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Is print media dead? The war has begun!

Submitted by on April 3, 2009 – 4:54 pmOne Comment

headerThe has begun. It seems with the shutting down of the print version of a huge question mark has been put over the heads of whether print is a thing of the past. This relatively short article plans to investigate why both online and cannot live in harmony.

Who doesn’t like a ?

I for one (if I can afford them) get a range of and papers regularly. There is nothing like the feel of a magazine. It feels much more substantial than being inches away from a flickering monitor.

Despite being a movie news and reviews site I always go out my way to pick up the latest copy of Empire and Totalfilm magazine. The reasoning behind this you may think a little odd as most of what is written is freely available to anyone with the “search-savvy” on the net. There are occasions where exclusives are given, but overall the experience is very much like reading though a thorough film . Indeed, if you head on over to Empire’s official site, most of the content is available there.

What the online sources do not have though are the opinions and lengthy articles of various cinematic endeavours. Recently Empire has given us a length article covering the whole of the Terminator franchise. In essence, it merely collaborated a great deal of information into one article. I wasn’t aware of seeing anything new per se, but the time taken to do this was clearly lengthy. On another occasion, the history and filming nightmare that was Doctor Dolittle (original) was investigated. These historical arguments are rarely made online as it seems that within 5 minutes, the online community has already moved on!

Periodicals shouldn’t be afraid of losing their provided their content is up to scratch. The online sites tend to focus on the “now” instead of “then”. I am able to pick up an old magazine and still find the contents of it interesting. Whether films are new releases or long gone from the limelight, it is always fun to read lengthy interviews about an older film.

Naturally if they all stuck with articles that focus on iconic (and forgotten) movies of past, then the magazine has some historical significance. Personally I feel that the fight between online and print media is one that is related to certain magazines which are more suited online. The magazine Maxim managed to rarely offer anything new and focus on the subjects of today rather than yesterday. This is no bad thing, but with the amount of competition rising, it is important to have an edge.

For me, print is far from dead. I believe it is in a state of transition whilst everyone figures out where their focus should be. Empire is at present trying a more “modern” approach by including semi clad figures on the cover along with flamboyant wording in articles. I feel that this is unnecessary and unwanted in print media. The language that you read from the magazine is similar to that of a 14 year old sitting in his basement blogging! They are professional journalists and should be able to express themselves in a professional manner without the need to resort to language or skin!

Who doesn’t like free news / trailers / reviews?

Clearly one of the larger benefits of the online community is that of cost! You are able to find out about the latest for example, without too much looking (you can even have it sent to your inbox). News isn’t updated every month or week but hourly. In this century the need to have things yesterday instead of tomorrow has become a great importance. Perhaps we are the children of the fast-food era and therefore want everything liquefied and poured down our throat at five second intervals!

Movie blogs and websites offer the user an interactive experience. Most (if not all articles) are available for comment upon and interactivity is encouraged. Have you ever read the letters section in Empire magazine? It is basically a bunch of happy or sad people and the responses given are rhetorical and often derogatory! An opinion can be given on an item for news, trailers and images almost immediately.

Reviews from websites (and blogs) are often informal affairs. My reviews are merely an observation as to what I feel went right and wrong in the process. Everyone has their opinion and this honest (and unbiased) opinion is what a certain demographic love. An online film reviewer needn’t know all of cinematic history for them to give their opinions on the latest film.

An online writer and an offline writer (by comparison) are very different creatures. An offline writer is tantamount to a scientist offering an unbiased (and unflavoured) account of certain events in cinematic history (or its future). An online writer though is able to show their humanity by writing more flavoursome articles and reviews without the fear of upsetting their editor! The online articles are far from being historical scripts but they deal with the here and now.

The humanity of a writer is a good thing to see. I often am glad to see spelling mistakes in an article I am enjoying as I feel that it is a reminder that there is a writer behind the words. In periodicals the writer seems forgotten and unnecessary. The journalist behind the piece is often overlooked (except by other journalists). Blogging is a format that reminds the reader that there is indeed a writer behind the words. If we wanted everything factual, then I’m sure a computer could write the article

I only write this as a pre-warning to those at certain magazines who feel that their periodicals should adapt to be in direct competition to the websites. There are not in competition. If you take the example of film, you see that for anyone to write about the cinema, they have to be a lover of it. We all love film and it is a shame that we all can’t have our own individual focus on it.

For me, the day that periodicals (especially movie related ones) stop, is a day I grieve. The intention of the websites is not to step on anyone’s toes. It is merely offering up a more personal opinion. Reading a movie blog should be tantamount to getting news (and opinions) off of your friends. When you read something on a blog, you instantly go around telling your friends in an attempt to sound smarter than them. You feel like by reading the news
online, you are somehow more a part of it. Periodicals cannot and should not step on the toes of online entities as this friendship banter will only help sales of their magazines. In essence, the online community are the gossipers and the offline are the academics.

passport-stamp2In an attempt to sum all of this up, it is important to note that I have no intention of claiming that print is dead. Print is merely in a transitional stage and it is important to grasp that. They should be focussing on what the reader wants. For someone to pay out £3.90 for a monthly magazine, a subscriber needs to see something they can’t elsewhere. They need to see professionalism.

To paraphrase (badly) Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney: Us, (as keys) sit alongside each other and only together we can make harmony!

Naturally this argument is not exhaustive and I urge you to share an opinion with me on the subject. Comments are always welcome.

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