“Killing me softly” with their numbers… A plea to question all magazine numbers, including my own

July 8, 2009

Check the numbers, the names and the facts
One of the first things we teach in journalism schools is the importance of checking the facts and checking them twice. When someone tells you something, you better find a second source. When someone send you a press release you better question the sender. When someone tells you more magazines died than were born ask to see the list and fact check the names.


My number and the others
Every quarter I have to answer one or two media reporters about the reason why my magazine launch numbers and those of Mediafinder and others do not match. And every quarter I tell the reporters to double check my numbers and to look at the cover of every magazine I counted and posted on my website. I have being doing that since I came to this country and I started posting the numbers in my Samir Husni’s Guide to New Magazines since 1985 and on my website http://www.mrmagazine.com since 1999. We may disagree on the definition of a magazine, but all my magazines are consumer magazines available for the general public and bought from the nation’s newsstands. No business to business, no trade, no church or organizational periodicals, and no Canadian publications (with all due respect to my friends in Canada).

Their numbers and their magazines
On the other hand, the folks at Mediafinder started few years ago to publish quarterly numbers of birth of magazines and last year added the death numbers of magazines without even defining what type of magazines they track in their press releases. I know the folks at Mediafinder. I have worked with them in the late 1990s. They published my Guide to New Magazines for three years. They cover all types of magazines (consumer, business, etc.) and I doubt that they have copies of every single magazine they cover (that will be almost according to their published data base numbers around 18,000 titles…) {Side note to my friends at Mediafinder: Please correct me if I mistaken and let me know that you do actually have all the physical copies of the magazines, like I do}. I am not interested in a numbers fight with the folks at Mediafinder, but if we continue to issue numbers and press releases without backing the numbers with facts, we will all be hurting the industry we claim to serve and cherish. I know bad numbers and bad news find their way to the media pundits and reporters, but are they true numbers?

Magazines are not dead or even dying

I was not born yesterday and I know that the last two years have been tough on the magazine industry, but we are not dead or even dying. Death and birth have been part of the American magazine scene since the first two magazines were born in 1741. One lasted three issues and the other lasted six issues. I urge media reporters to question the numbers, mine and everyone else. Ask for the definitions, ask for the categories, and ask for the entire list by name and publisher. When someone tells you 236 magazines died in 2009, ask to see the list and publish the names… give the dead magazine to report that their death have been greatly exaggerated. I saw a list of the magazines announced dead in 2008 (via a media reporter who questioned the numbers) and was surprised to see some of the magazines listed among the dead are still alive, well and kicking.


345 new titles in the first six months of 2009
I have counted so far 345 new titles of consumer magazines making it for the first time to the nation’s newsstands in the first six month of this year. The counting is not done yet neither the scanning of the magazines. That is why you do not see the 58 or so magazines from June yet on my website. Those numbers alone are almost one and half times the number of Mediafinder’s number of 187 which include all kind of magazines. If that is not a matter for questioning, I don’t know what is. {By the way, the four images with this blog are all for new magazines launched in June of 2009).

Question Numbers
If we are going to continue to be our own prophets of doom and gloom, we will wake up one day and start believing our own prophecies, our own self demise. In journalism schools they used to teach us to Question Authority, now I am urging you and my students to Question Numbers, Question Motives, or just Question!


  1. ” we will wake up one day and start believing our own prophecies, our own self demise.” Heck, Dr. Husni, I think many folks in our industry are already there and, sadly, acting accordingly.

    “In journalism schools they used to teach us to Question Authority” In our current culture, we are taught to believe “experts”. Hence, the reason so many are already dancing on their own professional graves.

  2. Great piece. I agree. Print is NOT dead..only evolving. Any good digital media must report with the foundations on which journalism has been built – truth, objectivity, facts, etc – and the value and roles of good editors should not be forgotten.
    Print media has the opportunity to come on top of the digial world, not become an afterthought.
    I can’t imagine a day without a bountiful newstand and my fingers joyously flipping through the pages of my favorite magazine.

  3. […] 43 magazines turn web-only Out of 279 that have closed, according to these stats anyway. Other measurements are available […]

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