Magazine Giants Change Leadership

Not anywhere close to being out of the blue yet and still struggling from financial hardships and changing platforms, the magazine industry is gearing up for exciting new changes for 2011.

The four largest magazine companies in the U.S. will have new leaders for 2011, according to the New York Times article, In Magazine World, a New Crop of Chiefs.

This past summer, Time Inc. replaced its chief executive Ann Moore after eight years of work, with Jack Griffin. Griffin had led the publishing company, Meredith’s, magazine division. Time Inc. is one of the leading publishers of magazines in the U.S., publishing 21 magazines and 25 websites including People, Life, Time, Entertainment Weekly, etc.

At Meredith, who publishes female-orientated publications and owns 21 subscription magazine titles and over 150 newsstand titles, Tom Harty was promoted after Griffin’s departure.

At Conde Nast, the magazine giant who owns such titles as Vogue and The New Yorker, the dual president and chief executive Charles H. Townsend handed over his job to Robert Sauerberg. Also departing Conde Nast was David Carey, who moved to lead Hearst Magazines. Carey replaced Cathleen Black, a fixture in the industry for over three decades, who is now attempting to move her career politically towards New York City Schools Chancellor. Hearst is part of the Hearst Corporation and owns magazine giants ranging from Cosmopolitan to Esquire.

The interesting aspect of these new executives is that many of them are comparatively young to corporate standards. All younger than 50, many of them have also come from outside the companies they are now heading.

The industry hasn’t seen such a rapid change since the mid 1990s, when it was facing a similar economic front.

“This is the changing of the guard from an older school to a newer school,” said Justin B. Smith, president of the Atlantic Media Company. It seems that these changes are purposeful. By bringing in a younger generation of leaders, hopefully the publishing industry will also be bringing in new ideas and energy to combat the ever-changing industry and what 2011 will bring. These new “chiefs” could be exactly what the industry has been looking for.

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Are Social Networking Sites Here to Stay?

Everyday it is always something new, something different. People get excited about MySpace and then Facebook is created and people flock to that, abandoning MySpace as quickly as they engulfed it. Since the arrival of the World Wide Web in the early 1990’s, the Internet seems to be constantly undergoing changes.

From painstakingly slow dial-up with AOL to a multitude of service providers whose wireless bubbles can encompass entire campuses, the Internet is constantly offering new platforms: e-mail, AOL, AIM,  Google,Yahoo, MySpace, Facebook, FriendsterYouTubeTwitterTumblr – it is neverending!

Yet whether or not these many new platforms are here to stay has yet to be determined. It has been seen over and over again as illustrated in the MySpace frenzy that grew into the almost complete abandonment of MySpace with the arrival of a better, faster, newer rival. The goal of many newcomers seems to be to offer the newest, coolest thing at the time and try to hold onto the public’s attention for as long as possible before the next best thing arrives.

In fact, some leaders of these companies admit they are not sure what the future beholds. Dick Costolo recently became Twitter’s new chief executive and admits, “I am working on clarity around that at the moment. I am currently trying to define what Twitter’s purpose is in the long term.” Going further, Costolo said that it was difficult to define Twitter’s purpose and that it lacked a clear vision, according to Emma Barnett of The Telegraph in her articleTwitter lacks ‘clear long term vision’ admits new CEO.

Twitter has many uses that have grown out of the fact it was an unknown medium that many people flocked to and attempted to harness. Twitter is used by young adults to chronicle their life hour by hour, it is used by celebrities to connect with fans and even my reporters in a groundbreaking new type of journalism referred to as ‘twitter journalism.’

Due to this, the site is “growing by the day,” said Costolo. “It is hard to speak about Twitter’s vision without factoring in how much of its purpose has been defined by its users over the years. Users came up with so many parts of the service […] Twitter needs to continue being a good listener and recognize that the service has been redefined by lots of people, tweet by tweet, but also come up with its own priorities.”

If all of these new, innovative sites with their flashy allure want to stay afloat even after the next big thing hits, they need to understand what they have to offer and harness that. Journalists today are trying to adapt to new technology and their job will be a lot easier if some of it becomes steadfast and permanent, rather than changing with the wind.

