Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Independent Magazines on the Rise: Are Journalists Straying Away From Corporate Newspapers?

Perri Camella

It is more vital now than ever for journalists to build a strong relationship with readers. As our reading from this week, The Elements of Journalism stated, “The market does not, as it is so often said, provide citizens simply with the news they want.” The public is provided with information and articles on what newspapers and the media choose to show them. Flip to your local news station provider and you’ll see a five-minute story on a local dog show or another story that was shown because the news channel needed to fill a three-minute slot. Shouldn’t journalists be able to write about topics that they’re interested in, and shouldn’t the public be moved by the stories they read?

Independent magazines write about topics that they are passionate about—something that a lot of news outlets are lacking. Independent magazines welcome writers from many different backgrounds and house a diverse culture of journalists. For example, Thread Magazine, a student run magazine right here at Ohio University, encourages all students to pitch ideas for stories and welcomes writers from all grade levels. This is part of the reason independent magazines are thriving. Their passion fuels them.

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The Elements of Reading talks a lot about lack of collaboration and diversity in the workplace. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of hiring people who think like you do and individuals who you connect with because of your similarities, but that’s exactly what agencies should stray away from. Diversity in the workplace helps bring different angles to stories and different points of view on a variety of topics. This has led many journalists to start freelancing and write for independent magazines. Independent magazines allow writers to express themselves and talk about topics that are important to them.
There are a number of situations in history where journalists or TV spokesmen have refused to write/act in a show about a topic they did not agree with. By following their instincts and letting their moral intuitions guide them, they were praised by the public for their bravery. Similar to being asked to write about/narrate stories that are unethical, agencies have advertised material that is not consistent with their brand image and beliefs.

An article titled, “What Can Businesses Learn From The Independent Magazine Renaissance?”, talks about companies abandoning their editorial independence in order to keep advertisers satisfied. “By losing their voice and their integrity, they are also losing the readers they rely on to keep their ad rates high. People can spot insincerity a mile off, and if you treat your audience with disrespect, they'll vote with their feet.” This touches on what The Elements of Reading preaches about—staying true to your personal image and what you believe in—the ethical code of journalists.
You can read the whole “What Can Businesses Learn From The Independent Magazine Renaissance?” article Here.

How Do Independent Magazines Make Money?

Independent magazines are distinctive and many do a good job at sticking to their image, which makes it easy for their readers to stay loyal to them. Think there’s not money in the business? Think again. Independent magazines’ revenue doesn’t come from advertising products that they don’t believe in, but by collaborating with other like-minded people, crowd funding, advertising, and hosting events.

Kinfolk, for example, which sells international editions in Japan, China, Korea and Russia, hosts many events internationally through relationships around the world. The Calvert Journal, another independent magazine, has the same idea and now works closely with companies such as Nike. Read more about how independent magazines make money here.

I’m not saying that there aren’t students and journalists who want to work for newspaper publications, but there has undoubtedly been a rise in independent magazines in the last decade. It’s a way for journalists to report on distinctive topics, collaborate with other individuals, and make money without sacrificing their morals. Perhaps with the rise in popularity of independent magazines, other publications will take the opportunity to learn about why there has been such a rise in the interest of independent magazines.

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