The magazine industry has been taking hits for some time, largely due to declining advertising revenue, a rise in non-traditional media (i.e. bloggers) gobbling up readership and tough economic times. Many pubs are forced to cut staff while remaining journalists and editors take over much broader roles than they once covered.
Ladies' Home Journal is about to try something radically different than the traditional model.
Beginning with their March 2012 issue, LHJ will take crowdsourcing to a whole new level and begin publishing much of its content from reader submissions, pulled from divinecaroline.com - a website owned by Meredith Corp. which features personal stories submitted by readers. LHJ will also be pulling content from LHJ.com and their social media sites. The "amateur" writers will be paid the same level as their professional writers as well, according to the magazine. LHJ editors will curate the submissions, editing and adding expertise to the stories from everyday women.
This bold move came to light after research showed readers wanted a larger role in the content of the pages. The average LHJ reader ranges from 45-55, not the typical blogger crowd. While this change might attract a younger demo, it could be a risky move, alienating the backbone of their core audience.
Will other mass circulation publications follow if this proves to be successful? What does this mean for the professional journalist? Is LHJ giving too much over to amateurs or on to the future of mass media publishing?
If Ladies' Home Journal has found a way to engage readers, "hooray!" and let everyone else follow their model. I love magazines and I want them to live.
However, I will be surprised if they unearth a whole lot of serviceable copy that can go live with minor editing. So that means that editors will be plenty busy or subcontracting work to re-writers. Also good.
And maybe some writers will slip through pretending to be amateurs--who knows?
It's fabulous that Meredith will pay the amateur writers, which is a whole lot more than some other publishers do for established journalists.
J.M. Byington & Associates
NYWICI Foundation Board Member
This new model will enable the brand to expand the voice that its readers and women have within the pages of the magazine but at the same time maintain its strong heritage of editorial expertise. For example, a health story might be written by a user, but it will be curated by the editors, and combined with medical expertise to present information in the same way that women share and gather information for what matters in their lives. We see this as a great evolution to one of the nation's most trusted, authentic, and iconic brands.
New York Women in Communications Member