The Mr. Magazine™ 2017 Manifesto: Make Magazines Great Again…*January 4, 2017
2016 RIP. The year that fake news challenged, and in some cases, overcame real news. 2016 showed me, a professor of journalism, how biased media can be in this digital age we live in. However, as a firm believer in the necessity and importance of journalism, the type of journalism that goes beyond just providing content, but rather the kind that creates experiences with its dual audience: readers and advertisers.
Magazines, my area of study and love, are here to remind us that they and, the ones who create them, are much more than content providers; they are journalists first, marketers second and they create and curate in order to engage that dual audience. The only way to create a great magazine for the advertisers is to create a great magazine for the readers.
And that is why Mr. Magazine’s 2017 mantra is “Make Magazines Great Again.”
But how do we do that when they’re already a wonderful platform for reputable information and great entertainment? We amplify and affirm the great characteristics magazines have. Magazine makers need to toot their own horns, announce to the masses at large that magazines and their many brand extensions are here to stay.
In short, we need to make magazines great again in the minds of our audiences first and then advertisers and retailers will follow suit. The Mr. Magazine™ 2017 Manifesto is my honest look at what magazine makers and those in and around the industry can do to achieve that edict.So, join me if you will, celebrating this year’s Mr. Magazine Manifesto:
Make magazines great again: Magazines are much more than content. Magazines are created and curated journalism. They are integrated and collaborative experiences among editor, publisher, advertiser, printer, distributor and reader. To make magazines great again, make the magazine experience great again.
Digital is NOT heaven for print: A magazine that says it is folding its print edition and moving to pure digital is no longer a magazine and chances are it will not only be gone from sight but also from mind. If a magazine can’t survive in print, none of its magazine media will survive. It’s easier to let the magazine go rest in peace than placing it on digital-life support.
Value your magazine: Guess what, if you do not value (and truly show that value) your magazine on your own, do not expect others, including media pundits, to do that for you. They thrive on bad news, you don’t.
Invest in print, in paper and above all in distribution: As you know, in my book, if it is not ink on paper, it is not a magazine. However, today’s magazines must look and feel like collectible items. When pulp magazines reigned, there was no competition. Now, there is no room for cheap paper in today’s marketplace. Print is permanent. But, without a good solid distribution system, magazines will not make it into the hands of readers. Let us in 2017 make retail great again.
Magazines have a life cycle: Like any other created entity, there is a time to be born and a time to die. Smart publishers know when to launch them and they know when to fold them. The cycle of life changes with different titles that come and go, but the magazine as an industry goes on.
No apologies needed: Stop the unnecessary apologies for working in print in a digital age. Ink is a technology and paper is a technology. In fact, ink on paper is a technology everyone continues to imitate, while they produce entities that look and feel like ink on paper. Why invent something that’s already been serving the industry for hundreds of years? Acknowledge that we live in a digital age, but be proud of what print, and only print, can offer.
Challenge the myths: There’s almost the same number of Millennials as there are Baby Boomers in the U.S. (approx. 72 million). Why can’t you treat both the way my 9-year-old grandson Mr. Magazine Jr. suggested when asked which he preferred, his ink on paper book that he was reading or his iPad that he was playing his football game on? “Why do I have to choose?” he asked.
Preach your story: There is a saying in my home state of Mississippi, “If it’s true, it ain’t bragging.” Raise your voice and preach your success story. Every year I name and honor the 30 hottest magazine launches. The industry must do the same. Celebrating the industry’s newborns is as much fun as celebrating the anniversaries of lives well lived.
And last but not least, don’t ignore the bad news… but also don’t let the bad news consume you. For every death announcement there is at least four birth notices. Since I started tracking magazines some 39 years ago, there are at least four times more titles in the marketplace than there was in 1978. So, pick up a magazine, any magazine, and let’s make America read again.
* The Mr. Magazine Manifesto has appeared first in minonline: media industry newsletter as it has been the tradition since I started writing the Mr. Magazine™ annual manifestos in 2009.