I’ve said this before, but it seems that every day, new configurations of content blur the lines of media. The TV-radio-Internet-magazine-advertising world has become one big, fuzzy conglomeration. Television producers and characters/actors are blogging online. Magazine and newspaper editors and reporters are doing live video coverage, voice-overs and video editing. Television and radio news stations are putting news stories online. Magazines have television shows http://www.pubexec.com/story/story.bsp?sid=83159&var=story in this issue, you can read about how Essence magazine created the first-ever online reality dating show), and television shows have magazines (e.g., “Lost”).
New business models are being tested (Paste magazine’s use of a “Pay What You Want” subscription model, page 10), and more consumer magazines may develop free-subscription models, a model more commonplace in the business-to-business world. Magazines are buying and/or merging with online communities (e.g., Surfer Magazine’s recent joining of the new Loop’d Network), and they are bringing industry bloggers on staff (e.g., Scholastic Administrator magazine hiring a well-known education expert/blogger).
This is a time of big-picture (and what should be long-term) thinking, but also of throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, of pushing the boundaries of print into every corner of the content realm until you either go too far or hit upon new profit centers that work for your audiences. It’s also a time of confusion and intense competition among the fuzzy media conglomeration that faces our readers. And, it’s a time when many advertisers are allocating more of their budgets to digital media.
In a recent issue, I wrote about the gloomy outlook presented by many media sources and the dismal feeling even the most optimistic among us can be left with every time a good magazine closes its doors. I admit, my heart sank a little at the recent announcement of House & Garden’s demise. In her farewell letter on the magazine’s Web site, industry veteran/House & Garden Editor Dominique Browning wrote: “Our magazine showed beautiful rooms, perfect in their design, and what I wanted to talk about was how things aren’t always perfect in those rooms—we make messes, and we ponder how to fix them, and we wish and hope that we can make homes in which we can let in only the good, and keep the bad out. Well, we couldn’t keep the bad out this time around.” Nor could the other magazines that have shuttered.