By Hannah Scott.
I spend most of my student life telling people I want to be a Journalist. Always being followed up by the question of how will I find a job, if nobody buys papers anymore…
As much as I love hearing that (oh wait…no I don’t), I’ve looked into it myself.
Print isn’t dying. Journalism isn’t dying, It’s just evolving.
I went along to Magfest in Edinburgh to speak to the experts, some new, some with slightly more experience, to get the low-down on what is actually happening.
The Print Industry has seen a decline coming through the 21st Century. But being at Magfest made me realise not all hope it lost for magazine just yet.
In a room full of industry folks with all the knowledge and know-how, there is one guy – Tom Johnson who’s new to the game. He started a blog 10 years ago, from his bedroom and has transformed it into a beautiful piece of art. It’s published quarterly and discusses about all things music. In-between the amazing artwork that is Gold Flake Paint. It was his first Magfest and the first time he’d spoken in front of so many people. When I congratulated him on his presentation he told me thank you, but I don’t remember anything.
“It feels like a different world, Magfest is surreal. To come here and be asked questions about what we do (by us), it feels overwhelming – its a sign we’re doing something right. We can’t take that for granted. It’s a nice feeling to be reminded that we’re doing something good”. Tom, went on to say.
In their first year of production the team have gone from strength to strength, coming from a blog to a real life magazine. More recently we’ve seen lots of print publications both in the newspaper and magazine industry go fully digital. The likes of the Independent who only publish online, Stylist, who stopped publishing the men’s version of the magazine – Shortlist.
Despite this, Tom still believes that print still has a place in an hyper-digital world: “The internet has thrown everything in people’s faces, but there’s still people who want to exist away from that. The people who still buy records instead of streaming – people who buy a magazine instead of reading it online,
“I still want that and I know there are people out there who do as well because I pack up the boxes and send them all over the world. People still want that physical relationship with a product – that just want to sit down and read”.
As much as this is a good sign, I mentioned earlier that journalism is evolving. And it’s true. A lot of magazines have a podcast alongside the magazine that they publish every week, month or quarter. One such person delving into the world of podcasting is Esther Thorpe, co-host of the Media Voices Podcast.
At Magfest they recorded a live podcast about how publishers are using them to innovate their magazines. Everyone’s getting in on it, from Empire to the Economist to the BBC4’s book club. Some are pretty open. Some more niche. Esther told us it’s a different way to communicate to audiences: “It’s less about breaking a news story and more about telling stories that people connect with and identify with. It doesn’t matter if that is someone reading a print magazine, on their phone, if their listening to it, or watching it. I think it’s all a way of telling that story and connecting with people”.
Podcasts can have interviews, or a panel discussion. They can be short or long. They can be people talking into a mic that gets uploaded 10 minutes after recording or a lot of editing can be done. That’s the beauty of it. There’s no exact way of producing a podcast, nobody can say it has to be one way or another.
Why is Magfest so important? What does it really mean for the industry?
Magfest 2019 was all about sharing innovative ways to combat the challenges faced in the industry, which of course you’ve just read all about.
In it’s eighth year, we spoke to Director of the Edinburgh International Magazine Festival, Laura Dunlop to get her views on the gathering.
She tells us it’s a way of bringing all kinds of industry folks together, from the big and small.
Laura said: “It lets you step away from your desk and think about the big picture. You think about the importance of what you do, think about how you change things, the ways you can innovate and fill up your reservoir of love for your industry”.
Magfest allows people to see the diversity in the Magazine industry. It is about giving everyone a voice, from every corner of the country. We heard women, and people with a working class background, people of colour, share their stories about the industry both good and bad. Gal-Dem editor, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff talked about her magazine for women of colour and no-binary people of colour. Sonny Dhamu, who is the art director of Inside Housing, talked about how design can be instrumental in social campaigns.
“Magazines provide the joy of discovery. Someone has sat down and taken the effort to craft something because they think you’re going to love it. I don’t think there’s anything in the world that will replace that. There’s no other form that can challenge their readers and challenge those in power on behalf of their readers”.