Does your magazine publish fake news?

Of course not! We would never do that, you say. Possibly not, if fake news is defined as flagrantly false stories that you know are fiction, but that you present as true. But if your magazine is typical, at some time you have printed a story that you assumed was true, but that actually was not.

There was the Internet story about birth defects that women were convinced were the result of fallout from bombing in a nearby country. Difficult to check out; after all, there was no research on the topic. But the women’s story was dramatic and you wanted to use it.

Perhaps it was a feature that a writer gave you at the last minute when you were on a deadline and didn’t have time to check the writer’s information. Or maybe–horrors!–you never check the “facts” that appear in your publication. If you don’t, you are not alone. In today’s fast-paced news cycle editors at most big newspapers no longer check every spelling, statistic, attribution, date, or detail of the articles that pass through their hands.

As a result, in a 2005 assessment of American daily newspapers, more than 60 percent of local news and news feature stories were found to have errors, according to Scott R. Maier, “Accuracy Matters: A Cross-Market Assessment of Newspaper Error and Credibility.”

Then there’s also the little matter of proof reading, another neglected practice, resulting in the “interior designer” introduced as the “inferior designer” and the musician who is said to be “on drugs” rather than “on drums.”

With the proliferation of honest mistakes and dishonest fake news, the media is suffering a crisis of credibility. We’re all busy and our publications are understaffed. But if we want to rescue what shreds of credibility remain, we need to do a better job of checking our facts to be sure they are based on truth and not fiction. Even little mistakes erode trust–the misspelling of a name or the mistaken identification of a person in a photo.

Christian publications in particular should make every effort to be reliable sources of information that is accurate, true, and honest. After all, readers may surmise that if the facts are not accurate, perhaps the message is not true.

Consumers “like” magazines best

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Is the magazine medium doomed to extinction as some media pundits predict? Not according to a brand audience report published in April by MPA-The Association of Magazine Media (MPA). ‘Magazine media brands continue to deliver meaningful growth across platforms, engaging consumers in all formats, including social media.,” the report declared.

American magazine brands were growing at a 7.6 percent increase each year, they reported. And, they were engaging their readers across a variety of social media platforms with remarkable results. According to data collected by MPA’s Social Flow platform, “likes” and “followers” of social media totaled 900 million at the end of the first quarter, a 4 percent increase over the previous quarter

In fact, both television and magazine data show that the top 10 magazines reach nearly twice as many people on social media as the top 10 television programs. According to data from Shareablee, magazines generate more social engagement than TV, radio, online media, and newspapers.

“Consumers of all ages have deep and passionate relationships with magazine media,” says MPA CEO Linda Thomas Brooks. Readers engage with magazines on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

While MPA collects data primarily from secular magazines, Christian magazines can find encouragement in the data. Certainly some magazines struggle and over the last five or six years a number of prominent American magazines have closed their print operations and switched to digital format. Many of these are engaging their readers through social media more than ever before

In fact, the global digital magazine market is projected to grow from 14 percent in 2015 to 35 percent in 2020, according to   Business Wire in London. The bold prediction is based on analysis by Technavio, a technology research company. The company explains that the growth of the global digital magazine publishing market is predicated on the increased penetration of the Internet and extensive use of mobile devices.

The lesson for Christian magazines? If you’re publishing the kind of content people want to read and if you’re engaging them across a variety of social media platforms, you have significant potential to grow your audience.

 

Publishers look to Facebook to increase audience engagement

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 2.45.34 PM.pngBy Friday morning last week 30,389 people had been talking about Dabira, a magazine that has been in existence only a short time. How is it possible that so many people were talking about a Nigerian Christian magazine? Dabira Editor Lara Odebiyi discovered long ago how a Facebook page for her magazine could impact and influence current and potential readers of her magazine. With nearly 6,000 likes, Dabira’s Facebook page has the potential to engage tens of thousands of people.

Publishers have come to recognize the value of Facebook engagement in reaching and responding to their current and potential readers. Facebook defines the engagement rate as the percentage of people who saw a post and reacted to it, sharing, clicking, or commenting on it. Page administrators can view the engagement rate for each post and to see certain limited demographic statistics on those who “like” the page.

