Why We’re Sooo Over the Mean Girls Mentality in Print 

Sometimes we look at “change” and see decay. Other times, we see new growth and innovation. It depends, of course, on how you view it, and what sources you use to draw your conclusions.

For MPA CEO Linda Thomas-Brooks, much of the hue and cry in the magazine industry comes from relying on small sets of data that can cause misleading conclusions, writes Jessica Patterson in FIPP.

Thomas-Brooks garnered a lot of press coverage this past summer with her LinkedIn post that called out an article that “so mis-used and mis-understood basic media spending and audience information that they yet again perpetuated a completely misleading narrative.” She called the bashing a “mean girls” mentality, with people almost cheering any data that showed any hint of decline in the industry.

In reality, Thomas-Brooks tells Patterson, when you look at magazines as brand entities, the industry is thriving. 

“As audiences are thinking more critically about what voices and information they really trust, they are increasingly seeking out the professionally researched, written, edited, produced and curated content that magazine brands produce across channels,” she explains. “According to the MPA’s Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report, the total audience for all magazines rose 1.4 per cent over last year to 1.7 billion, proving that there is enormous consumer demand for magazine media content.”

In Spain, Yolanda Ausin, CEO of ARI, sees similar trends in her country.

“Our magazine media audience has never been bigger, up 19.8 per cent compared to the previous year according to our ARI 360º June 2018 report,” she tells FIPP.

“We cannot talk about magazines and only refer to the print version. Nowadays magazines are everywhere, on all platforms, and reach people not only several times a day, but also weekly and monthly,” she continues.

In the UK, Sue Todd, Magnetic’s CEO, is rather blunt about calling out the industry death-watchers.

“The media industry is awash with senseless buzzwords and tropes,” she notes. “But while uses of hybrid and holistic may prompt smirks in meeting rooms around the world (bonus points for adding blockchain solution) – the equally senseless catchphrase of ‘print is dead’ seems to be somehow almost perceived as common wisdom. It’s not.

“The truth is magazine media is evolving into something bigger,” she adds, noting that the latest ABC results show a model decline in total print is more than offset by “a sizeable increase in the online circulation for consumer magazines.”

So, why so much bad will for the magazine industry, Ausin asks?

“Because magazines offer quality and trustworthy content? Because magazines can give proof that an ad has been published? Because magazines can guarantee where an ad is going to be placed and what content will be around it? Because magazines can prove with audited data, how many copies have been sold, who paid for them and how much they paid for each copy? Because magazines have brands so powerful they bring people to events, to buy their branded products, to pay for their content, and on a variety of platforms and format to reach their audiences?” she ponders.

It’s strange, really. Consumers are reaching for magazines as a shelter in the storm of fake news and social media mistrust. And advertisers reach for magazines as a sure place to find readers who are interested and engaged with what they have to say. Yet for some strange reason, that seems to drive some people nuts. 

It’s okay; we are done rolling our eyes when we hear it. As we predicted back in 2015, we’ve seen magazine publishers become media brandsecommerce sites launch print magazines, and new specialty niche publications launch and bloom – all part of the magazine media ecosystem that is clearly innovating and adapting to the way consumers behave. And we will continue to share real information about the industry from the leaders who are seeing it happening. 

Mean girls? What. Ever. We’re over it.