Are Magazines Obsolete?

Over at the new Huffington Blog, which is working well as a salon although could stand to be a bit less self conscious, Cable Neuhaus, former editor of Entertainment Weekly, has a post lamenting the inevitable and irreversible death of magazines.

Can't we have both -- a vibrant Internet and a rosy-cheeked magazine community? Very possibly not. Someone's gonna feel the hurt, and we already know who that is. The balance of power and influence is tipping, perceptibly, to the Web. This is true for both consumer magazines (the glossies) and trade titles.


[T]here are few things magazines do that the Web can't do better or faster. Sure, you can't role up a Web page and tuck it into your pocket on the way to the beach, as you might with a mag article, but you can print the piece from a Web site and take it with you. You can probably interact with its writer. You can enlarge the art and examine it more closely. You can call up related video clips. You can instantly link to additional info about virtually every reference in the piece. In other words, the Internet has insurmountable advantages over the print-edition magazine.

The sky above magazines has been falling for years now but, lo and behold, they're still here. Indeed, the best of their number, who'd previously been watching their readers age and their influence wane, have entered the online world and tapped -- ha! -- into a vibrant new sphere of influence, full of young professionals who'd never heard of them before. The Washington Monthly netted more than a 1,000 new subscribers -- print subscribers -- from a recent subscription drive of Kevin's, while the American Prospect has found its influence (and circulation) vastly enlarged over the past few years. As for The New Republic, I'm not privy to the numbers, but I've been repeatedly told how profitable and worthwhile their online component is.