In order to reach more people and to increase engagement, Facebook suggests using Page Insights to learn how the audience is engaging with the posts. The Post Types section will allow you to see the kinds of posts that have the highest average reach and engagement.. You can use this information to create more of the types of posts that your audience wants to see

You can also increase engagement by:

* Offering useful content, rather than simply filling up the columns with your own advertising and promotions.

* Asking questions your readers would want to answer. Get a conversation going to increase response.

* Host contests. Use Facebook’s Events Page feature for an attractive and efficient way to organize your contest and receive feedback.

* Offering conference registration. If your magazine is planning a conference, make it possible for people to link to your registration form from Facebook.

* Posting on the days and at the times when your users are on Facebook looking for content. This information is available in your Page Insights.

* Using Facebook apps to add extra features to your page, including RSS feeds,; quizzes, and contact forms.

* Posting videos. Videos get more attention than any other type of post. They can be quite short and don’t have to be professional quality. Interview authors, record readers’ comments about the magazine or topics covered by the magazine. Share appropriate videos from other Facebook users.

* Using pictures with your written posts to grab readers’ attention.

When you’re busy producing a magazine, keeping up a Facebook page can seem like simply another burdensome job. Yet a magazine, with its rich content and articulate authors, has more resources to work with than most other businesses and is ideal for generating Facebook engagement.

Dabira and many other magazines have already discovered the value of Facebook and are using it to their advantage. If your magazine hasn’t yet set goals for your Facebook page and generated a plan for increasing your engagement, it may be time to take a new look at this potentially important tool in your tool box.

Fresh out of ideas for Facebook posts? Check out this  blog post on MagazineTraining.com for a list of suggestions.

Young people opt for print

When students at Penn State decided this summer to start a magazine called Impact, they planned to have both an online and offline presence—that is, a print magazine. “We feel print is really important,” stated co-founder and co-editor Frances Starn. Speaking on the magazine’s Kickstarter video she said “We feel that having people be able to hold the magazine in their hand and see something will help us reach the widest audience possible.”

What? These are college students, the people raised on the Internet, wirelessly connected 24/7. Wouldn’t they prefer to consume content on one of their several devices? Not so, according to a poll released this summer by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. The poll found that 75 percent of young adults aged 16-29 years of age said they have read at least one book in print in the past year, compared with 65 percent of adults 30 and older.

“Younger Americans’ reading habits and library use are still anchored by the printed page,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, a research analyst at Pew Research.  Americans under 30 are just as likely as older adults to visit the library and borrow print books, she said.

Sure, they love their technology, but there’s something about the look and feel of the printed page which they find attractive.

The silver lining in the bad news about magazine publishing

“Magazines, all kinds of them, don’t work very well in the marketplace anymore.” This startling statement was made earlier this month by David Carr in his Media Equation column in The New York Times. Reflecting the generally negative atmosphere surrounding any discussion of the future of magazines, he went on to say that “like newspapers, magazines have been in a steady slide, but now like newspapers, they seem to have reached the edge of the cliff.” As evidence he pointed to a recent Audit Bureau of Circulations report stating that newsstand circulation in the first half of the year was down almost 10 percent. Advertising is also down 8.8 percent year to date over “the same miserable period a year ago,” according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

Magazine publishing in the United Kingdom has also suffered a series of setbacks, according to Mike King of Companiesandmarkets.com. Moreover, he states that the UK magazine publishing market has been forecast to continue to decline over the next five years. However, he is a little more optimistic than some market observers, predicting an eventual recovery, or at least stabilization, as the UK economy recovers.

In South Africa, some observers are even more optimistic about the future of magazine publishing–with one caveat. “There is a definite downward trend within the magazine publishing industry, both in terms of readership numbers and ad revenue, locally and internationally,” says Tanja Carruthers, editor at Fitness magazine and publisher at Maverick Publishing Corporation. “However, certain niche titles seem to be the exception as consumers become more discretionary with their tighter expendable income.” Her magazine is a case in point. South Africa’s only dedicated female health and fitness magazine has posted its fifth consecutive year of circulation growth.

Carruthers says that instead of consuming more general information, people now prefer to consume content on a specific subject through their preferred media platform. This phenomenon has been evident for decades, appearing as long ago as 1971 with the demise of Look magazine and the introduction of a plethora of new specialized magazines. However, Carruthers predicts this trend of “narrow-casting” to  increase and eventually overtake the older more-general once-venerable publications, which like dinosaurs, will eventually drift into obscurity.

