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Is no news good news for magazines?

One way the magazine industry can remain a relevant medium

You don’t have to read CisionBlog to know that the media landscape is rapidly changing. We are always discussing the future of print media and what print will look like in five years or so.

That conversation usually seems to revolve around newspapers. But what about magazines? How will they fare in this era of a tough economy and online explosion? To start, there were a lot of interesting findings about the country’s top newsmagazines in the Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2009 report published earlier this month. Here is the Executive Summary on magazines:

“For American news magazines, 2008 may be seen as the year when the traditional mass audience model finally collapsed. U.S. News & World Report effectively abandoned the print news magazine format in favor of producing monthly guides, leaving news coverage to its website. Newsweek, following multiple layoffs and tweaks to its print and online editions, announced in February 2009 that it was remaking itself into a niche publication aimed at a smaller, high-end subscriber base. Time continued to straddle two worlds, keeping a smaller but still large audience base while shifting to more thematic coverage driven more by columnists and analysis.”

I’ve noticed this trend in print media that may provide an excellent template for what magazines will look like in the future.

Many magazines are now dropping some of their news coverage in favor of lengthier and more in-depth features.  I asked my dad recently why he reads Time and Newsweek cover-to-cover each week. His answer? “Because I can get the breaking news elsewhere. The newsmagazines have had a few days to think about and process each story so that I get a more in-depth look at the issues.”

But it’s not just the newsmagazines that are making the move. Lisa Larranaga wrote a Media Spotlight for Cision’s Navigator about earlier this month. The site recently relaunched with expanded content, breaking news and more social features. Additionally, in response to the demand for timely news coverage, Black Enterprise eliminated the magazine’s news section and now distributes news solely via the Web.

“Like most magazines that have a news section, we wrestled with making it viable,” said Alfred Edmond Jr., senior vice president and editor in chief of “It was hard enough with television, but with the Internet age it really was impossible.”

Are we looking at the future of magazines? Maybe the future of print is not, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” but “If you can’t beat ’em, do something different than what they’re doing.”

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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