Condé Nast is “now not {a magazine} firm”: Twisted logic? | What’s New in Publishing


Condé’s comparability of journal readers to internet and social audiences is unnecessary. One in all these items just isn’t just like the others.

I get it. I actually do. It’s powerful to do print profitably at scale. However a ‘print is dying’ narrative based on the concept that on-line audiences are simply a lot larger is disingenuous at finest.

The spark for this little rant is a remark made by Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch in an interview with Kara Swisher. Condé Nast, writer of shiny titles like Vogue, Wired, The New Yorker, and GQ, is “now not {a magazine} firm,” Lynch claimed, as a result of it solely has 70 million journal readers in contrast with 300 million internet guests and 450 million social media interactions.

The place do you even begin with that?

OK, I do know, let’s begin with the numbers, which I’ve described elsewhere as ‘basic bean-counter bollix’. 

Journal readers are merely not the identical as individuals who present up in your web site or throw you a like on the socials. Correct journal maths – completed by somebody main {a magazine} firm – would issue within the clear differential in engagement occasions. Nobody that buys {a magazine} spends two to 4 minutes with it. Few publishers share detailed information on print vs digital engagement for apparent causes, however we do have the estimates across the NME’s swap to digital, chopping engagement time by greater than 70%.

I’m not for a second saying Condé Nast can’t leverage vital digital revenues from its a whole lot of thousands and thousands of on-line visits. I’m certain the corporate’s goal to safe a 3rd of its income from digital subscriptions and ecommerce is eminently achievable.

However speaking about journal readers as if they’re the identical as on-line audiences makes completely no sense. As multiple muppet sang on Sesame Road, one in every of these items just isn’t just like the others.

And the opposite factor that actually irks me about this ‘we’re now not {a magazine} firm’ line is how casually it devalues a central plank of the writer’s product portfolio and the work of so lots of their employees. There are 70 million individuals studying your magazines however you’re not {a magazine} firm anymore? I genuinely battle to consider every other trade that might speak about a significant product line like that.

Would it not be an excessive amount of to ask the leaders of main journal corporations to suppose more durable about how they body their companies? Say, ‘We’re not simply {a magazine} firm anymore’. That wasn’t so arduous was it?

It’s not either-or

I really don’t care if Condé Nast doesn’t need to be {a magazine} firm anymore. They’ll describe what they do any method they need. It would even be higher for the trade if the larger gamers do come to be seen as separate. Then corporations dedicated to journal publishing received’t get caught up on this digital-or-die posturing.

The implication that digital is best than print as a result of 450 million persons are doom scrolling your social feeds is simply miserable. I’ve been railing towards this either-or narrative for simply a decade, most likely extra and it’s getting boring.

Print is altering. I refer you to my opening assertion. Paper prices. Print prices. Distribution prices. All are up at a time when viewers consideration has by no means been extra fragmented. Mass market journal economics are troublesome.

However, too usually, the one motive the ‘print is dying’ narrative is rolled out is to ahead a digital agenda that typically results in value chopping. Simply ask the individuals laid off at Dotdash Meredith.

Utilizing flawed viewers arithmetic because the rationale to desert your magazine-publishing previous, current and future received’t assist anybody in the long term. We’d like a special approach to discuss concerning the print-digital dynamic in journal publishing. A method that doesn’t undervalue print and overvalue digital. A method that’s not based mostly on beancounter bullsh*t.

Republished with type permission of Media Voices, a weekly have a look at all of the information and views from throughout the media world.


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