In Praise of Magazines

Newsweek Cover

We are at a watershed time for the magazine industry. As you probably know (unless you have been away in a monastery somewhere), Newsweek has announced that it will no longer print a magazine, but will move exclusively on to the web and tablet applications. 

I feel somehow to blame for this. Many years ago, in the mid-80’s, I worked in the electronic publishing industry, ruthlessly paving the way for newspapers and magazines to move online. My colleagues and I created the publishing platforms and the business models that are slowly coming to fruition. Of course the newspapers and magazines almost crossed the Grand Canyon in two steps by falling prey to the “information wants to be free” argument, but now everyone is busy setting up a paywall and charging for content online.

I should be happy, but I’m actually a bit sad. You see, I really enjoy printed magazines and newspapers. I love eating my breakfast every morning with the Globe and Mail. And, I just love magazines. They are my comfort food. Whenever I travel and face a long air plane ride, I stock up on photography magazines, National Geographic and the Economist. The time just whizzes by. I suppose I could buy a tablet and download them, but somehow the experience is not yet up to snuff. 

Every month, my subscription copy of Road and Track arrives in the mailbox and I revel in a good hour spent with the latest in cars. In fact, what got me thinking about this issue was a quality half hour that I spent in an armchair reading Canadian Geographic, a find magazine published right here in Canada.

One of the best features of magazines is that they feature photographs in every issue and help working photographers put meals on the table. This is all too rare these days. Working photographers who actually get paid for taking pictures are a threatened species. We should support industries that hire them. 

Please join me in buying real magazines and reading them. Pick up one or two at the news stand, or better yet, buy a subscription. Turn the TV off, make yourself a cup of coffee, put on some music in the background and enjoy the stories and the pictures. You can’t ask for a better experience.


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