First, the good news. Some provincial newspapers are doing well. The Bay of Plenty Times is up 12% (all figures here are my calculations from the raw numbers and are rounded), the Ashburton Guardian is up 14% and the Manawatu Standard is up 15%. Among magazines, Cuisine and Dish are up 16%, NZ Geographic is up 9% and the Listener is up 3%. Three per cent may not sound like much – but it is when you consider the bad news elsewhere.
Let’s consider the bad news elsewhere.
The teenage-girl market is done for: Crème is down 19%, Girlfriend 26% and Dolly 48%. Hard to see the latter surviving. I wonder how much of this is due to social media, with teenage and tweenage girls spending so much time txting, tweeting and Facebooking that there is no time left for consuming magazines, which are so last century. And where teenage girls lead, the rest of us may well follow.
Computing magazines haven’t performed much better: NetGuide is down 9% and PC World 38%. Hard to see that one surviving either – it has lost its reason to live.
National Business Review is down 16%; Bride & Groom is down 19%; and over at ACP, North & South is down 12% and Metro is down 16%.
In the hard-fought women’s weekly market Woman’s Day is down 5%, New Idea 3% and the Woman’s Weekly 2% – these losses are, relatively speaking, drops in a bucket.
Readership is not the whole picture – all these results have to be read alongside shop sales, subscriptions and advertising ratios to get an idea of the health of each title, but I can’t be bothered doing that research for free. I wish someone who is paid to be a media commentator would.
A final point: several of these magazines have been bleeding readership for years so these losses come after a string of other losses. Big publishers can carry a struggler; smaller ones can’t. And even big publishers will lose patience eventually. Ultimately they depend on media buyers in ad agencies and, like policemen, media buyers get younger every year: they have no loyalty to or sentimentality about former stars. What counts is today’s performance. Under the impact of social media and the Internet generally some niches and titles will survive and thrive, and those now limping will collapse and die.
I loved it when I worked there in the 80s and 90s but I’m so glad I am out of the industry now. So here are Cream from their 2005 reunion with “I’m So Glad”: