06 November 2008

Checking in on the Endangered List

On the heels of US News & World Report's frequency change to monthly, Media Life's Diego Vasquez interviewed blogger The Grim Reaper, who presides over Magazine Death Pool. (Need we say what material the blog covers?)

Ostensible Topic? “Which consumer magazines are the next to fold?” And the discussion looked at the health of the already fragile magazine industry during this current financial meltdown. Grim reveals himself (or herself?) to be very savvy about publishing and to have particular orientation toward the business side.

When asked to name the most vulnerable categories, Grim declared. “shelter, news, entertainment, personal finance, business.” Also he names names or at least titles.

In response to a question about magazine industry layoffs, Grim noted the British view that American magazines have tended to be vastly overstaffed. Reaper added “I do not think many of these positions will be re-opened because there will be less magazines in existence and the industry will have learned that in order to make money and survive, it has to hire people who wear many hats. It's starting to happen now, as reporters and editors are expected to write for both the magazine and the web site.”

Of course, the meltdown is but one condition. There is the larger issue of social climate change. Media is going digital and mobile. Despite Web utilization and even migration, the magazine industry’s structures are built on paper — not unlike a house of cards.

18 July 2008

The Punted Word

And we're back!

Associated Press writer Ted Anthony finds much to cheer for in his review of the new anthology 85 Years Of Great Writing In Time (Time Books, 560 pages, $26.95). As the title, imprint and probaby copyright policy indicate, the book is a compilation of pieces that first appeared in Time magazine. Anthony seems to feel that the collection is a good counter argument to the present day rigors of visual and sonic impact, or, as he puts it –“an increasingly visual culture that defines itself through images and rarely slows down to read.”

But when he says, " It's a robust reaffirmation of the printed word," I have to reach for my blue pencil. The book doesn't show the value of the printed word. It shows the value of the word, so help me Homer. When we, I mean, our shivering little species, moved from the oral tradition to getting it in writing, there probably were people who lamented the way the written word replaced the spoken word.

In his review, Anthony notes, quite rightly good journalism can impart thoughts, information, feeling, social context and passion without once resorting to bullet points or condensed "news you can use." One argument against the written or any other kind of word is Anthony's observation that "The decades unfold before us like a Billy Joel song:” But then again it's a literary review and not a music review.