Magazines occupy a privileged position in the emerging media landscape. Nationally, newspaper readership has declined by close to 9 percent over the past five years, while magazine readership has increased by 4 percent. Surprisingly, one of the strongest increases is among young adults ages 18 to 24, who now read an average of 7.3 magazines a month.
Television has problems of its own. While Americans watch more TV every year, fewer are watching commercials, which undermines TV’s business model. Anyone using streaming video with a Netflix account can tell you that the “first screen” will likely undergo a breathtaking revolution in only a few years that will eclipse changes forced by Napster on the music industry.
The reality that magazines are alive and thriving is not well-known. Almost daily, I encounter questions about the “Death of Print” from a variety of people, ranging from my mom to key business partners.
“Print” is not monolithic. The daily paper — which is losing both readers and advertising — has much more in common with the evening newscast than with a monthly magazine. TV and newspapers compete in a crowded 24/7 news space, where anyone with a blog and a cell phone camera can “break” news.
Magazines do not compete in that environment. Ask magazine writers what makes a great story and they will probably talk about fresh perspectives on important community issues. Magazine writing doesn’t just give us information; it helps us understand our world. At Hawaii Business, we provide valuable perspectives on the key economic issues that affect Hawaii and its future.
How we provide that perspective — in print or on tablet computers or elsewhere — is a business question that does not change the fundamental formula for success: Produce great original content that meets readers’ needs and the eyeballs will follow.