At a time when magazines are everyone’s whipping boy, Graydon Carter offers evidence to the contrary
It’s become fashionable to proclaim that print is dying, as if a medium that has been around for more than five centuries might, like a guest who has overstayed his welcome, suddenly glance about the room, see his hostess nodding off in her chair, and realize it’s time to call it a night. I have my doubts about the all-encompassing scope of the so-called digital revolution, but as the father of five children, I can certainly see what all the fuss is about. Kids have a zillion ways of finding out just about anything they want, when they want, but the smart ones — historically, the magazine subscribers of the future — still read. The reading business is not the same as the search-and-find business, and if you’re in the print version of the latter, on either a daily or a weekly basis, you have reason to be anxious. The rest of us have a fair chance to survive and perhaps even thrive.
As the monks who were put out of business by Gutenberg’s printing press could have told you, technological innovation is nothing new. The telegraph put the Pony Express out of business after just 19 months of operation. There used to be a piano in most middle- and upper-middle-class homes. Once the record player and the radio came into being, the business of making pianos for home entertainment crumbled. E-mail is hurting snail mail. But not every media revolution ends with one combatant lifeless on the ground, blood trickling from his mouth. Television didn’t kill radio. It just changed it.
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