Friday, September 19, 2008

Bitch Magazine and the Power of the Web

Almost sounds like a title for a young adult adventure novel?

Over the past week, stories of Bitch magazine's impending end circled the feminist blogs. The magazine was in danger of ending it's run due to low funds. Fortunately, through snappy fundraising and quick-acting bloggers, the magazine will be producing a new issue that will hit stands on December first.

I think this is a great example of how powerful the web can be. I know I have talked about this before, especially in the case of non-profits, but here we have an example of new media coming together to save old media.

In recent years, newspapers and magazines have come under fire for being too slow, out-of-date with the fast-paced new media of Web 2.0. Subscriptions don't sell like they used to, and advertisers aren't willing to pay for print space when many readers are turning to the web.

But here we have an example of a printed magazine turning to the web to save it. The blogging community, which is made up primarily of women, launched into action, and in a matter of days, Bitch magazine received enough funds to produce their next issue and, hopefully, issues beyond that.

I think what was key to this approach was the magazine's straight-forward, honest call for action. Co-founder Andi Zeisler and Director Debbie Rasmussen posted a video explanation for the magazines financial crisis. They told the web community "This is our problem, and this is how we can fix it." The magazine took a greater step, then, in promising current and future readers that they will pursue a better business model that will help sustain Bitch magazine while allowing them to continue to produce the content readers expect and look for. I think that second promise is key not only to Bitch magazine, but also to other publications (big and small) who want to compete in an increasingly web-centric community.

I know I have several journalist readers around here, and a couple authors. What are your thoughts on the print-to-new-media evolution? Does it spell an inevitable end to magazines like Bitch?

1 comments: to “ Bitch Magazine and the Power of the Web

  • Elle
    7:03 AM  

    For niche magazines, I think it might become inevitable that the transition from print to new media occurs just because of the logistics involved. With them being specialised, it makes more sense to utilise an online community because they are directly the people who will drive the niche forward. These sorts of ventures tend to need more input from their audience, because of their nature.

    However, your hard-hitting publications (I hope) will always be around in actual physical print format, purely because they *are* traditional. There's less of a community feel with them as they *report*, and with them being traditional, old rules will still apply. Most major publications tend to have an online version mirroring their production, but I don't think it will ever replace it.

    Personally, I like reading magazines and newspapers from an *actual* item - I spend enough time looking at a screen as it is! I actually wrote a blog post on something similar, but in my case it was whether e-readers will take over from actual books.

    Great blog idea btw - I've added it to my blogroll. :0)

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