Author: Amy Loop, Media Planner/Buyer

Invisible ink: Print form of newspapers continue to fade

As we all know the decline of readership in newspaper has been discussed for years, especially since the economy tanked and the mobile space has grown. “According to an eMarketer study of U.S. adult media habits, the average time spent reading newspaper has decreased by 12 minutes from 2008 to 2011.”

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“The University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for the Digital Future predicts within five years, only four major daily papers will continue in print form.” The four survivors forecasted to remain are The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and USA Today. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal require a paid subscription to access their online content; while USA Today and Washington Post still allow readers to browse their site for news updates with no subscription. USA Today is projected to have paid subscriptions some time in 2012.

“The Washington Post has weathered its financial storms better than most dailies: Its Kaplan educational subsidiary has remained largely profitable, helping to stabilize the paper’s finances. Coupled with major cutbacks — the Post has closed all but two of its regional suburban bureaus and almost halved its reporter corps — this has sufficed to stem the loss of revenue.”

As consumers branch away from newspaper and use television, mobile sites or the internet to get the latest news story instead of waiting until tomorrow morning, the national/local newspapers are suffering. The cost of paper is increasing and the subscriptions are decreasing. Television is still the main outlet for consumers to get the most up to date news.

“A recent Rasmussen poll found that a clear majority of Americans – 59% — plan on getting most of their political information from their television sets this year. That number represents the combined total for cable and broadcast sources. The breakdown of the 59% is 37% cable, 22% broadcast. The internet is second with 21%. Newspaper and radio trailed, with neither able to break into double digits, pulling responses of 9% and 7% respectively. 18% now get political updates over a phone or other mobile device, with 18-29-year-olds twice more likely to do so than the 65+ crowd.”

And the Ad Age A-List Magazine of 2011 is …

Announced this month, Ad Age recognized the A-List magazines that have excelled at meeting a challenge, turning things around, building new businesses or just setting a consistent editorial and business example one more time. Vogue, the 12x/year publication, has been named the 2011 Magazine of the Year. “For 118 years, Vogue has been America’s cultural barometer, putting fashion in the context of the larger world we live in- how we dress, live, socialize; what we eat, listen to, watch; who leads and inspires us.”

The A-List has changed significantly from 2010 to 2011. The 2010 A-List is below:

01. People Stylewatch

02. The Atlantic

03. All You

04. Cooking

05. Food Network – Bumped up to # 3 in 2011, the only title to remain in the top 10

06. Parenting

07. Bazaar

08. Elle Décor

09. Vice

10. Wired

In 2010, the focus was on culture, lifestyle and fashion (including budget –friendly options). These publications also delivered a lighter message to the reader. While in 2011, the focus is now more on the economy, business, lifestyle and of course fashion. While they have a few newcomers to the list, they have still focused on established publications that continue to grow despite the odds.

The 2011 A-List from Ad Age:

No. 10: The Economist
“The Economist increased its paid subscriptions another 5% in the first half and grew total paid circulation 3%, to 844,000.” The Economist was the 2008 Magazine of the year. This year the Economist introduced Economist Education which is a set of electronic learning courses focused on emerging market. “It also has 1.2 million Twitter followers and 800,000 Facebook fans.”  The Economist continues to be a leader in the global news.

No. 9: This Old House
“Call it a case of the right magazine at the right time. Advertisers kept flocking to This Old House despite the economy and housing market, because people may be buying new houses less, but they’re nesting, remodeling and aspiring more. Ad pages through the October issue increased 16.8%, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, helped a little by one more issue in 2011 than 2010.”

No. 8: The New Yorker
“At a time when there are questions about how much people will pay for content, The New Yorker, with its circulation of 1 million, keeps proving that quality has customers. Its single-copy sales rose 1.2%, despite a $1 price hike to $5.99 and an industry-wide downdraft at newsstands, and its subs are up, despite a $10 price hike to $70.” The digital side of The New Yorker is continuing to grow now having 27,000 iPad-only subscribers which pay $60 a year or $6 per month and also they have 189,000 paying readers together with iPad, Kindle, Nook and digital editions including print subscribers who have activated digital access.

