Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The old order changeth... :(

I stopped in my tracks when someone shared this headline (from the New York Post) on Facebook today: "People’s print magazine faces possible closure amid newsroom chaos: sources."

I suppose it's not entirely surprising... it's (sadly) the way of the world these days, isn't it? :( But I remember when People magazine first began in the mid-1970s. It was a trailblazer that quickly became iconic. I'll admit I haven't read it much lately -- mainly because I don't recognize half the people on its covers any more (!), and I don't like the way it seem to have gone "tabloid" in its look and headlines in recent years. But I ALWAYS bought the year-end issue to read on the plane to Manitoba at Christmastime.

Then I read the article. And had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I saw this [emphasis mine]:
Staffers at People — a 48-year-old fixture in grocery checkout lines, beauty salons and doctor’s offices known for its “Sexiest Man Alive” cover — are bracing for the magazine to go online-only after Dotdash Meredith, a unit of billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC, shuttered a slew of print publications, sources close to the situation said. Those include Entertainment Weekly and the fashion glossy InStyle, which once oozed profit and was thick with advertising pages.
!!!

I've been a loyal Entertainment Weekly reader right from the very first issue in 1990 (and I still have that one in a plastic bin in our storage locker -- one of the few old magazines I'd saved that survived the pre-condo move purge). I've mentioned it on this blog and sung its praises here many times over the years -- here in particular, in a list of my favourite things. EW was the one magazine I never wanted to miss an issue of (and I rarely did!). I used to pick up the latest weekly edition (at lunchtime on Thursdays, when all the new magazines would hit the newsstand in the concourse of the downtown office tower where I worked) and then devour it on the commuter train ride home that night. Once I lost my job and stopped working downtown, I couldn't always find it out in the suburbs (or at least easily, or in a timely way), so I became a subscriber to make sure I didn't miss an issue. (I did away with many of my magazine subscriptions as a cost-cutting measure when I lost my job and wasn't certain how this retirement thing might work out, financially -- EW is the only new one I think I actually added!) It's lost that "must read NOW" status since it cut back to a monthly publication a few years ago (and I guess the writing was on the wall then...), but I still enjoy it. (Enjoyed.) Sigh. :(

Apparently this announcement happened back in February -- but needless to say, it came as news to me. I'm a subscriber to the print version of EW, and I have received absolutely NO notification this was happening (let alone any refunds on any remaining issues in my subscription...!). There is no mention of it on the EW website (unless you hit the "subscribe" button -- then you get a notification that an Entertainment Weekly magazine subscription is "No Longer Available." When I logged into the website and hit "Manage my Subscription" under my profile, I was sent to a page that said:
Unfortunately this title is no longer being published, so there have been some changes made to the site you are trying to reach. If you have any questions about your subscription, or you would like to cancel and receive a refund — please find the email address that correlates with your subscription title below to send a message with your request. Note: Please make sure to include your billing address in your message.
I did receive an issue for April (which I haven't read yet), and apparently that is the final one. :(
I did a bit of Googling and found an article from another subscriber who's less than enthralled about the lack of communication from the publisher. (Apparently there is a mention of the demise of the print edition in the April issue -- buried within a story that's buried way in the back of the magazine.)
The only clue that Entertainment Weekly was pulling the plug on the printing press was buried deep in a story in the back one-third of the April issue, a nostalgic look at magazine covers since the debut edition, which featured the visage of musician k.d. lang (lack of capitalization of a proper name her idea, not mine).
After pontificating about the “seismic changes” in the entertainment industry resulting from new technologies, the two-paragraph kiss-off to subscribers included this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bombshell: “But oh, did we have fun — and we’ll continue to, as the brand moves fully online after this final print issue.”
This is the point at which I spat coffee out of my mouth, stammering like the Frank Constanza from “Seinfeld.” Wait? What! Why? Say it isn’t so. And I am now able to report that the worst part of waking up is Folger’s on your crotch."
As of April 2nd, he'd requested a refund, but had yet to receive one.

He echoed many of my own reasons for loving the magazine:
Over the years, the magazine helped me keep up-to-date on pop culture and my thumb on the pulse of the zeitgeist (a word I first saw in Entertainment Weekly, and had to go look it up…in an actual dictionary, rather than simply Google it). At local brewery trivia nights, I would often surprise and impress my teammates with answers to questions about TV shows I had not watched, movies I had not seen, music I had not heard and books I had not read. The magazine’s insider information helped me win office Oscar pools [me too!] and pick winners of the Emmy and Grammy awards. And, as I became a parent of young children, it gave valuable advice on what entertainment products were suitable for certain age groups. [Not applicable here, obviously, but I thought it was a valuable feature for people with kids.]

Benjamin Svetky, a former EW writer, also sang the praises of EW and its impact in an obituary/appreciation for the magazine that's worth reading. (Closing quote: "EW’s final grade? That’d be an A.")

Among the other print magazines shuttered at the same time as EW:  InStyle (which I also used to enjoy occasionally), and Parents, which has been around since 1926!  

I still subscribe to Creative Scrapbooker, a Canadian-based scrapbooking magazine (talk about endangered species...! -- I went to the website to the get the link for this post, and was confronted with a headline demanding, "Hold it! Read it! Love it!" Yikes!), as well as Canadian Living and Style at Home (a Canadian home & design publication). I like to think I'm supporting homegrown, as well as the magazine industry generally. I will admit, I don't pounce on them to read immediately the way I once did, when they arrive in my mailbox. Too many other distractions these days...! But still...

Did/do you read EW and/or People? Do you still have any print magazine subscriptions?

4 comments:

  1. I subscribe to the electronic versions of Martha Stewart, Country Living, and Good Housekeeping. I haven't read an entertainment magazine outside of a salon in a long time though. I get most of my entertainment news from following the Tom and Lorenzo blog and the AV Club Facebook page.

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  2. Interesting. I haven’t had a magazine subscription since I let my Scientific American subscription expire. I feel like the quality of writing in general has really lessened over the last couple of decades. SA basically printed the same cover story over and over with different titles and spin. The only thing I liked was Michael Shermer’s column. Plus when I stopped paying the company acted like a shitty date: sending me magazines I hadn’t paid for, then rude letters with bad grammar and spelling trying to harass me into resubscribimg. It left a sour taste in my mouth and even less respect for them.

    My kids have a couple of magazine subscriptions they received as gifts from grandparents. But I can’t imagine ever subscribing again to a print magazine.

    — torthúil

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  3. Lol about not recognizing the People on the cover. Me, too!

    I have let my Consumer Reports and National Geographic subscriptions slide. I suppose I am part of the problem.

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  4. I have a hard-copy food magazine subscription. Every so often I download another magazine from my library's electronic service, but I am not yet comfortable with it, though they have a great selection.

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