On Magazines And Magazine Making… A Mr. Magazine™ Common Sense Musing.February 6, 2015
It does not take a genius to know that there is no magazine media without magazines and if I may add, there are no magazines without ink on paper. Inherent in the definition of the word magazine since 1731, is the fact that it is a printed bound product made from ink and paper.
Magazines were never referred to as such because of the fact that they are ink on paper publications. The name magazine was a descriptive adjective of a collective printed experience that did not need to be identified by the process of printing or the smell of the ink.
It was not until the dawn of online and digital publishing that we tried to outsmart ourselves and attempt to introduce new definitions of what is and what is not a magazine. We started with replicas and ended with a complete revision of the definition of what a magazine is. In this process of unnecessary change folks started to confuse the definition of a magazine with the many new platforms that started arriving on the scene. And with that confusion we started to move our eye away from the prize, the printed magazine, and began to focus on ways and means to replicate or duplicate what we have in print.
Without magazines there is no magazine media. Yes it is true, that magazines alone may not be the “cup of tea” for some of our audiences, but it should not and must not be true to our publishers and media companies who were/are too quick to jump ship and attempt to change the definition of what a magazine or a magazine company is or is not.
When Coca-Cola introduced the non-caffeinated drink Sprite, it did not change the name of the company. When Apple introduced the Mac, it did not change the name of the company. Magazine companies should and must introduce new products and new platforms to their mix of goodies, but they at the same time, should adhere and respect their history and brand name.
Changing the Coke Company to Coke and Sprite does not only dilute the company as a whole, but also introduces confusion into the marketplace. A magazine company that introduces new magazines, new videos, and new apps is still a magazine company. We should take pride in our history as we introduce new products and invent digital components the same way our predecessors invented printed magazines.
When I went to journalism school I was never taught the art of printing. I was taught the art of journalism. I was in the business of filling the pages with great stories and great content for that very specific product that is called a magazine or a newspaper. Never once did I learn anything about the making of ink or the making of paper.
That same creativity and curiosity must be adhered to when we are inventing new products from our magazine companies to the market place. We should not replicate or duplicate any or all of our products. A new medium requires new ways of presenting and engaging our audience. Digital products require digital thinking and digital creativity. Digital does not mean shoving print onto the screens of our digital devices. It is a completely different experience.
Magazines are not dead or dying. Some have committed suicide and some are attempting to do so. But a lot of others are doing very well, thank you. A whole lot more are arriving at the marketplace worldwide. They are not offering nor do they care to offer excuses of why they are arriving in a printed format. They know they are not publishing a magazine if they are not printed, and their audience knows that too…
No one can or should argue that we do not live in a digital age, but just living in a digital age does not mean we have to ignore the other media out there. Digital watches did not kill analog watches. In f act after a few years of digital watches’ advancement on the marketplace, analog watches made a strong, very strong comeback. Magazines are going to do the same.
As I mentioned in my Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto for 2015, pundits are no longer talking about the death of print, but rather the decline of print… Five years from now they will be talking about the power of print, the power of digital and the power of whatever else is going to be invented.
Magazines survived throughout their almost 300 year history because they were always first to innovate, adapt, adjust and engage with their audience and customers without changing their names from a black and white magazine to a four color magazine to a glossy magazine, etc. If we keep that in mind and continue to innovate in print and in the way we interact with our readers and customers we will be celebrating another 300 great years of magazines and magazine making.
Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale Inc. said it best, “ We as an industry have undervalued our products and overvalued ourselves.”
Amen to that!