It's Only Dies If You Let It
The recent news that some of the most prominent outdoor magazines--Powder, Surf, Bike, and Snowboarder--were closing up shop sent the outdoor industry and enthusiasts into a tailspin. People bemoaned the loss of these print mags, with many claiming that this was proof that print is dead.
Hmm... we're not so sure about that.
While these mags have made progress in sharing stories that are more inclusive and diverse, they have long struggled with crafting a narrative that caters beyond the preferences of white men. Perhaps their greatest strides have been in appealing to white women, but even then it felt like bones were thrown. We shouldn't be surprised--the staff and contributors of all of these magazines are predominately white and male. They create the content that they like, and for the most part, their audiences have been satisfied.
But the entire outdoor industry is being transformed by voices that have emerged on platforms (like Instagram) that the gatekeepers don't hold the key to; it's more difficult to keep people out when fewer people are trying to walk through your door. Like the editors at Sea Maven Magazine said, perhaps a fatal flaw of mainstream outdoor media has been its reluctance to embrace voices outside the established norm.
Print only dies if you let it. There's plenty of publications (like our very own Sisu Magazine) that will thrive if:
1) People find significant value in them, and
2) If we can move away from traditional capitalist systems that require massive growth, acquisitions, and the like that are designed to make heaps of cash over all else.
Getting back to the WHY is what will allow print to thrive: why tell these stories, why this medium, why these people.
Publishing a print magazine is certainly difficult, and there's nothing good about so many hardworking people losing their jobs. I also see this as an opportunity for new voices to emerge and fill the space that these other publications held. It's actually quite exciting to think about what is possible.