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Discussion of magazines as a media form, from print through to digital technologies.

Updated: 2018-03-09T16:43:06.679+00:00


True crime, by women, for women ... and men


Interesting concept...

"Our audience is definitely more female than male, but having an interest in true crime is something lots of women still won’t admit to, as it’s not a particularly stereotypically feminine interest, and I think some women worry they’ll be judged negatively for wanting to read about murderers. I think it’s also unusual for a magazine to be started and led by two women, so I feel like we’re breaking through a few walls here."
From Vice

Why our preference for print is misleading


I love print on paper. Most people who read magazines love print on paper, perhaps because it is so very convenient, perhaps because they like the look of type and the feel of the stock. That's why we say we "prefer" to read on paper when someone asks us.But as Dr Joe Webb reminds us, preference surveys "track the way people believe they used to do things, not new behavior, nor does it indicate future behavior."This quote comes in a longer piece that ties together the cost of using the US Postal Service with Mary Meeker's annual survey of media, technology, the economy and more. Dr Webb was prompted to write it because the president of the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA, the US equivalent of the UK's PPA) called into question Meeker's motivation and impartiality.It's a longish read with a specific US context but worth looking at for the more universal points he makes. Like this further thought on preference surveys, for example:They do not track frequency, or volume of usage. And when studies report things like “70% still prefer medium A,” that conveniently forgets that until medium B came around, medium A was 100%, and that it was the only choice. Being at 70% is actually loss of almost one-third of the hearts and minds of marketplace, not a reason for celebration. By presenting it that way, the survey makes a particular condition seem better than it is.Sadly, preference surveys encourage producers of medium A to stick with that medium at a time when they should be using the surveys to show the urgency of being involved in medium B, or better yet, figure out how mediums C and D will affect B and A. Preference surveys say something nice and make the entrenched class readers feel good, but the surveys are not really strategic, tactical, or actionable, and give competitors more time and freedom to encroach on their business.SourceMany magazine publishers are looking at B, C and D, of course, but nostalgia for print – perhaps bolstered by an apparently thriving print-based indie magazine sector – continues to skew the view from some perspectives.I love print – but most of my reading is done on a screen.Major hat-tip to Bo Sacks and his wonderful newsletter.[...]

A classic of magazine craft on screen


Paper magazine's collaboration with Posture is a classic of magazine craft. It comes in digital form but draws on very traditional tropes and techniques –1) It combines great photography with pithy copy in the form of first person interviews;2) The interviews are short but revealing and thought provoking (and either the interviewees are very articulate or there has been some first class subbing);3) The topic is niche, in the sense that it concerns a subculture (or set of subcultures), but socially important. That importance is likely to increase, not least at the influential margins of politics: as the New Yorker's serio-comic explanation of the recent UK general election result (written in the ever-popular quasi-biblical style) notedAnd the young people said, Jeremy shall bring peace unto all nations, for he hateth the engines of war that take wing across the heavens. And he showeth respect for all peoples, even unto the transgender community.And the elders said, The what? The reader comes away having learned something and with plenty of material for contemplation and self-reflection;5) It makes a whole series of serious points without preaching.This is the feature (23 photographs): is Paper's introduction:[...]

Magazines, solitude and the appreciation of craft


If you have a few minutes to spare – well, plenty of minutes actually – this piece by Andrew Sullivan is an excellent read.

His theme is how smartphones rob us of the space to appreciate silence and practise contemplation but along the way he also observes:
The writer Matthew Crawford has examined how automation and online living have sharply eroded the number of people physically making things, using their own hands and eyes and bodies to craft, say, a wooden chair or a piece of clothing or, in one of Crawford’s more engrossing case studies, a pipe organ. We became who we are as a species by mastering tools, making them a living, evolving extension of our whole bodies and minds. What first seems tedious and repetitive develops into a skill — and a skill is what gives us humans self-esteem and mutual respect.

This made me think of why magazines like Ernest Journal 

achieve the appreciation and success they do. Their raison d'être is to celebrate the craft of making a chair or a piece of clothing or a pipe organ, or to show us places we can go where mobile signals do not reach.

