Thoughts On The Future Of The Magazine

iPad Mags Need A New Blueprint

His bottom line: Social, Realtime, Local.

Social: I can understand in relation to wanting to share things with others — outbound from the magazine. I don’t understand it in relation to having a stream of pointless tweets appearing — inbound to the magazine.

Realtime is not something I understand at all. Most people in the know would actually turn to Search Twitter and follow a hashtag, as I’ve done for the Mumbai terror attacks and the New Zealand Christchurch quake and as people are today doing with Egypt.

Local: This would be like combining USA Today with the NY Daily News. Not something I think is going to happen any time soon. And what do you do about “local” for someone who is living away from a major population center where it’s not cost effective to provide local?

Of more interest are the Comments, where people who want to buy the magazines are speaking out.

Some choice snippets:

Magazines are not twitter.


I think we have been “socialed” to death.


Thorough, well-thought-out analysis, performed by people who know how to write well cannot occur in real time. This is preposterous. We’re definitely in different audiences. I don’t want a news feed.


At the end of the day, users just want to *READ* timely content. And the discerning factor for users will always be to gravitate where quality content remains “gratis.”

As long as a laundry list of popular websites exist with free, comparable, fresh feature content, a subscription model will never work…

And especially:

The whole reason people read weekly and monthly magazines is that they’re *not* real time. The best of them feature actual journalism – lengthy, well researched articles that explain, analyze, and provide context for a given topic. This is why I read the Atlantic, the Economist, Wired, Rolling Stone, the New Yorker, etc.

What a magazine app *needs* is a great editor and a stable of great writers, with a halfway decent interface. Everything else is superfluous.

You probably still can’t charge money for it. But if a magazine is good enough that a lot of people await and consume each new issue, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to support it with advertising, just as you used to.


Fast loading, simple interface, with the odd link/video for related stories and context combined with interesting, well-written content is what is going to sell. Not gimmicks.

I see some confusion here.

First, what Murdoch is introducing is a newspaper, not a magazine. It’s akin to the introduction of USA Today in the print world.

Second, magazines are not newspapers. They used to provide news in pre-Internet days — at least computer magazines did, with printing new product press releases — but those days are over for print. Instead of the new, they are supposed to provide length and analysis. Newspapers do what happened. Magazines should provide the why.

Third, time constraints. We no longer live in a world filled with stretch-out leisure time. There was once a time when television did a sign-off for the day. Some radio stations did too. People used to come home at a reasonable time, be able to eat dinner with their families, and then take time to read. Now, everything is happening 24 hours a day. And although reading is used on the Internet — so that the total amount of time people spend reading around the world has actually rocketed skyward — it’s not reflective reading.

Fourth, magazines must again convince everyone they are selling something people need. Like writers who have been dumped by their book publishers and now must fend for themselves in the wild, wild west of Amazon’s Kindle Store, magazines have to focus on what they are selling. And what is it they are selling? This is not a question I will answer because it differs according to each publication.

Just some notes. I don’t think there is a Magic Formula for all magazines. There could be one for a single magazine. But I wouldn’t count on it being transferable to any others.

1 Comment

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One response to “Thoughts On The Future Of The Magazine

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Thoughts On The Future Of The Magazine « Mike Cane's xBlog --

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