The Post-Print Era?

In the last month, two of the most well-known women’s magazines have closed as print publications. Easy Living, which has moved to an online-only magazine will no longer be printing the magazine after 8 years due to the fact that it is thriving online, but is lacking in the print area of the market. more! magazine, is said to have fallen to a readership of only 100,000 and announced the closure of the magazine.more-press

It is not only women’s magazines where this epidemic seems to have started, but Auto Trader moving to an online-only publication is also placing concern across other genres of print media.

“I’ve got love for Caxton and his printing press.”

Caxton would turn in his grave, and it has certainly triggered sirens in my head. It has been evident for quite some time that the rise in the online market of publications is allowing for people to no longer have to go out and buy the printed versions of your favourite magazines, but is this really something that is plausible for the future? Digital media is vast and growing and more and more attitudes shift towards the opinion that digital media has tipped the scales with its advantages.

I found the news extremely shocking, as I always assumed that if our media industry was going to be swept down this dark tunnel to permanent cyber-hood, I thought it would be the newspapers to go first. At the end of the day, once you’ve bought and read the newspaper, it goes in the bin. Also, people tend to read the section of the paper they are most interested in, rather than read it cover to cover.  Women’s magazines on the other hand are different.  They mean far more to the female fans who love to keep the stacks of magazines in the corner of their room, to be able to dig out the editions where Britney was on the cover or go back to the articles that inspired them somehow. I’ve spent hours making montages of my favourite images, photographs and articles from magazines.

Those Saturday nights when the bank balance is too low for a night on the town but just enough for the latest edition of your favourite glossy wouldn’t be the same if you get into bed with your cuppa and dairy milk and plonk the laptop on your knee. What about the times when you’re reading by the pool on holiday, ever tried looking at a laptop or even mobile screen in the blazing sun of some exotic location? And Surely no fool would think of taking their iPad with them on the lilo whilst floating around the pool.

Oct Easy Living cover news

It is inevitable that a large majority of the population spend around 8 hours a day looking at a computer screen. And if, like I have always believed, women’s magazines are there to provide an escape from our daily routine, does the fact that we will be spending our escaping time in exactly the same place we have spent the entire day looking over spreadsheets take away how we will feel about reading these publications?  I won’t even start on the health issues with sitting at a desk all day. I’m 21 and pretty sure I have the neck and back of an 80 year old.

If I have the choice, I read things on paper. Call me old fashioned if you will, but it’s true. I dread the day when libraries and bookshops no longer exist because everyone owns a Kindle and reads even more from an electronic screen.  For that matter, we spend our childhoods with our parents telling us we will ‘get square eyes’ from watching too much television. Well swallow your hypocrisy pills parentals, because you’re going to have to think of a new excuse to drive your kids away from the television, because the fact is, while you’re shouting at them you’re probably sat on the sofa straining your eyes a hell of a lot more than them reading from your computer screen.

So what does this all mean for the future of print media?

I recently completed my dissertation and (without boring you with the details) one of my conclusions was that the future of language study was going to have to change, because when investigating the language of magazines, there is so much more to consider. Whilst I was comparing two columns published on the website of this publication, I noted the differences between those and the versions that appeared in the printed magazines which was highly influenced by the fact that on the website, the columns were essentially blogs and, as David Crystal states, blogging is “language in its most naked form”. With this in mind, it seems that the expectations of published writing is changing. People are far less worried about things like grammar and spelling, as the emphasis is now being placed on what it says, rather than how it is said. But in one sense, what’s wrong with that?

Will we see a change in the standards of writing if the printed versions of magazines start to diminish? Perhaps so and this will undoubtedly scream CRISIS to many and we will be plunged back into the era of the ‘Great Grammar Crusade’… GIVE ME STRENGTH.

“If we evolve into a world where everything we treasure can be delivered in an electronic form, are we removing sentiment from our lives?”

As a sentimental soul with a passion for the magazines I have collected over the years, I am concerned about having my magazine stack being halted and prevented from growing. I intend to drive any future husband of mine to his very limits of patience with the piles of magazines I will keep around our house.

One Direction were the first males to appear on the cover of Cosmopolitan since its birth and in spite the fact that my subscription edition with the Kardashians had already arrived, I was not missing that snippet in magazine history and immediately went out to buy it. Why? I hear you asking. Well, can you explain why any of us collect and treasure the things we do? If we evolve into a world where everything we treasure can be delivered in an electronic form, are we removing sentiment from our lives? We are already bombarded with hideous displays of affection not only over text messages, but to add serious insult to injury, people now feel the need to do it over Facebook. I dread to hear the day that I hear a girl telling her friends that her guy has said “I love you” for the first time, only to hear it was on a text message. I’m a total social networking supporter, but there are some things that should be left for actual human contact.

The fact is, these publications are only closing because the figures show that there is no longer a place in the market for them. So, maybe the readers are really saying that they prefer to read things online now. More realistically I would guess is the economic state of affairs meaning that when you can have the magazine for free online, why would you buy a printed version?

It seems it’s up to the readers to keep print journalism alive, and with the hundreds of students studying to embark down this career path, what future lies in store for them?

Much emphasis is placed on the experience and knowledge of the younger generation in the sense that we have grown up in this online universe. Many companies now look for the bright new minds of the younger applicants and the fresh, up-to-date ideas they can bring. It seems even more so now that business will look to the younger generation for the know-how of surviving in the cyber world. If you’ve spent your life criticising your friends for spending too much time on the computer, it may be apparent that they are now two steps ahead and have the upper hand when it comes to what their industry needs. So are we at an advantage being the younger generation with the knowledge that is needed in the current media climate? Or are we preparing for an uphill stride with even less jobs available for the taking?

It is no secret that publications have had to learn to survive on the web and it has been all for the better. The ability to communicate with their readership every day through their website and their social networking sites places interaction on a whole other level. In spite of this, I hope that the importance of print media will never be overlooked and I will be on the front lines fighting for their survival if it should ever come to that!

Impending fear of the demise of all printed publications is a bit preemptive and I’m sure there are many who like me, believe that there will always be a place for print publications because for me, a magazine without the printed magazine would be like toast with no marmite. Just not quite the same.

I want to know what you think!

What do you think about the closure of these publications?

Would you be happy with magazines closing the printed publications and being online-only?

Comment below or Tweet me! @RachelHadders

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