Monday, November 03, 2008

Tearing down the crepe; Canadian magazines can fight back with facts

One of CBC Radio's biggest audiences is Metro Morning, the drive-time show hosted by Andy Barrie in Toronto. What people hear there is often the fodder for watercooler chat later in the day. So it was with some dismay that I heard the interview Barrie conducted this morning with Marco Ursi, the editor of Masthead magazine about the state of the industry.

Ursi did a good job of answering questions carefully and thoroughly, but by the time he did so, the introduction had so thoroughly muddled up the state of daily newspapers and large U.S. titles with the situation for Canadian magazines that most listeners would have written us off. (To add insult, the CBC managed to spell Ursi's name wrong on its website.)

For radio people, I guess, it's all print and gloom makes for a better story. Nuance and qualifiers need not apply. No distinction is made between the Canadian and U.S. market. This is not the first time, nor will it likely be the last, that a radio host and his/her producers paint such a skewed and bleak picture.

The best that can be hoped for is that hammering away at the facts will somehow mitigate the damage done. Facts such as
  • the 70% long-term (1996 - 2007) advertising page growth among Canadian magazines;
  • the 35% ad revenue growth since 2001;
  • the long-term trend has been an average of 61 launches per year and only 19 closures;
  • that 281 net new titles have been created in the past 5 years;
  • that the number of Canadian consumer titles have increaed 45% since 1998;
  • that average issue circulation has grown since 2002 from 61 million to 73 million;
  • that Print Measurement Bureau data about readership has been steadily growing.
The best defence against such crepe-hanging views of the industry is to keep on hammering away at the facts and (consistent with a recent post) to redouble efforts to cultivate and serve loyal subscribers and readers. So that the next time they hear about our impending doom, they can know that such rumours are greatly exaggerated.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just heard Barrie's climbdown on this a.m.'s broadcast. And he blamed...Marco Ursi! Typical CBC radio deflection. I recall that ponce Michael Crabbe, when he was hosting an arts program back in the 1990s, similarly trying to paint a bleak picture of the Canadian magazine issue, at that time around the issue of split runs. Unlike Barrie, however, he didn't at least offer a tepid nod to the truth when presented with the facts.

8:29 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may be that radio people have nothing to lose by seeing print decline, but I think it could also be argued that a lot of print people prefer to stay buried up to their necks in sands of denial. An equally self-serving proposition.

A few other useful "facts" in this line-up would have been how many of those new magazines have folded, and how many magazines are barely able to survive or pay their staff (and writers) a living wage.

The lack of truly depthful conversation within the industry, at least if this blog is any measure, on what's going on in the greater world of communications is what's really the problem here.

8:40 am  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

Nobody's immune from denial and there's no question this industry is facing HUGE challenges. I would have thought you'd have taken the opportunity here to address some of those rather than dissing this forum as being inadequate.

As for starts and stops, I have looked back for 10 years at the data that Masthead has compiled and the average I quoted holds true for all that time. That is one of many reasons why Masthead's disappearance is a major problem for the industry.

8:58 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it comes to Masthead's demise, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

We in the magazine industry did not support it financially in sufficient numbers.

The family feud between MagNet and MagsU did not help either.

9:30 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as much as the magazine publishing industry's days are seeming numbered, I'm surprised to hear that anyone still listens to radio at all.

10:27 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Video killed the radio star....

7:32 pm  

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