Reaction to “Magazines: The Power of Print”

In my last blog post I examined the new ad campaign that was unveiled this spring, Magazines: the Power of Print, a $90 million effort by five major magazine publishers to counter the notion that the Internet is killing traditional print magazines.

The blogosphere reaction has been, as you might imagine, negative. Generally, reaction falls into two camps: those who think that the publishers are missing the point, and those that think, yes, the Internet is indeed killing print media, and good riddance to their exclusive club and their turned-up noses.

A few examples:

Kent Anderson in the blog the Scholarly Kitchen: “With the iPad only weeks away from shipping, it’s an odd time for magazine publishers to spend $90 million to very publicly throw their digital editions under the bus.”

From Kit Eaton in the blog Fast Company: “With the dead-tree publishing industry in a bit of a mess right across the board, and a huge, difficult digital upheaval threatening to arrive any moment, you may well argue that spending a whopping $90 million on a printed-mag advert campaign is a little silly.”

And from Bo Sacks on the Print CEO blog: “Once again, they completely miss the damn target, this time by a mile, a 90 million dollar mile…I guess my complaint is their marksmanship. There isn’t any. The people who put this campaign together to protect print don’t have a clue what they are doing and who to aim at. It is also clear that the instigators of this campaign don’t use the Internet or any digital component therein.”

A rare positive, or at least, non-negative came from Rebecca Chandler on the Real Estate Book Blog: “My experience in our industry has been that most of those who would like you to think that print is dead and ineffective have a stake in influencing real estate agents to invest in online advertising.”

Perhaps the most compelling, and accurate, assessment came from Gavin St. Ours on the Gavin Show blog: “The problem at the heart of their “Internet vs. magazines” argument is that they’ve incorrectly labeled the Internet as a medium. The Internet is a delivery tool for media, like the printing press…Magazine industry leaders appear to not understand the gravity of that idea. You can hear it in the first few seconds of the video…The real discussion is this: In order to stay competitive in a digital world, magazines are going to have to find a way to deliver the immersive experience of their analog versions on digital platforms. That means using the Internet as a delivery tool.”

St. Ours is dead on the money in his assessment, as was Popular Science Editor Mark Jannot, as David Perry discussed in March. At Trade Press Services, we believe there is tremendous value to be found in both traditional print media and emerging, interactive, online media. The key always has been, and always will be, providing value to the user of the medium, whether that means compelling stories, helpful advice, accurate data, or timely reporting.

Both print and online forms have a place and serve a purpose. While a magazine cannot display video or up-to-the-second reader comments, it is extremely portable, easy to use, inexpensive, and easy to share with anyone, regardless of the user’s technical sophistication. (When $300 book readers and computer pads become so common as to be throwaway items, that may change. Until that time…)

Trade Press Services routinely helps companies place articles in both traditional print journals and online media. At Trade Press Services, content will always be king, and that means well-crafted, thought-provoking, bylined articles submitted to the best publications exclusively for our clients. We look forward to the innovations that online publishing will continue to bring, and also expect that the traditional print magazine will still command a strong position in the battle for readers’ eyes for a long time to come.

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