05 November 2007

BusinessWeek Interview with Jann Wenner

I got a big bang reading Jon Fine's rambling yack-fest with Rolling Stone co-founder and publisher Jann Wenner:
An In-Depth Interview With Jann Wenner

BW: Do you worry about the future of magazines as a medium?

JW: No. I don't.

BW: At all.

JW: No. Reading is not going away. There are things that magazines do better than other mediums and you just have to do that and do it better than ever. There are so many media choices out there now in the world-Internet, other magazines, blah blah blah blah--that if you don't do a really, really good job, if you're just half-assed, why bother? The audience is just gonna wander away. If you do it really well, you hold onto the audience and you build real value. It has to be meaningful. It can't be casual [expletive]. It has to be meaningful, in some way, in peoples' lives and do things that magazines do really well, [like] photography and editing. I've seen so many magazines trying to imitate Web sites in their redesigns, of doing all these little bits and pieces, and it's like, if you do it correctly, and you can broaden the depth of the experience. That’s what you can bring to peoples’ lives, beyond what’s on the printed page--if you do it correctly ...
The above reflects a lot of what I've been saying about magazines for Baby Boomers - along with how to position them on the racks and on the web.

Every week someone emails me about magazines:
"Is there a magazine for Baby Boomers?"
"I want to start a magazine for Boomers."
"I have a product and want to advertise in a magazine for Baby Boomers."
"I'm a writer in my 50s (or 60s) and I want to write for a magazine that targets Baby Boomers. Are there any?"

Yeah. In Europe.

And if Mr. Wenner is correct, we probably won't be seeing anything like the emergence of a Rolling Stone - meaning, a grass-roots magazine - ever:
JW: It is very, very tough. Tougher than ever. If you were to start a new [successful] magazine today, you'd have to have the backing of major publishing company. Have there been any? Other than little tiny things?

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