Research Report 1: How Surf Magazines Can Gain Focus and Purpose in the Modern Media Landscape

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The title of this report was inspired by a comment by Sean Doherty that was published on the ASB website in August 2020. In the article, Doherty suggests surf media have been circling the bottom of the drain for the past decade, but he plans to make Surfing World a success by publishing great stories, high-quality photos, and having a brand purpose. The aim of this report is to extend on Doherty’s thoughts, using the support of recent empirical research findings from a survey completed by over 1000 Australian surfers.

Publishing great stories and high-quality photos, and a having brand purpose that resonates with your audience are basic publishing fundamentals, but do not guarantee publishing success. The macro challenge that all surf print media stakeholders must face is to identify print’s place in the new world order. This starts with an appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of both print and digital, and ends with occupying a space that capitalises on print’s strengths and digital’s weaknesses. It is a simple but elusive challenge, and it has been the author’s obsession for the last 15 years of a 32-year and-counting career in surf media.

A recent study* investigating the nature of generation-Z’s influence on the future of surf magazines, analyses generational change in content choice, media source use and motives for media source choice. The study is being conducted through the lens of two theoretical paradigms; generation theory, and, uses and gratification theory. It is hoped this summary of some of the early research results will shed some data-driven, evidence-based light on print’s relative strengths and be of benefit to surf magazine publishers, editors, and surf marketers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusUnpublished - 9 Jan 2020


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