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Condé Nast, the company who owns Teen Vogue, has announced it is abruptly cutting short the fourteen-year lifespan of the magazine. Eighty employees are also set to lose their jobs. This shouldn’t be surprising news to many: at the start of the year, Teen Vogue reduced its frequency to quarterly. And Teen Vogue is not the only print media forced into a slow and torturous death.
Teen Vogue’s Australian equivalent, Dolly magazine, had its print edition axed after a whopping forty-six years of publication back in December of 2016. Its rival, Girlfriend, still exists in print form. Chief executive of Bauer Media—the owner of Dolly—Nick Chan, confirmed Dolly was closing, and blamed the internet. He told News Limited:
Dolly readers predominantly engage with the brand on digital and social platforms and they do so with greater frequency than is possible with a bimonthly magazine, this means it’s no longer feasible to continue publishing the magazine on a regular basis
Magazines like Teen Vogue and Dolly are not the only print media facing great upheaval in the era of social media and online news. With more people turning to social media sites and online sources for their news, magazines and newspapers face an uncertain future. For Condé Nast and Teen Vogue, it involves cost-cutting methods for their worst-performing publications. According to Variety.com, “GQ, Glamour, Allure and Architectural Digest drop from 12 issues to 11 per year, while Bon Appétit will go from 11 to 10, and W and Condé Nast Traveler will drop from 10 to eight per year.” Their most successful magazines will continue publishing at the same frequency, but for how long?
While the print media may be blaming the internet for their decline, this is only half an answer. Many of these companies, such as Condé Nast and Bauer Media, have known about the rise of the internet for such a long time, and have done absolutely nothing to make the most of a growing medium. What they have done is rely on the yellow journalism that is clickbait to see them through the changes. Their online editions thrive, but at the expense of ethics and respectability. In order to stay relevant, these magazines have stopped caring about the citizens they purport to report for, and are instead obsessed with clicks and revenue. It is stupid to expect these companies are not in it for the money, but they should also care about their readership, the ones who keep them afloat.
The reason for Teen Vogue’s downfall is not the rise of the internet, but the fact they do not appear to care about their readers anymore. Many of these “reporters” seem embarrassed they are writing for a teen magazine, and have instead decided to make Teen Vogue just like the adult magazines. There is barely any difference between Vogue and Teen Vogue at this point, except one will feature a school formal/Prom special one month a year. They don’t seem to realize their primary audience is teenagers. Just check out these headlines:
Uh, I think someone should tell Teen Vogue their audience are teenagers, and teenagers couldn’t vote for Trump or Clinton. Most teenagers do not care about politics. The ones who do will not be reading Teen Vogue, they will be reading more “professional” sources or turning to political commentators on YouTube. They’ve likely already heard what Stenburg said…on Twitter.
Wait, have we somehow teleported back to 2010? Justin Bieber hasn’t been relevant since he allegedly assaulted one of his fans a couple of years back. You could say Selena Gomez is the relevant one here, but even then, that’s reaching a bit. It’s like Teen Vogue realized here they’re meant to be targeting teens, but they don’t know what teens are actually into, so put a bunch of “cool names” into a hat and pulled one out and got Bieber.
Maybe this is an attempt to cater the subset of teenagers who are obsessed with Tumblr, but otherwise this headline is just a load of gobbledygook. There is no problem with having bisexual characters, and most teenagers have no problem with LGBT visibility in their favorite television programs. This headline feels like it was ripped straight out of The Mary Sue or Everyday Feminism. There are enough sites that talk about LGBT visibility, and Teen Vogue is not adding anything new to the mix. If anything, most teens who are into LGBT equality will likely head to their Tumblr dashboard before picking up a copy of Teen Vogue or perusing the website.
If this is what we get from a quick snapshot of viewing Teen Vogue, is there any reason their ship is sinking? The writers of Teen Vogue seem to have a shocking lack of awareness about their audience—teenagers—and want to appear like one of the “cooler” adult magazines. They report on things modern teenagers would have no knowledge or interest in. On their homepage is an article referencing Gossip Girl, a show popular among teenagers a decade ago. It appears the writers at Teen Vogue only write for themselves and their political biases, and modern teenagers can tell.
It is sad to see another popular publication lose its print edition and turn digital-only like so many before it, but when a magazine like Teen Vogue only seems to care about its political biases and clickbait, and not about catering to its teenage audience, is there any reason why?
Do we really want TMZ and Perez Hilton to be considered the “typical” state of journalism? If we don’t want to see the once-respected industry of magazines and print media turn to the cesspit that is online gossip sites, then at least try and cater to your audience. If not, more once-respectable magazines will go the same way as Teen Vogue.