BoSacks Speaks Out: NME's demise shows pressure on consumer magazines

By Bob Sacks on April 06, 2018

Today I'm headed to Berlin, Germany to attend one of my favorite publishing events, FIPP's Digital Innovators Summit which starts Monday, March 19th. It is a wonderful cross-planet collection of modernizers and theorists making sense and profit from the still evolving phenomenon we once called publishing.

This article about UK's NME's demise suggests various pressures on consumer magazines. The article reminds me of some things I've said before. There once was a time when there were rules and an established pecking order. If you were in TV, Radio or Print, you knew the process and the possibilities of your profession. Each method of communication had pluses and minuses, boundaries and well-trodden logical pathways to reach the consumer and make a profit in the process. One might also say there was once relative business stability.

I've also noted before that what makes the current state of affairs so different is the evaporation of boundaries, rules and stability. There is little distinction between publishing, TV and radio because they are all streamed. Print or off-line media is obviously not streamed, and that is its problem. It is stuck in an old-style world of rules and boundaries while connected, digitized communications are completely free range. For many the nostalgic rules of print are deemed a blessing and satisfying in their permanency. But the old rules also limit print's value most importantly to the vagaries of young, inexperienced media buyers. We have proof that print is still a good buy, but in aggregate they buy less of it each year. Nevertheless, there are plenty of print sectors doing quite well.

This new 'freedom' from order has its problems, too, most notably fraud in the grandest of proportions. If we are honest, the world -- and print media, too -- has always had to deal with fraud. We don't like to admit it, but it is part of the capitalist process. In print there were always inflated circulation numbers and pass-along rates that were laughable, but usually expressed and accepted with a straight face. We all smiled, winked and accepted it as one of the on-going rules.

Now that we are in the digital space race, it shouldn't surprise anyone that scamming is still present. It is nothing new except for the absolute scope and size of the enterprise. We all know we are talking of fraud in the 100s of billions. With all of print's shenanigans in the past, it never achieved "success" like that. It's a wonder to me that the industry has enough slack to absorb billions of wasted dollars. If you can waist billions and not seem to care, then the actual real-time profits must be enormous. 

But I digress. I started to talk about the Digital Innovators Summit. The reason I am fascinated by this event and come here each year is the global outreach. Here professionals from all over the world gather to share their latest successes, technologies and theories about the business of communicating for a profit. Large companies and small, big countries and smaller geopolitical areas are represented, and each has a unique story to tell. 

Starting in a day or two after absorbing the information I gather here in Berlin, I hope to present to you an outline of the newest ideas and technologies under development in our still embryonic communications businesses. 

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones. (John Maynard Keynes)

By Bob Sacks| April 06, 2018
Categories:  Bosacks Speaks Out

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Bob Sacks

Bob Sacks

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