Stupid Writers! Nobody Reads Magazines Anymore!
When I was a wee lad of about sixteen or so, I had dreams of moving to New York and going to write for Rolling Stone, Esquire, and the other big-name glossy magazines. Well, soon afterward, I found out that you could write from wherever you were without having to survive on table scraps and ketchup packets in New York City. And then along came this thing called “the Internet” that reworked the whole conversation.
So moving to New York isn’t in the immediate plans any longer. But I remain fascinated by magazines — I’m a regular subscriber to RS, Esquire, The New Yorker, the Oxford American, and plenty of others. They pile up in my office, threatening to crush small children.
What’s interesting is that I’m apparently part of a dwindling breed, at least according to The New York Observer. In an article entitled “Freelance Fizzle,” writer Dorree Shafrir breaks down the many ways in which the once-dominant magazines have lost their hegemony, their influence, and their status as nirvana (lower-case n) for young writers:
“There’s not one path anymore,” David Hirshey, executive editor of HarperCollins and former longtime deputy editor of Esquire magazine, said the other day. “Thirty years ago, you worked at a newspaper, you moved to a magazine, and then you wrote books or screenplays. Today you can be a blogger who writes books or you can be a stripper who wins an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.”
Hey, he’s talking about me! (The first part of that last sentence, not the second. I still haven’t won an Academy Award.) Anyway, it’s a fascinating look at the “decline and fall,” as the subhead goes, not just of the freelance magazine writer, but of the magazine industry itself. Well worth a read. Oh, and the comments are good too, both the informative ones and the nakedly jealous ones too.