Magazines, Coming and Going
The media industry and at least some of its audience have been obsessing lately over the increasingly difficult plight of the newspaper industry, which just suffered its worst year at least since the Great Depression. But what about magazines? The advertising industry bible Ad Age recently published this quick overview of magazines which have recently gone out of business. Did you have any favorites in this group? (of those mentioned, I only read, and liked, the New York Times sports pub, Play, but it was only a quarterly). Those that remain in business, though, aren't exactly setting the world on fire with advertising support. Folio Magazine, the bible for those who produce magazines for a living, reports that the magazine industry suffered a double-digit decline in ads in 2008, compared to the previous year. Somehow, 42 magazines had increases, though.
No matter how bad the economy gets, however, there will always be new entrants to the magazine field, just as there will always be people who want to open their own restaurant. Why? Because apart from the obvious ego gratification inherent in each, just about everyone's read plenty of magazines and eaten at lots of restaurants, and thus both businesses appear to be easier than they really are (they're also both easy ways to lose an astounding amount of money in a short period if you don't know what you're doing, and sometimes even if you do).
Anyway, CWRU's Weatherhead School of Business has just launched a new magazine, and while we'd love to find something positive to say about it, to find some small silver lining, I'm afraid it's so bad that we're at a loss. We think this is what happens when you give a high-concept designer free reign, with no corresponding imagination on the editorial side. What you end up with is...a mess. It may well win a design award or two, but few will read it much, I predict. Here's hoping they eventually do get the hang of it. What say you, gentle reader--agree, disagree, or no comment?
(Full disclosure: for many years, I wrote for the now-defunct Cleveland Enterprise Magazine, jointly produced by the Weatherhead School and Enterprise Development, Inc., under the watchful & skillful eye of a great editor, Sandy Siebenschuh. It was a lot less high concept, but, we think, a far more substantive piece of work. But then, we're biased, of course).