The Collapse of Print Media

Or, spending 30k on a degree for a dying industry.

Bauer Media recently announced the closure of some of Australia’s most well-known magazines, including InStyle, Women’s Health and Elle.  After purchasing the company Pacific Magazines earlier this year, the media giant has since decided to dissolve the titles due to the financial impacts of COVID-19. Not only does this mean the immediate job losses of hundreds of lifestyle journalists; but on a broader level, the magazine industry as a whole is facing collapse.

The phenomenon of print being dead is nothing new, however, the announcement has heads spinning for those who envisioned a career path within the publication industry — myself included.

Halfway through my journalism degree, I realised that lifestyle journalism was the area that I wanted to forge a career in, and so I undertook an internship at Pacific Magazines in the final year of my degree, in the Women’s Health office. My time at Pacific Mags solidified my desire to pursue an editorial career, and whilst as a digital media intern I only wrote for the online outlet of Women’s Health (WH), seeing the wheels in motion behind of one of Australia’s most popular women’s magazines was as much a part of the experience as producing online articles.

Despite having their own respective content calendars, the “print mag” was the anchorpoint for the online site, with things like the celebrity cover determining the monthly online hero article; and the physical magazine being used for WH social media, in the way of flat-lay images. 

What really made my time there impactful was the way the team worked as a whole, with print and digital arm in arm; and by extension, WH with Men’s Health, and InStyle. There was plenty of opportunity for crossover, be it repurposing content for different titles, or picking each other’s brains on interviewing talent. 

Everyone was not only good at their jobs, but passionate, creative and worked together to help each other create the best possible issue (and digital articles) each month.

As cringeworthy as this is to admit, for a while after the internship, I would still be excited upon seeing WH at the supermarket or newsagent, knowing that (indirectly) I was a part of helping create that issue. 

I can’t imagine what it would be like for those who did work on the magazine, to now have it cease to exist. The title you work for definitely becomes part of your identity in the same way a company can — you live and breathe it, you’re always thinking about it and what you can do for it. 

Having not yet gone into full-time work in an “office job”, when people ask me where I’d like to end up, I usually say as the editor of a publication. 

Out of all the (many) unpaid internships and paid office jobs I’ve had since my time at WH, WH sticks in my memory the fondest, for the wealth of knowledge and connections I left with to succeed in the publication space. On a personal level, it’s really sad to think that InStyle, Good Health, OK!, Harper’s Bazaar, NW, Elle, and of course WH and MH will no longer exist, at least in their physical magazine form.

It leaves the question: is there a future for those who aspire to work in magazine publications? Digital or not?

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