A new magazine, a new company!
We can say it without boasting. AM is a ‘good’ magazine, it is a mature, 31 year-old title, one of the leading magazines in the somewhat idiosyncratic landscape of the so-called Pan-African press. We are proud of our longevity, proud to go on sale every month, for the 353rd time, without interruption. Proud of our resilience in a complex economic landscape. Proud of our demands for quality and proud of the loyalty of our partners, readers and advertisers. And we could continue like that.
But around us everything is changing. The press is facing an existential crisis. Advertising is stagnating, as is the number of readers. Distribution is in crisis. Digital technology is revolutionising behaviours without offering an alternative economic model. Competition is growing more fierce. Africa is an enormous, diverse, complex continent with nearly one billion inhabitants. The media, newspapers, websites and television stations are springing up everywhere, testimony to the vitality of the media and the spaces won for freedom of expression. Africa is also made up of individual countries, regions and different cities. With markedly different identities. New generations, who have no nostalgia for a ‘mythical united continent’, arrive and who, on the contrary, favour diversity and look outward towards the world.
We are living in and witnessing changing times.
We are determined to adapt. To take into account this multifaceted crisis and seize the opportunity to transform ourselves. We want to look towards the future. Become the new generation of Pan-African magazines. Address those, Africans and non-Africans, globalised and nomad, who love this continent, who care about it, and who are looking to it for ideas, concepts and change. We want to be the go-to magazine for the new Africa, which is in the process of being (re)born, by being in tune with a long, revolutionary movement with enthusiasm and without complacency.
The copy you hold in your hands is therefore not just any AM publication. It’s a different issue announcing a new beginning. A new start. This issue 353 marks the arrival of a new AM. A remodelled, redesigned magazine, in terms of layout, structure and content. The logo has evolved graphically, to symbolically mark the change. As regards editorial content, we want to avoid locking ourselves into a ‘niche’. Our positioning will be towards diversity. Politics, power, social and societal issues and culture, all remain at the heart of our editorial process, but entrepreneurs and economic actors will appear in our columns. And we are adopting a more upscale positioning, an aspirational ‘lifestyle’ objective, and a newer, trendier, more with-it look. AM aims to be a magazine that is cool, trendsetting and glamorous.
To meet this content and quality requirement, and to adapt to the new temporalities of the written press, AM has adopted a new rhythm. It is giving itself the time and scope to do more, and do better. AM is becoming bi-monthly, it will now come out every two months, six times per year. Six ‘stand-out’ issues that are rich, diverse, African, globalised, worthy of our ambition and our brand. These six issues will be ‘benchmark’ issues. But we’re not stopping there.
These ‘stand-out AMs’ will be accompanied by the publication of our Special Editions and special issues. Four per year. These special issues could be aimed a specific country, for some big event, a great city or a region. They could also concentrate on major societal theme, those that determine the contours of contemporary Africa. Or even innovative themes and life-style articles, travel, art, culture and fashion. Trend publications will cater to a wide audience, both African and international.
Finally, a big change will be the gradual introduction of English into the AM world. Without altering the DNA of our French-speaking trademark brand, AM is proposing to offer some part of its content in English. It will create a space for the language of Shakespeare, the language of Lagos, Jo’burg, Accra and Nairobi. It’s the AM In English section of AM, which appears in every bi-monthly publication. A kind of ‘best of’, which is expected to grow over time. Other opportunities will be added to the AM In English section. We cannot tell everything, but some special issues may be the subject of a full bilingual version, with additional distribution in Anglophone countries. And maybe won’t stop at English...
These changes will transform your magazine, but the publishing company’s willingness to change affects other key elements of our business.
First, AM’s sister publication.
The first issue of AMB, Afrique MéditerranéeBusiness, came out in May 2013, in a quarterly format. This journal is therefore just over a year and a half old. It’s still a very young product, born in a difficult period of crisis for the press, and for the global economy. Nevertheless the experience we have already accumulated encourages us to evolve, to go further. We decided to invest in a title that provides a real, original, authentic look at the economies and companies in our region and their relationship with the rest of the world. From March 2015, to be closer to the issues and its readers, AMB will become bi-monthly. Six issues per year.
We want to establish it as the benchmark title of the ‘African emergence’. The continent is clearly one of the economic issues of the twenty-first century. Its potential, its resources, its (future) consumer market create huge opportunities, attract investors and large companies. But these revolutions ask critical questions in terms of sustainable development, the fight against poverty and inequality. The goal, at the end, is to place Africa in a broader context, to put it into a wider circle, that of the emerging economies. We want to be the link between the continent and the world. We want to connect Casablanca, Abidjan and Tunis with Djakarta, Beijing and Baku. We want to be the magazine that is militant, informed, active in this new global economy that is emerging, which is being invented in the south.
And there too, there will be a special issue. And English will certainly have a role to play…
Finally, we all know that digital technology is inevitable for our industry. Tomorrow or the day after, the digital media economy may carry greater weight than the print media economy. We must get on board this train, it is inevitable. We must be prepared. Knowing that digital technology is still a business whose profitability is random that ultimately requires a lot of expensive investment. Technology is changing rapidly as are the demands of consumers. We are therefore moving ahead with caution, looking for a balanced model, suited to our abilities and the expectations of Internet users. But move ahead we must.
All these changes mean the publisher enhance its capacities with modernisation of all aspects of its business: development, distribution, recruitment, new products… Our company AM International (AMI), has been around since 1st January 2006 (the day Groupe JA came out). So, it is fast approaching its first ‘decade’, still young but respectable at the same time. It must therefore re-invent itself. Establish a new publishing model, suited to the times we live in. The author’s intuition on this is that only quality counts, and that the key is to be original and different, ‘to do better in order to gain more’. Defend our brands, cultivate respect, stay loyal to our African roots and open up to other worlds.
Thank you for your support and keep on reading!
By ZYAD LIMAM
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