Goodbye to 8020 Media: Take 3 A Call to Change the Publishing Model

January 6, 2009

Media reporters and bloggers alike have been swarming like bees over the news of the demise of 8020 Media and JPG magazine. I have said it once, and I will say it again now, we’ve become an industry (media reporters, bloggers) that thrive on the bad news of the demise of our own media. We are quick to report the news of the death, slow to report the news of the success or birth of new publications. And even when we report the bad news we do not offer any solutions. The news surrounding 8020 Media and JPG magazine is yet another example of what I have been trying to promote regarding the need for a new publishing model. That’s why I referred to 8020 Media and JPG as the “candle in the wind.”

The publishing model pre WWII was based on circulation driven revenues, after WWII we shifted to an advertising driven revenue model. Now we are stuck. Very few magazines remained sincere to their original mission and revenue stream, i.e. circulation driven (Highlights, Consumer Reports, and the entire herd of Reiman publications during the Roy Reiman ownership era). The current magazine model that depends on advertising as a major source of revenue hit a major set back with the horrific economic meltdown. Major magazine publishers continue to chase numbers rather than customers hoping that by giving their magazines away they can be ready for the advertising come back. So, today you can get 24 issues of Cosmopolitan for $10, O, The Oprah Magazine, 24 issues for a mere $10 and of course my favorite example 52 issues of Newsweek for $10.

Well, today Mitch Fox, President and CEO of 8020 Media, e-mailed me what I felt is a true call for action regarding the magazine industry. With his permission, here is the entire e-mail:

I’m still disappointed that not one magazine company can see this as a game changer for them….At the least the beginning of what can be a game changer for them.
They already have a pre — existing community of people (readers/subscribers) who they need to connect with in a NEW way…as well as recruit NEW members to this community….and ultimately retain them as readers/subscribers or; just web visitors (uniques) or; just buyers of their branded products, or just attendees at their (paid) events….in sum, they have to open up every revenue source possible…it’s just naive to think that any ONE revenue source will be so substantial that it can sustain a business any longer.

At one time that revenue source was subscription / newsstand revenue. Later, the paradigm shifted to advertising revenue. And for some time we have been aware that advertising will no longer sustain us…yet we’ve not changed our business models significantly enough.

Now…there is no one revenue source substantial enough to sustain our businesses.

So I’d suggest magazines develop the web to reach out and expand their universe of customers (readers) and monetize them (online advertising) and recruit them to subscribe to the magazine, and to participate in it ( the key to growing the online community) and continue to market to them in all the ways I described above, and all the ways we have yet to imagine. And that my friends is a way to begin to “re — build” the NEW magazine model…

Some of this will work, some won’t, but innovation is imperative, and damn it…this is a great (and cheap) place to start. (Build an online community around the title web visitors and readers.) See the response to a well-organized community by reading savejpg.com.
The power behind these magazines titles (brands?) has to be unleashed to remain competitive in this shifting media landscape. Otherwise, the next generation of readers, who are upon us NOW by the way, will simply not look to the magazines as sources for entertainment, inspiration or information…they will look elsewhere…they already do…and only a few rare titles, filing niche market needs will survive. Maybe we wouldn’t feel so anxious if the economy had not crashed around us so suddenly, thereby making this need for a new model such an imperative…but no matter, we deal with the circumstances we face, not the ones we wish for….and our reality is such that we have to innovate, and even improvise, but not ignore. Some magazines have already moved through this transition, most have not…I hope to see more push themselves to change their own self perception enough to push themselves to this new place, and enjoy the success that will come with such experimentation.
It’s late…but not too late.


  1. Of course, he still has an advertising model. It’s just different advertising. Let’s just get a few cents at a time for views or clicks or whatever. Works for major consumer sites with 7 digit hits. For niche sites, the company will have to pare down to very small size. The question for advertisers–is our business model one where brand development doesn’t matter because we sell lots of items direct to the consumer at relatively low price, or do we need to develop a brand image because we sell in lots of places.

  2. […] Despite its failure, some saw JPG’s model as the only realistic future for the magazine industry; others felt it was not aspirational enough and too expensive to survive; or maybe it just […]

  3. Such a great post. I am art director working in major croatian publishing house.
    As everywhere in the world, crises came to my country as soon as it did to US. But in business sense we are way back.
    For example online advertising is still thing to come to my country. Its opening its doors but very slowly.
    Our magazines are also dependent on advertising and since the decline in ad revenue is present, situation is the same as in US. But you have the advantage to use web as your safe heaven. You can reinvent publishing model because you have something to hold on. We over here have very slim chances of doing so.
    Apart from lack of online advertising and wider online audiences we have CEOs that still dont get it.
    They still think that sales people should chase advertisers even more in these tough times.
    It will take some time for us to convince them to change the model we work.
    Much more time than in your case.

  4. I enjoyed reading your post, Samir. Isn’t it the time when both publishing models–circulation driven and advertising driven–should be more or less blended? What I think is happening now is that advertising industry, both online and print, is starting to concern itself with accountability and verifiable circulation metrics. There are third-party companies like BPA and ABC which are doing both online and print media audits, giving advertisers more information to consider before making their media buying decisions.
    See http://www.buysafemedia.com for more information.

  5. […] come me, del magazine business: Mr Magazine offre interessanti approfondimenti. Alcuni proprio su JPGmag, con contributi del CEO di 8020 Publishing. Quest’altro invece ribalta un po’ le […]

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