The sky has been falling slowly for print publishers since the economy crashed in 2008, and those that are still around have worked hard to test new types of distribution, production and format until they found some combination that would keep them afloat. Hit harder than the daily newspaper industry has been the once-burgeoning magazine publishing market.
For my third anniversary with M/C/C, I was given year-long subscriptions to two magazines of my choosing. Slightly embarrassed to have US Weekly delivered to the office, I happily selected Marie Claire and Wmagazine. I hadn’t bought an issue of W since I’d been in college, but during those years I considered it a great luxury. It was huge, glossy and full of the most beautiful, artful print advertisements for things I could not afford that I had ever seen. Not to mention the quality of the paper – like really expensive Egyptian cotton; I was in college, and I could barely afford this magazine. So imagine my astonishment when – gasp! – my first issue of W arrives (a little late, since Ambur mistakenly thought it was for her and read it first) looking anorexic with one-third less pages than I remember and printed on what feels like (no, it can’t be!) economically and environmentally friendly recycled paper! I knew publishing must be doomed.
Now, with magazine publishing already in a pickle, another troubled-by-technology business is threatening to make things even more challenging. Facing another 20-percent drop in snail mail volume, the U.S. Postal Service has proposed the elimination of Saturday delivery. This may not seem so dire to monthly mags like my beloved W and Marie Claire – they have enough problems – but it could be critical for the news weeklies that have the added hardship of delivering compelling, relevant content in a printed medium for two reasons:
- News weeklies strategically strive to have their products delivered to the audience on Saturdays.
- News weeklies have a greater lag time between the time content is actually published (printed) and the time it actually makes it in front of a reader’s eyeballs.
- less time for fact-checking could lead to greater numbers of inaccuracies in stories,
- pressure to break news in adherence to the earlier deadline could lead to entirely false stories,
- journalists may have to rely on public relations practitioners more heavily for source material,
- public relations practitioners and their clients will have to be more readily available to answer media inquiries and capitalize on opportunities.