Words by: Jonathon Davidson
If the shutdown of Cleo, FHM and ZOO weren’t enough to get all you local mag readers paying attention to the changing nature of the world around us, then the X-Press/TheMusic merger that killed off DRUM likely did – and if that wasn’t on your radar, then maybe you payed attention to Channel Seven’s recent acquisition of The West Australian, which put the iconic newspaper under possession of the company now named Seven-West Media. Now that counterpart local icon SCOOP magazine has shut its doors citing poor economic circumstances and lack of readership, some are suggesting that the final nail has been laid in the coffin for WA Media.
Similar trends are happening all across the country. Rotunda spoke to one anonymous but high-profile source who believes that by the end of this year, there will be no Monday-Friday papers in the eastern states, and WA is likely two years behind. There’s no denying that paper extinction is on the books at some point soon. A plethora of data exists suggesting it, newspaper and magazine subscriptions are dropping globally, and Community Newspaper Group who run the local heralds have been feeling the strain for quite some time now – perhaps an understatement. This also coincides with national funding trends for cultural institutions, like libraries and archives, which are all being slashed significantly.
The evidence is clear: the relevance of print media is fading in contemporary Australia, particularly among urban populations. Although, in the case of cultural institutions, even digital heritage and archive funding is being cut, whereas Scoop Digital will remain publishing, so y’know: visit your local library sometime soon.
While anybody who doesn’t like change is likely freaking out, there is hope: alternative magazines have been popping up in increasing numbers within the last few years, and a quick visit to Planet on Beaufort will reassure anybody that magazines are by no means a dying medium. A number of youth oriented magazines exist nationally in Australia – Frankie Press and Juxtapoz are two good examples. Names like Kerrang and Woman’s Weekly still stand around. Of course, WA itself no longer has any homegrown staple commercial magazines.
Also of interest is a recent boost in the popularity of Zines in Perth – something Rotunda totally had nothing to do with – so one can only guess where things will go, and whether or not print will eventually see a revival later down the road similar to the reappearance of Vinyl. Alternatively, we might see the meaning of print magazines change but never completely disappear. Only time will tell, but the pessimism isn’t entirely unfounded.