Look Magazine published its last issue this week and has become yet another casualty of the digital age. Today I came across a message on Twitter from a blogger who was lamenting about the demise of magazines and expressing her pity for journalists who would be out of work. She went on to make a dig at Social Media Influencers who are making money because they are good at posing on Instagram or have a big audience. Hmm, this made me think about the publishing industry overall and the reason why magazines are cancelled.
Out of touch
I find it really hard to relate to magazines. The articles do not talk to me or address any of the issues that affect me. That is due to the fact that the majority of magazines are written by white and middle class ladies. Although I don’t expect to see race related articles, I do expect to see representation and references to the fact that I exist.
Out of date
Due to the speediness of the internet and Social Media we are fed stories on a fast paced basis. This means that by the time the latest issue of the magazine drops, the stories are old hat. A lot of them have tried to address this by placing the time conscious posts on their website and leaving the less timely ones in the magazine. Sometimes this works but sadly what you are left with is a publication that looks and feels dated.
Out of time
Back to the good old days (ooh showing my age aren’t I) journalists would spends weeks and sometimes even months (gasp) researching a story. Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated used to do this – music journalists were notorious for going on tour with bands to get an insight into the celebrity or a sports journalist would spend a week with a football star. Sadly those days are long gone and now thanks to the power of the PR you are lucky if you get five minutes with your interview subject.
Also with editorial budgets being slashed over time this means that the work rate of the journalist has gone up and they are under huge pressure to churn out stories with a lot less time and fewer resources. For example back in the day journalists were very rarely at their desks, they were out and about chasing stories, which is a complete contrast to today where they are glued to their computers. Sad times!
Out of synch
Magazines have been making a whole heap of money for decades simply by making women feel bad about themselves. They do this by pointing out your flaws, showing you an image of perfection and then a solution in the form of an expensive product to encourage you to buy it. This stinks and shows you just how hypocritical the magazine industry really is; stating female empowerment in their ethos and branding yet pushing the narrative through advertising that you are not enough.
Out of favour
One of the reasons why bloggers became popular was because of their transparency – they gave you the truth about the products they reviewed whether good or bad. There was no agenda except to give you the nitty gritty. This fed into Social Media and bloggers soon became platforms and lucrative brands.
Unfortunately a lot of magazines were not keen to accept bloggers and there was a high degree of snobbery towards them. The ones that tried to incorporate them only did so because they wanted to piggy back off their success and have access to their followers. Hence these blogger awards which really added nothing to the world of blogosphere. If those magazines really valued those bloggers so much why did they not offer them a gig writing for their magazine?
Of course now that the digital space has become very lucrative a lot of bloggers have become more like magazines in their look, feel and editorial stance but there are a few platforms out there that still shoot from the hip.
So what is the future for magazines?
The bottom line is that people have stopped consuming magazines they way they used to and they get all their information on their smartphones. When you are on a train, bus or tube take a look at what people are doing. I think you will find that the majority of them are on their phones, listening to music or a podcast, watching a TV show or film or reading a book. You might get a few reading magazines but nowhere near as before.
So what is the future for magazines? Well, I see staple publications like Vogue thriving as they are a bit of institution and the go to publication for any fashionista. Other magazines will have to work hard to create a strong persona in order to carve out a role on the shelves. The way Cosmopolitan seem to have done that already by going down the trashy celeb culture and reality show route. Or magazines will go the route of Glamour and become a digital beauty platform that publishes four times a year.