Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Problem with Magazines Today.

There is a lot of talk these days about how the Internet has destroyed, or will destroy, traditional print media. You can see it in a downturn in circulation, fewer ads being sold to print while more and more advertisers take their budgets to Internet sites and so on. I would contend, however, that this is not what is causing the downfall of Grandfather Print.

This drum has been beaten before, with radio and with television, but perhaps this time there is something to the fear. The newspapers and magazines themselves are moving to the new medium with full stories updated at breakneck speed, advertisers crammed onto every white space and free subscriptions where they used to get a revenue stream. The thing is, even while we are all dancing around and singing the praises of this new medium, Grandfather Print is being left on the ice to die a slow and agonizing death. A prime example is Business Week.

Now, I don't read Business Week - never really have - but my husband does. In the past three years I have noticed Business Week go from a plump business magazine on good paper full of well thought stories and a definite point of view to a shell for advertisers. The paper quality is poor, the magazine is smaller, the layout reminds me of a tabloid you get in the grocery checkout line and the editing...well, let's just say that a few copy editors need to get fired after this week's issue - or at least a VERY stern talking to. The thing is, they have a full week to get the issue right. There is no reason that articles should not be consistently justified (pick left, full or right please) and fully edited (someone forgot to take out the word "break" at a paragraph break...well forgot to take out MOST of the word).

Before you think this is me throwing stones at glass houses, I know how hard this is. I have worked in a press room, I have worked on the ever changing internet that has an appetite stronger than my toddler. I know that it seems nearly impossible. I also know that at least on the Internet I can change things on the fly - fix spelling errors before I hit send, change justification if it doesn't work the whole deal. I was an editor and producer before I became a Quality Assurance person and I am fully aware of how hard it is to produce a magazine, especially a quality one.

Therefore, McGraw-Hill, I ask you please, if you are not going to use your resources to ensure Business Week remains a good magazine that is fully and correctly edited, let it go to its rest. The same holds true for all your magazines. If you cannot pick a format that suits your audience, use a format consistently, edit it correctly, or have stories that are focused on the real story not seemingly from the PR company of the product they are tauting this week - please let them die peacefully in full light, not left on the ice alone and frightened.

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