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Americans and What They Think of Their News

From Oct. 8-12, 2010, 2,095 adults in the U.S. were surveyed by the new 24/7 Wall St. /Harris Poll. The new poll found out what has become a common belief in society today: that traditional media is becoming obsolete.

Though 67 percent of these Americans surveyed online voted that they “[still] prefer to get their news in traditional ways,” 55 percent of the same people surveyed also believe that “traditional media will no longer exist in 10 years,” according to the Harris Poll.

According to this same pool, many Americans go online looking for news and information and 46 percent say that the first places they look to are local television news stations’ websites, while 33 percent go to local newspapers’ websites and 31 percent go to network television news’ websites. This helps to illustrate that it is the traditional media platforms at risk, not necessarily the actual traditional brands and companies. Trusted sources are still the first ones turned to; people are just looking for them in different places and different ways.

However, how people consume their news is definitely changing. 2 in 5 adults claim they do not go to national print newspapers in for their news and 3 in 10 adults claim they spend more time online visiting news websites then in the past.

As the Internet continues to grow, the generations reaching adulthood that has grown up with the Internet are drastically changing the media industry. Only 33 percent of adults older than 55 use the Internet for news, but 65 percent of 18-34 year olds do according to the Harris Poll.

The most obvious changes are that a society where countless options and alternatives are available, trusted sources will be the ones most likely to survive. As young Americans continue to embrace the changing media, it will also be the local news that is most likely to survive. Local news sources can provide in-depth, trusted angles and information that hits closer to home and is thus more appealing.

Either way the media industry is changing and this fact must be accepted and fully understood in order for traditional media to adapt and survive.

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Next Up: Twitter Journalism

In 2006, a “real-time information network that connects you to the latest information” was launched. This network, used by celebrities and regular people alike, has fast become one of the biggest trends of this century. This network is Twitter.

“The social networking phenomenon has nowhere to go but up,” according to Ros Krasny of Reuters. As information becomes more mobile with the help of a plethora of high-tech gadgets including smart phones and iPads, so does the connection it offers. Young people today have grown up with the Internet and therefore know how to utilize what it has to offer. It is these benefits that the media industry is learning to use.

There are interesting cases showcasing how social networking sites can be used as a legitimate medium for sharing news and information. On October 15, at a murder trial in Connecticut, “twitter reporters” reported the trial live via twitter feeds, as reported by The New York Times. This isn’t a new concept, as live blog feeds and updates have been around for years. It is the simplicity of the act that is the point.

This “haiku journalism,” as one Twitter user called it, “was the perfect mix of intense local interest and a portable medium that can go where television cameras cannot.” Social networking sites allow for the instantaneous, simple reporting of events to an even greater audience than may be watching television or reading a newspaper in the middle of the day.

Though the rules governing such digital broadcasting from a courtroom are unclear, it is obvious that this is just another step in the new age of media. Websites such as Twitter Journalism have cropped up, claiming to be “where news and tweets converge.” Twitter Journalism is a “collaborative blog focusing on Twitter’s impact on journalism,” according to the website. It features posts discussing various topics: proving a relation between Twitter and the reporting of facts along with case studies and specific events.

This type of journalism though does not come without its risks. The blind acceptance of Twitter and online headlines as fact is “dangerous for the general public,” said Kevin Loker of Twitter Journalism, and “this is a widespread habit with the inherent speed in which we digest social media.”

It is for this reason that journalists face such challenges when harnessing new social media sites. The task is to learn how to utilize these sites to spread news quickly while maintaining integrity and accuracy. As social networking sites continue to rapidly expand, this will be the task of journalists in the new era of media.

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Magazine Industry Not Dying, but Evolving

Bloomberg released an interesting video on Monday, Oct. 18. Margaret Brennan, of Bloomberg, interviewed Reed Philips, co-founder of the media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips LLC, about how the magazine industry has been changing.

The magazine industry “has been in an epic downturn for the past 18 months,” said Phillips, but “magazines are not dead.” As has been the common trend in the industry, magazines are searching for new mediums in which to stay afloat.

“Magazines are embracing technology,” said Phillips. Popular new technologies like the Apple iPad and Amazon’s Kindle are changing the way consumers get their news.

