They hinted at it last year, but this year, their position was much more firm. Two of the industry’s leading publishing executives, along with almost every panelist and speaker, took bold stances this week at the AMC on where the publishing industry is headed in terms of digital growth.
Criticizing recent press coverage, Jack Kliger, president-CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. and chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America said “the closing of a magazine is no more the sign of the death of our industry than the cancellation of a TV series means the shut down of the network.”
“As we develop new brands and platforms, we should at the same time be willing to eliminate unproductive products without fearing that thinning the herd means we are signaling our industry’s demise,” he told attendees.
Kliger went on to say that they are no longer threatened by digital media and instead are figuring out how to use it to their advantage.
Time Inc. Chairman-CEO Ann S. Moore put it this way: “We can sit in a corner and whine about it or we can roll up our sleeves.”
Moore, who is tasked with turning Time Inc.’s many successful print magazines into equally successful digital products said she feels like a mom whose kids all need to go away to college at the same time.
She said that publishers must let go of their fear of cannibalization.
Dr. Jeffery Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication, delivered a session titled “What the Digital Future Holds” and in it, he compared the digital behavior of 12 to 24 year olds with 25 to 54 year olds.
He said that 12 to 24 year olds will never read a print-edition newspaper and are attached to some magazines. They rely heavily on instant messaging and will likely never own a landline phone. He also said that they aren’t very interested in the source of the information they get and they think email is for their parents.
People from 25 to 54 years old on the other hand, do read offline newspapers and magazines. They rely heavily on email and care very much about the source of their information.
Hopefully Dr. Cole’s presentation further deepened publishers’ awareness of just how important the Internet really is to their business.
A quote from Yahoo!‘s COO Dan Rosensweig, I think, sums it all up pretty nicely. He said that when people are engaged in conversation about the Internet and where it’s headed and how it will affect their business, there always seems to be a big rush for the finale.
He said, “The true way money will be made is unknown, but if you can just manage to hold and grow your audience, you’ll be fine.”
For more on this year’s conference and to see who won the various awards, please visit www.magazine.org/amc.