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Magazines are made for quiet moments – Finnish magazine exec

Petri Korhonen ()

Magazines are becoming more and more like books, says Petri Korhonen, executive editor in chief of Otava Media’s Outdoor Magazine Group in Finland.

Petri’s portfolio includes magazines for sailing, motor boating, hunting, fishing and hiking – “all very Scandinavian things (!)”, he told FIPP contributor Felix Mago at the recent Digital Innovators’ Summit in Berlin, which he attended as a delegate.

Petri sees a trend where, with people getting news, entertainment and social interaction online, “magazines are taking the place of books. 

“Fewer people are reading short stories (in book form) and novels, and instead they are turning to magazines. And they want the same quality from those magazines than books. As a result, magazines are getting bigger, glossier and more beautiful than ever before.”

Otava mags ()

People have a need to retreat from the avalanche of digital noise, and this favours magazines. “Sitting, if not in front of the fireplace somewhere comfortable, reading a magazine in their own time.”

Before magazines, Petri was in the news business for 25 years. It contrasts, because there “it is all about speed. You have to be first to publish this thing. Breaking news, and so on.”

When it comes to magazines, the difference with news publishing lies not necessarily in the platform of delivery – for some the preferred way of reading their magazine may be the tablet – but in providing them with a lean-back reading experience. “Nothing fancy, no flashing lights, moving pictures and so on.” For others, online is the only means of receiving content. A challenge in Finland is the cost of distribution of magazines via post. “For some readers in remote parts of the country it is the only way to access us, which makes it wise to have some version of the magazine online.”

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However, when it comes to reading their magazines in print, the experience becomes much more book-like. It is part of general changes in consumer behaviour, he believes. “We are consuming more and more online, news, entertainment, video, TV, and so on. The more we do that, the more there seems to be a craving for traditional interactions, like with magazines.

“For us (magazines), the main competition is time. We are always busy doing something. We are craving time, time to share with family, spend on hobbies, or even work, away from interruptions. We crave more and more private spaces, private moments. Our aim is for part of that to be spent relaxing with a magazine.”

Felix and Petri also discussed journalism in general, technologies that excite (or do no) and general market trends he are witnessing in Finland.

Journalism in general

A concern for Petri is the proliferation of fake news online, and how those sites can influence people. Echo chambers, where people only get information from “their own spiritual bubble”, are another. 

The answer “to this is quality journalism. Quality, quality and more quality. We have to do better journalism, check the facts, and challenge (those in pursuit of or in power). We have to be more professional than ever before.”

Journalists as brands

Petri believes this is an important trend. “In the age of Facebook and Twitter, we are increasingly trusting our friends as sources of news. Today institutions struggle with trust, which makes the individual more important.”

New technologies

Petri is weary of experimenting with every new trend. “Remember Google Glasses? Of course, perhaps some of those gizmos and gadgets will be the answer to the sum of our problems. We just don’t know what.”

Language barriers

“In Scandinavian countries, back in the day people read only in domestic languages. Now [apart from their own languages], people are reading in English, German, Spanish or whatever. Barriers of language are disappearing. That’s a wonderful thing.

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