The Influence And Consequence Of New Media On Glossies
The influence and consequence
of new media on glossies
Linda van der Meer
Lisa van Winden
The assignment for week three started by dividing the topics around the question that Sofie
Spindler asked: Is the medium really still the message and have digital media and interactive
media influenced and pushed and reinventured the structure of the classic magazine format?
To answer this question we had to be critical about the literature we were going to use and
we had to come up with at least one alternative question. In this essay we try to answer the
question what is new and what isn’t new about the question we selected.
There are some subjects we want to discuss in this preface, like the definition of new media,
the influence and consequence of new media and the considering of newness.
New media is the designation for digital, computerized, networked, interactive and
communication technologies of the twentieth century. This is only a short summary of the
term new media, there are more than hundred ways to define this designation. ‘From clocks
to telegraphs to radio and television, new media have always woven themselves into
everyday life, interfering with existing patterns of spatiotemporal organization, generating
new rhythms and spaces’ (Lister, 2003: 237). New media can be seen as new ways to make
connections with and to the world. These days the intensity of change is very high. New
media makes the world smaller and at the same time bigger, because people have access to
all communication systems. An example of new media which makes the world smaller is
Skype. People use this medium to have video conversations all over the planet. An example
to make the world bigger by using new media systems, is for instance the search mechanism
Google. You don’t have to go to your local library anymore, because you can look into
thousands of different books all over the world by using the Internet at home.
The most distinct question Lister asks by measuring newness is: ‘How do we know that
something is new or in what way it is new if we have not carefully compared it with what
already exists or has gone before?’ (Lister, 2003: 46). We think it definitely is necessary to
look at the traditions of a process, to come to a well found conclusion about the newness of
media, because most new things are reproduced or developed or comparable by other and
What isn´t new about the problem with glossies and new media that Spindler
Spindler discusses that, with the rise of digital media, the traditional format of glossies will
change or even disappear. As we all know the internet is becoming more and more powerful
and has its influence on the creative industries. But is this a problem? And if so, is it a
problem from the last few years?
Print media is a part of the creative industries that has gone through so many changes since
their beginning. First the change from only using text to also editing pictures, then from black
and white to colored printing and so on. It has always been very important that the print
media kept up with society. Therefore the traditional format of print media has already
changed so much since it was introduced. So, now that the internet and other digital media
are rising, should we be worried about print media and the traditional format? Or should we
embrace the development and use it to make glossies more interesting and modern?
Spindler wonders what the new digital media will do to glossies. Off course that’s an
interesting question and perhaps digital media will lead to some big changes. This is,
however, not the first time print media had to adapt to society. Spindlers question about the
consequences is not a totally new question. Everyone within the print industry wonders what
modern times will bring for their product. And as I already discussed this question has been
asked for as long as the print media exists.
Not only glossies but also newspapers and other magazines notice the rise of digital media.
Already you see some changes online. A lot of newspapers use the internet to publish their
articles. Important to notice is that it makes news a lot more interactive. You can see clips
about the news and directly discuss about the subject with other users (www.nu.nl). This way
the internet is not a replacement for the print media but a complementary good. It makes the
print media more interesting and more active. For glossies this means they can use the
internet to give more background information with their stories. The traditional format of the
glossy still remains the same that way.
There will always be new inventions and new ideas which will lead to changes in the original
format. This always has been the case and it always will be as long as society changes and
develops. Glossies will develop with us and so, despite new media or other new changes, it
will always be the question what this changes will mean to the traditional print media.
The influence of the Internet on glossies
Research has showed that the reading of printed media has diminished over the past 30
years, while the use of internet has increased. The reading of magazines, as part of the
printed media, has also diminished deeply. Following graphics illustrate this statement.
If you look at the graph above, you can see that the computer is getting more and more
important after 1990. At the year 2005 it is almost as big as printed media, because the
printed media keeps decreasing after 1990.
