Magazine summit no crystal ball on media future
Journalism and marketing will continue to move ever closer, with the wall once separating them being steadily dismantled. By publishers. And that’s a good thing. Read on.
Seeking to answer questions around magazine strategy in the information age, publishers from across the country gathered at the Cape Town International Convention Centre for the first annual SAPPI MPASA (Magazine Publishers Association of South Africa) Media Summit. A prelude to the day’s main draw, the PICA awards (the magazine publishing industry’s annual award show), the summit was meant to explore what the magazine landscape will look like five years from now. There seemed to be few answers.
James R Gaines (@JamesRGaines), former managing editor of People, Time and Life magazine before he become editor-in-chief of FLYP, a now defunct biweekly multimedia magazine published online, and later CEO of StoryRiver Media, was the keynote interview at the summit.
Tim Modise was tasked with interviewing Gaines in what turned into a fairly broad conversation on Gains’ work and his views on the future of magazines and journalism. The audience received many familiar sound bites, such as “storytelling can be done in multiple mediums,” “the sound of inauthenticity is loud,” “media has become social,” that media should embrace loss of control over flow of information and that the Internet is a new medium not suited for repurposed content.
The interview never quite came together to allow a proper narrative on the digital future of magazines to emerge, though. What was interesting was Gaines’ take on the future of content, in that he advocated a closer relationship between publishers and advertisers to generate more revenue, and for the breaking down of walls that separates newsrooms from marketing departments.
Gaines is selling storytelling, not journalism in its more traditional sense, to anybody with a story to tell. It’s not a sell that goes down well with journalists, and Gaines freely admits that he has given up trying to sell his particular angle on storytelling to the editorial side of media. He simply no longer engages with them, out of frustration he says; instead he’s pitching to the people controlling the purse strings. They seem to be buying and his sentiment on the closer association between journalism and advertising would be echoed several times during the course of the day.
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