typical of newspapers, but the extent to which that is due to that's because the magazine industry is Net-savvy isn't obvious. And listening to Janice Min, editor-in-chief, Us Weekly, at the Media Summit New York last week (see below), it’s clear that her magazine, at least, is still ‘trying to figure out what is going to make people come to the website in addition to buying the magazine”. (Sound familiar?)

So, if the magazine industry's edge isn't digital, perhaps it's worth examining how the industry's practice as it relates to the other issues to which Moore points: 'Trust, engagement, connectivity, life-enhancement, life-simplification and navigation".

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