Use Facebook to interact with subscribers

Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are valuable tools for magazines which have discovered the value of interacting with subscribers. But how do you use these platforms effectively? And how do you keep them from draining valuable staff time? The Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) has offered some tips developed by Brad Best, RJI’s advertising editor, and a team of Missouri School of Journalism students after weeks of analysis of a major Midwest metro daily newspaper. Here are five tips regarding Facebook.

1. Ask questions as a way of beginning discussion about events or issues. Make sure to link back to an article about the event, in order to drive traffic to your Web site.

2. Use visuals to add interest to the layout of your Facebook page.

3. Integrate new technology and media into your page in order to keep it lively and interesting. Consider posting videos of events, authors, or themes related to an article you want to feature.

4. Find a balance between daily posts and conversations. Too many posts will clog users’ feeds, and readers will begin to unsubscribe.

5. Prompt the visitor to read the Web site article related to the discussion question on Facebook.

Download the full article at http://rjionline.org/news/how-use-email-tool-your-news-site

 

Chinese magazines see new opportunities and challenges

The secular magazine market in China is booming, according to Chinese publishers interviewed recently by Publishing Executive. Chris Hu, publisher of Elle Decoration and Quentin Lin, editorial director and associate publisher of Elle Men, were interviewed at the Yale Publishing Course in England last week. Both publications cater to the rapidly growing affluent urban population and both finance their magazines with advertising of luxury items. The advertising income is essential, they say, because glossy magazines cannot make money selling magazines on the newsstand.

Another challenge is distribution.  China is a large country spread across five time zones, and the 21 provinces have varying policies for periodical distribution, ranging from newsstands to the post office to state-owned stores, making it impossible to establish a unified distribution policy.

But one of the biggest problems is the gap between the rich and the poor and rural areas and cites. This requires different marketing strategies in different places.

Nevertheless, some magazines have managed to overcome at least some of the obstacles to grow exponentially. According to a China Daily report, Men’s magazines, a relatively new entry in the Chinese media market, have enjoyed an annual growth of 30 percent since 2006.

Social media may have been a factor in this growth. There are more than 500 million Internet users in China and according to a Chinese government report over half are on a social network. China’s microblog, Weibo, is an important tool for magazines, says Lin, and publishers are making increasing use of social media.

Work as a journalist in China, however, is not without its dangers. Two senior newspaper executives in Shanghai were recently removed from their positions, presumably because of incautious reporting on sensitive issues.

The 10 biggest digital magazine mistakes

So you’ve launched a digital magazine or you’ve created a digital twin for your print magazine. Congratulations! Now take this 10 point checkup to see how you’re doing. In a blog published by Unbound Media, Michelle Kalman tells of contacting a broad mix of industry experts to research some of the key problems in digital magazine publishing. These are 10 of the big mistakes she discovered.

1. Duplicating the print experience. The print and digital media are not the same. Both present limitations and opportunities. Recognize the limitations of the digital medium, but also be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities it offers to build your magazine’s community through social media tools or to extend your story through video.

2. Assuming the online user experiences digital content in the same way a reader experiences print content. Your online navigation may not easily parallel your printed table of contents. Online users may jump around more than print readers. The importance of position may change and you may need to make your advertisers aware of this fact.

3. Not bothering with research. Just because you’ve researched your print publication doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do research before you begin to develop your digital version. Look at successful online magazines and figure out what makes them work. Find out how your readers want to access content.

4. Failing to get the best digital talent you can afford. Hire talented web developers and designers to produce your digital version. They will know what works in print, but may not work on line. Don’t forget to invest in social media activities.

5. Producing too many pages. The attention span of an online reader is much shorter than that of a print reader. Forget the three-page articles with columns of grey type.  Break down content into smaller bites in separate sections. And don’t forget to include creative elements to keep the reader’s interest.

6. Not keeping up with changing technology. So you’ve created a digital magazine or a digital version of your print publication. What platform are your readers using? Does your online publication work well on that platform? Each platform has its own rules and restrictions. There’s iPads, Android tablets, various readers, and mobile apps–plus whatever came out last week. No single digital product is going to work well on all platforms. You’ll  need to keep up with the technology to know where best to spend your digital dollars.

