It’s Time To Move On

- - Working

Here’s what happens when things get tough at magazines. They pull out all the past successes: the stories, photo essays, packages and the covers (oh god do they ever pull out those big newsstand hits) and go about trying to recreate the magic of the past. It’s a waste of time. The climate has changed, the challenges are different and the readers are different. There’s always been a problem of diminishing returns when you knock off the past successes and then add to that the sapped enthusiasm of those left to execute the unoriginal ideas… it’s time to stop looking back. We need fresh ideas and enthusiasm. We’ve seen an entire year filled with homages to the past and it’s time to get out from under the shadows and forge a new path.

There Are 23 Comments On This Article.

  1. EXACTLY!!!!

    That’s why I keep preaching that the same old fat cats are NOT going to be the ones who discover how to successfully find ways of using new media. As photographers, we’re wasting out time hoping that things will turn around while they find ways to save the ship. We’re experiencing an evolution of sorts. Things have changed and it’s up to us to discover new ways of doing things.

    Evolve or Die!

  2. Well here is a thought, which postings here have been the most popular (commented, views..) ? Would they still hold up? Why?

    Might be interesting or not, just curious.

  3. Perhaps this is a sign that requires deep consideration on our parts. As was stated a few weeks ago by Jeff Bercovici, many of the expected turnovers at the Publisher’s level did not happen. He asked whether or not corporations, and the editors they employ at their print publications, are beginning to accept the futility of their efforts in the face of such daunting social and market conditions?

    Sadly, I’ve finally allowed the majority of my magazine subscriptions to lapse. Even the publications I’ve depended upon and taken great pleasure from in the past have lost their luster and timeliness. I simply do not depend upon a majority of the magazines I received for my news, as by the time it reaches me they have very little to offer that I don’t already know. The best articles always circulate on the top blogs and news-aggregators out there.

    There is a evolving nature of inter-dependency among bloggers and their readers, as one develops their reading habits online we begin to depend upon the natural selection of our collective habits to let the best and must-read pieces rise to the top.

    If these storied publications are going to go out, we should allow them to celebrate their historical legacies in peace.

  4. Yes, it’s that time of year again – nice to see my work again in the local newsprint and reminisce about all the hard work and fun times hustling to get the photos and story – before i was another lay-off victim!
    More time now to clean the photo file and stash some archives.

    … movin’ on indeed.

  5. The only way the magazines are going to survive is to go back to doing the kinds of stories that made the great ones great in the first place. The kinds of stories that they actually have to spend real money to do, the kinds of stories that photographers and writers live for. The two week to multiple month assignments that can really dig into a story and learn things that quick fix television and right this second news bloggers can’t touch. Ask yourself why National Geographic (the yellow book) is doing just fine. Because you won’t get that kind of story from a blogger with no budget or a tv station pandering to the lowest common denominator. Granted there can’t be 500 such magazines but most of the crap on the newsstands today is just a waste of trees anyway, good riddance I say. Bring back the Life and Look of old. Invent something new that will tell deep, thoughtful, intelligent stories that will move and inspire.

  6. Playing it safe for magazines is a bad move long term and its gonna bit them in the ass.

    If every mag looks the same, has similar articles then why would I want to pick them up.

    I guess the same could be said about photographers.

    I get a lot more info, for free online, on demand. But I do wish I could find Lemon around especially since some issues were stolen from my studio ;-(

  7. Sean McEntee

    Reminds me of the Zen parable about the rabbit hunter who spends all day fruitlessly hunting rabbits and finally gives up, plopping on the ground to rest. While he’s sitting there a fox chases a rabbit out of the woods and the rabbit is running so fast that it doesn’t see the tree stump ahead of him and bashes into it knocking itself out.

    The hunter jumps up and grabs the rabbit and takes it home to dinner.

    The next day, he goes back to the same spots and hunkers down near the tree stump, waiting for another rabbit to bash into it.

    A funny story and a metaphor for Zen practice on one level, it also speaks to general human foolishness. Like most Zen metaphors it clearly evolved out of looking at the way our minds work, whether sitting on a cushion, hunting rabbits, or publishing magazines, we ignore our follies at our peril.

