Are magazines dying out?

Journalists have been worrying about this a lot in past years. Is print on its way out? Magazines and newspapers have been shutting down or turning to online versions at an unbelievable rate leaving people wondering if this could be the future for all print journalism.

We live in an age where news is consumed online in an instant. People are getting their updates minutes after it’s happened rather than waiting for tomorrow’s edition of the paper to come out. People are writing blogs (guilty) instead of writing for magazines. Does that mean that print is in trouble?

Well, I had the pleasure of going to a panel discussion about the future of magazine journalism hosted by the wonderful Anna Pointer, who leads the magazine journalism course at the university of Gloucestershire.  We were joined by three successful editors of three very different magazines.

Farrah Storr, editor of Cosmopolitan magazine.

Charlie Turner, editor of Top Gear magazine.

Mark Hooper, editor of Hole & Corner magazine.

Three people who have worked their way to the top of their game and are doing exceptionally well keeping their magazines afloat.

With the exception of Cosmopolitan, these are magazines that are catering to a very specific kind of person. They’re tailored to a specific interest. Both Charlie and Mark were open about the fact that this is why they think their magazines have not only stayed afloat, but are doing so well still. As long as there are still people who enjoy cars or crafts, these magazines will stay afloat. They’ve had to update and upgrade themselves a little bit with a wider online presence of course, but their sales are still doing so well.

However, Cosmopolitan isn’t a magazine about a specific interest. However, it is targeted at a very specific audience. Cosmopolitan’s target market is 18 to 34-year-old women, but it’s not just about age; it’s about attitude. The magazine is about beauty, style, success, feminism. So in a way, it has its own specific target audience just like Hole & Corner and Top Gear.

Farrah was a pleasure to listen to. She was so in tune with what her magazine needed in order to continue to appeal to women and continue to sell as well as it has in the past. She explained that Cosmo was known for basically just being about sex, beauty and fashion. She wanted to move away from your typical “orgasm your way to better skin” kind of articles and focus on the real things that women want to read about.

As a feminist, Farrah said she wanted to keep the sex advice and fashion to stay, but it was obvious that there was more to being a woman in the 21st century than just those things. She told us about a woman who had written about the #MeToo campaign. This woman was someone who had experienced sexual abuse herself and had some interesting opinions on the #MeToo movement.

Just by looking through the @CosmopolitanUK twitter account, you can see there are important articles on there that are empowering and educational.

“My period was unbearable. Turns out I was growing a cyst with teeth and hair”

Why the warm weather might be triggering your depression

This girl almost died because she didn’t wash her makeup brushes

What it’s really like to have selective eating disorder

These are the kind of stories that are important to women. Mental health, physical health, the important issues. It’s fantastic to see. But they still have those beauty, sex and fashion reads too. This is why Cosmo is the leading women’s magazine in the country to this day.

So to sum up; print is still going strong. Yeah, there are some that are suffering. Lots in fact. But it’s important to keep reinventing but staying true to your mission statement at the same time. Keep people interested. You need a focal point. You need a mission statement. But you need variety too.

Attending this panel was a wonderful insight into the world of magazine editing, and a hugely encouraging talk. It was a pleasure to meet all three editors, and hopefully one day, some of us at UOG will be working with editors as wonderful as them.

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