Evolving Magazine Formats Do Not Necessitate A One-or-the-Other Decision
Recently there have been quite a few articles circulating on the inter-tubes about the viability of tablet magazines. In our newsletter today, we're featuring a blog by Mag+ CEO Gregg Hano, who refutes an article published on GigaOM last week that argued that tablet magazines are a failure because they are closed off from the open flow of sharable information found on the web. The article was written by Jon Lund, the COO of memit, which according to its website allows you to "one-click save and publish any content." So yeah, of course Lund's on the great-wide-open-web side of the fence. But both Lund and Hano have valid points.
However, the notion that the future of publishing is one thing or the other is a bit distracting. Even though we have the automobile doesn't mean people don't still ride bicycles, motorcycles, and even horses. Some people, depending on their mood, may pursue multiple modes of transport all in the same day.
I'm all for sharing and the social web. The marketplace of ideas is a great place, but it can also be noisy and often lacks context. That's the reason I still watch 60 Minutes most Sundays. It presents high quality journalism with thoughtful context and the oh-so-important limitations of the one-hour television format. Each episode is limited to three thoroughly reported stories.
But that design limitation-in this case, time-is not a weakness, but a strength: It forces the producers to pack the most riveting storytelling into that package. Viewers know exactly what they're getting. It's even right there in the name: 60 Minutes. No more. No less.
(Wired published an entire issue on the positive consequences of Design Under Constraint, which has informed my point of view quite a bit on the topic. It's worth a read.)
I've been watching 60 Minutes since I was a kid when my parents would put it on every Sunday. And I'm not at all interested in more interactivity or social whatever-you-call-it because it provides a perfection of design and execution. (Funny that it's referred to as a "news magazine" isn't it? What a versatile term.)
That said, at other times I have 12 web browser tabs open, am perusing 3-5 Wikipedia entries, am listening to streaming audio, have a couple YouTube videos queued up, have Twitter and Facebook open, and have 3 emails drafted.
In this case, the flow of information is wide open. It just depends on the mood I'm in. But I don't plan on choosing one kind of media consumption over the other any more than I would forsake automobiles on the weekends just because I use a bike to commute to work. Publishers shouldn't feel pressured to choose either.
Denis Wilson is the content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aims to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.