Not a bang, but a whimper . . .
Remember when they told us the end of print journalism was nigh? That newspapers, magazines, music stored in pieces of plastic, even the cinema would dissolve into dust, life as we knew it would change, and everyone would gladly cast aside those ancient forms of media in exchange for having their face and ears surgically attached to an iPad? Well that was a couple of years ago, in the hysteria of NOWism.
To be fair, Nowism in all its digital ubiquity has been giving the print presses a bit of bullying. The London Lite disappeared and I remember vividly the morning I read that I.D. had gone under and gave my laptop an earl grey shower. With much phewing I read on to discover it was not our eternally winking i-D but International Design magazine, but the fact I even found i-D’s demise plausible says much about the supposedly shaky future for magazines as anything else. Not to mention the fact I was reading this news not from a newspaper but from a website.
However the reality of Nowism isn’t the end of the world by any means. Once upon a time magazines were the only source of cutting edge and style. They were, in effect, the internet. They showed us what was new, what we needed to wear, listen to, and know about. They were our bibles. Granted, pre-internet, my magazine bible was probably Sugar magazine, but you get the point. Now, I can check out Hypebeast, The Selby, The Hypemachine and any number of Sartorialist-style blogs several times a day, and not only know what is new this very cyber-second but potentially also what is so disgustingly hip as hell that it will probably never even skim pop culture.
And of course, all this information is free. Statistically, global consumption of print journalism is probably in freefall, but look at your average magazine selection in a supermarket and I say statistics are wrong. The magazine industry has absolutely exploded in the last 5 years. Nowism hasn’t killed print, it’s merely encouraged it. The printing presses are churning out brightly coloured, weekly now-zines like Look and Grazia like there’s no tomorrow, and the Independent have just this week launched a baby paper called I.
As for the glossy monthlies which we fools pay anything from three to thirty pounds for: they’re art now! The magazine shouldn’t think of itself as a feeder of culture so much as a shrine. It’s crafted, polished and pored over by a team of highly talented editors. Vogue, Dazed, Wallpaper, 10; they’re all distinct voices we respect and listen to. They’re our achingly cool yet reliable friend who tells us about the world in ways we’d never imagined. They’re an environmentally unfriendly luxury, but one which we’ll be poring over long after the blog bubbles have burst. Nowism. Pah!