Friday, December 09, 2016

Volunteering for the sake of the industry, Martin Seto has some things to say

Earlier this week we reported the surprising news that Martin Seto had taken over as editor of Mastheadonline. Most of that post was based on a brief note on the Mastheadonline site. In order to get a better understanding of the situation, I called up Martin Seto and asked him to elaborate . Here are some of the things he told me:
  • He considers himself to be a "publishing industry advocate".
  • He's working purely as an unpaid volunteer. "I stepped forward. I think it's my duty. I'm doing what's needed for the magazine to go forward, to survive." (He declined to discuss the circumstances leading up to him "volunteering", but said the magazine almost closed before because of lack of revenue.) "If I didn't do this, Masthead could be gone."
  • His call for volunteer bloggers has resulted in more than 25 responses. "We need to bring the industry together. We have to try and create positive messages about this industry. We have to bring all stakeholders together."
  • There's lots that's right in the industry, but there is lot about it that is inefficient and overbuilt.
  • He said he found ad agencies were sympathetic, that they want to help sell magazines, but the industry is not providing them with the necessary tools. He reiterated what he said in a post on Mastheadonline
    • "Talking with the agency folks at the event (Magazine Day] the reason for this is not the agencies, who are big supporters of magazines, but advertiser attitudes towards magazine. The Ad tech community is going client direct and telling them that print is dead and they believe it, plus the cost of digital ads on some ad networks are as low as $2 CPM as they are dumping ad inventory on the market due to oversupply. These two issues need to be addressed by the industry."
  • Magazines and magazine organizations have not done a good job of marketing. "Traditional media have got put in the shadows because of digital hype."
  • "For Masthead to survive, we have to take a national perspective, and not just magazines."
  • "The industry is stuck in a corporate welfare syndrome. We don't know how to compete because we've relied on government funding for so long. It is propping up inefficient companies and that's not a good long-term strategy because you lose your competitive edge."
  • Masthead under his watch will continue to provide the same services and events, such as its job board and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAs), which he produces.        



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