Magazines in the New Millenium

I can still remember how much I loved glossy magazines with captivating pictures since I was a child.  Our school subscribed to TIME, Newsweek and National Geographic, which we consulted regularly for assignments and projects, and my mom bought Woman’s Own.  As a teenager, I bought Seventeen magazine Seventeen and Tiger Beat, and my friends and I often lent each other magazines.  As a young woman, I read Cosmopolitan.  I looked forward to smelling the new perfumes; getting new recipes, tips on dating, fashion, and skin care; magazines engaged all my senses save sound.  In 2010, the number of magazines available to readers exceeded 19,000 and fall into 3 broad types: trade, professional and business; industrial, company and sponsored magazines and consumer magazines (Baran, 2010, p. 125).

There is a magazine for everyone – celebrity and entertainment magazines, home and garden, men’s women’s – youth, sports, and while, magazine sales may have declined, e-magazines are certainly on the rise.  MagazinesTime Inc. CEO, Joe Ripp, observes that while magazines are displayed less on stands and people are more engaged with their smartphones and tablets, “They aren’t reading less of our content, however. They are just consuming it in different places” (Trachtenberg, 2015).  Magazine sales in Trinidad and Tobago have certainly declined as many people have skyboxes and subscribe through Amazon.  I am a big fan of Oprah Winfrey and by extension O Magazine, which I subscribe to and read on my iPad and Kindle because it is much more cost effective for me at $20 US a year. “Most magazines now produce online editions that offer special interactive features [like video] not available to their hard-copy readers” (Baran, 2010, p. 130). E-magazines “They are the medium that first made specialization a virtue, and they prosper today by speaking to even more narrowly defined groups of readers” (Baran, 2010, p. 117).

Due to convergence with the internet, magazines, radio, television and newspapers fulfil the demand of audiences to meet them where they are.  People no longer go in search of news, information and entertainment; it comes to them thanks to mobile technology and social media.  Today mass media competes with social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, to get their messages heard.  Consequently, media CEOs like Joe Ripp are concerned with “growing [their] digital properties and digital operations” (Trachtenberg, 2015).

References

Baran, S.  (2010). Mass Communication:  Media literacy and culture (6th Ed.)  New York, New York: McGraw Hill

Trachtenberg, J.  (2015, February, 22).  Is People Magazine Relevant in a Digital Age?  Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/is-people-magazine-relevant-in-a-digital-age-1424664618

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Radio Reinvents Itself

Pre-television radio ruled the roost.  It was “nationally oriented, broadcasting an array of recognizable entertainment program formats, populated by well-known stars and personalities, and consumed primarily in the home, typically with people sitting around the set” (Baran, 2010, p. 181).  family-radioNamed after a character in a radio soap opera that my mother listened to, I understand fully well the prominence that radio held in the lives of people prior to television.  As a child, I awoke to the sound of the BBC news at 7:00 am coming from a huge radio affixed to a wall.  A true colonial, my father set his watch by the BBC and considered it the only newscast worth listening to.  In those days there were only two radio stations on the AM band, 6.10 and 7.30 that provided a mix of music, news, sports, weather and talk shows.

However, “post television radio is local, fragmented, specialized, personal and mobile” (Baran, 2010, p. 181).  As a teenager, I looked forward to listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem every weekend religiously, and I would make mixed tapes of my favourite songs. download (2)  Today in Trinidad and Tobago, a small island in the Caribbean with a population of 1.3 million, there are over 32 radio stations each specializing in different genres. There is talk radio, urban, gospel, pop, jazz, soca and East Indian music (Radio Station World, 2015).  In the U.S., the “number of news/talk/information radio stations fluctuates between 1,900 and 2,000” (Vogt, 2015).  There is a station for everyone.

While people do not sit and listen to the radio at home any longer due to “the availability of online music and listener dissatisfaction with unimaginative programming and hypercommercialization – on average about 12 commercials an hour for a typical radio station” (Baran, 2010, p. 181), many are tuned on online and in their cars.  “More than half of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to online radio in the past month, according to 2015 survey data from Edison Research” (Vogt, 2015).  Interestingly, “Traditional AM/FM radio, meanwhile, continues to reach the overwhelming majority of the American public – 91% of Americans ages 12 and older had listened in the week before they were surveyed in 2014” (Vogt, 2015).  This percentage I believe, largely listens in their cars.

