Magazine Readership, Advertising Changes

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, there was concern in the magazine industry about how editorial content would change to reflect the times.

The changes are in line with new reading habits since the attacks, according to a study done by Knowledge Networks/Statistical Research. The study, based on surveys of 568 households, reports there is increased interest in news articles, with that category growing 32%. Personal business and finance grew 5%. No other article categories grew. The parenting, home and food categories remained unchanged. There were declines in fashion and beauty (12%), people and personalities (6%), sports (5%), movies (5%) and travel (4%).

Drops in these categories suggest trouble for the largest consumer magazines. For instance, is the lower interest in people and personalities a threat to People?

Nina Link, president and CEO of the Magazine Publishers of America, doesn't really think so. She downplays the study, noting that it was conducted a few weeks ago, closer to the time of the actual attacks. The study is reflective of a time when "people were overloaded on TV news and newspaper coverage of the events," she says. "Now people are still engaged in news, but looking for the familiar. They try to look for a sense of normalcy and magazines play an important role in that."

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She even says people are looking for "fantasy" because of all the frightening news, a situation that could make fashion and personality magazines popular.

As for magazine advertising, she says the content is changing there, too, with a preponderance of patriotic ads since the attacks. She's not sure how long they will last. "It's unfolding and we'll need to look at it as it unfolds," she says.

She also says magazine advertising has dropped off since the attacks, partly because of lower readership and partly because advertisers are unsure of what kind of ads they should run in this environment. "There's a concern from advertisers about where they fit in across the content. They've been scrutinizing their campaigns to better calibrate them to where the American people are."

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