  8. I’d like to see some data regarding how well niche magazines are doing versus those that cover a broader spectrum. Seems to me that niche content is what people are looking for. Certainly that’s true on the web so why not in print? Or maybe print, whether it’s targeting a niche market or a broader market, is simply terminal.

  9. Printed magazines have to take the message and stop trying to be these quick bite outlets for press releases or paparazzi photos and go back to long form journalism with real reporting and assigned photography. Web and daily newspapers are simply too quick, but at the same time can’t hold a reader’s attention for more than a few minutes in most cases. Magazines are the media that’s perfect for the extended read while not being as much of a time commitment as a book.

    Also, for people like me who love to look at photographs or dig up old articles, magazines spank the internet in terms quality and permanence. There have been a vast number of times when I’ve gone back to an old bookmark only time find 404: Page not found.

  10. You mean, let magazine people run the magazine, not accountants? Hard to happen when the “owner” of the magazine wants a return-on-investment more than they want a great magazine.

  11. OK, I have to disagree…but just a little. I like what Esquire did with their anniversary initiatives and “throwback”covers (the only great image of Britney Spears recreating the Angie Dickinson sweater? C’mon – that’s just good stuff, right there). Think of what they did like the NFL throwback uniforms: doing their job in modern times under modern circumstances in a great, nostalgic outfit from a great era gone by. I dig that.

    Now, having said that, I do agree that if a magazine with a long history (Esquire, Playboy, Vanity Fair, etc.) tries to relive the glory days without paying attention to what will make the next great era for them, they might as well lay down now.

    On a slightly different note, keep in mind that there were over 600 new titles started in 2008. What does that say? And don’t just say, “Well, Stoner, 600 more shuttered titles in a year.” There’s something deeper going on here and I’d love to know what it is/means…

  12. It’s time to move on? Are you sure you’re just talking about editorial content here?

  13. The future is with electronic, specific, high-targeted, selected content for users on a bigger Kindle-like device. Apple will probably make it and it will probably be here soon. Advertising will be targeted, customized and animated. Maybe even holographic eventually.

    “Magazines” will be downloaded for a set price per section, sort of an al a carte system. This will force publishers to make their content rich in order to get a higher profit margin.

    Advertising might be sold like Google’s Ad Click. The more viewers to see the ad in their particular digital version of the magazine will be able to charge the advertise more. This also sets limits as well, which leads to an easier business model for advertising in a magazine.

    Traditional print media will go the way film has for all us. The only ones doing it will be for the love of making a print rag. Maybe there will be a print option for a few years but the future is definitely with digital. Everything is going to go digital. It’s too cheap and fast not to be.

    Imagine a future where I say to you, “Hey, did you see the Allure cover/feature this month? Norman did a beautiful job with Isla!” Less than two minutes later, digitally and wirelessly, after $2 spent you’re looking at it on your digital magazine reader and telling me you’re enjoying it too. Pretty cool.

    The time to move on was almost a decade ago. Every single magazine deserves the sinking sales and loss of profits. Napster revolutionized and forced the Music Industry to change. Editorial wasn’t forced until this recession hit. Guess us Americans just need a big kick in the ass to the curb in order to get creative, yes?

    The future is bright, so stay positive and be bold with your creativity.

    • @Bob,

      I love this kind of foresight and optimism. Whether your predictions are correct or not, it’s this kind of perception of the future of the industry that will lead the evolution.

    • @Bob,
      “Every single magazine deserves the sinking sales and loss of profits.”

      Really, Bob? I agree that the titles easily replaced by a web viewer or site of some sort are going that way, but I couldn’t disagree with you more when you make such a sweeping statement. To use your example, Allure is a disposable title. But on the other hand, Surfer’s Journal or Cowboys & Indians or Vanity Fair or Texas Monthly or Vogue and other great magazines that make the world a better place don’t deserve such a fate.

      Do you have stock in Kindle or something?