Mail merge

Major US newspaper and magazine trade associations tentatively agree to merge

The News Media Alliance will absorb MPA – The Association of Magazine Media in a merger agreement pending NMA member approval.

The partnership will bring together the historically distinct cultures of two branches of the traditional print industry with a particular focus on shared lobbying goals, including postal regulations and relationships with large platform companies.

The terms of the agreement were emailed Monday to all NMA members, who will be asked to ratify it during a Zoom meeting on May 6.

David Chavern, president and CEO of the NMA, confirmed merger talks were underway but declined to discuss specifics. In an email, Chavern said, “News and magazine publishers are the greatest creators of original, high-quality journalism in the media landscape. Joining forces could expand opportunities for association members and consumers. »

Rita Cohen, senior vice president of the MPA, declined to comment on the merger negotiations.

News association combinations have become common over the past decade. However, this one is particularly important, at least symbolically.

The MPA dates back to 1919 and until recently hosted a major annual conference and was a rich source of industry and member data, including monthly digital audience statistics.

The MPA’s website lists a staff of just three people and now appears to focus primarily on advocacy and lobbying. It has also become the biggest activity of the NMA, which has consistently sought an antitrust waiver from Congress to negotiate with Google and Facebook for compensation for content used by the two platform giants.

The magazine industry has been rocked in recent years by a declining advertising base and financially driven consolidations. Meredith acquired Time Inc. in 2017, distributing several of its titles – including Time and Sports Illustrated – to individual buyers. The merger did not go smoothly and Meredith, in turn, was sold at Barry Diller’s Digital Dotdash last fall.

Expenses have been another challenge for magazines. Postage rates no longer subsidize business as they once did. A number of magazines have reduced print frequency as they simultaneously attempt a transition to paid-only digital subscriptions.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, seven MPA directors will join the NMA Board of Directors. Over the next three years, six of them will form a group of legacy trustees, approving the use of reserve funds that MPA contributes to the combined association. The same group will “advise the NMA Board and executives on magazine-specific industry developments and work to facilitate the integration of MPA members into the NMA”.

Each industry has a separate association for publishers, organizing awards competitions and professional events. These organizations will not be affected by the merger.