Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The dying magazines in Lebanon and how not to get them back!

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly based on the Femme Magazine logo
Count with me: Elle (Oriental), L'officiel, Noun, Snob (Al Hasnaa), Femme magazine and the list goes on. I previously did a post about newspapers and one about Future TV (ps - LDC which is part of the LBC group of TVs is also a casualty, but it does not count as this post focuses on magazines that closed down in 2019).
So there, the list continues to the surprise of no one. The head of communication at a major institution told me once that all the ads in the print dailies and magazines were "tenfi3at" - now that such institutions are eliminating all non-essential spending (including coffee machines in HQs!!) these publications no longer have a lifeline.
But truth be told, there was just no logic in their existence to begin with- say you are a woman who wants to see the latest fashion show: You go to instagram and see the brands you are following and basically get all images uploaded about 5 minutes after the show. You want styling tips? Infuencers are there to help you (while wearing clothes generously donated by brands - even if most still want you to believe they bought them with their hard earned money!). If I am giving these examples specifically it is because most magazines cited are oriented towads women and lifestyle.
But again, when major publishers and this includes Conde Nast - this would be Vogue owner! - is trying to keep its publications afloat through various formulas (be it subscription, paid content, firewall, video publishing and what not!) how can you blame struggling magazines in Lebanon past their expiry dates when it comes to their usefulness. Weekly there is caroussel of editors being laid off under the diplomatic terms of "seeking other opportunities" (and this is on the international scene).
We all want our information here and now - no one will wait for a weekly and much less monthly publication. Naturally, there are some who are trying but are doing so in altenative ways (The Face was reborn in 2019 but in a format different than its original iconic run).
Those who think I am against the press, or as someone accused me on Linkedin "would you want to see the newsstand empty?", remember: I run an incredibly successful blog since 2007 - yes January 2007. That's a long time people - do I earn money out of it?
Let me reprint my answer:
"This blog does not make money, I admit to it. I did not wish for my readership to be bought and sold or for my readers to think my opinion about an ad is skewed because I was paid to comment on it. Still, want it or not, it is a respectable publication, I went to Sweden because of it, was invited to lecture in Oslo, am a member of the Epica Awards (the only blogger there) due to its content, and the list continues. I could easily sell out in search for quick income, but I did not (and yes, it is "costly" in certain ways - I admit). But well, the golden age of money-making in print is long gone (as one publisher quipped when told a book was being published by a not-for-profit foundation "Oh, I thought the whole industry was!").
No, we cannot get these newspapers back - and sadly clickbait is being used by publications (not just in Lebanon but our local example is quite risible!) to attract readers online. Good, smart, meaningful content will always win, do not forget that."
So yes, the blog does not make money, but I still can't see a better image tool for myself!