Are Magazines Missing the Boat?

I am reading the latest issue of Communication World, which is the official publication of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Near the front (admittedly, I haven’t gotten very far), managing editor Sue Khodarahmi offers her take on a report from The Bivings Group that shows magazines slower to adopt Web 2.0 technologies.

Her supposition, which the research does not appear to support directly, is that magazines’ readers view them as entertainment and not news. And that “most readers seek a different experience from print than they might find online.”


I have a different take – most of the magazines haven’t put enough effort into finding ways to bring the two worlds together.

The research included the 50 most circulated magazines in the United States and determined:

  • 64% of their associated websites offer RSS feeds, compared to 97% for newspapers
  • 34% offer content tailored to mobile devices; newspapers, 53%
  • 60% include video content, far behind the 92% of newspapers
  • 36% offer bookmarking features, which is close to newspapers at 44%
  • 58% have reporter blogs versus newspapers at 95%

Of course, one obvious observation from these results is that magazines and newspapers are different. It makes sense that the respective presence on the internet will differ as well. That doesn’t mean that magazines can’t have a fully-integrated site that complements published content.

Magazines, by their very nature, are limited in what they can offer in an issue. On the web, however, the opportunities to supplement content are enormous. Have about a dozen more photos from that shoot that wouldn’t fit? Put them online. Can’t get that graph to show all the variations? Make a flash presentation. Want to do a follow-up report but don’t want to wait until you can get it in an upcoming issue? Create a special section on the site.

Use your website to cross-promote the magazine by offering online content readers access only if they have a hard copy in hand. It doesn’t matter how they get it, as long as the mag is there.

From there, the additional possibilities are endless, through the judicious use of widgets.

The beauty of technological developments like web 2.0 is that you are not locked in to following the herd. That would be downright boring. Instead, you have the opportunity to take that technology and use it in a manner that actually meets your needs and those of your readers. To do otherwise would be downright foolish.

I find it odd/coincidental that reading that article led me to write this post after seeing this post from Mark Luckie at and the two posts from Russell Davies you can find here and here.

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One Response

  1. […] so about the magazine report. I found out about it over at The Paddlewheel in a post titled “Are Magazines Missing the Boat?” Paddlwheel takes exception with a Communications World commentary on the report by editor of […]

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