The following is the editor’s note from the Fall Issue of Publishing Executive. Read more articles from the issue here.
Two years ago, when I first wandered into the meta-publishing world — that is publishing a magazine about magazine publishing — I was thrown by the whole “print is dead” narrative/hysteria. Sure, I was aware that print was struggling — I saw two of the magazines I edited get the axe early in my career — and knew full well that online media was growing tremendously.
But I never imagined that print was or could be dying. I was mystified by what that even meant. To me, a magazine brand running on all cylinders should always have premium products for its most engaged and valuable audience segments. Print will continue to fill that bill for some magazines and audience segments as long as people like to pick up bundled content, put it on their coffee table, or sit back and read (and that will be the case for the foreseeable future.)
I suppose I’ve always been bullish on print because I’ve long felt that marketers are overly infatuated by the measurability of digital media. Metrics for the sake of metrics are not the objective of marketing — engagement and action are. Unfortunately, marketers are often measured themselves by the metrics they can tout, and you know what runs down hill.
So all along the echo chamber of media punditry rang loud and clicks were baited, serving as distraction from substantive discussions. Thank goodness that’s over now.
In a move that might have made us seem like luddites a few years ago, this issue of Publishing Executive has three features devoted to printed magazines and making them better, including the Top 20 Magazine Printers ranking, as well as D. Eadward Tree’s “10 Tough Questions to Ask About Your Printed Magazine” and “10 Questions To Ask Your Magazine Printer.”
Of course the modern magazine is a multifaceted media organism and this issue also features pieces on mastering mobile platforms, KPIs for digital content analytics, and how two “legacy” publishing brands (CQ & Roll Call) are being “purpose built for the modern world.”
I’ve been reluctant to embrace the euphemistic term “magazine media” because I think it is symptomatic of magazine publisher’s print complex and is designed to mask what gives magazine companies a distinct identity and value. Some publishers don’t want to even be called publishers or be identified as media companies. So I was relieved when Bill Carter, CEO and president of data-forward ALM, said that media and events are an integral part of what makes the data component powerful.
Maybe one day the industry can go back to regarding print as a premium product — instead of a black eye — and calling ourselves magazine publishers. I think we will.
Denis Wilson was previously content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzed and reported on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aimed to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.