Crash Course in Publishing Economics

Published in the September 2013 Issue Steve Janes
Viewed 645 time(s)

In Journalism 101, students learn of a basic philosophy when it comes to advertising and editorial—you keep them separate. But that’s not easy to do when you realize that it is advertising revenue that pays the way for the edito­rial product.

Another difficult concept for people without formal training in the publish­ing world is the separation of editorial and advertising. Even today we have companies who expect open access to our editorial pages because somewhere along the line they have spent money with us.

And then there are readers who don’t always agree with what we say (good or bad) about a certain product and claim that we are selling out to certain advertisers.

So this column is to provide a basic understanding to all on how our edito­rial department approaches filling edi­torial space in our magazine.

First, anything that is considered editorial is owned and copyrighted by SnoWest Magazine. If an advertiser sends in a product review for editorial, it becomes ours. We can choose wheth­er we want to use it, change it or throw it away. If it is something we believe is of interest to our readers, we use it … but most always it will go through an editing process to conform to our style and space availability. Naturally, we want it to remain accurate. But we usu­ally eliminate the fluff.

Sometimes advertisers complain that we trim too much out of it. But then it falls back to the first point made: if it’s editorial, we can do what we want.

On the other hand, we also sell space in the magazine for advertising. This space becomes the ownership of the advertiser. He can decide what message he wants to deliver and use his own words to promote the sales of his product. That’s why he buys the space—so he can have 100 percent control of his message.

Now the other interesting thing to note is that the size of our publica­tion is based on the amount of our advertising revenue. (Have you ever noticed that Sunday newspapers are much larger than Monday newspapers? Do you think that there’s more news happening on Sunday than Monday?) The more advertising, the more space available for editorial. That means the stories are longer, the photos bigger, and there’s just that much more for the readers.

In recent years (let’s just say the last 4-5) the economy has been down and ad dollars more scarce. We have had smaller issues. Everyone in publishing has. We have all cut deep to reduce costs to allow our advertising revenue to stretch as far as possible. We have had to become much more selective on what stories get printed and which ones we move over to where space is more plentiful.

That doesn’t mean we will only print information about our advertis­ers … although it does hold true that when push comes to shove, the infor­mation about a product being adver­tised will likely carry a higher priority than information about a company that doesn’t advertise. But we are also looking for the information which will likely be of higher reader interest—we still need to compete with other magazines on the newsstands and for subscribers.

We do believe our readers are smart when it comes to snowmobiling. You guys know what works, what doesn’t work and what looks interesting. That’s why we continue to search for the best information possible and provide it to you … even though sometimes the space is limited.

Hopefully, this will help you to be as informed about publishing as you are about snowmobiles.

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