The Death of Magazines?

I just read an article about the probable demise of “Sports Illustrated” magazine, which was the bible of my youth. That article also reminded me about the death of another one-time magazine staple – the inflight magazines once offered by pretty much every airline. And which featured many of my articles, both on domestic and foreign airlines. But not necessary any longer because we all have cell phones.

Pretty much all print magazines have been victims, in one way or another, of the electronic age, and our ability to read just about anything on the Internet.

If “Sports Illustrated” really goes under, it’s only the latest in a long string of magazines that have fallen victim to the digital age. And victim, as well, I believe, to our more-frantic lifestyles of the 21st Century. Pretty much everyone I know is pressed for time, in one way or another. Which makes it a lot easier to get our information from the Web – even though in many cases it’s not as much in-depth information as we used to get from print.

But I believe that despite its unsure status, the print magazine still does a lot of things well. It still analyzes the news – of any kind - in more depth than pretty much any other medium. It still, in its purest and most exciting forms, has the ability to enlighten and to engage us. It still attracts some of the finest writers in America. And those writers are true journalists (not "citizen-journalists"), who are trained to observe, search for the real facts, and report objectively. And, who - even though many of them are now doing the jobs of two people - still do it damn well, for the most part.

In addition, I think magazines still have a kind of excitement to them, that the web - despite its 24/7 news cycle - cannot yet match. When I walk out to the mailbox and see one of my magazines in there, I know I'm going to have an hour or two (or more) of good reading, written by good writers, and tailored to my tastes. And I know I’m going to try and make it an hour or two without any flashing e-mail messages or ringing hour or two just for me.

Magazines still work for me for a variety of reasons. I still like the feel of a magazine in my hands, rather than reading it on a screen. Many people, for better or worse, still ascribe more credibility to something they read in print than something they read online. Some people with whom I’ve worked still believe that magazines are just as important as the web. And some of them, still, are more satisfied with the results of exposure in print than on the web.

Nobody can predict the future. But hopefully, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the magazine are greatly exaggerated.