Sullivan's piece itself is published in a magazine – New York – and it is not pushing things too far to say that the craft involved in creating and publishing a magazine can itself provide the space for silent contemplation, as well as the haptic pleasure of holding and feeling the printed artefact.

When you have the minutes – and they will repay you – here is the link:

Magazines and media history


Marcus Morris founded The Eagle comic, still remembered for Dan Dare and cutaway illustrations of exciting mechanical artefacts like racing cars and jet aircraft. He followed this with Girl, Robin and Swift; he became the managing director of the National Magazine company, introducing Cosmopolitan to the UK; the British magazine industry's most prestigious annual award is named in his honour – and Cardiff University has his personal archive!I have worked at the university for 20-odd years and I had no idea this material was in our collections until last night, at the launch of the Tom Hopkinson Centre for Media History when head of the Special Collections & Archive section Alan Vaughan-Hughes revealed the riches available to researchers in the field of popular journalism.Apart from Morris – a treasure trove for researchers and scholars in the field of Magazine Studies – Cardiff holds the archives of:• Hugh Cudlipp – editor of the Mirror, chairman of IPC (one of the most significant magazine publishing houses in the UK)• Joan Reeder – the first full time royal correspondent for a national newspaper• Trevor Philpott – the Picture Post journalist-turned-broadcaster and onlie begetter of The Philpott File• Keith Waterhouse – journalist, author, playwright, champagne drinker; this material is already being researched by Cardiff Magazine MA graduate and freelance journalist Will Ham Bevan for his PhD• Richard Stott – editor of the Daily Mirror who stood up to Robert MaxwellThe Tom Hopkinson Centre for Media History aims to bring together "scholars, research students, journalists, photojournalists, documentary-makers, archivists, media activists and practitioners into an international, interdisciplinary network focusing on the evolution of media forms, practices, institutions and audiences within broader processes of societal change." (Source)It is also a great opportunity to push Magazine Studies further onto the research and scholarship radar, as launch guest and distinguished visiting fellow Professor John Hartley noted. Citing his own connection with the Welsh radical magazine RebeccaIn the 1970s and early 1980s Rebecca took the form of “a radical magazine for Wales” and gained a reputation as an investigative, campaigning title.The magazine — and its uncompromising Corruption Supplement — documented the decay of Labour politics in south Wales and helped to bring about a long series of corruption trials which resulted in many politicians and businessmen going to prison.Rebecca was also in the forefront of UK investigations into the relationship between the Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan and the Welsh multi-millionaire banker, Sir Julian Hodge.Many Rebecca articles were reflected in coverage in newspapers like the Sunday Times and in television programmes including Man Alive, This Week and Nationwide. (Source)and the historic example of The Clarion,This cover illustration was drawn by Walter Crane, an associate of William MorrisProfessor Hartley noted that social movements often brought with them their own kinds of journalism and studying the archive reveals many different types of journalism and different ways of producing and supporting journalism. The Clarion certainly had a widespread influence on many areas of social life – the National Clarion Cycling Club (motto: Fellowship through cycling) is still very active, as is the People's Theatre in Newcastle. In an age when live events and brand extensions are becoming increasingly important sources of revenue, looking back to a time when they had a social and political purpose gives us a fresh perspective.Other guests at the launch were Amanda Hopkinson, Sir Tom's daughter and a distinguished scholar in her own right, and Magnum photographer David Hurn.Dr Glenn Jordan, director of the Butetown History & Arts Centre, was in the audience f[...]

Reasons why everything has gone horribly wrong except for those who think it has gone beautifully right


There are so many competing ideas about what is happening in the political sphere and how the media are, or aren't, dealing with it that it's all too easy to become confused.

Here, for your convenience, is a selection of 14 themes. The examples have not been picked on any rational basis and I do not claim they are the only or best of their type. Nor is this list comprehensive – it's just a starting point. They all refer to the American election but can be taken to represent Brexit too.

Which of these ideas matter? Which will endure? What can we do about any of them?

1) Framing

2) Emotion

3) Journalists didn't listen

4) Social media is a bubble/echo chamber

5) No-one listens ...

6) It was rural vs urban

7) It was a search for respect

8) It was about class

9) It was Fake News ...

