Is Print Fashion Journalism Dead?

Print media used to be the only way we could see the latest runway collections. That has all changed , we see it all as it happens. Instagram Live, Twitter Live, Snapchat, Facebook Live, YouTube Live etc. Fashion has become more accessible and our appetites more voracious, our attention spans shorter.

Can magazines and fashion journalists adapt to this fast paced demand in fashion?

For the longest time and till now, I’ve always wanted to work in the media. As I grew older, got an education, I realized I wanted to work in fashion. Fashion magazines like Vogue, i-D, Harper’s Bazaar. The shoots, styling, the clothes all appealed to me. Blogging about fashion and style seemed like the next best thing until I do work at a fashion magazine.

African fashion creatives and journalist were all abuzz when Naomi Campbell mentioned that Africa should have its own Vogue. Now that’s amazing , but it made me think with the internet and social media is Print media dead?

In 2012, then editor of Teen Vogue Amy Astley said in Adweek :

“This current generation is best served with mobile, digital products and newstand special issues. There’s always more room for creativity and more voices but its easier to do that digitally. Its incredibly hard and expensive to complete (in print)”. 

By 2017 Teen Vogue ends its print run. Teen Vogue has always had a strong online presence as developed by Editor in Chief, Elaine Welteroth and Digital Editorial Director, Phillip Picardi. This strong presence however, did not translate to sales. So, in 2017, Conde Nast announced that it was shutting down the print version and laying off a number of employees as a cost cutting measure.

Fashion Journalism has made a very obvious switch from print media to digital media and so it begs the questions why? Will print survive? .

The Problem with Print?

So what is the problem with print fashion journalism? Creative freedom? You often see journalists afraid to question the system, afraid of putting off current advertisers or potential investors. It then feels like the journalists are working for the fashion brands and not for the magazine. Online, the freedom to express opinion and tackle seemingly controversial and topical issues is priceless.

Connection with the audience? Magazines like Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar portray a life that very few of its readers have and sometimes the reader feels like there is a chasm between them. I for one love Vogue but most times it feels like a fantasy life. What digital/online fashion journalism has been able to achieve is making itself relatable. Everyone has a voice. These are regular people telling stories in a way that regular people can connect to it. The readers being able to comment is also an important factor in helping them connect.

Real Time Fashion. Lead times for print publications is another factor. Most times fashion journalists are working months ahead so that they can produce articles in ‘real time’. However, when a curve ball is thrown or breaking fashion news occur, they don’t make it into the printed issues. Online journalists report the news as it occurs and that provides and edge.

Will Print Survive?

The conversation about the death of print media has been going on for years now and magazines, newspapers, still exist. Why you ask?

The major reason is advertising. Brands value the full scale and freedom to implement branding ideas without any limitations. The reach that these magazines have already established cannot be over emphasized and will continue to be valued by international brands who want their ad campaigns to reach the near ends of the world.

Journalistically, however, print media offers more depth. Well researched and edited articles, expertise that has been built over the years. Print media is a well oiled journalistic machine and this can aid its survival.

Exclusivity, The names and reputations that these fashion print brands have built, create a club that fashion houses and designers want to be a part of. The exclusivity that they provide is valued by high end international brands.

So will print survive? To survive print media and fashion journalists need to adapt. Images can no longer be still, they need to be engaging, tactile and feel interactive. A strong online presence can help.

These are all just my thoughts. What do you think? Is print dead? Can it survive? Comment below, continue the conversation on social media. I want to read your thoughts.

2 Replies to “Is Print Fashion Journalism Dead?”

  1. I can feel your sense of uncertainty on this topic. I honestly can’t remember when last I bought a magazine, and that is why the chances of the print media surviving is very low.

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