The magazine industry has found that “readers will pay more for iPad content than for print,” said Phillips. Readers seem to prefer reading articles over an iPad or Kindle than in person off a newsstand because they offer things that print media cannot.

Apple released the iPad in April 2010 and it is marketed specifically for audio and visual media. The Kindle was released by Amazon in November 2007 and it is a wireless reading device. The magazine industry has found that it is in its best interest to harness these technologies.

“The magazine industry has developed a coalition of the top publishers,” emphasized Phillips. These are the companies that are growing and changing to adapt to the new media world.

This is not to say that through this embracing of technology, the magazine industry is not struggling. Revenue has been down as much as 30 percent, said Phillips, and there has been a decline in the value of media properties. TV Guide, BusinessWeek and Newsweek, once worth over $2 billion, have all sold for a combined $10 million in the past two years.

Yet this decline was “an industry wake-up call,” said Phillips. There have been changes in leadership along with adapting to new technology to survive this struggling industry. It is becoming obvious that technology is the root to the survival of the magazine industry.

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Company Profile: Gannett

Gannett is a name almost synonymous with media. Gannett Co., Inc. began in 1906 and now operates in “38 states as well as the District of Columbia, Guan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium and Germany” according to Gannett.com. As the industry changes, the changes that Gannett is undergoing are perfect examples of new trends in the media industry.

Gannett operates more than 100 newspapers and TV stations in the U.S., one of the most well known is USA Today and USAToday.com. Gannett also owns the Gannett Digital Media Network which includes such sites as USAToday.com and CareerBuilder.com.

Historically, Gannett started as a newspaper company. Founder Frank Gannett though “became a major innovator of technology in the newspaper industry” also according to Gannett.com. Today, Gannett owns 82 daily newspapers in the U.S., 17 dailies in the U.K., 6,500 non-daily publications internationally and 23 TV stations.

Last week, Gannett released its third quarter earnings results reporting a 37 percent increase. Broadcasting revenues increased 22.3 percent compared to last year according to the report. Digital operations also saw a 10.3 percent increase.

“But revenue from the company’s newspapers […] still accounts for 90 percent of Gannett’s total [revenue],” according to the New York Times, “and print ad revenue continued to drop.”

Gannett’s publishing operations revenues declined 4.8 percent from $1 billion in last year’s third quarter to $969.4 million this year as reported this month. Though declines have become smaller over the last few years, Gannett is still facing them.

This is a common trend as print media slowly becomes less significant. Advertising in newspapers and magazines is seen less as less people read them and therefore major advertising has been moving to other mediums.

Jennifer Saba, of Reuters, said Gannett’s report “dashed hopes that newspaper advertising revenue would stop falling and that growth might even return.” Though a re-growth in the print industry seems unlikely, the bigger picture here is that Gannett continues to grow and find new ways to serve the public.

Print media revenues may be declining, but the U.S.’s largest newspaper chain continues to find other ways to reach readers and viewers and these innovations will open doors for even new technology and benefits to the industry.

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New Ideas Emerge for Magazines

A simple name change illustrates the awareness of professionals across the industry to the changes the media business is undergoing. On October 1, the organization previously known as the Magazine Publishers of America announced that it was changing its name and tagline. The organization is now The Association of Magazine Media.

“Magazine brands are undergoing an exciting transformation,” In an article by Jason Fell, Nina Link, MPA president and CEO said, “A new name, tagline and logo [reflect] the dynamic changes in our business.”

The MPA is not just changing its name, but also its overall business agenda and goals. “In defining our business as magazine media we are […] promoting magazine brands and their unique relationships with consumers,” said John Q. Griffin, president of National Geographic Publishing Group.

This idea is what will set companies apart in the ongoing transformation of the industry. As technology revolutionizes how readers get the news. Historically, magazines present more specific, often leisurely options, to readers in comparison to the breaking news found in newspapers or on television.

As magazines digitalize and a slew of information becomes available, it is the recognizable, trusted brands that often survive the best. “Some content is no longer relevant in a magazine format. We should be talking ‘brands’,” said Robin Domeniconi, chief brand officer of Elle.

As long as magazines continue to adapt and explore new avenues, historically trusted brands will remain, though they may look different. “Magazines will life forever,” said Josh Quittner, editor for Time, Inc. “There is a great need for that.”

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