10) ... or myths

10) It was the FBI

11) It was neoliberalism

12) It was the Russians

13) It was the pollsters (... or the shy voters)

14) It's all OUR fault

Newspaper people *still* don't get magazines


In Roy Greenslade's piece about the closure of 24, the "national newspaper for the north", after just five weeks, one of the reasons for failure he suggests is "although more professional in its appearance than The New Day and with more up-to-date news, it still looked more like a magazine than a newspaper." He then remarks on the continuing success of The New European, a print publication launched to capture the interest of the 48% of the UK population who wanted to remain in the EU.

This is yet another example of how newspaper people *still* don't get what is different about magazines. Neither 24 nor The New Day were like magazines – they were the opposite of magazines. Just because a newspaper journalist thinks they "look" like magazines and the fact they were full of gossamer-thin stories about nothing in particular does not make them remotely like magazines.

Magazines are aimed at a very specific readership, which is why The New European is much more magazine-like. It shares this essential characteristic with successful magazines like The Economist (which calls itself a newspaper) and Weapons of Reason.

Magazines are about something, and whether that something is "A project to understand the interconnected challenges shaping our world" (Weapons of Reason) or real life stories and competitions (Take A Break), they have to offer value to a specific audience.

Print newspapers launched on a hunch, aimed at no-one in particular and about nothing in particular are guaranteed to fail.

Targeting magazine content via social media


It is a given of magazine publishing that content must be aimed at a specific readership. This enduring truth has resulted in a healthy spread of titles that cater for everyone from aspiring bass guitar players to the chief financial officers of global corporations. Everyone subscribes to this fundamental principle, including me.But what if, in an age of multiple platforms and fragmented social media, it's not true any more?I spent an interesting afternoon listening to students on the MA International Journalism at Cardiff University presenting their ideas for new, pure-digital, magazine concepts. One called Planet Reboot was so full of energy and ideas that it leapt out of the screen – a bit messy, slightly hard work to navigate but fizzing with life and interest and contrasting story formats. I loved the concept but my conventional magazine self found fault with the targeting – looking at the website, it was not clear whose interest this electric, ecletic content was intended to capture.But the students responded with an interesting point – the targeting would be done on social media. They would use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media platforms to attract very specific demographic/psychographic groups to very specific stories.Then one of my colleagues made another interesting point – the website at the heart of this concept would act as a content hub, a digital container that could hold an infinite amount of material related to Planet Reboot's mission to alert people to climate change and other environmental challenges.We have known for the last 20-odd years that in cyberspace there is no limit on pagination but wearing the blinkers of specific targeting has limited the way magazines explore the possibilities that digital publishing offers.The ideas in Planet Reboot apply to literally everyone on earth but a conventional magazine interpretation of it would limit both content and reach by aiming for a segment of "everyone". Weapons Of Reason, for example, is a lovely example of using the magazine form to analyse and discuss environmental issues but each iteration covers a specific problem and the project as a whole is aimed at a particular kind of reader (print oriented, solvent enough to pay £6 per issue, appreciative of the production values ...) – deliberately limited in order to increase the chances of success.But by incorporating a core multiple-social-media (1) strategy into a digital magazine concept it becomes possible to outsource the targeting – it does not have to be built in to the central hub. The targeting can be exogamous rather than endogamous.Of course the magazine still has to be about a particular thing – it's not a universal encyclopedia – but it can be about many different aspects of that thing and can encompass many different approaches for different audiences. If those who are brought to the content hub go on to explore it, great, if they find more content that appeals to them or which they can share with another, different, audience (perhaps their children or their parents) even better – but if they don't, their attention can be caught again through the agency of strategic layered social media targeting.This concept might also appeal to adherents of COPE (Create Once Publish Everywhere) and could have the potential to attract a wider range of advertisers – the loss of specificity might be a drawback but there would be more types of consumer to target and a lot of social media activity to draw on.1: The concept of polymedia outlined by Madianou and Miller is useful here.[...]

What does it mean to be a magazine on the web?


