The world of magazines is up in arms because younger readers aren't buying them. In a fit of desperation, glossies like Seventeen and Rolling Stone have basically handed over their jobs to the youths of the Internet. Instead of making educated, professional decisions about cover stars, magazine editors have basically quit their jobs and handed them over to the online masses, begging them to just choose their own cover.
Rolling Stone's efforts culminated in a cover shoot for an unknown UK-based band The Sheepdogs, but that's infinitely less ambitious than Seventeen's stupidly named “Pretty Amazing Real Girl Cover Contest” which promises to place a real reader on the cover of an upcoming issue. Why would anyone want to be only a "pretty amazing" and not "SUPER amazing" cover girl is beyond me, but I'm guessing that Seventeen's ethos of seeking out the sort-of great instead of the extremely wonderful might have something to do with their lagging sales.
The truth is that the Internet has changed things for magazines, and as much as I love paper, some things just don't deserve to be printed on it. Taking a cover line from the Seventeen issue above as an example: "OMG! The Weird Thing Guys Do (Before They Hit the Beach)." Hmmm, is anyone really dying to know the answer to this? In truth, I kind of was, and a quick internet search revealed that the shocking man behavior Seventeen's crack team of investigative reporters had exposed was that…sometimes guys eat a sub sandwich. And then they go to the beach. Anyway, I don't want to spend too much time untangling that inanity because my head'll explode, but here's the point: I'll accept that this article exists; I will not accept that anyone in the whole world should pay to read it.
And thanks to the Internet, you don't have to pay to read inanity ever again! You can overdose on articles about the weird things guys do and save your money for acupuncture or whatever. In the meantime, magazines can start printing content that's actually valuable and worth the price of two bottles of nail polish.
Dear magazines: kids today aren't buying your magazines because they're bad. This is not the eighties, thank god, and we no longer have to pay for bad things to help us pass the time. Stop printing bad things that don't even have a comment box attached, giving readers the opportunity to blow off steam after swallowing a whopping dose of badness. Use your sizeable budgets and talented, hard-working staff to develop good things that are the worth the paper they're printed on, and I'll actually bet my pants that you'll see an uptick in sales.
Editors Face Teen Angst – WWD