Monday, August 9, 2010

The September Issue: Worth it's weight in gold? (A discussion on the anxiety surrounding print media) Pt 1

Vogue September 2010
dedicated to Jess for the countless conversations about print media & Caillin for the motivation

RE: Print Media in a digital age: should we rejoice? should we panic? should we woe for the past or embrace to future? What is the value of a magazine?

Standing in the news agency, I was faced with the monthly dilemma. In the age when the internet means instantaneous fashion for the masses; that I've already seen the 'newest' designs on the runway, read about the designers' philosophy when creating them, seen them interpreted in countless editorials via Fashion Gone Rogue et al and already read what the rest of the world thinks of it - what did the magazines in front of me offer that digital media couldn't? And which one did it the best? After all, an average magazine is roughly $8-$15 ($25 if you prefer the likes of Interview and POP), depending on where in the world it's come from and how quickly it has been rushed onto the newsstand - magazines are not cheap and they are not everlasting, two aspects which greatly account for the internet's rapid takeover of print media. How many Penguin classics, decent camemberts and thrifted shoes are we willing to sacrifice for something we can get for free and in more abundance? The dilemma of print media is parallel to ones we have already dealt with: why buy bottled water when we can get it for free from the tap? - for prestige, for convenience, for its capacity to be reused over and over again? Does the packaging actually change what is essentially the same product? Likewise, Tony Abbot's argument that changing the leader of the Labor Party essentially doesn't change the fact that it's the same Labor Party. Who agrees? and more importantly, who has the power to actually make an effect?
Before recently attending a talk hosted by the Sydney Morning Herald, I wasn't aware of the severity that the internet dagger had catapulted into the pulmonary vein of print media, until it was commented upon, on how thin said newspaper has become. Indeed it is a tough time for the print media industry and its dedicated followers, as my Total Girl/Teen Vogue/Bazaar/Vogue/Wallpaper/Pop/RUSSH/Nat Geo et al collection will testify to. A magazine today must be worth it's weight in gold.

One never stops paying for a magazine. If you travel or move, magazines, although they do not take up great amounts of space, are deceivingly heavy - enter shipping fees etc. A magazine must capture the zeitgeist of it's time, be completely reflective of the trends, styles, values, and creative paradigms of the fashion industry and thus the mores of the society and the certain individual ego it caters for in the context in which it is produced. Quantity is essential, because a magazine must not only skim the surface and present only one view, but a select buffet so that the reader is still able to make their own informed opinion. However, quality has never had to reach a standard as high as it is today. I believe this was summed up 53 years ago, when Kay Thompson then acting as Maggie Prescott in the 1957 film Funny Face in which she stated, regarding the uncannily named 'QUALITY' magazine, "A magazine must be like a human being. If it comes into the home it must contribute. It can't just lie around. A magazine must have blood and brains and pizzazz." Of course, as those who have seen the film will know, the solution 53 years ago was to "Think Pink" and to send Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy, over to Paris, where around 6 songs later, all is 'Swonderful, all 'Smarvelous (see here to clarify).
However, the trends of the 21st Century move faster than print media can keep up, physically. Upon hearing that the latest issue of RUSSH was 'on sale now', it was not until the 4th news agency that I finally got my hands on a copy. And so the question rose, Why didn't I just look at it on the internet? Why wait and walk around and more so - pay?

part 2 to come

1 comment:

  1. this is such an interesting post vanessa. i've just bought to september magazines (elle - because it was the first one that came out & marie claire - because they were giving away a free bag that you needed to enter their online competition). neither were actually the one i wanted - i really just wanted vogue. oh well. i'm finding that i am routinely disappointed in the magazines i buy - i don't normally buy the standard popular ones (vogue/elle/marie claire etc) after the first issue of the new season because they are just so boring... even with the september issues i've felt like i've already seen all the fashion before and like it was totally boring. there definitely is something nice about having an actual magazine in your hands... and definitely a necessity when traveling (but if magazines were available in a good form on the ipad, once i get one, that wouldn't be an issue anymore...).

    interested to see part II.... xx