I just read an interview with Roberto Civita the chairman and CEO of The Abril Group, one of Latin America’s largest and most influential communications companies. The Sao-Paulo-based company publishes close to 100 magazines, including its flagship Veja, the fourth largest news weekly. But what fascinated me was the alignment of his publication Veja to the unveiling of political corruption. Political corruption is most definitely a theme in South America, and not because it is the only continent where corruption occurs, but it is more of a preocupation there than it is even in North America. Where we focus on corporate corruption, it is interesting to note the south’s focus on political corruption. Is this tied to our respective histories? Does it have to do with North America and the Western world’s obsession with growth and capitalism? Perhaps too simplistic.
What fascinates me is that while the interviewer from Wharton tries to get Civita to comment on the decline of print circulation, the CEO seems hardly concerned with print or ink vs electronic. He is more concerned with the development of the people and children of Brazil as a sustainable developed country vs business or economy. He would rather that the 97% of children enrolled in school are reading something from whichever format and preparing themselves as active citizens, as opposed to not reading at all. It is a rather refreshing response to the ongoing debate between old media vs new media. Maybe we to the North should be taking notes. Should we not be focusing on the development of our people rather than the sales of our publications? Is growth of business really the only motivator?
Civita also points that the sales of magazines have not declined. If you take a look at the number of magazines that now grace most newspaper and magazine stands, you would have to say magazines have proliferated. Between design, home decor, organic and lifestyle, I feel that the proliferation of magazine print has steadily increased. Whether people are actually picking up and reading the new assortment, I cannot say. But this seems to be a category of print that we are neglecting. And the last time I checked these specialized magazines had advertising. The advertising however is much more targeted for the unique readership expected to read the specialized magazine.
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