In my previous post, I started musing about whether print magazines still make sense in a digital world.
Think about the services print magazines provide, or once did. They fill small blocks of time. They provide in-depth information. They sit on your coffee table to tell visitors who you are and what you care about.
Looking at that list, I’m worried for magazines. We have smartphones for the waiting area; TV for free hours; and I, for one, don’t move in a social crowd that comes to inspect my coffee table.
As these roles become less relevant, do print magazines still have a place?
And specifically, what about wildlife magazines?
Recently, one of our kind, Outdoor Illinios, ceased publication due to agency budget-cutting. That magazine was launched in the 1940s. Its demise—or should I use a less loaded term?—means that a wildlife magazine with a 60+ year record was no longer considered necessary, either by subscribers or by the agency in charge of managing the state’s wildlife.
The reason given was, of course, budget. But many agencies have found ways to reduce magazine budgets without cutting their magazines entirely; for example, by reducing the number of issues per year.
No doubt about it: magazines are expensive to produce. Lots of staff time goes into them, not to mention paper and postage. And these days, agencies have many other communications vehicles: websites, blogs, a presence on Facebook and Twitter. You can produce a blog post or update a web page in a few minutes; it takes months to put together a good magazine.
That’s the thing, isn’t it? Anyone with access to the Internet can publish information immediately these days. But that’s what it is: quick information. Producing a magazine is anything but quick. I grin when someone sends me a story idea “for the next issue.” Unless you direct the agency I work for, your story will be considered in July of the current year for publication the following year. We don’t pull story ideas out of thin air and throw them onto the page the next day. We don’t do “urgent.” We aim for “important.”
I have to believe “important” still matters, and that print magazines in general, and wildlife magazines specifically, still have an audience. Our audience is people who care about wildlife and want to know what’s going on and why, in depth.
You are still out there, aren’t you, readers?