Sunday, May 10, 2015

The inescapable parallels between political parties and magazines

Eavesdropping on the vicious in-fighting that always comes in the wake of a major political defeat I can't help thinking about the parallels with what we used to say about magazine publishing.

There are two ways to launch a magazine. Either:

1. You look around at how the mass of people are behaving (which is always different from how they *say* they're behaving) and produce a magazine that goes with that grain.
2. You produce the kind of magazine you would like to read yourself and hope that a lot of other people will like it as well.

Guess which one works.


  1. Oh David, haven't you heard of "the third way" yet..? ;-)

  2. In the intense analysis following their election defeat, there are still Labour Party members saying that if only they had provided a more genuinely left wing alternative they would have fared better in the polls. This seems complete nonsense to me - it may well be truer to Labour's heritage and roots, but there's no sign that the British people would vote for it.

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  4. Thinking further about the parallel, it's perfectly possible to launch a magazine in the second way providing you don't mind coming third or fourth.

  5. All I can say is 'Keep up the good work you've done so far'.

  6. Reminds me of all the shenanigans going on in the world of Shindig magazine - where the publisher's attempted revamp assumed that Way (1) would win out but he has now thrown in the towel because Way (2), as reflected by the editors' stance, appears to hold more truck with the readership, writers and advertisers ...

  7. I take it The Word was an example of the second approach? Certainly worked well for a good run.

  8. The Word was an example of the second approach. In a reasonably buoyant market it's possible to sustain a title like that but when the market's shrinking and advertising is disappearing it's impossible.

  9. Yet Mojo, Q, and others ( all inferior to The Word, in my opinion, but that's all part of the second approach problem, I guess), carry on. Also I am always struck when in a newsagent what a huge proliferation of magazines there is, many of which cater for apparently tiny niche markets.

  10. I bought "Q" from the beginning and loved it for a few years; then it stopped being what I liked, so I stopped buying it.

    Likewise "Mojo". I still have the first issue kicking around somewhere. But just like "Q" it went of the boil and that was that.

    Clearly they're both still successful, but just not for me anymore.

    Having said that, occasionally they crop up on the local market magazine stall. At a quid for recent issues and sometimes the current issue, I invest. Occasionally.

    I never got tired of "The Word". I might have done, but I saw no evidence that it was becoming something I would get tired of.

    Perhaps it's time for some sort of fanzine. Then again, perhaps not.

  11. Yeah, I bought Q because I liked (and this might read rather perverse, in a sense) the notion of being *ever so slightly* talked down to. It seemed, at least, to be written by people who knew more about more kinds of music than I did.

    As soon as I felt, and this is only a few years ago, that I wouldn't have any Q writers on my pub music quiz, it was time to stop buying it. I should point out that as far as I'm concerned, I STILL know sod-all about folk/jazz/prog/psychadelia/dance

    Word had for me, again, a slightly patrician air about it; I don't think that any of the former staff should take that as an insult - i suspect some might take it as a compliment, actually.

    I think nowadays people, in general, want to read something that makes them feel smarter than the writer. I'm not sure it was always thus.