World Magazine Congress

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I was really looking forward to hearing what some of the publishing industry’s top people had to say about the future of magazines. I was kinda disappointed. It seems everyone believes we are in a “crisis”, in fact this word popped up a hell of a lot over the day.

The first thing that struck me about WMC was the lack of young people. I was probably the only person under 35 and definitely the only person wearing jeans and a Blues Brothers t-shirt. Where were all the creative people? You know those people that actually put the magazine together, the people that really push this industry forward… where were the talks from Editors and Art Directors?

Most of the speakers were old fuddy-duddies who not only seemed reluctant to acknowledge a deterioration in magazine popularity but didn’t even seem aware of online interactive magazines.

Everyone spoke about electronic media naming websites, eReaders and pocket devices as the obvious future, but not one person on the Wednesday approached the subject of eZines. Why not? I don’t believe they don’t about them, Zinio and Ceros are both pretty big companies now. Are they scared to approach the subject because of the lack of knowledge or experience? Or do they just think they are shit and not worth mentioning?

Jonathan Newhouse, Chairman of Conde Nast UK was the first to really big-up the internet stating “Its possible the internet will dominate our industry”. No shit Sherlock. Now I’m pretty sure he figured this out years ago but it’s amazing people still feel the need to say it like its a new thing.

He mentioned Wired (US) magazine having a print readership of about 703,000 but a web audience of over 11.4 million. But he didn’t mention the prospect of an online mag despite Wired UK now teaming up with Ceros. I would love to have heard his opinions on eZines and how they can bridge the gap between web and print.

The common consensus is that the choice to go to digital is not ours to make, it’s upto the consumer and they have chosen. Web is now the future. Finally people seem to be listening. Although when anyone said “I love print” they would get a round of applause. I love print too but don’t fool yourself, it’s time to look at the wider picture.

The panel about magazines around the world was very interesting. Africa and Russia’s publishing history is something I haven’t been aware of before, but it was India that raised an eyebrow. 400 million mobile phones are currently in circulation in India alone. Mobile devices are as important, maybe even more so now than computers.

eReaders and Kindle’s were mentioned a few times, people seem to think that is the only option at the moment. Not so, online publishing is a viable option and as free wireless becomes more widespread it also becomes more accessible. And as soon as Apple stop dicking around and allow Flash onto the iPhone there will be the potential for a whole new wave of magazines.

“Content is king” this was phrase number two of the day. Finally people are understanding that what is important is the transfer of information from us (the publisher) to them the readers. Whether that be through print, books, bookazines, eZines, web, mobile or even event hosting, we need to promote brands as a whole package not just a single entity.

There also seems to be an agreement that content has to be original and you can’t just duplicate magazine content and bung it up everywhere, original content for each platform is a must to ensure quality.

Overall there was a lot of old shit being talked about, it was interesting to see what the big wigs had to say and it was great to see Ceros and eDition on show and creating a buzz. It was also massively frustrating to see no ones with any balls speaking. Everyone was playing it safe. Where was the passion and enthusiasm that I see in the office on a daily basis?

I hope next year FIPP can line up some people that aren’t afraid to speak their mind, even in this delicate economic time. In fact, as far as I’m concerned this is the best time to people to talk up.

For more info check out the FIPP site below;


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