This is, uh, a little depressing! Earlier this morning I read that in 2008 over 50,000 new US college graduates held journalism degrees and 60% of them were still out of work. The ones who are working are probably being paid minimum wage or interning. The old joke about a theater degree qualifying you for a job as a waiter can now be used with just about any creative industry for the set-up now.
You read that Obama and Congress “want” to save the newspaper industry, but HOW? The magazine business model is defunct too. If newspapers are reeling from the problem of being rendered “yesterday’s news” the moment they get printed by the relentless churn of the 24 hour Internet news cycle, how difficult would it be to edit a monthly magazine these days with a 90 day lead time? It’s a fool’s errand.
Aside from a few magazines that deserve to be read in print (Vanity Fair, Vogue and The Economist come to mind) there’s not a whole lot of excuses left to print on dead trees and so the idea of paying $60,000 or $120,000 for a print ad in a glossy magazine will also go the way of that same dinosaur. And that of course sets off an entire print industry food chain spiral of death in every career path from media buying to driving a newspaper delivery truck. The main problem—and it’s an insurmountable one—is that most people choose to get their information in the freshest, easiest, most up to date manner possible and that is not via print media.
In 1995 I personally subscribed to SEVENTY magazines and got five daily newspapers delivered to my office(oh those lazy hazy daze of expense accounts!). By 2005 I was buying just a monthly issue of MOJO at the newsstand and I haven’t bought a copy of that now in over two, almost three years. So I’ve gone from being print’s best customer to not spending a cent in the arena. As in ZERO cents and NO dollars. I’m simply not interested. It’s not like I read any less, I read far more! It’s just that I tend to be reading it off a monitor, not the pages of a newspaper, magazine or—I’m almost ashamed to say—book.
When VIBE magazine got shuttered last year, a wag on Gawker made the comment that if you had any plans to make a career writing about music for a living you could effectively FORGET IT when people were more interested to read the public’s Amazon reviews than “professional” record reviews in a magazine. Ouch! But it’s true. The entire gestalt of print is passe, it’s just that simple. How do you get around something like that? You don’t. And lest you think I’m saying “Bring it on” or laughing at the death of print, I’m not, I certainly don’t see what’s coming next as an improvement or anything, but as a former journalist and publisher myself, I just can’t see any way out of it.
From Unity’s press release:
UNITY 2009 Layoff Tracker Report shows sharp quarterly spikes in job losses
MCLEAN, Va. ?