Print media is taking a beating. It’s been a while in coming, but revenue streams that print publications used to rely on are slowly moving away to digital platforms.
First it was classifieds. Sites like Ebay showed that the internet is much more efficient than a paper in the ‘small ads’ market. Then came larger format advertising. Again, the internet provided hard cold facts about how many times an ad was seen, how many times it was clicked and how many times it led directly to a sale.
At first, most print publications buried their heads in the sand and ignored the new media. Then they put up flat pages that told customers how they could subscribe to the magazine or paper. As time went on, magazines and newspapers had to put more and more of their content online – making it freely available and chipping away at the final revenue stream – the cover price or subscription. Meanwhile the cost of creating content – feature articles, news coverage and photography stayed the same or increased.
The changing media landscape and a general slowdown in advertising saw Yachts and Yachting Ltd, the publisher of the well known UK magazine Yachts & Yachting put into administration last week. The magazine has 62 years of heritage which should serve the brand well in a world where masthead recognition will be increasingly important.
The magazine will go on though, thanks to a management buyout by GNM Media. Gael Pawson, Y&Y’s editor and one of GNM’s directors explained on the website:
By acting speedily we have secured a smooth transition for the magazine for readers and advertisers alike. Subscribers will continue to receive their copies as normal, and we are focussed on delivering a high quality product for both our readers and advertisers. With 62 years of heritage behind the title, we believe it has a great future ahead.
With writers of the calibre of Bob Fisher, Andy Rice, Andi Robertson and Mark Rushall together with a strong editorial and design team, the push to deliver the high quality dinghy and keelboat magazine continues. Long time contributor Bob Fisher commented:
‘I congratulate the directors of GNM Media on their determination to preserve an icon in our sport. Y&Y has been a significant part of my life, as a reader since its first issue, and as a contributor for 40 years; its demise would have been unthinkably tragic, but now it will go from strength to strength.’
However, the structural issues of producing magazines are not going to go away. While on the one hand, the reading experience of a magazine is still preferable to a computer monitor or mobile phone screen, especially in the cabin of a yacht miles from shore – a monthly publication suffers from being ‘old news’ once it gets to the shelf or through the letterbox.
Earlier this month, News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch announced that the company would start to charge for all content on their newspaper websites. It’s a bold move and those who champion the new media platforms, including blogging and ‘citizen journalism’ say it will fail, but I am not so sure. Listening to Murdoch in his Boyer Lecture series earlier in the year, it is clear that Murdoch understand the business of newspapers better than most.
Those who will win will have a clear business model and will also probably occupy a specific niche. Digital media is here to stay and provides far superior reach and advertising effectiveness, however those who offer high quality content from recognised experts will be around for a while yet.