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County magazines: lost in cyberspace?

September 30, 2015
Mark Lochrie

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Authors: Clare Cook, Cathy Darby
Abstract: As more magazines are looking to move online, this article examines why county magazines are bucking the trend by actively prioritising print products over digital extensions. It examines the capacity of the county magazine in print to create hero brands that flourish thanks to distribution and content drivers which champion the ring fencing of niches and clubs. The printed county magazine is proving buoyant despite widely acknowledged difficulties in the publishing industry as accountable advertising still commands a premium. Content is engineered in a way that would not be possible online to create a Utopian version of county life. This paper addresses some of the reasons why county magazine publishers have yet to find a way of moving their successful formula from the coffee table to the PC and why the websites of such magazines have yet to ignite the enthusiasm of browsers and advertisers. There are nearly 300 county, regional and local magazines around Britain, with upwards of six million readers per month (Brad 2011), yet this vibrant sector has received little attention from academic researchers. County titles, with their high production values, aspirational content and positive local coverage, offer an instructive contrast to the steeply falling circulations and profits of regional newspapers. This article examines the potential of county magazines to fill the growing void left by the negative ‘crime and cuts’ fare of regional newspapers, and offers insight into how the visual and tactile pleasures of the county magazine can translate to the fragmented virtual world of the internet.

Where: Association for Journalism Education
Publication date: 30/09/2011

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