Disclosure: much of what follows is drawn from Kati Krause's presentation at Modern Magazine 2015. Justification: what Kati said resonated with lines of thought I have had over the past couple of years – you can probably find relevant posts in the archives of this blog.Kati framed her talk with two questions:What does it mean to be a magazine on the web?What can digital media learn from magazines?The questions are separate but closely connected as the answers feed into one another. To be a "digital magazine" at this point in history means being: • mobile• multiplatform• unbundledThe first two points were amplified in another presentation at #ModMag15, when Scott Dadich and Billy Sorrentino (respectively Editor in Chief and Creative Director of Wired [US]) explained that the redesigned website was given a mobile-first priority and that writers/designers had to develop multiplatform skills whatever their background.The third element is the most interesting in terms of magazine publishing philosophy – it's yet another manifestation of the "if you love something let it go" mantra. Kati's point was that apps or services that unbundle content from their original sources and re-bundle them in a proprietorial or quasi-proprietorial wrapper are an increasingly important way of finding that content – or having it delivered to you. Furthermore, some of them can make that material better suited for reading online. Examples include Flipboard, which pushes "magazines" of curated material to subscribers, and Pocket, which "finds" articles for its subscribers to read immediately or squirrel away for later. I would add Medium to that list – it's not performing exactly the same aggregating/curatorial role as Flipboard or Pocket but given its open nature, it is doing exactly what a magazine does: collecting a variety of interesting content into a branded wrapper. If you are subscribed to that wrapper you can specify your particular interests and filter what you see and what is pushed out to you. Or you can jump into the deeps and explore whatever you like.Kati Krause identified the four most important elements for magazines on the web to focus on:Design On a mobile screen this is probably going to be quite limited – designs start to look offputtingly busy very quickly. However, this is where Kati sees a service like Pocket offering an alternative, or even an extra; her contention is that Pocket improves the reading experience by re-rendering the content within its own wrapper. The result is a cleaner look and a calmer experience that encourages more considered reading.VoiceCan also be considered as the magazine's brand – the essential qualities associated with a magazine that allow an immediately recognisable identity. Vice is an example that comes readily to mind but Kati also cited New York, Slate and Wired. Having a strong and distinctive voice allows a magazine to broaden its product range and business model. A nice example of this that keeps cropping up when I listen to TalkSport is the Wired [UK] Out Of Office series of advertisements for Jaguar's new XF model. The radio ad presents the content of the web posting like a mini-feature, with a voiceover explaining what deputy editor Greg Williams has been up to.CommunityIn digital media "community" is often restricted to the comments section – but a growing number of media brands are ditching comments because of the negative associations, trolling, etc. But Kati cited Rookie magazine as a publication that regularly calls on its readers for contributions – such as this call for submissions. See also Everything Changes (part of The Awl) - editor invites responses from readers.There is also a growing interest in the idea of co-creation, whereby the community of readers and the editorial staff become[...]

Magazines as a force for social and political change


Many years ago the journalism department I work in was visited by two Norwegian media academics. They were looking for partners in a scheme to set up a “neutral” journalism school in the Balkans, believing fractures in that region’s social fabric could be mended with a trusted news provider.

Everything was going swimmingly until I made the mistake of telling them I taught magazine journalism. “Oh, magazines”, they said dismissively and then literally turned their backs on me to concentrate on what the newspaper guys, the real journalists, had to say.

Those two Norwegians came to mind during Ibrahim Nehme’s talk at Modern Magazine 2015. Nehme is a founder/editor of The Outpost, a Beirut-based magazine established in the fallout from the Arab Spring to capture the energy and hopes of young people in the Middle East. Its mission is "to ignite a socio-cultural renaissance in the Arab world through inspiring its readers to explore a world of possibilities". To achieve this it uses narratives to elevate the places in which its readers live; telling stories to make a difference and aiming to inspire others. Nehme finished his presentation by saying, "To move to a better future we need to start telling better stories ... when we make the magazine we are making a prototype for the future."

In the generously furnished goodie bag given to ModMag15’s delegates there was another magazine that reminded me of those Nordic scoffers – the second issue of Weapons Of Reason. This partwork (there will only be eight issues) states its mission very clearly – it's "A magazine to turn knowledge into action". Each issue discusses and analyses one of the planet’s most complex and challenging problems in an attempt to "understand and articulate the interconnected global issues shaping our world" using longform storytelling, illustration and striking data visualisations.

The first issue looked at the Arctic, the second examines the past, present and future of megacities.

It’s easy for media critics to dismiss magazines as a potential force for social good – and it’s easy to think of examples that confirm their prejudices. We know it's a ridiculous generalisation – and The Outpost and Weapons Of Reason refute those arguments in the best way possible.

Magazine Academy Awards shortlist


The waiting is over – the Magazine Academy Awards shortlist has been announced.

The competition for magazine journalism students on accredited courses was picked up by Yvonne Ilsley of Sheffield University, Cathy Darby of UcLan and myself after the PTC was forced to pull out because their sponsors withdrew.

The first round of judging is over and the results can be seen here:

Naturally I am very glad to see a good showing by students from Cardiff but one of the most pleasing aspects is the way that other accredited colleges and universities joined in.

Now we just have to wait until October 24, when the final results will be announced – an no-one, least of all we three organisershave the faintest clue as to who the winners will be!

How to write great magazine profiles


I have just come across this interview with David Remnick of the New Yorker and I wanted to share it.

If you're a teacher it's full of insights for your students.

If you're a journalist/writer it's full of insights for you.

Hope you like it as much as I did.

Teaching students how to launch a magazine


I am looking forward to reading How To Launch A Magazine In This Digital Age, the new book by Mary Hogarth and John Jenkins, and while waiting for it to arrive I have been thinking about how I teach our postgrad students about launches.At the moment I follow the tried and tested ideas laid out by John Wharton in his 1992 classic Managing Magazine Publishing. With a bit of tinkering to accommodate websites and digital media, and extra input garnered from industry figures like Mel Nichols and Nicholas Brett, the principles laid out there still make perfect sense.Even Future's approach to developing Mollie Makes – which essentially boils down to "follow the social interactions" – can be accommodated into Wharton's plan; it's basically just another kind of reader research, albeit far more of a two-way and managed conversation than more traditional forms.But the thinking behind the Wharton-style launch plan is highly commercialised – it works to the PTC/PPA agenda that accredited courses must be aware of. Yes, everything can be applied to smaller, independent titles and, if they are to succeed, their publishers must have answers to all the traditional questions. Passion for a subject can take you so far but to be able to continue publishing about that subject, and not to lose the shirt off your back, some of the assumptions and some of the details need a different emphasis.For example, I have read a couple of things by small publishers, almost micro-publishers, that lay the stress not on making a profit but on breaking even – in essence, making enough so they can re-use the money to make another issue or a completely different magazine.In this context teaching students about distribution takes on a completely new aspect. Trying to get 6,000 copies of a title in front of committed enthusiasts is a different job to contracting Frontline to get 60,000 into W H Smith and the supermarkets.We do add this into supervision of MA students who undertake an Enterprise project but given the increasing emphasis on entrepreneurialism and small start-ups I really need to rebuild a couple of lectures.[...]

Should magazine publishers follow the record companies?


Anyone old enough to have been buying music in the 1980s will remember that, almost overnight, vinyl LPs and singles disappeared from record shops, to be replaced by jewel-boxed CDs.This did not just happen. It was, I seem to remember having read somewhere, a concerted and collaborative effort by the industry to rid the world of old-fashioned, expensive, delicate and somewhat craft-based records in favour of digital, cheaper, robust and industrially more efficient Compact Discs.An article on the uptake of tablet magazines posted by Bo Sacks in his daily newsletter has made me wonder whether the magazine industry should follow suit.Here's the paragraph that caught my attention:Three years after Apple unveiled the iPad and revolutionized the way consumers interact with content, tablets still account for a tiny share of magazine readership-just 3.3 percent of total circulation. Not taking into account the top-selling digital title, Game Informer, which boasts nearly 3 million digital copies, the number slips to 2.3 percent.Perhaps magazine publishers should follow the example of the record industry all those years ago. If there are no print magazines (vinyl LPs) to buy, people will be forced to buy tablet subscriptions (CDs) instead.Of course, there would probably be a lot of unhappy newsagents and supermarkets, not to mention distributors, printers and paper companies, but it solves the problem at a stroke, does it not?And it would allow us to really test all those ideas about how much people love their magazines and form social bonds with them, wouldn't it?[...]

