Global impact of COVID-19 on print magazines

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt across multiple industries all over the world. From hospitality and tourism, to various sectors including education, people around the world have seen how the pandemic has changed what once was normal. The impact is felt harshly everywhere, without sparing print media.

COVID-19 also highlighted the need for change in certain sectors, and all things online and digital have been accelerated throughout the pandemic. Among the sectors that need to have rapid change is the media industry. With a number of publications announcing closures or a move to digital, Meltwater, the global leader in media monitoring, tracked and analysed news and social media to explore the impact that COVID-1 9 has had on this particular industry.

Goodbye to magazine

In the finding of Meltwater, the data seems to indicate, is not the end of print media, but rather, a ‘new normal’ for the media industry. In the pandemic global phenomenon, in South Africa, many people said goodbye to their beloved print magazine in April 2020. South Africans bid adieu to independent media house, Associated Media Publishing (AMP), following challenges it faced due to COVID-19. This resulted in the closure of magazines such as Cosmopolitan SA and House & Leisure.

When we look further upon South African crisis, people shared their appreciation for the much loved Cosmopolitan magazine, with online users sharing their “#COSMOAppreciationTweet ” posts after news of the magazine’s closure. Trending themes that emerged from online users engaging with “#COSMOAppreciationTweet” include: “last covers” which refers to a tweet from a former Cosmopolitan SA employee sharing the first and last covers of the magazine.

While the closure of the print magazine was a sad one for many, the overall sentiment surrounding the Cosmopolitan SA name was predominantly positive with 85 percent of social media mentions on “#COSMOAppreciationTweet” highlighting the positive impact the magazine had on its readers. The goodbye from the beloved magazine was a bitter sweet moment as the last person to grace the magazine’s cover was Miss Universe 2019, Zozibi ni Tunzi. She shared on social media on April 22, 2020, the hashtag “#COSMOxZozi” garnered a global social media reach of over 28 Million people, with top posters, by reach, engaging with the hashtag including “@boity” and “@DJZinhle” on Twitter and “ Cosmopolitan SA” on Facebook.

Then in April 2020, instead of using models and celebrities for its cover, Vogue Italia opted to have a plain white cover for the first time in the history of the magazine. Over 1 000 global news articles mentioned Vogue Italia during the month of April, with Italy naturally dominating much of news media mentions, followed by the United States and Russia.

Vogue Italia’s magazine cover was not the only topic of discussion in the news during April. With self quarantine and stay-at-home regulations in place, the magazine also enlisted supermodel, Bella Hadid, for a photo shoot created and styled via FaceTime. Some of the trending themes that emerged from this particular Vogue magazine issue include: “Instagram” which refers to the magazine using their Instagram account to share how they created this particular photoshoot without Bela Hadid or the stylist physically present in the same room.

A ‘New Normal’ for print media

While COVID-19 may have impacted the print media industry in a way that sees a faster move to digital media, it has also created an opportunity for a ‘new normal’ within the industry that sees creativity still shine in its print pages. Publications have been hit hard by the global pandemic, but it has also seen print media take on creativity in a fresh way that will truly change the industry.

With this change, though, comes another digital innovation within the print industry. Meltwater is now providing print and broadcast content, monitoring and tracking to different markets across the globe. This allows Meltwater to provide a complete 360-degree solution that covers 1150 print and 70 broadcast sources in Southern Africa, a true game changer for the remaining print publications looking to gain better insight into the impact of their content.

Source: Data gathered by Meltwater between April 1 and July 14, 2020.

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