Since the 1960’s cars have moved from having eight tracks to cassettes to CD players.  However, today

“Those CD players are now disappearing as consumers prefer Sirius XM Holdings (SIRI) satellite radio and integration with their Apple AAPL +1.75% iPhone, Android powered smartphone or in some cases a Blackberry (BBRY) smartphone as the preferred way to listen to music, talk radio, podcasts and even books while driving” (Versace, 2015). download (3)

But what is most surprising is that despite all these technological advancements, people still want AM/FM in their cars.  A thousand people were sampled and “84% of respondents listen to AM/FM radio while relatively new systems like Sirius/XM, Pandora and Spotify came in at 22%, 18% and 7%, respectively” (Versace, 2015).  How we listen to the radio has changed, in that many of us listen to it online on our smartphones when we are not in our cars, but clearly radio still has an audience because it caters to specific niche markets.

References

Baran, S.  (2010). Mass Communication:  Media literacy and culture (6th Ed.)  New York, New York: McGraw Hill

Radio Station World.  (2015).  Retrieved from http://radiostationworld.com/locations/trinidad_and_tobago/radio_websites.asp

Versace, C.  (2015, April 28).  Consumers Still Want AM/FM Radios In Their Cars.  Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisversace/2015/04/08/consumers-still-want-amfm-radios-in-their-cars/

Vogt., N.  (2015, April 29).  Audio: Fact sheet.  Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2015/04/29/audio-fact-sheet/

Technology’s advancement in television

The first black and white television transmission in Trinidad and Tobago started at the time of Trinidad and Tobago’s independence from Britain in August 31, 1962  (Berkley, 2006).  As a child growing up, I clearly remember having only one television station ttt, Trinidad and Tobago Television, and television shows were broadcast long after they had already aired in the US.  I was a great fan of I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Bonanza, Brady Bunch,  Land of the Giants and Lost in Space51J8CRPN8QL

In 1996 another local channel emerged, CCN TV6.  Today there are 8 local networks that viewers can choose from, Direct TV and cable TV providers such as FLOW, Blink and Digicel from whom people can subscribe.    The choice is vast and there is also streaming, as Netflix is available in the Caribbean, so many locals subscribe.  In addition, sites such as Unblockus.com allow users to access streaming sites in the US that we otherwise would not be able to.

As a result of these technological developments,

“Now, viewers pick and choose exactly which shows they would like to watch. This has led to the development of custom phenomena, such as Tivo, DVR, Hulu and other on-demand services that have given fans the ability to watch what they want, when they want – often without commercials” (Okoye, 2013).

Gone are the days when the television schedule controlled the viewers’ lives, now viewers demand accessibility that fits with their demanding and fast paced lives.  As a result most major networks,  such as HBO and ABC, provide on demand TV .  Therefore programs are available at the viewers’ convenience.

No longer do we just sit and watch the news, sports or program.  Now the television audience gets involved via social media and discuss the shows or news in real time.  When I am tuned into TGIT, I also enjoy reading the comments of the viewers and stars that tweet during the show.  Voting for the dancers on Dancing with the Stars or the singers on American Idol is a great opportunity that engages the viewing audience.

For those who fancy being on television but have not had a break, there is YouTube which allows users to post videos of themselves.  There are many YouTube sensations that have many fans and have earned lots of money from having posted videos online.  Take for instance the British video sensation, “Charlie Bit Me”, which has been viewed 815 million times on YouTube.  The boys’ parents have garnered thousands of pounds in advertising and sponsorship (Mulshine, 2015).  Nonetheless many viewers also enjoy watching the array of entertainment on YouTube.

Television has been changed irrevocably by technology and so have our expectations of it.  We the viewers can choose what we want to watch, when and where.  We can even watch television on our smart phones and tablets.  Today, Wednesday 8th September, 2015, as the new Prime Minister of our Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley, was being sworn in, I watched it on my laptop from a local channel that streams online and my colleague watched on his iPhone.  We did not need to leave our desks to watch it on the television in our lobby downstairs.  Technology has both empowered and liberated television viewers.

References

Berkley, O.  (2006, January 15).  A historical day for Trinidad and Tobago.  Retrieved from http://tttpioneers.org/archives/16

Mulshine, M.  (2015, April 24).  The babies who went viral in the 2007 ‘Charlie bit my finger’ video just filmed a remake.  Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/where-the-charlie-bit-me-stars-are-now-2015-4

Okoye, J.  (2013, August 5). 7 Ways Technology Has Changed Television.  Retrieved from https://www.techopedia.com/2/29509/technology-trends/7-ways-technology-has-changed-television