The decline of mags... and the one I can't put down

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 15 September 2013 21:21 0 comments
Last weekend I sat curled up on the sofa for two hours, devouring Red magazine from cover to cover. Including their Twitter section in which my tweet praising Rosie Green's column was included - and it's not the first time my comments have been featured.

I'm beginning to feel like a bit of a Red mag groupie, truth be told. Since reading my first issue I have tweeted through it, Instagrammed my favourite quotes and shoots and generally overshared my adoration for it to anyone who'll listen. But as a writer, and as a reader, I think it's good to share praise of what is the downward spiralling mag industry. Though the fact it's SO worth commenting on is perhaps most telling of all; before the Internet would we have been as complimentary when discovering a good read? I'd argue not.

The ABC figures recently revealed the stark truth of today's print media; most mags are plummeting, most surprisingly including the likes of Company who have had massive design and content overhauls. Though actually, I'm one of the readers who has abandoned them; an unread pile of subscription copies leading me to guiltily cancelling because their new web and blog-friendly content didn't feel like anything I would miss if I just, say, went on their site.

Red, if I can act as a groupie again, is different. I don't care much for their website; it doesn't grab me but to be honest, none of the mag sites do. But the magazine is packed full of writers I respect, whether I've read them before or not; it has well written, lengthy features on subjects I am interested in and have to mark with post-its to make sure I look up a site, a book, a writer when I'm done. It has interesting cover girls and plenty of humour; it doesn't assume you have babies but it also doesn't talk to you, Single Woman, in a way that suggests you are either madly career driven or desperate for a man. It assumes, without pretentiousness or patronisation, that we can and should have it all.

And it's for these reasons that I don't think the mag industry will disappear. Those two hours were the most calm I'd been all week; it felt indulgent but was also inspiring, I learned, I enjoyed it, and best of all it wasn't on a screen. Yes, other people will want different things from a mag - I know smart businesswomen who love their Grazia fix and I know journalists who will always look to Vogue as their bible - but that's why I think a lot of the mags out there can survive.

From the Internet, I want niche destinations - like the site I work for where health and beauty is our expertise - because if I'm going to read something short and fast I only want to read from the experts. Who has time to filter (Google) through them all? That's why mag sites have never really captured me; there's too much being covered and not in a particularly good way. There's often far more celeb content than is in print (I'm not a fan) and there's rarely thoughtful, inspiring content.

The numbers obviously disagree with me but though I think some will inevitably fail, the success stories, I hope, will be the likes of Red who understand their changing reader in the era of the internet, careers, feminism and general life today, but who don't change what ultimately they always stood for: good writing and engaging content. That's all we really want, no matter where we read. 

Specs appeal... or not

Posted by Judy Johnson On Wednesday, 4 September 2013 20:56 1 comments
Just because.
I had a thought the other day: what must it be like to be able to see in the shower? I can't remember the last time I looked down at my toes in there and could see them. All I see is a peachy blur, which makes it particularly awkward/scary when you've heard something drop and you're blatantly about to step on a razor.

People don't really talk about eyesight. I realised this when I was looking online for fashion trends of glasses in the hope I would find some inspiration for my next overdue prescription upgrade. I couldn't find anything, save for a few advertorials claiming a hideous colourful tortoiseshell was all the rage for this season (with no catwalk pics to back it up, obviously).

I would do anything to have laser eye surgery. To not have a semi permanent dent on my nose from wearing glasses almost 24/7. To not have to poke my fingers in my eye whenever I'm going out for the night; to not have to awkwardly tell a guy the first time he stays over that, er, I can't see properly the next day without these things on my face.

Sadly I can't have it yet, as my optician bragged to me last time I saw him as if he had won a game. You have to wait for your eyes to stop going more blind you see, and mine just won't stop. 'Without changing your ways, you'll never be able to have it done,' the barely-out-of-school guy quipped. 'You'll have to stop working at a computer. And you don't want them done after you pass 30 as you won't get your money's worth - at 40 they'll go downhill again.'

Great. Thanks, eyesight's answer to the Grim Reaper. Just what every 27 year old wants to hear. There goes my hope of ever snorkelling and being able to see the fish. There goes any hope of wearing decent sunglasses ever again, and there goes my bank balance as I buy yet another pair of overpriced frames that in six months I won't like... Still. I hate feet. Seeing my toes isn't *that* important, is it?

In which case, if anyone can point me towards some nice frames, let me know... 
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