Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hot off the dying presses - the state of print these days.

A magazine I know of, is being written by a single journalist.
Another magazine I know of, is also being written by a single journalist (different magazine, different journalist, but the number is still correct).
One of the two magazines still allows itself the luxury to feed on editors of sister publications, share offices and what not, essentially pooling resources and being less-than-break-even. The second is sadly an orphan publication which is being subsidized by ads from brands being marketed by a conglomerate which bought ample shares in it until "either the magazine implodes or we take some even more cost-cutting measures" as the conglomerate's head told me in a private conversation.
But, you can argue "hey sucker, you yourself have been running this blog single-handedly for a decade, so what are you complaining about?". Hmmm, yes, but I rent no offices, have no exorbitant phone bills, do not have to hire and eventually let go of staff, do not suffer printing or distribution costs, don't have to keep a chauffeur for pretenses, and - most importantly - don't have to bow down to advertisers and "play nice" for anyone to like me. If advertisers knock on my door, we can negotiate things, if not, well - I am living a great life thank you very much.
I guess I will not be the first person to speak of how many journalists are being laid off from publications, but some publications are still adamant or the "print or die" philosophy.
The idea that the print magazine is still vital, viable, and that people will wait for it from month to month while living in the dark in between the closing-printing-publication-distribution calendar is baffling. 
Recently a news item exploded, I reported about it 12 minutes after it was announced, the concerned parties took notice, retweeted and reshared and made it a point to tell me privately they appreciated the swiftness of my reaction. Three days later, an industry publication still did not report anything about the item. I nudged them via an email and their reply was "we are preparing an article about it which will be published in our next issue". Insert *facepalm* here.
These are no longer the 80s or 90s. Hey, or even the aughts.
That's it, if the news is not fresh, immediate, here-and-now, interest in it is lost. No one is going to wait for you to catch up as you prepare something which will be printed in the next issue, as patience is no longer a virtue.
Do note that, as much as anyone, I feel the news cycle increasing in its speed, turning vicious at times. But still, between innumerable updates/posts/tweets and a void in between monthly magazine prints there must be a just middle where sensible information can be conveyed.
The whole journalistic structure is changing - and not just in the Middle East of course. With digital eating up other media, with newspapers moving to the digital era either too late or in a way which focuses on clickbait (and not just for entertainment news, a recent title on a political website read "an MP causes a stir at the parliament and wait till you see why"), therefore diminishing the credibility of the information in question especially that the whole enterprise - due to lack of advertising which has migrated to aggregate sites such as Facebook and Google - is run on as shoestring budget therefore depriving newspapers (or publications at large) of valuable resources to cover representatives yet while paradoxically needing them more than ever to cover up-to-the-minute info which their digital readers are now expect de facto.
I understand that in certain societies, internet penetration is still weak, that print will still be here one way or the other (as a refreshing statistic, print books have overtaken their digital counterparts in sales numbers, but books are not magazines/newspapers), but truth be told, anyone below the age of 35 today relies on the internet to get information - the sooner we wake up to that, the better it will be.
Hot off the dying presses, read all about it - digitally.