BoSacks: What is a ‘Magazine’ in Today’s World?
Are magazines an endangered species? Before I answer the question, I think we need to dissect exactly what a “magazine” is. We know what it was, but this is the digitally infused 21st century.
Just a few short years ago, you could instantly recognize what a magazine was from 20 feet away. It was generally rectangular, constructed with ink, paper, glue or staples. It was portable and required no power source.
But what is a magazine today? What will it be as we proceed into the digital age of information distribution?
As the French writer and philosopher Voltaire once said, “What is madness? To have erroneous perceptions and to reason correctly from them?” We had best maintain our sanity, avoid madness and adjust our perceptions about what a magazine really is. It is also prudent to recognize what a magazine is about to become.
The first step is to realize that printed magazines will not be going away anytime soon—they are here to stay for a generation or two, at least. So, it’s not whether they will be here at all, but how many of them there will be and where they will be on the information food chain. The answer, sadly to some, is not as high up as they once were, and much lower down than where they are today.
But that does not mean the death of magazines, not by a long shot. It is only the transference of the way we distribute our branded content. And that is what we need to define: What is a magazine now that we are increasingly relying on alternative distribution channels?
Today, a magazine is a movable storehouse of reliable information. Portable info-tainment—the same thing it always has been. But now it can be supercharged. It does not need to be timely or constantly re-edited, but it can be. It doesn’t need to have instant reader input, but that is available as well. That innovative functionality is part of the joy of what a magazine can be in the 21st century.