There’s signs of life in print media, still. In Australia two recent magazine success stories are perhaps signaling print’s future place in the rapidly evolving media landscape – niche or special interest magazines with loyal, cult audiences.
The good news: They are popular.
The bad news: They are not exceptionally profitable.
Frankie magazine, for instance, has reportedly surpassed glamourous mainstream glossy titles like Harpers Bazaar and Vogue in sales and experienced four per cent growth in circulation in the last year.
The independent magazine’s quirky, arty, literary-leaning content attracts the typically hipster female reader. The content formula is obviously working well, now that Frankie’s publisher Morrison Media launched a sibling title for boys called The Smith Journal late last year.
Then there’s Cult. A new, niche title targeted at the Sydney gay demographic. It frames itself as a cutting-edge culture magazine with a queer bent, but steers away from the stereotypical notions of the established gay scene. It’s somewhat a niche within a niche, so-to-speak.
Despite discouraging print readership and sales figures worldwide and an uncertain media market future, Cult magazine launched in Sydney yesterday. In an interview with the Global Mail published this week, Brad Monaghan, editor-in-chief of Cult and publishing director of Gay News Network, described the print media business model as “robust” and overturns the commonly held “death of print myth,” saying his print publications were doing just fine.
In an interview with The Age the editor of Frankie, Jo Walker, admits that her publication subsists on a tight shoestring budget and has previously been quoted saying that Frankie contributors are ”sometimes paid in hugs and six-packs [of beer].”
So while it’s positive to see print media still has a pulse, its profitability is somewhat disappointing.
In a recent article from The Guardian, journalist Mark Hooper says that niche print media is anchoring and boosting online editorial mastheads and brands. They are not necessarily wildly valuable in monetary terms, but they create extra market attention. Hooper interviews experts who disagree with the traditional mindset that excludes online and print mediums from one-another. They are argue they have different attributes and abilities but can collaborate and co-exist.
If the two mediums can manage to support one another, the death of print really will be the myth Brad Monaghan describes.