ink-stained wretches

Is the Traditional Magazine Writer Doomed? We Say No.

Gay Talese

Who wouldn’t want to be this guy?Photo: Getty Images

The thesis of Doree Shafrir’s Observer article today about magazine writers is that the occupation is no longer as enticing a career path with young journalists. It’s filled with anecdotal evidence that nobody wants to write for Vanity Fair or The New Republic anymore because they’re too busy blogging. It’s a well-written, vigorously argued piece, but in our opinion, it’s dead wrong. We would posit that many of the young bloggers out there are dying to be magazine writers. Take Shafrir herself, for example. She jumped ship from arguably the most influential young media blog of all, Gawker, to work at the Observer. Everybody knows the salmon rag is a place to go to work on your long-form writerliness so you can get a job at a magazine or bigger newspaper later. In fact, if you look at many of the Gawker editors in recent history, they’ve moved on from the site to more traditional print outlets — Choire Sicha writes for the Observer, Alex Balk writes for Radar, Joshua David Stein works for Page Six Magazine, and Elizabeth Spiers, Jessica Coen, and Jesse Oxfeld all, at one point or another, came to New York itself.

At one point, Shafrir argues that nobody wants to take editorial-assistant jobs at magazines any more. Call us crazy, but it’s always been our impression (i.e., all those years when we were desperately trying to get those jobs) that they are still incredibly difficult to land. Blogging is an obvious second choice, especially since it offers such good exposure. Then you use that exposure to get a magazine job (or a book deal or a newspaper gig). The fact of the matter is there aren’t that many blogs that will pay a 22-year-old, as Shafrir suggests, $50,000. We would argue that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of young writers who are blogging precisely in order to become magazine writers. Maybe this will be in a different format (writing online, editing Websites, etc), but even so, it’s there.

Of course, we did absolutely no research for this post, so our argument is inconclusive. This is, after all, a blog. But one day we hope to be big-time magazine writers, and then we’ll start picking up the phone. What we’re wondering, you massive creative underclass out there, is what you think. Do our research for us and respond in the comments. Do any of you still want to work in magazines?

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Is the Traditional Magazine Writer Doomed? We Say No.