7. Thinking of money before engagement. Is your digital publication a desperate attempt to pull in some funds for the organization? In that case, it’s likely to fail. You’ll need to create engaging, relevant content in order to attract and involve an audience.

8. Not considering the advertiser. Advertising considerations are not the same as reader requirements. Spend money and time on preparing the right online presence for your advertisers.

9. Forgetting to get feedback. As you are developing your new online  magazine, get input from all those who will have a stake in the success of the publication. That includes audience, advertisers, and your staff.

10. Being satisfied with the status quo. Keep improving; take advantage of new digital opportunities and make sure your content continues to be fresh and engaging.

Is print dead? It’s too soon to start writing the obituary

The news continues to come with gasps of amazement. Twenty years after its founding, SmartMoney magazine will dump its print edition in order to focus on SmartMoney.com! Twenty-five print staffers will lose their jobs! By the end of the year the Financial Times could have more digital subscribers than buyers of print copies! U.S. publishers report that foreign e-book sales last year increased 333 percent over 2010 sales! Is print dead? Or, at best on life support?

Probably not. A 2012 Reynolds Journalism Institute study confirms that tablet users continue to read print newspapers and magazines. Nearly half of Apple iPad owners and a quarter of Android table owners say they have a subscription to at least one print publication. A recent Pew State of the News Media study noted that a quarter of Millennials (18-24 year olds) said they read a printed newspaper the day before. Some 22 percent said they read newspapers at least every other day. That is compared with 40 percent of adults overall who say the same. The New York Times reports that 10 percent of its hard copy subscribers are Millenials; 9 percent subscribe digitally.

In the U.S., more print magazines were launched than closed in 2011, the same trend as evident in 2010. The Economist, a highly-respected British news magazine, writes about a new sense of optimism among publishers due to the increased readership of magazines. In fact, magazine audiences are growing faster than those for television or newspapers.

So, what accounts for the statistics of the first paragraph? The editor of SmartMoney magazine says the volatility of markets and asset classes has increased the need for rapid delivery of personal finance intelligence. Also, the magazine was losing ad pages. Thus the decision to cut their losses and try the digital model. Why is the Financial Times increasing digital subscribers at such a rapid rate? The magazine was one of the first to recognize the possibility of monetizing content on the Web and from the beginning charged for content that they made sure offered quality, rather than quantity. And, they were innovative in their approach to technology, opting for HTML5 very early on, with the result that their Web app drew 2 million users in less than a year.

What about the growth of foreign e-book sales? After all, a 333 percent increase is pretty amazing, isn’t it? Perhaps not so amazing when you realize that even after its phenomenal growth last year,  e-book sales still represents only 6 percent of total sales.

Perhaps some day print will die. But that day will not come this year, next year, or even next decade. Save the obituary writing job for your grandchild.

The State of Magazine Publishing Today—A definitive answer…more or less

What is the state of magazine publishing today? It appears to be a multiple choice question. And the answer is, “All of the above.”

An article in last week’s The Economist print edition stated that magazine publishing has been infused with a new sense of optimism. Magazines are still attractive to advertisers and there is strong reader loyalty, the author states. Moreover, magazines have learned to harness digital technology in innovative ways. And, for the second year in a row, more magazines were launched in 2011 than closed.

Meanwhile, the opposite point of view is argued in a blog post on the Economist Group’s Lean Back 2.0 blog, in which the author Rishad Tabaccowala states that “tablets will hasten the demise of magazines and not save them.” Tablets put magazine content on the same level as games and social media, he says. And the iPad disrupts magazine publishers’ tight control over distribution and damages their ability to bundle content together. In short, Tabaccowala describes the state of the magazine industry as a “headache.”

Then, there’s the Huffington Post, a well-known blog which this week launched an iPad magazine called “Huffington.” The weekly publication will offer longer pieces than on its blog, with photo essays and and data visualizations. Subscribers will pay by the issue, month, or year.

So, what is the state of magazine publishing? Disastrous or encouraging? Growing or heading for oblivion? Is the iPad the new frontier in magazine publishing or will it deal the final blow to the industry?  And the answer is….Yes.