Social media killed the magazine star
Saying it has been a tough week for the magazine publishing industry in South Africa is a massive understatement. With more and more magazines disappearing from our shelves, what will take their place? Or has social media already got all our attention?
This week Caxton, behind titles like Bona and Food & Home, announced it’s withdrawing from magazine publishing. This is days after Associated Media, printing favs like Cosmo and House and Leisure, closed their doors for good.
When I was a journalism student more than a decade ago (I’m old yo), we already talked about how the writing was on the wall for magazines. We had robust discussions about what would be the next. Would niche magazines be the answer? Paywalls and digital mags everywhere?
Little did we know advertisers would be funnelling their money into platforms we were already hooked on. Like Facebook and Instagram (a shame about BBM though).
Back then we envisioned social media would be like your own curation of the news you needed to know (from friends, family and reliable new sources). Along with cat memes and DIY videos. We didn’t see the sophisticated level of fake news/ false information and propaganda coming.
Yet people also thought print would die with the arrival of radio. That radio would die with the arrival of television. Today they are all still going. They’ve had to adapt or die. While newspapers are not quite what they used to be, with shrinking newsrooms and circulation, podcasts are now more popular than ever. While television isn’t pulling the numbers it used to, people are binge-watching hours of series, an idea that was almost unheard of ten years ago.
My long-winded point (there’s a reason I’m not a journalist, haha) is this: Innovation is needed.
The dawn of digital and social media changed the way we interact with news and the world for that matter.
Innovation is needed to stay alive. Pivot YouTube and leverage Tik Tok. Be where the people are and meet them there. As much as we love content from our friends, we also love content from authoritative media we trust. There’s a reason Vogue is still publishing (although they did report a profit loss last year). There’s also a reason why people still buy books and have screen times of eight hours (or is it just me?). The world has changed and the magazines that remain need to as well.
This discussion is far from over, I’d love to hear what you think.