I’m warning you now, this post is almost certainly going to finish on an almost entirely hypocritical point of view. Here we go.
I love print journalism.
I love the texture of a quality magazine. The gloss and shine of a brand new front cover. I’m pretty sure I love the postman who delivers my subscriptions every month. He’s like a British David Cross.
This is, however, coming from someone who studied Digital Journalism. Someone who studied the craft of producing content for backlit screens, for desktop, laptop and handheld devices which light your living rooms and warm your duvet.
Whilst there’s a certain level of disciplined to get through a handful of magazines for those blessed with such a short att…. there’s nothing quiet like a Sunday spent catching up on in depth reporting from the edges of human exploration, technological innovation, sporting achievement and current affairs reportage.
I’ll be sharing an insight into my current magazine subscriptions and where I’m looking to fill some gaps.
My original subscription and the magazine that started my monthly consumption of quality magazines. It’s second to none when analysing the most recent trends, testing new gadgets, and features incredible stories. It’s become a little business heavy for my liking, with a lot of talk of investments in the European start up scene and VCs, which I find interesting, but to a point. The art design is still great and I love the interactive extras you get on both iPad and iPhone. I just wish it worked on my Nexus 7.
If a magazine could come with a scent, National Geographic would be laced with rich Mahogany. The classic Christmas gift for anyone with an interest in the natural world, anthropology, history and culture or simply those of us who love incredible photography. It’s iconic design, shape and articles are still beautiful. Its only downsides for me is that it is not edited for a European audience at all and a subscription doesn’t include a digital copies which means it gets beaten up a bit on my commute each month making it a little less gratifying when reading it at the weekend.
DG’s tagline is ‘The last word on breaking news’, and it’s worth waiting for. Upon receiving my first issue (the third issue) I received a lovely handwritten note on the back of a postcard written by the editor thanking me for my subscription. From this point on I loved this magazine and everything it stood for. The mix of short features and extensive reportage along with a chronological timeline of the biggest news stories to happen every quarter lead you form page to page. With almost every story there are new facts to be read since you first heard of them a few months prior and you feel all the more informed as a result. It’s perfect for those of us who glimpse at the top stories everyday but never get round to reading the paper or the full story.
The newest of the bunch and my first digital only subscription. You can’t go wrong with the quality of writers The Blizzard boasts with some of the biggest names who also occasionally feature on the best football podcasts.
Here’s some suggestions based on previous courtships I’ve had with other magazines.
For Science Geeks: New Scientist
The subscription I failed to keep up with. The most recent goings in within the scientific community delivered weekly to my door just became all too much. Whilst fascinating, there was just too much jargon for me to trawl through. I found myself selecting fewer and few stories to read, slowly judging each issue on it’s cover story and artwork and eventually leaving them to pile up. I still have 21 unopened issues.
For film lovers: Little White Lies
I’ve only had two experiences with Little White Lies but enjoyed both of them. Magazines are one of few mediums that work when when all of its content is themed around a single subject and when that subject is superheroes I’m all over it. The first issue I bought was The Man of Steel issue from May 2013 and it was great. Beautifully crafted and I loved the words. The only reason I don’t subscribe is my lack of knowledge of cult and arthouse films. It would be perfect for film buffs and is still accessible for those looking to broaden their knowledge
WANTED: A Boutique Gaming Magazine
There’s a distinct gap in my collection for a magazine that reflects one of my favourite pastimes – gaming.
Growing up, I loved reading Gamesmaster every month. It reflected the crazy mash-up of games I played and I still remember to oh-so-funny captions to the official screenshots. I dabbled with the Official Playstation, Nintendo and Xbox magazines but preferred more subjective cross-platform publications, even at a young age. Since breaking adolescence I’ve tried the big two; Edge and Games TM. Whilst I have a preference for Edge’s layout I have no loyalty to one or the other and occasionally buy them based on the cover story, normally whilst waiting for a delayed train from a busy Smiths where someone tries to up-sell about 2 kilos of Galaxy bars. I normally cave. If I could have the IGN UK podcast in magazine form I’d be happy but alas I fear it doesn’t exist and when it comes to games I feel I want their website to reflect their magazine and both leave me feeling a little empty.
As leading UK authorities on the games industry, I want their websites to reflect to reflect the excitement and innovation both triple A and indie games bring millions but they are distinctly lacking. Neither are anywhere near even experimenting with the fullscreen digital storytelling experience that The Verge, Polygon and The New York Times and playing with and it worries me these organisations are not thinking digital first given their industry.
[EDIT: Rock Paper Shotgun was found shortly after this – I am ashamed, it is brilliant]
And here-in lies my hypocrisy. I started off talking about my love of beautiful print magazines and I’ve ended up shaking my head in response to the lack of digital innovation from a magazine’s online presence.
The reality of smaller, boutique magazines being able to manage both online and offline publications is unlikely an Delayed Gratification have built their entire niche by not needing to compete with the instantaneous nature of news journalism online. There is however, something to be said for the digital crafting, or retelling if you will, of a story which originated in print. Few stories would not lend themselves to full screen images, interactive media, soundbites and the occasional winking of a cheeky gif starting a new paragraph. The written content can be almost exactly the same, but by adding a new value to it online, even if it’s weeks behind the original posting, the readers will re-experience the story and perhaps take some different from it.
This digital and print journalism Utopia is perhaps unobtainable, certainly with the way some organisations are set up with their print and online teams distinctly segmented, but I believe in a future where print and digital journalism offers something different and unique, perhaps for different audiences. One is for the commute and the tablet, instantly accessible and excitingly interactive and innovative. The other is wiser, more indulgent, charming and svelt.
By offering both and bundling print and digital, you encourage your reader to engage with you in two distinct ways, one complimenting the other, if the reader is so inclined to sample both. I for one, a rambling ‘digital journalist’ with a penchant for inked type faces, will enjoy both when they are offered to me separately. But I will become your digital and physical advocate if you get them both right.
Print Journalism is dead. Long live Print Journalism.