The State of Australia’s Print Magazines

Australian Print Magazines, JANE

July Journal: Thoughts on the future of Australia’s Print Magazines

For this month’s journal, I wanted to discuss a topic close to my heart: the current state of Australia’s print magazines.

2020 is certainly not a kind year. First, Australia endured a long, terrifying summer filled with bushfires destroying our country. Then March came around and the world was enveloped by COVID-19 (if you’re struggling during these difficult times, please see my last journal post here for 5 things to do to boost your mood in a pandemic). Over the past few months, we have had to make huge lifestyle changes and, if you’re in Melbourne like me, it doesn’t seem like that will be easing anytime soon.

But the bad news keeps on coming. Recently, Bauer Media announced the closure of 8 of its Australian print magazines, including some of my favourites that I have grown up reading: Elle Australia and Harper’s BAZAAR Australia. It’s a huge blow to Australian journalism and in particular women’s publishing.

For the couple of days following the announcement, I read countless articles on the topic, including this article by Fashion Journal and this opinion piece penned by Kirstie Clements who, up until the announcement, was the features director of Harper’s Bazaar. The sentiment seemed to be the same: Australian women have grown up experiencing these titles in some way or another; they are an important part of Australian media and we want them to stick around; for some reason women’s lifestyle media is overlooked time and time again. So, if magazines – and, in this case, particularly women’s lifestyle magazines – are so adored, why are they closing and becoming a thing of the past?

Magazines have always been a part of my life. They have always been something special to me. My first experience with magazines was Girlfriend. I remember begging my Mum for a copy whenever we visited our holiday house, as magazines were a special treat we would get whenever we went there. As I got older, I started consuming more of Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and SHOP Til You Drop magazine. I especially loved the double spreads of clothing and accessories all in the colour of the moment. More recently, my favourite reads include Russh, JANE, Unconditional, Fête/Life Magazine and Kinfolk. I love to flip through the pages of each of these magazines, gaining inspiration and motivation from the words and beautiful photography that fill every page.

Nowadays, magazines have become more of a collector’s piece for me. I display them like coffee table books; their beautiful covers and thick pages creating an experience far different to that of my earlier years. I’m picky with the magazines I buy; I no longer want a copy of each in the newsstand. I want one that is beautiful, free from pages upon pages of ads and instead packed with content that will inspire me. And maybe this way of thinking – of being less wasteful by selecting only the best – has contributed to the demise of magazines. Buying choices are more calculated now and where people can consume content for free (such as online), they almost always choose to do so.

But I still feel in my heart that there is a place for magazines. Unlike a social media post or an online article, a magazine is a curated collection of quality content, meticulously deliberated over by numerous teams, edited and fact checked so that the end result is nothing short of perfection. I don’t find the quality of content within the magazines I read is mirrored in their websites. It’s a different platform – one of a very fast paced nature.

My hope is that we one day recognise the importance of authoritative and meaningful content in the completely immersive medium of magazines. I’m not saying that all magazines will or even should survive, because I think our expectations of magazines has shifted. We want quality over quantity and if that pushes magazines to be of a better quality, I think that can only be a good thing.

Let me know your thoughts on Australia’s print landscape in the comments below.

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