The belief that magazines will disappear is a myth, Natalie Larivière, president of Transcontinental Media, said yesterday at a panel discussion on the future of magazines. Transcontinental is so optimistic about the future, in fact, that it’s planning to “launch four magazines in the next five years,” Larivière revealed.“We believe in the future of magazines because people like to read and engage. Magazine brands are strong and have credibility of voice.
The discussion took place as part of Magazines du Québec’s annual Journée Magazines conference in Montreal.
As proof of the medium’s continuing viability, Larivière cited a recent Canadian Living
“food trends” survey of 1,600 people, where readers named magazines as the most appropriate medium for recipes. Larivière also predicted that some stand-alone online communities being created on by magazine publishers will evolve into print properties.
Larivière’s views were shared by fellow panelist Tony Cioffi, president and CEO of Reader’s Digest Canada. The future of magazines rests on their capacity to create links with readers, to provide content when and where readers want it and to create communities on the Web, Cioffi said. He cited Best Health
, which was launched after a year of research that determined there was demand for a health and lifestyle magazine for women under 55. “We’re building a brand that will survive in 10 years,” and will extend into books and other properties, Cioffi said.
Pierre Dion, president and CEO of Groupe TVA, said the arrival of the Internet means that, for the first time, the magazine industry has lost control of the distribution networks, at least when it comes to the Web.. “Magazines can choose to fight it or surf in front of the wave,” he said.
The convergence model is key to success, said Dion. TVA, for example, can take advantage of parent Quebecor’s network of print, TV and Internet properties. Although convergence has plenty of critics, Dion said Quebecor is proud of its approach. “It’s probably the only business model that will resist the control of readers and advertisers.”
Marc Blondeau, senior vice president consumer publications at Rogers Media and president of Éditions Rogers Québec, said the Internet should not be viewed as a problem to solve, but as a reality that can offer new possibilities. Although a multi-platform approach is touted as necessary for the magazine industry, he warned that care has to be taken lest the industry become too multi-platformed in approach.
The panelists all agreed that magazines are in a class apart from newspapers, and don't face the same difficulties as their daily cousins.
In answer to comment from a participant who warned that more English-language magazines, such as O
, are hitting the shelves of Wal-Mart in the almost 100% francophone Quebec hinterland, Dion replied that language makes Quebec magazines less vulnerable to competition from American titles than those in English Canada.