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“Cerebral” Magazines Resist Readership Decline

by Rachel Levitt


Tags: Media, Magazines, Mainstream media, newspaper readership, The Independent, The Editors Weblog,

The decline of newspaper readership is well documented. But research shows that this negative trend has not affected more “cerebral” weekly and monthly magazines. It seems counterintuitive, but as Stephen Glover of the Independent explains, it actually makes sense when you take a closer look.

Why has newspaper readership gone down? Most blame the internet, which makes a physical copy of the publication almost obsolete. But much of the content of magazines is also online, so why are they thriving while newspapers are foundering?

One factor is timeliness: how many of us have felt it was “too late” to read that day’s paper, that we could catch up with the weekend edition or on the website? How many of us simply don’t have time to sit down and read much of anything on a daily basis? Cerebral publications put out weekly or monthly, on the other hand, are less time-sensitive. In addition, they tend to have a better sense of their readers. They aren’t afraid to tailor their content to a specific audience in lieu of going for a massive slice of the population and seeing what sticks. Not to mention that reading a magazine is more of an enjoyable, leisurely activity. “There are few greater innocent pleasures in this life than curling up on a sofa, or on a rug in the garden, or even on the train, with a decent magazine in one's hands.” A decent magazine like, say, the Utne Reader?

(Thanks, The Editors Weblog)