No. 7: National Geographic
This magazine has been around as long as I can remember. “Editor Chris Johns was our Editor of the Year in 2008; the magazine appeared on our A-List in 2008 and 2009. And it’s having another great year. Newsstand is up 5%; ad pages are up 14%. And it enjoys the admiration of its peers, winning Magazine of the Year at the 2011 National Magazine Awards and receiving nominations for photography, news/documentary photography, feature photography and best single-topic issue.”

No. 6: Monocle
Monocle is a newer magazine that launched February 2007, focused on global affairs, business, culture and design. “Monocle this year is making its first appearance on the A-List. With paid circulation of just 66,000, this is no mass-market play, but its 204 pages every issue are filled with flawless editorial, luxury advertising, brand extensions and confidence in print. Revenue is rising; profitability arrived last year.”

No. 5: Vanity Fair
“Vanity Fair is enjoying its most profitable year yet thanks to growing ad pages, circulation, newsstand and digital revenue. While some magazines lean on bulk sales, sponsored sales and public-place copies, 99% of Vanity Fair’s subscriptions are paid for directly by the subscriber. It’s big on Hollywood, but just as long on essential reporting about the economy and businesses from News Corp. to Groupon.”

No. 4: Garden & Gun
“Another newcomer to the list, and another example of what niche publishing can do, Charleston-based Garden & Gun practically begged urban Northerners to joke about its unusual name when it launched in 2007. But the magazine that styles itself the “Soul of the South” looks like it will have the last laugh, with ad-page growth on a tear, circulation still climbing and a National Magazine Award for General Excellence.” Garden & Gun is a magazine that is shaped around the Southern way of life. This magazine helps create the idea of how to live an engaged life with the Southern surroundings.

No. 3: Food Network Magazine
The only magazine to make the list from 2010. The magazine launched in 2009 and has continued to grow and make a name for it. “Food Network magazine has grown from a test issue in October 2008 to a giant with paid circulation nearing 1.5 million and still seeking its cruising altitude. Food Network is back on the list after ad pages through October surged 13.8%, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, newsstand sales added 5% and total circulation grew 5.2%.”

No. 2: Time
For the first time in 20 years, Time stopped the press last week after the announcement of Steve Jobs passing, reworking the issue to be dedicated to him. “Challenges keep mounting for the news business in general, and for news weeklies in particular. So even if Time’s 16.1% newsstand gain reflected external events like the royal wedding, and even if its subscription growth had something to do with absorbing subscribers from U.S. News and World Report, we say there’s something to be said for having the strength, smarts and position to capitalize. Still a big, iconic print brand where readers turn when major news happens, Time was also recognized this year for digital excellence, suggesting it’s got a bright future too.”

The Magazine of the Year: Vogue
“It’s easier to grow when you’re new and relatively small, but when you’re this established and you grow anyway, you’re doing more than a few things right. Vogue increased its January-to-October ad pages more than 9% and boosted its big newsstand component almost 13% over the first half of last year, partly but not entirely on the strength of a great Lady Gaga cover in March. Its September issue killed again with 584 ad pages. And Vogue’s role off the page — most recently with the latest installment of Fashion’s Night Out — keeps expanding as well. Vogue is our Magazine of the Year.”

Book of Tens: Best Covers

Say What You Will about Print, but the Medium Can Still Deliver a Great Image

This article was interesting to me and inspired a look back on 2010. The best covers of 2010 covers all subjects, from fashion to natural disaster to harsh reality. The covers below created discussions and even some controversy. 

My favorite of the below is the Wired cover; discussing breast-tissue engineering. I think the cover is edgy and captures the eye. It takes a topic that is controversial and puts the information out to the public in a “100% natural” way. 


January: Lady Gaga
You’d think Lady Gaga covers would be easy, given her natural grandiosity, but the potential she provides and, of course, the glut of competing Gaga covers probably make them harder than most. Although the newsstand edition of the January Elle showed a Gaga so normalized she could’ve been anyone, this black-and-white subscribers-only cover let the star’s full-color persona come through.

