While everyone’s frequently lamenting the death of print, I still find myself significantly drawn to the tangible quality of magazines and newspapers. You could say that it’s out of comfort, as I’ve collected and read certain publications since I was plastering my walls with their pages around the age of 12, but that doesn’t account for the newer breed of issues that I’m incredibly excited by.
Paper-wise, The New York Times will never get old. But in recent years I’ve started to dabble in The Wall Street Journal weekend sections—they, too, have some great op-eds and, in general, I think it’s important to stay abreast of perspectives that tend to be politically opposed to your own (as much of WSJ’s content can often be for me). However, magazines have been the greater strongholds in my life, as they were more accessible to me when I was younger. It was hard to interpret the wisdom of The New York Times when I was still trying to understand how sex worked and how to get to school on time, but the articles and spreads in issues of Vogue, Elle, W, and Nylon could transport and enamor me swiftly, no questions asked.
The bulk of these magazines are wholly aspirational, and that’s what makes them so great…so enticing. They tapped into our desires and longings pre-Pinterest, pre-Tumblr, or to be more specific, before we were curating those desires and trying to emulate them online. That’s not to say that I have anything against our collective move to the Internet for such imaginative matters, but I do believe the mediums are different—they enrich our lives in disparate ways.
For instance, I find myself coming back to the things that I’ve read and seen on paper much more often than the internet findings that strike my fancy (a strike that is usually brief and, perhaps unfortunately, often forgotten). My comprehension of a piece of writing, and subsequent ability to be fully absorbed in the words in front of me, is heightened when I’m holding on to the actual article. I can’t speak for everyone, but there is something about reading from a computer screen that isn’t quite the same. Perhaps there are too many distractions, too many places for the eye (and thus the mind) to wander.
Online I also find myself gravitating solely to those articles that scream my name, the ones whose content seems overtly relevant to my life and interests. This is quite different from my experience of reading from tangible publications, whose diverse content often lures me as I flip through the pages, my interest suddenly piqued by topics that are generally foreign to me. The web might be wide, as they say, but it’s also so easily narrowed by personal taste and routine (a perfect example of this being the bookmark bar). I find this problem to be less common in print, as I am more prone to glance at a quote or image that catches my eye and lures me into articles or spreads about topics that, on the surface level, I could care less about. Broccoli, for instance: a topic I would never choose to explore if it weren’t for the aesthetically intriguing cover of The New York Times Magazine last weekend. If I had seen a thumbnail of it online, I probably would have passed it over. But there it was, this giant image on the kitchen table in front of me, asserting its importance and beckoning me to dive in.
Yet I am not immune to the lure of the Internet, and my reading habits have changed significantly since I was younger. I tend to read The New York Times strictly in print, but though my subscriptions to most magazines are still intact, I am guilty of forgetting to glance through them these days. Some issues end up contributing more to the décor of my apartment than to the curious walls of my brain bank. I’m not happy about this change, and their presence often weighs on me. Like neglected children, they seem to berate me for leaving them behind and induce guilt for paying what I sometimes believe to be too much attention to the Internet.
This sea change in how we read and receive information, however, cannot simply be blamed on the shinier appeal of the WWW. Much of mainstream print has lost its attraction by way of its faltering content, which seems weary of change and often stuck in its ways like a grumpy old man wagging fingers at the youth. Conversely, a lot of online outposts are more open to fresh content and the newest ideas: to use a cliché, they tend to be ahead of the curve. This factor definitely contributes to the Internet’s appeal, but certain print publications of late seem to be applying this special sauce to their own bodies of work, making way for reignited offline content that harkens back to the days before the online deluge.
One example I’d like to put forth as a big fat recommendation (read: get your paws on it, ASAP), is a recent discovery called So It Goes Mag that hails from the UK. The latest issue features a sad and stunned looking Greta Gerwig on the cover, hinting at an interview inside done interestingly by Helena Christensen. Other expertly written pieces revolve around the likes of envelope-pushing band Deer Tick, the awesome directors Michael Haneke of Amour and Nicolas Wending Refn of Drive, one of my favorite contemporary artists Richard Mosse, and travel odes to places as diverse as Oslo and Cartagena. It’s quite literally a trip—one that leaves you with a heightened curiosity about just how wide this world really is, and that inspires you to get back to creating. In my opinion, that’s precisely what the ‘perfect’ publication should accomplish.
What are your thoughts on the Internet vs. print issue (or is it a non-issue in your life)? Are there any print publications that you would throw into the mix as must-reads?