BoSacks: No B.S.: Your Place in the Media Wars
As this is the Publishing Executive annual tips and tricks issue I thought it might be instructive to take a quick review and see how we are faring in the media wars of the 21st century. Are there any trends worth acknowledging? And if so, what can we deduce from the results that are meaningful to your career?
Here are a few recent statistical highlights:
1) When the century started the top print magazine AARP: The Magazine had a circulation of 20,936,279. As of June 2012 it had risen to 22,528,478—a gain of 1,592,199. Not shabby for a printed magazine in this day and age even if it is for a seasoned crowd of the non-screenager population.
2) Reader’s Digest has gone from 12,589,000 to 5,606,743, halving its circulation since 2000, but is so far surviving a bankruptcy.
3) Game Informer magazine has come from almost nowhere to be the third largest magazine on the list with a circulation of 8,169,524 and rising.
4) McCall’s magazine was number 10 on the list in 2000 with a circulation of 4,104,990. It has now crashed and burned, was momentarily renamed Rosie, died and is no more.
5) Newsweek in 2000 had a circulation of 3,141,578 and will go out of print at the end of December to become a digital-only product.
6) TV Guide was number 4 on the list in 2000 with a circulation of 10,388,083 and now—remarkably to this reporter—is still in print with an editorial refocus and produces a popular magazine with a circulation of 2,020,449.
7) And let’s not forget People magazine, which had a circulation of 3,539,034 in 2000 and has maintained its prowess with a 2012 circulation of 3,563,410.
What deductions we can arrive at from reviewing this short list of winners and losers?
The first is that the magazine industry is in both a state of change and a state of stasis. Magazines come and magazines go, but thankfully, reading is here to stay. The most important tip I can give is that, despite the rumors of our demise, you still have as much opportunity for a great career, and with as much longevity, as at any time in our history. I once penned in these pages that this is a time to rethink the unthinkable, as we now live in the greatest period of experimentation, innovation and entrepreneurism that the world has ever seen. Keep that in your head as our industry and our careers grow and morph.
The idea that our industry is in any way diminishing is ridiculous. Changing, yes. Morphing, yes. Diminishment of the publishing industry is not going to happen. As the list above demonstrates, some titles will do well and some will not. McCall’s went from 4,000,000 to nothing at clearly uncontrollable speeds, and the giant Newsasaurus Rex, Newsweek, became an extinct print product right before our eyes. And yet Game Informer magazine went from a six-page handout to the third largest print magazine on the ABC 100 list. In fact, if you add it all up, the top 20 magazines account for 126,704,551 monthly printed magazines. I find that a pretty exciting number.
If you pay attention to your career and the industry trends around you, the possibilities are endless. You might have to retrain or reorient yourself from time to time, but the reading industry is going to be stronger than ever before. We have more substrates than ever in which to distribute our well-crafted work, make a fair profit and extend our brands to the globe.
Keeping in mind the ideas presented above, here is my end-of-the-year advice, along with tips for perpetuating a career with serious longevity.
The most important thing to remember is that knowledge is power and industry knowledge is employment power. If you can speak knowledgeably of the entire publication process, you are a more desirable candidate for the job you have or, perhaps even more importantly, the job you want to have. Understanding what the other departments actually do is of vital importance. Inter-departmental communication and knowledge facilitates the teamwork of successful and efficient organizations.
You must network and join professional organizations as if your job depends upon it. Because it does. If your company won’t pay for it, pay for it yourself. Your current job is only a part of your career. A good professional group has the collective intelligence of the entire industry, which is a tremendous resource. If you have a question or stumble upon an unfamiliar situation, someone in that group knows the answer. If you ever get that pink slip, they know where the new jobs are. Professional organizations are important on many levels, not the least of which is exposure to your contemporaries and possibly your next boss.
Essentially, you have either a job or a career. Career people stay employed. You must always be working on your career. Stay alert and continue to educate yourself about your industry and good things will happen because you will be ready to adapt and react with grace and style. PE