May: Fat Nation
Marc Ambinder’s feature used his own struggle with weight to talk about America, where he says four out of 10 people may be obese by 2015, increasing chronic disease and health-care costs. Alex Ostroy’s image of an obese Statue of Liberty is a bit humorous, very direct and completely effective.

July 5: After Escher: Gulf Sky and Water
The M.C. Escher motif in this Bob Staake cover about the Gulf oil spill is visually clever. But it also pays off logically by illustrating the connection between the ocean and the span of the ecosystem that depends on its health.

July 9: Gone.
Here’s a newspaper front page that actually outdid most magazine covers this year by invoking the classic George Lois-era Esquire aesthetic to bid LeBron James farewell — and, a little angrily, point out his failure to bring Cleveland an NBA championship.

Aug. 2: Is James Franco for Real?
You must love this simple but surprisingly successful tactic for communicating that James Franco — actor, conceptual artist and grad student — is weird and kind of funny: run his photo sideways.

Aug. 9, What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan
The photo is harsh enough to make you wonder whether it exploits its subject or readers, or both. But the portrait — of an 18-year-old Afghan woman who was sentenced to have her nose and ears cut off after she fled her husband’s abusive family — reflects a reality that’s harsh. “I would rather confront readers with the Taliban’s treatment of women than ignore it,” Managing Editor Rick Stengel wrote in a note to readers.

Aug. 9-Aug. 15: Back So Soon?
Great graphic design, which has become a regular staple of Bloomberg Businessweek covers, is on full display here as the magazine pitches a cover package on tax cuts from George W. Bush’s era. When you’re funny and visually arresting on a subject like tax policy, you’re doing something right.

Oct. 11: Discovering America
A single sad image on the front of The New Yorker’s annual Money Issue, depicting a couple stressing over bills while their daughter draws pretend money on the floor, was able to continue into a deeper vignette over two pages of a gatefold. The full comic by Chris Ware delivers a convincing portrait of this moment in the economy.


November: 100% Natural
Wired got plenty of criticism for using anonymous cleavage with the cover line “100% Natural” to tease a feature on breast-tissue engineering. Would it be so hard for Wired to put a woman on the cover for actual accomplishment in science, technology or business? But the art perfectly illustrated a look at using stem cells for breast repair and augmentation, hopefully a step on the way to improving and rebuilding damaged organs. The ensuing dialogue between Wired and its critics was a bonus.

December: Katy Perry
It’s a striking cover in any case — like Elle’s Gaga cover from January, it’s a subscribers’ edition, which means that it doesn’t have to cram in all the cover-line promises that a newsstand edition needs — but it also evokes an iconic 1950 Vogue cover, a close-up of the model Jean Patchett. We’re not sure Katy Perry’s Swarovski-encrusted lips will become quite such a classic, but they’re surely festive enough to light up a cover on holiday fashion.

2010 Magazine Wrap-Up

In a year plagued by record high unemployment, stock market chaos and advertising budgets slashed, the print industry was off to a shaky start, but in the end, things appear to be looking up. reported that in 2009, the number of failed magazines was 596, while in 2010 the number of failed magazines was significantly less at 176. The magazine industry is starting to stabilize with 193 magazine launches in 2010, and 28 online-only formats.

Magazine publications also experienced an increase in ad pages during 2010. According to, “for the year, ad pages increased 4.2% with ad pages up 7% in December.”  People StyleWatch had the largest percentage gain of 49.5%.

 Although monthly magazines showed an increase in ad pages and a gain in subscribers, the Newsweeklies saw huge loses.  MediaPost reported that monthly magazines such as Bon Appétit, First for Women, and Fitness saw double – digit percentage gains in 2010. Newsweek saw its total audience tumble 16.1% to 13.9 million, while Time slipped 8% to 19 million.  Readers Digest took the biggest hit, experiencing a 17.2% decline in audience.

 See related article by Lindsey Patterson: “And the Winner Is …