On Paper Giants And Growing Up A Mag Junkie In A Land Of Dwindling Readership

I was born in 1994. By the time I was old enough to read a magazine it was 2000 (and it was Barbie Magazine), and by the time I was actually old enough to read a ‘proper’ magazine it was 2005. In magland years, this puts me at a severe disadvantage. Though I have always known this, watching ‘Paper Giants’ last night really drove the point home for me. Cleo started 22 years before I was born and in those 22 and the immediate years after, which I spent learning to walk and talk, were the key years for not only Cleo, but the entire industry. As I grew, so did technology, until by the time I started high school in 2007, just two years after really beginning to read magazines, the internet was taking over. 

I remember the tail end of the magazine hype, before the circulation and readership figures really started to decline, and how everyone at school would have the latest Girlfriend and Dolly. We’d all spend lunchtimes devouring the mags from cover to cover, and then discuss them in great detail. All our books were plastered with our favourite pages and our walls were covered with posters we found within. It was a giant love affair we all took part in and adored.
Then, and I’m not sure the exact moment when this happened, but I was suddenly the only one who still bought the mags. Weirdly enough, I was also the one who was the most into the internet, always being the first to read the gossip sites and blogs to discover all the latest celebrity news. For my peers, it wasn’t that the internet had taken over, it was just that they had stopped caring.

Ten or twenty years earlier, this wouldn’t have happened. Well, some people are always going to stop reading glossies, but before the noughties mags played a much larger part in people’s lives. Information wasn’t as easily accessible, especially on celebrities, in the days before Perez and Google so women of all ages turned to glossies for all the latest goss. Magazines were a required part of the media. They were at the forefront. In the spotlight. Informative. Controversial. They were revolutionary, daring to be different and to spread awareness of even the most risque of issues. And then one day they weren’t. 

Watching Paper Giants made me so sad. What I would give to be able to be a part of something so brilliant and life changing. Magazines today are still fabulous, but even I have to admit the content never changes. It never makes an impact. It’s just…there. In the early days of Cleo Ita Buttrose and her team were making a difference. They were giving women a voice and changing lives. Magazines today just can’t do that. 

In the comments of Mia Freedman’s post today on this topic, I found myself getting annoyed at people gushing over how Frankie will never die because unlike Cleo/Cosmo/Dolly it’s quality. As I’ve said before, I immensely dislike Frankie and find it frustrating that people honestly believe a niche magazine riding on the back of the success of the hipster trend can really survive longer than magazines that have been around for decades. Frankie may be the popular option, but as trends like ’emo’ have faded, so too will hipster, and once it’s gone, Frankie’s circulation and readership are going to find themselves in such a downfall, their office will be in cardboard boxes before they realise what hit them.   

Unlike Mia who, despite making her name in the glossies, continues to announce their death, I do believe magazines have a future. I have to believe magazines have a future, because if they don’t, I have no idea what I will do with mine. While I agree that they will play a different role, let’s be honest, in this technological age, they have to, I still believe they will play a role. While teens may not pour over the latest issue of Dolly devotedly every month, and twenty somethings may not be as interested in picking up the latest Cleo or Cosmo, they will still be there for the die hards. There will still be people in waiting rooms and on planes and in baths and on couches flicking through and enjoying glossies. There will always be an audience for mags, and they will always play a role in our society, no matter how technological it gets. I just pray that they will hold a role for me to play a part in when my turn comes to enter the workforce. 

frangipani princess xoxo

5 thoughts on “On Paper Giants And Growing Up A Mag Junkie In A Land Of Dwindling Readership

  1. It makes me wonder what happens with mags like Hardware Journal (I find it hilarious that Daddy has a subscription) and any industry based journals like that. Do they decline?Also, fucking hipsters.

  2. Mia's not bitter. She's realistic. Fluff mags (Dolly, Girlfriend, Cosmo, Cleo) will not continue in their current format. They can't. There is too much on the net and other mediums that will outpace them.Niche will stay.

  3. Here's my post on Paper Giants (http://earlybirdcatchestheworm.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/paper-giants%E2%80%93the-birth-of-cleo-review/) and subsequent musings on "the death of print" (http://earlybirdcatchestheworm.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/paper-dwarves-digital-giants/), as it has been called.I see your point about frankie: I have a love/hate relationship with it. Some issues are stellar, and some succumb too fully to the "hipster" trend, one that I'm not a fan of in any way.In some ways, when put how you put it, I don't see frankie surviving either. But niche magazines like that will always find a way to exist, whether in zine form, or as a web-based mag (Jane, anyone?).One thing's for sure: mags, whether they "live" or "die", will always hold a special place in our hearts.

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