Over the past decade, online media sites have increased readership and ad sales while magazine and newspaper sales have suffered declining circulation and falling ad revenue. In 2008, a total of 525 magazines shut down and the first month of 2009 recorded the closing of 40 publications. Well-known titles such as Vibe, Portfolio, Playgirl, PC Mag, and Domino have either shuttered or moved to online-only formats. Newspapers have fared no better, with titles such as The Christian Science Monitor, The Rocky Mountain News, and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ceasing their print operations.
Hartle Media, publisher of magazine titles 7x7, California Home + Design, and Spin, is taking a decidedly progressive approach to regaining lost revenue via the use of relevant content submitted via new media. Its San Francisco premier lifestyle publication 7x7 is publishing the Neighborhood Edition entirely comprised of reader content.
Hartle Media owner, Heather Luplow Hartle, is using the enthusiasm for online engagement to draw content for the print publication. Readers were asked to submit content and photos via the magazine's website for the special issue. As of the publication's deadline, 160 neighborhood essays and over 3,000 photos had been submitted on 7x7.com, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.
“Although 7x7 will resume a more traditional magazine format next month, we’ll never look back again,” noted Luplow Hartle. “Through 7x7.com we are going to continually incorporate more reader participation in future issues.”
One of the strengths of online media is relevant content. By using community readers and online submissions, the print publication is effectively creating a closer relationship between its online and print versions. The publication was overwhelmed by the response, and the Neighborhood issue includes essays and photographs that cover 11 San Francisco locales.
"As interactive Web sites empower people everywhere to serve as ‘media,’ 7x7 has brought an important aspect to print by giving their readers a voice and bringing the screen alive on the pages of the magazine," said Hartle.
Although not specifically mentioned, one of the most attractive aspects of this break-through issue is that contributors, if selected, are able to claim that they've been published in a prominent, local magazine that distributes 44,000 copies monthly. Contrary to online's encroaching reach into the print realm, being published on paper seems to garner more respect than being published online, most-likely due to the perceived permanence of printed publications.