Confessions of a Magazine Editor        

There is no doubt the magazine industry has changed. Increased pressure from the business side coupled with unceasing demands to compete with digital has created a pressure cooker. But is it really as bad as all that?

“Being a magazine editor isn’t the glamorous gig it once was. Long martini lunches with fellow wags and expensive photo shoots have given way to frantic scrambling to keep up with the never-ending demands of a multiplatform brand. No longer is it enough to put out a great magazine issue after issue; with competition from digital media abounding, today’s successful EIC has to be a brand marketer, data scientist and social media guru,” writes Lucia Moses in Digiday.

Moses interviewed an unnamed veteran magazine editor to see what it’s really like in the increasingly frantic world of publishing.

When asked what causes the most stress, the editor replies:

“It worries me that on the business side, because their pressures are so enormous, that they don’t have the time or wherewithal to understand our stresses on the editorial side. And the needs just keep piling up without any kind of acknowledgement or understanding of what my essential workload is like. The requests tend to come so fast and furious that I get the feeling there’s not enough understanding or interest in my daily reality.”

Interestingly, the editor notes no additional pressure to blur the sacrosanct lines between editorial and advertising, even with the increased popularity of native ads and sponsored content.

“I haven’t encountered that yet. With these rapid-fire evolutions that are taking place, I tend to be generally inspired by them. I don’t see them as scary, sky-is-falling obstacles,” the editor notes.

What does pile on the pressure are the overwhelming demands to develop new digital products, often for specific advertisers or business strategies. This, coupled with the “fear-based decision-making,” is the perfect breeding ground for misunderstandings, missed opportunities and bad decisions.

I feel like there’s blind obsession with what’s new and hot now, the holy grail being research analytics and numbers. All that chatter often takes the conversation and decisions away from that core, magical, ineffable, integral quality of the audience’s relationship to the editorial.”

Sounds like a nightmare.

Or maybe this particular editor needs to make a job change; he/she is sounding a bit whingey. No doubt the industry has changed and editorial now has more pressure than ever to be a partner in business development—a truism is almost every industry in this new economy. Yet this is the price we pay to play in this brave new world of publishing. While we do feel your pain, it’s still a heck of an industry.