In an interesting discussion by media professionals in the Radni vikend dvorana (Working Weekend Hall), the main conclusion was that there is still a lot of room for precisely targeted niche publications sold to audiences with very specific interests. Moderator Robert Čoban, president of Color Press Group, led this panel entitled “Special interest print vs. Mainstream print” that featured the director of Večernji list, Renato Ivanuš, the editor-in-chief of 24 sata, Ivan Buča, and the founder and editor of American Chess Magazine, Josip Ašik.
Ivan Buča emphasized the difference between the media markets in Serbia and Croatia. A large number of weekly tabloids feature strongly on the Serbian market, while in Croatia there is only one: “In the past, tabloids in our country [Croatia] were usually in the form of weekly political publications. 24 sata has always been a medium open to that side. We are also the last successfully launched print newspaper in Europe. Later came the internet and the web portal, but the newspaper was the foundation.”
Josip Ašik spoke about the specifics of a specialized publication dedicated to a narrow niche market by using the example of his chess magazine: “Chess is a strong sport. In Belgrade, in the old Yugoslavia, we were used to being at the center of European chess. Publications routinely followed the successes of chess in Yugoslavia. Media created a kind of new chess language in our region. One of the greatest things we managed to accomplish was the introduction of English for chess communication. Over many years we became a success story and further expanded by adding the magazine, which helped to popularize chess even more. Chess communication is very specific because we use a media format that originated from chess culture and, at the same time, we present chess players as sports heroes.”
Renato Ivanuš, meanwhile, underlined that the great financial crisis was one of the defining moments for the media scene in the region: “In Croatia, it started in November 2009. I worked as an editor for 24 sata. It was then that our prime minister said the country was in trouble. Back in 2008, we all lived on credit, but the situation in the media wasn’t bad at all. 2008 and 2009 were the most successful years for us, and the internet wasn’t even so popular yet.” Ivanuš emphasized that the key factor in surviving the economic crisis was Styria’s business policy in Croatia, which Buča agreed with, noting that revenues were maintained by issuing special contributions and similar projects. Today, the emphasis is on web portals and mobile applications.
Ašik talked about his magazine, noting that 80 percent is distributed within the American market and 20 percent in other developed western countries. Ivanuš added that Večernji list also publishes a large number of niche editions such as Vojna povijest (Military History). All panelists agreed that it was necessary to use very precise tools when targeting a specific audience interested in a narrow topic.