Monday, April 05, 2010
Print Magazines in an Online World
The Atlantic (formerly Atlantic Monthly) is by far my favorite print magazine. I tend to read it several months in arrears but the articles are not meant to have the immediacy of the weekly mags. Besides I now live 2349 miles from my subscription's delivery address. I ran across an article from last summer about the rise and fall of print magazines. The obvious diagnosis is that the internet has made a weekly news obsolete. Faced with that reality, it appears that first Time and now Newsweek have gone through extensive facelifts. According to their own propaganda they are attempting to become high end, in-depth reporting instruments.
It would be unfair to judge the print version by what can be found on their websites, so actually picked up hard copies of both Time and Newsweek; I also got a current copy of The Economist. It seems that what passes for high end these days was basically the type of reporting that launched People magazine back in 1974. Let me give just one example: Time is running a Top 100 Most Influential People of 2010 poll; readers can vote online. Right now, Lady Gaga is in #1 position with the President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and a Korean figure skater also in the top ten. Obama did not crack the top ten. McCain's blogging daughter made the list, he did not.
High end indeed.
So as not to be completely negative curmudgeon on magazines, I would note that The Atlantic article also pointed out that The Economist has actually made the transition to something that resembles high end, in-depth and relevant. In fact, The Economist subscriptions and sales are up markedly in a market that sees nearly all other print formats declining. I can see why.
The Economist now calls itself a "weekly newspaper" and seeks out stories that literally no one else except obscure internet sites are covering and then they report with professionalism and facts. True, they lean to the right of center economically but there are dashs of social progressivism, particularly when such activity enhances a bottom line.
Personally, I have added The Economist to my weekly reading; though I will admit I don't buy it yet, that's what public libraries are for.