A refuge from the media mêlée

As people struggle to process a bombardment of messages and mental fatigue begins to set in, magazines offer a welcome escape.

Todd: ‘With these immersive moments comes a receptivity to ideas’
Todd: ‘With these immersive moments comes a receptivity to ideas’

Congratulations on your 30th birthday, Media Week.

Your inception was a highlight in a fine year for magazine media – 1985 also saw the launch  of the original For Him magazine (later to become FHM) and the UK edition of Elle. The presence today of these brands, in their various formats, weaves a thread of continuity through the past three decades.

Yet, even as the editorial teams prepared their first issues, change was stirring. Not least because 1985 saw the forging of a new-media future: it was the year of the first internet domain registration, the year Microsoft launched Windows 1.0 and the year Steve Jobs quit Apple to contemplate a move into content production with Pixar.

There are now close to 300 million active internet domains, but that’s nothing alongside the billions of texts and e-mails that are sent each day; the hundreds of millions of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat accounts.

In this mass-content era, individuals are bombarded with information and media brands compete like never before for their attention. Being able to offer well-crafted, original, trusted content with a clear point of view for the right audience is more important than ever.

In his book The Organized Mind, the neuroscientist Daniel J Levitin writes: "Thirty years ago, travel agents made our airline and rail reservations, salespeople helped us find what we were looking for in shops, and professional typists or secretaries helped busy people with their correspondence.

Now we do most of those things ourselves. We are doing the jobs of ten different people while still trying to keep up with our lives, our children and parents, our friends, our careers, our hobbies, and our favourite TV shows."

Levitin argues that this causes anxiety and mental exhaustion. His discussion also raises the issue of how distracted people can be when trying to juggle so many tasks. The science suggests that it’s hard to absorb messages and experiences in this situation and points the way towards the need to create regular moments each day to allow people to step away from the noise.

Thirty years ago in magazines, we’d have called these moments "me time", and we’ve always known how valued these opportunities are to consumers and how good magazines have been at serving this need.

Research shows that what we now call "media mindfulness" – where attention to a content experience is solus – is becoming rarer and even more valuable. With these immersive moments come, we believe, an openness and receptivity to ideas and inspiration; a welcoming of messages and content that helps us navigate daily decision-making.

This combination of providing an escape from the noise and being a trusted source of information, entertainment and ideas is what magazine media does brilliantly. It provides environments that encourage attention, escapism and inspiration – precious assets to both consumers and advertisers amid a world of distraction.

So, happy birthday, Media Week, and what better way to mark it than providing us with your own moment of media mindfulness.

Sue Todd is the chief executive of Magnetic


What’s something you can usefully accomplish in 30 seconds?

Decide your attitude for the day ahead when you wake up.

What should everyone in marketing or the media have accomplished by the age of 30?

Been on stage at the Media Week Awards. Bonus points if you’ve handed out an actual award… You’ve got £30 burning a hole in your pocket: what do you buy? Two new Mac lipsticks to start the replacement of my make-up bag, which was stolen last week.Most women will feel my pain.

What’s something you can do in 30 minutes that will change your life?

Register to become a stem-cell donor.

If you could wind the clock back 30 years, what would you do?

Tell my mother that all the time spent with my head in an enormous pile of magazines rather than doing my homework would be worthwhile. Also tell her that she was right about me not having the right-shaped face for the Swing Out Sister hairdo. Hockey goalkeepers usually wear the number 30.

What’s your next working goal?

To champion and celebrate the power and vitality of magazine media to the advertising and marketing community.

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