Rolling Stone and the alleged bomber


Rolling Stone has been making a lot of waves in the past couple of days – or at least its cover has. In case you are not aware, the venerable magazine used a (self-)portrait of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its August issue.Criticism has come from many quarters, most of it seeming to claim that using this image, in this way, on this magazine infuses the image of an alleged bomber (a qualification the main coverline overlooks) with too much glamour. Some newsagents and chains have refused to sell this issue.Rolling Stone has used many contentious, and possibly glamourising, cover images in the past, perhaps most memorably Charles Manson:For what it is worth, I think Rolling Stone was as right to use the Tsarnaev image in this way as it was to run the story about General Stanley McChrystal:There is an easy response to those who think the image glamourises Tsarnaev – what are potential terrorists supposed to look like? Not all of them are wild-eyed, or balding, or scarred; some are just like you and me. They could be the kids in your class, teacher.There may, however, be an argument about how the cover was art directed, and former RS art director Andy Cowles has considered that on his Coverthink blog.Magazine heavyweight David Hepworth has also contributed to the debate (cunningly citing one of his own apothegms as "magazine lore") for the Independent.There are a couple of really interesting magazine-cultural points in Hepworth's piece:1) 'people have come to regard an appearance on a magazine cover as an automatic endorsement.'2) 'heroism is something the magazine format itself lends to any subject it places in its frame, which is why musicians, actors, sports stars and even politicians hire PRs to “get them the cover” (and nothing less), and at the same time to exert as much control over the tone of the picture as they can.'In the end, however, Rolling Stone's apologia seems entirely convincing:The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day. The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens. Read more: Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on FacebookA small selection of related articles (note how many use the cover ...)The Rolling Stone Cover and the Manufacture of OutrageRolling Stone Condemned For Boston Bomber Cover'Boston Bomber' makes Rolling Stone coverRolling Stone Boston Bomber Cover - Why?Stores Boycott Rolling Stone Over Boston Bomber CoverRolling Stone's long history of putting killers on coversThe Problem With 'Rolling Stone's' Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Cover Isn't the Image - It's the ReactionRolling Stone cover of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sparks controversyDzhokhar, On The Cover Of The Rolling StoneGlamorizing Terrorism? Tsarnaev on Rolling Stone Cover[...]

Cardiff MBA in Media Management takes off


The first intake of students to Cardiff University's pioneering MBA in Media Management, a collaboration between the Business and Journalism schools, has arrived – from Pakistan, USA, India and China.

Here they are, waiting eagerly for the first session of the Managing Creative Digital & Social Media module.

Clearly the module will be about more than just magazines, but the new world of multimedia, multimodal magazines provides a really useful grounding – and some real-life problems that a big UK publisher has asked us to help solve will provide excellent project topics.

Cardiff MagLab comes back to life


After a summer of looking like this

The Cardiff MagLab has now been populated by a new intake of keen young people who will be part the future of the magazine industry and it looks like this

Let the good times roll!

How to be a modern journalist


It's on its way!

Are magazines like films?


Next Issue, the magazine subscription service that has been likened to Netflix, is now available on the iPad. The Time-Conde Nast-Hearst-Meredith-News Corp joint venture does not appear to have garnered many takers yet. Mathew Ingram ‏@mathewiagreed - MT @erickschonfeld: Who is going to pay $120 to $180 a year on magazine subscriptions? Only magazine junkies, and they prefer printRead all about it: articlesNext Issue Media, The Netflix For Magazines, Comes To The iPadAll-You-Can-Read Magazine Subscription App Launches on iPadNext Issue brings 39 all-you-can-read magazines to iPad[...]

The engagement of youth: a good sign for magazines


I came home to a great scene yesterday – my nearly 12-year-old son had brought home a copy of FourFourTwo, the totally brilliant football magazine, from his school library. He's already into Match Of The Day and now wants me to subscribe him to both ("Because Match of the Day is really good for transfer news, dad, and this has got more to read in it ...")

And today he had checked out two copies of Flipside, a magazine I had never seen before, produced by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. It's a wonderful cross of Focus and a teen mag with some superbly reproduced photography and an informative but cheeky tone to the writing – check out the website at

Of course he's been brought up with magazines around the house but these he chose of his own accord – in print, not on his iPhone.

