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Wrong Again: The MPA and Readers

January 11, 2008

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In an interview with the website ClickZ Howard Polskin, MPA’s (Magazine Publishers of America) senior vice president/communications & events told Matthew Nelson “[Magazines] are using whatever platform they can to touch their–and I’m not going to use the word readers–to touch their users 24-7,” he said. “The people that used to consume magazine content used to be readers and now there is the subtle shift that it’s more important to call them users.” Magazine users and not readers seem to be the new catch phrase of the MPA. Well, in my humble opinion, the MPA is once again dead wrong in its approach to the magazine industry that it serves. Magazine publishers should first and above all be magazine-centric, turning readers into customers. Magazines can never and should never be the 24/7 vehicle Mr. Polskin is advocating. They have a role to play and that role can never be like some other form of media. Magazines in the 60s tried to compete with television and we all know the rest of the story.

We ought to be proud of our magazine readers. We have to work with them to become magazine customers who will come back to the magazine because the content we offer is not available in any other place. Do not misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with extending our brands and being available on the net and on television. However, if we focus on the lifeboats and let the ship sink, I am sure you will agree that it is not such a good proposal.

Magazines ought to focus on offering their readers unique content that is relevant to today’s marketplace without having to go and imitate what others are doing in other media. Focus on the content that serves the readers and those readers will become customers. Will they become Users? Only if by Users we mean addicts to the great content of the magazine.

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