after the art magazines
Post #376 • September 30, 2004, 9:26 AM • 10 Comments
James Wolcott, quoted by Maud Newton:
If people only knew... how nervous and anxious people in the magazine world are these days. They've been nervous and anxious for three years now. About the ad recession, about where magazines are going, about how formulaic magazines are, that even if you get a good job at a lot of magazines you're just doing junk. The days of triumphalism, when there were big magazine parties with lots of money being thrown around, those days are gone.
Back in the early days of the Miami Art Exchange, we had the good fortune to have as copy editor the person who edited Helen Kohen's work when she wrote for the Herald. This editor held the opinion that print journalism, in which she had worked for two decades, was dead. Not dying - dead. Newspaper content had become a means of separating display ads.
Pick up an art magazine and you will find a similar phenomenon. In my most recent copy of Art in America, nearly fifty pages of ads separate the table of contents and the first iteration of content. And when was the last time you looked at an art magazine and read anything as heartfelt, lucid, and right-headed as the Felix Salmon essay I linked to yesterday? I think one could make a commercially viable product of only slightly inferior quality by putting out an art magazine that consisted entirely of ads.
I now get about 90% of my information about the art world online. I subscribe to no art magazines. I thumb through them at the bookstore, and I buy one if it has something that merits more than a skim. I don't claim to represent the future, but I will say that a nation full of consumers like me would kill the art magazines.
The content online only ever becomes more rich and interesting, and if it replaces the art magazines, I won't miss them. But, well, remember my mentioning that I had gotten involved with Metroblogging? Miami never launched. Metroblogging needs ten writers for any city before they will launch a site for them, they had two from Miami, and they waited and waited for Miami to catch on. Associated Press wrote an article about Metroblogging that got picked up by the Miami Herald. Still no offers. Finally, Orlando launched. Orlando. Metroblogging cities include New York, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, DC, New Orleans, Boston, Tokyo, Istanbul, Vienna, and... Orlando. I conclude that Miami lacks the initiative, brainpower, literacy, digital savvy, and pride of place to make a home for itself on the web. If you, dear reader, live in Miami, congratulations on being an exception. With the future looking the way that it does, we will need each other.