High end magazine titles in bid for soap glory


Magazine brand extension takes another turn as Condé Nast looks for film/drama/soap spin-offs.

Anyone got good titles for a soap based on Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair or Tatler?

Older readers may remember Compact, but that's probably not the right demographic.

Panzer publishing Mk2: Landlove vs Landscape


Flicking through these two magazines from Hubert Burda (Landlove) and Bauer Consumer Media (Landscape) is an exercise in instant deja vu: whatever one magazine has, the other has too.To wit:• logo with straight type plus scripty bit – check• guide to bluebell woods – check• feature about willow weaving – check• feature about lilac – check• feature about a cookery writer's delightfully quaint country cottage – check• seasonal recipes – check• feature about the Brecon Beacons – check• seasonal garden tasks – checkIt's uncanny. Strangely enough it's easier to tell the difference between these magazines with your eyes shut – Landlove is printed on a nicely tactile grade of matte-finish paper while Landscape uses a semi-gloss.One other odd thing – while Anna-Lisa De'Ath  (L-love) highlights content and page numbers in her editor's letter, Sheena Harvey (L-scape) does not refer to any content at all in hers. It's almost as if she had no idea of what was going into the magazine.There's another echo of deja vu in that these magazines are a bit Country Living, a bit Good Housekeeping, a bit Gardeners' World a bit Countryfile and even a bit Living Woods.Both titles are based on magazines produced in their publisher's home market, Mein Schönes Land (Burda) and Landlust (Bauer) respectively. It is this that recalls the original burst of so-called "Panzer publishing" in the 1980s, when Bauer and Gruner + Jahr  took the women's weekly market by storm from IPC with titles like Bella and Best.The big question is, do women over 35 (the stated target demographic for both magazines) either want or need even one magazine that seems to replicate large elements of what is already on the market without adding anything very new? As I was unable to see much of a difference between Bella, Best, Woman's Own or Woman's Weekly all those years ago I may be be the best judge of this.[...]

Signs of life in the magazine market


Three launches on special display in Cardiff Central station's WH Smith.

Intriguingly, all three  – on the face of it – seem aimed at a similar demographic. More detailed review in the next post.

Why Conde Nast, Hearst, Time Inc, Meredith and News Corp may be about to fail


Next Issue Media, an online store for magazines that challenges Apple's Newsstand, is about to launch. It's a joint venture between Conde Nast, Hearst, Time Inc, Meredith and News Corp, so there's some serious firepower behind it, but an article in suggests that there may be some fundamental misunderstanding of the market. In a piece entitled A Netflix For Digital Magazine Subscriptions. Will It Work?, Jeff Bercovici looks behind the scenes and asks CEO Morgan Guenther about the new service. One of the things Guenther says suggests the answer to Bercovici's rhetorical headline may be "No". Guenther spouts the expected guff about innovation and customer benefits but – for me – gives the game away when he justifies launching with a fairly limited selection of top-selling titles from the group of publishers, titles from the 'short, fat part of the curve rather than the long-tail niche properties ... “These are the titles people care about,” he says. “They aren’t Arctic Birdwatching magazine.”' If Guenther does not understand that (hypothetical) readers of Arctic Birdwatching are more likely to care passionately and deeply about their magazine than any given reader of a mass circulation title, then he simply does not understand magazines. It's a classic mistake, one that nearly everyone outside the magazine industry makes. The other thing Guenther and all the companies involved should be concerned about is the fact that Android users generally do not like to pay for stuff they see on their phones or tablets – that's why they buy Android-powered devices rather than an iPhone or iPad. Related articlesBacked By Time, Next Issue Launches A Tablet Newsstand With Netflix-Style Pricing ( Issue Media preps Android newsstand, plans iPad soon ( tablet mags...unless you have iPad or Kindle Fire ( Publishing Consortium Ready To Launch 'Hulu For Magazines' ([...]

Thanks twice over MagLabbers


A double helping of thanks to students on Cardiff's MA Journalism.

First for their contribution to getting the Magazine course re-accredited with flying colours by the Periodicals Training Council – we will never know what went on it that sequestered buffet lunch but it must have been positive.

Second for a couple of insights during the regular magazine industry news round-up that have got me thinking about the future deployment of tablet platforms ... coming with the next post.