Research Outline

Print Magazine Production and Distribution Post COVID -19


To have a broad understanding of the effects of print magazine production and distribution post COVID-19. An ideal response would include any supporting data surrounding opportunities to take a print edition to digital format, as well as predictions surrounding whether sponsorships (advertising support) would continue if a print magazine switched to digital only.

Early Findings

We were not provided a geographic focus, so we assumed a global perspective. If a more targeted approach is desired, for example, the United States, this would have to be clearly communicated to us in any reply.
  • Kerrang!, the music magazine, announced that it will stop printing for three months. DIY magazine did not print in April, but instead asked readers for support. Other publications, such as Loud and Quiet, are trying to innovate their way through, collaborating with other publishers and labels to generate support.
  • "While all publications have been hit [by COVID-19], those that are most resilient, and least vulnerable to this carnage, are those that are part of a big group, have strong digital properties, and have successfully switched their business model to generate income directly from readers rather than through advertising. It follows that those who are most vulnerable are those that are not part of major empires, are heavily reliant on advertising and print distribution, and don't have really powerful digital operations yet."
  • Playboy Enterprises will cease publication of 66 year old Playboy magazine after the current spring issue. COVID-19 was provided as a reason for doing so.
  • After 72 years of being in business, San Diego Magazine laid off nearly its entire staff and said it would shut down operations. Weekly publication Sacramento News & Review announced its closure and laid off most of its workforce. Seattle-based alt weekly The Stranger suspended its print edition and furloughed more than half of its staff “due to the hellscape of unforeseen economic events brought on by the coronavirus.”
  • Publishing 40 magazines in city markets around the world, The Time Out Group announced it was temporarily suspending its print editions for an unknown time frame.
  • The Brattleboro Reformer, Bennington Banner and the Manchester Journal all published by New England Newspapers, have slashed page counts and asked staff to take a temporary furlough.
  • D Magazine, based in Dallas, announced it had laid off 15 employees and implemented salary cuts for all remaining employees.
  • London publisher City AM will close down its print editions and go online in an effort to cut costs until it becomes viable to print again, with the newspaper’s entire staff being asked to accept a 50 percent pay cut.
  • A report by technology company discovered that the coronavirus pandemic has caused online news sites’ content views to climb by 60 percent. According to a New York Times report, web traffic in the United States from Facebook to other websites increased by more than 50 percent in the last weeks of March.
  • A current German consumer study by market research company Appinio revealed that 19% of people have increased their newspaper and magazine consumption.
  • According to a Bluetoad study, seventy percent of people reported concerns about their safety or the safety of their family due to reading a physical print magazine, journal, or newspaper during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In that same study, fifty-four percent of people are more likely to consume digital content over print while practicing social distancing.
  • Paul DeHart, CEO of BlueToad, asserts that “While print remains very relevant both now and long term, publishers must acknowledge the fact that consumers are perhaps more than ever leaning on other perceived safer, digital ways to consume content and connect with brands.”
  • According to Matt Arnold, chief engagement officer at VMLY&R, a full-service ad agency in South Africa, "those brands who are not terminating their ad spend altogether are shifting it to in-home content, mobile and online gaming, because that’s where the action is now." He says we will be seeing an even greater move away from out-of-home advertising, transit media, radio (in-car), cinema, sports events and concerts, shopping centers and retail stores to Google search, television, streaming video and audio services, mobile and online gaming, social media and online news."

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • As noted at the beginning of this document, we were not provided a geographic focus, so we assumed a global perspective. If a more targeted approach is desired, for example, the United States, this would have to be clearly communicated to us in any reply.
  • Our initial hour of research focused on the effects of COVID on print magazines and the transition to digital formats.
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