Tuesday, 17 July 2012

What are you reading?

In Sunday’s Observer, Peter Preston noted the trend among US newspapers to cease publishing on at least one day of the week, typically their lowest sales day, and speculated why this phenomenon has not (yet) reached the UK.  One of the recurring themes of Preston’s weekly column is the decline of print-based media in the face of competition from digital.

This got me thinking about which print-based publications I still read, other than books.  My wife and I read one newspaper every Saturday (the Guardian) and every Sunday (the Observer), as part of our relaxing breakfast ritual.  I don’t take weekday newspapers – what’s the point?  And I don’t pay for any other print-based publication on a regular basis.

The magazines I read regularly include: Management Today (excellent) and Professional Manager (so-so), which I receive as a benefit of my membership of CMI; People Management (good), which I receive as a benefit of my membership of CIPD; and HR Network Scotland (poor), which is free.  All have online complements, all of which I consult from time to time.

But if I didn’t get these through other deals, I doubt I would deliberately pay for them – the possible exception is Management Today, which despite Luke Johnson’s execrable column, is always both entertaining and informative.

This marks a massive shift over the last 25 years.  I used to access lots of publications through work: I brought home the Glasgow Herald and the Financial Times daily, and I subscribed to the likes of the journal of the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education (now defunct) and Training Officer (still going strong as Training Journal).  And I subscribed, or bought at newsagents, a variety of other magazines – now I buy none.

Most of my reading is online, and even if some of my sources move to charge (although the pace of this is incredibly slow), I expect that to continue.  Like Peter Preston, I can’t see much of a future for print-based media.  Which begs the question – who on earth is buying all those rows of glossy magazines that still fill the shelves of WH Smith et al?

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