In the second graph, the one above, you can see that the share of the magazine and
the share of newspapers keeps getting smaller. It isn’t the case at differtent types of printed
media. Books are different every year, in 1985 it has decreased, but in 1990 it has increased
again, and so on. The commercial handout stays constant.
Question is if the new media are replacing the printed media. We have the opinion that the
online media cannot be seen as a replacement for the printed media. The new digital and
interactive media should be seen as an extension of the classic printed media. By linking the
new media to the classic media there can exist a positive effect that works both ways.
Unique of the Internet is that it is very interactive. The consumer gets the idea that he or she
is involved and can have an input. A lot of glossies make use of the interactivity of the
internet. An example of a glossy that makes use of the Internet is ‘Cosmopolitan’. In the back
of the magazine they pay attention to the website of the glossy (http://www.cosmopolitan.nl/).
On the website you can read more articles, interact with other readers by the forum,
subscribe to a newsletter and you can take part in contests. Every month a ‘Cosmopolitan’
appears. In the time between the appearances the people of ‘Cosmopolitan’ try to keep the
readers of the magazine interested through their website. The website can be seen as an
extension of the magazine. On the website you can also look at a preview of the glossy of
this month. In this way ‘Cosmopolitan’ tries to stimulate buying the glossy through the
website. The website is an enhancement to the glossy and the glossy in its turn is an
enhancement to the website. The new media can be seen as an enforcement of the printed
media and should not be seen as a threat.
What should (glossy) magazine publishers do to succeed in the digital age?
The publishers of media and it’s consumers are well aware that the consumers are shifting
towards digital media. Traditional consumer magazine publishers who want to anticipate on
these consumers who are making use of digital media, will have to make changes in the way
It is clear to everyone that the interest in content of digital media is growing quickly, and
publishers cannot ignore this fact.
The industry have been acting in different ways in response of these new developments.
There are few publishers who have obtained other publishers or titles in order to increase
their mass (The medium is the message, 2008: 25). There are also magazine publishers who
have been trying to launch new titles, especially new magazines for consumers with a
special interest. This trend is likely to be seen more in the future, as the online
competition is going to increase, forcing many publishers to refresh or renew their offerings.
We have noticed that certain magazine publishers have also a place in digital spaces and
are trying to leverage their brands by launching multimedia formats from which to generate
addtional revenues (The medium is the message, 2008: 25).
The industry faces some difficulties in making the transition from printed press to
digitalization. So are most of the magazines subsidizing their online activities with revenues
from other parts of their business. Besides, investing in web presence is requires a
significant capital end therefore has major implications for the publishers’ financial position.
The magazine publishers who are willing to step in the online world need to think carefully
about how to invest in building a digital platform and be ready to invest for the long term,
because on the short term it does not cover the costs.
There are also organizational issues. The companies which have made the greatest
progress in digital offerings are the companies which have integrated their print and digital
media operations. These companies are having employees who are able to write and
produce content for different media. However, the majority of magazine publishers still
maintain separate teams in producing media. There is a team who works on printed media
and there is a team who works with digital media. The reason for the separation is that
traditional print employees find it difficult to work write for digital formats. Such companies
are having a hard time in handling the changing preferences of their audience. So,
companies who are able to integrate their print and digital operations are more capable to
capitalise on back-office synergies and to stay close to their readers (The medium is the
message, 2008: 28). The transition to digital media requires different skills.
It has showed in research done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers that women are willing to pay
for digital content on mobile devices. Possibly because a mobile device fits easy in a
handbag. So the women glossies publishers should look at the possibility to produce digital
content that is suitable for mobile devices. It could widen their range to access consumers.
However, women expect to pay less for digital content than for hard copies alone.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 2009. Investigation.
The medium is the message; Outlook for magazine publishing in the Digital Age.
Checked on:23 november 2009
Lister, M., J. Dovey, S. Giddings, I. Grant & K. Kelly. 2003. New Media. A critical
Introduction. London: Routledge.
Examples of new media:
Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau
Checked on: 23 november 2009
Checked on: 23 november 2009
Question by Sofie Spindler: