A Magazine By Any Other Name…


If the “view from the top” is to be believed, the magazine industry has successfully retooled itself to reflect the realities of digital content and ad revenue quite nicely. According to Caysey Welton in Folio: an impressive panel of magazine industry leaders confirmed this at last week’s American Magazine Media Conference in NYC.

“You don’t define yourself by your distribution vehicle and the magazine industry did that for too long,” stated Time Inc.’s CEO Joe Ripp. He was answering a question on how the term “magazine media” has (or has not) redefined “an industry whose core product is still very much steeped in print magazines,” to quote Welton.

“He makes a compelling point, but it doesn’t really answer the question,” writes Welton, who notes that “at the end of the day, magazines are still the core product for most brands.”

“What’s more, how does adding the word ‘media’ redefine the industry? By definition magazines are media; so adding the word is redundant and doesn’t actually speak to what’s happening, which is that brands and companies have more competition for eyeballs than ever before so they are building audiences across multiple platforms and extending themselves beyond content,” Welton continues.

And that extension, Welton asserts, is disrupting the “tried and true business model” that has ruled the industry for decades.

This gets really interesting when you consider the smaller regional or niche publisher, still making the vast majority of its revenue via print ads. They would likely take issue with Ripp’s assertion that a print magazine is their “distribution vehicle,” but is in fact their product. Period.

This idea of a “magazine media” company may work for the big five who can afford to diversity and try new channels to distribute their content. But let’s not believe for a moment that this content is a “magazine” simply because it’s published by what used to be a magazine company.