Magazine Publishers of America was established in 1919 and is the leading industry association for magazine publishers. However, it's just announced a curious name change. It will still be known by the acronym MPA, but is officially dropping two of the words from that acronym: "publishers" and "America." Henceforth, the trade group will be known (rather illogically) as "MPA - The Association of Magazine Media." The reason? "Magazine media content engages consumers globally across multiple platforms, including websites, tablets, smartphones, books, live events and more."The
In other news, last week blog publishing software company Six Apart was acquired and is being folded into a new social media advertising company called SAY Media. The world of media is changing. These days, 'publishing' content is merely the first step for a media business.
It's not just that new media companies are rebranding beyond publishing. The dictionary of record, Oxford Dictionary, doesn't even recognize online media as being publishing!
Whenever I have to state my job title - for example on airport arrival and departure forms - I put down "Web Publisher." I'd always assumed that was what I am, since I am the publisher of this website ReadWriteWeb. A friend of mine challenged this definition recently, claiming that according to the Oxford dictionary I was not in fact a publisher. Puzzled, I went to the online version of the Oxford dictionary and looked up the word publish. And sure enough, the two main definitions are limited to the print view of publishing:
"prepare and issue (a book, journal, or piece of music) for public sale"
"print (something) in a book or journal so as to make it generally known"
The origin of the term seems to be more open-ended and could be read as including online works:
"Middle English (in the sense 'make generally known'): from the stem of Old French puplier, from Latin publicare 'make public', from publicus."
I maintain that a professional blog is a form of publishing, so I'd argue that Oxford Dictionary's definition is out-of-date (feel free to debate me in the comments about that). Regardless, MPA's decision to drop 'publishers' from its name reflects the changing state of media in the Web era.
MPA says on its homepage that its rebranding "reflects the multi-platform nature of magazine content." MPA has a new logo to reflect this change, which "replaces [the] classic turning page symbol with two rectangular frames that appear horizontally and vertically around the letters M-P-A, evoking the multiple ways through which magazine media are being experienced and enjoyed today." You can view an animation of that explanation here.
SAY Media: VideoEgg + SixApart
Interestingly, the creator of the publishing platform that we use at ReadWriteWeb - Movable Type - has also recently moved away from being a publishing software company. Six Apart, the company which built Movable Type - was acquired last week by online advertising network VideoEgg. A new combined company called SAY Media is the result. The new entity is calling itself a "modern media company" and is very focused on social media and advertising.
Everyone is a Publisher, Er... Modern Media Creator
You could say that everyone is a publisher these days, with blogging, Twitter and Facebook (amongst hundreds of other social media tools). What's more, there are many new devices on which to deliver content - tablets, smart phones, video web sites and more. The latter is what prompted MPA to change its name.
Ultimately it's a much larger and diverse media ecosystem than it was even a couple of years ago, so the increasing irrelevance of the word 'publish' probably doesn't matter much.
Perhaps the next update to Oxford Dictionary's definition of 'publish' will be along these lines: used to mean make something public using print, but now virtually everything is public online. Word discontinued.