Do you want to go into magazine journalism? I really hope not.
I thought I was interested in it, too. Now I’m not so sure.
I mean I like to write —that’s why I joined The Daily Pennsylvanian in the first place. I like reading magazines — although I haven’t really read a hard copy of one since my grandma ended my subscription to the New Yorker right before I went abroad last semester. I even thought The Devil Wears Prada was pretty fun.
And so I spent this summer in the advertising department of Modern Bride and Elegant Bride magazines, delivering cupcakes, putting together lookbooks, ensuring files were alphabetized and all in the same shade of pink. Intern-y things. Yes, I’m referring to that Modern Bride and that Elegant Bride, which folded last week, along with Cookie and Gourmet. What’s it the kids are saying these days? FML?
Here’s the bleak truth: Even if you love holding a physical magazine in your hand, most consumers get their information from the Internet and thus feel less obligated to spend what little expendable cash they do have on print. Therefore, companies are pulling their advertising dollars from newspaper and magazine divisions, and allocating them to other, more lucrative and visible platforms, like your television and computer screen.
It’s no secret Conde Nast, which published the titles recently shuttered, is facing revenue challenges. The privately held company is not required to publicly post losses and gains, but estimates put ad-revenue decreases somewhere in the hundreds of millions. And even when qualitatively comparing today’s magazines with those of a few years ago — and this is where my time spend organizing the Modern Bride magazine closet comes in handy — it is evident that most titles have seen their size decreased by nearly half.
As their numbers drop and their pages decrease, publishing companies aren’t exactly looking to hire in large numbers.
“I think the nature of journalism is changing so quickly it’s hard to see what it will look like in the future,” said Career Services senior associate director Kelly Cleary. “As a population we’re reading more than ever,” she continued, “but it’s in a different format.”
And what was once considered standard is now thought of as obsolete.
“Journalism itself is a great profession. It rewards industry, imagination and intelligence and allows you to meet the people and see and understand the events that define our times,” wrote Avery Rome, a Penn professor and assistant managing editor for projects at the Philadelphia Inquirer. But she continued, “what we don’t have so much at the moment is the certainty of ‘one path,’ a guaranteed map of how to enter the business and succeed.”
With that in mind, Cleary advises students interested in journalism to familiarize themselves with multi-media, from blogging to desktop publishing skills. She also advocates having a backup plan and being aware of other career possibilities if your dream of landing an assistant editor’s position at Vogue doesn’t pan out. And who knows if you really want it to, anyways?
College junior Caroline Stern, editor-in-chief of Penn fashion magazine The Walk, was a fashion intern at another Conde title, W, last summer. Her interest in fashion though, rather than journalism, was what propelled her to work at what she sees as an industry that needs major restructuring.
“If I were to do anything [in the magazine industry] I would do an on-line publication,” she said. In fact, The Walk launched a supplementary blog three weeks ago. “An on-line publication doesn’t replace a magazine,” she explained, “it’s just more economically feasible right now.”
When it comes down to it, right now magazine journalism is a numbers game, one whose rules haven’t been completely delineated and where the right course for success hasn’t been found yet. Its viability as a post-grad option is still in flux.
That said, if anyone’s still looking to hire, I graduate in May.
Arielle Kane is a College senior from Briarcliff Manor, NY. Her e-mail address is email@example.comComments powered by Disqus
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