Sunday, June 28, 2009

Magazines Are As Out As Linear TV...

My friend Jamie made fun of me when she came over to watch the Oscars earlier in the year and attempted to rewind a specific portion because we were talking over one of the speeches. She tapped the button incessantly and then looked at me with confusion on her face, wondering what was wrong with my cable service. I had to break it to her that my HD cable box is DVR-less; I watch TV the old-fashioned way.

I understood her confusion: this was me, the girl who logs more hours watching television than anyone who isn't getting paid to watch it. And I write just as much and for just as free. Linear TV is a thing of the past, and for good reason: it's not very convenient for the "active" set (ie people with kids or rich dating lives or crazy busy work schedules-- but I'm not one of them...yet). Similarly, though, if Jamie had looked around, she would have noticed Entertainment Weekly and Emmy Magazines lying on my desk. Though I get a lot of immediate and breaking news from the internet, I still like to have a "book" to flip through on weekends when I'm lounging on the beach or in a bubble bath. I like having something tangible to browse at my leisure, glancing at photos and reading real print on real pages. However, after the week our media has just had, it is abundantly clear that magazines are well on their way out, too.

I don't normally buy tabloids. They're mostly made up of photos, and they take three to five minutes to flip through, so I don't find them worth the price of a cup of coffee that I could spend the better part of an hour sipping on while chatting with a friend. At best, I'm willing to glance at them while in line at the grocery store-- but even then only if someone good catches my eye on the cover. Today, though, I picked up US Weekly for the first time in what feels like years. Three of the five Real Housewives of New Jersey were on the cover, and I wanted to know just what drama went down that the other two (ironically the most level-headed and seemingly intelligent ones) didn't want to be there. Well, I didn't really get my answer, but for the first time I was slapped across the fast with just how dated they can be.

Such magazines go to print on Tuesdays, getting shipped off and sent to entertainment outlets and stores on Wednesday/Thursday, which means that this week they missed the two great deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. And in a bout of the. worst. timing. ever, US Weekly's issue not only had some lame old news on the cover, but the only mention of Fawcett inside was a brief blurb on the News & Events page that said she was planning to wed Ryan O'Neal. Yeah, I know, but it gets worse. The Fashion Police page was dedicated to Michael Jackson, in some kind of ironic twist of fate, dedicating an 8x10 space to how tragic his ensembles have been over the years. Open mouth, insert Pliner covered foot, right Ken Baker??

US Weekly has embarrassed itself time and time again by reporting news that is speculation and rumor and uncommented on-- let alone uncorroborated-- by the person in question or his or her actual camp. It has started rumors and scandals quite a bunch of times, as well. But this time, these unintentional screw-ups with no time to retract or reprint might just mean its final demise. After all, fewer people have great amounts of expendable income these days, and most (it seems) are like me: they'd rather still spend four dollars on a cup of coffee than a magazine. Coffee is sustenance for the body and the soul, after all, while these magazines are often read in secrecy and shame. Besides, the "news" in these magazines can be found for free on the internet!

Perhaps it is best, then, that Entertainment Weekly didn't put out an issue this week. Maybe it was lucky timing that last week's "Must" issue was a double so they could take a brief hiatus this week rather than put out something that would bring shame to an otherwise smart-- but still trendy-- publication.

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