Magazine’s Don’t Pack the Same Punch Online

By Leah Buist (she/her)

Saturday afternoon, late spring, on the edge of sixteen. Traipsing around supermarket aisles in the shadow of my mum’s footsteps, something in the corner of my eye demands my attention. I swiftly veer off course and break into undiscovered territory – feasting my eyes upon a multitude of glossy magazines that glisten under supermarket lighting. I relish a diverse array of self-expression in physical form. Holding it proudly in both hands, I gaze upon my new prized possession.                                 

I arrive home and perch myself on the edge of my bed with my new Q Magazine in hand, carefully peeling back its lustrous cover to reveal the contents inside. I read every story, article, review – at least I try to. I’m too eager to pick out every beautiful image and inspiring quote that I can rip from its home and place onto the wall of my own.

My bedroom floor becomes suffocated under the weight of magazine cut-outs and whole pages ripped from their staples. Piece by piece, the matt grey of my bedroom wall begins to disappear behind my carefully crafted collage of album covers, festival lineups, musicians and headlines which read ‘real music matters’.

Myself and many others alike, have always had a love affair with this form of physical journalism. The creativity, self-expression, and self-realisation that magazines encourage, allow this media platform to be enjoyed in ways that are felt much deeper than reading an entertaining article.

There’s something undoubtedly special and sentimental about spending buckets of time cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by magazines, with blu-tack stuck to your socks, all in the quest of creating a chaotic collage made from dissected magazines that tells the world who you are.

Spending time plastering your identity across your bedroom wall is an important and meaningful experience for many.

31-year-old music magazine enthusiast, Ingrid Warden says: “I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor surrounded by magazine cut-outs, with a big wad of blu-tack in hand whilst listening to music.

“It’s much more enjoyable to sift through magazines and read articles whilst snipping out your favourite photos than simply buying a mass-produced poster. It’s an opportunity to get creative and make it an expressive art project.

“I liked using photos of musicians and singer/songwriters I admired, as well as album covers, my own doodles and some cut outs of phrases and quotes I liked”.

Alyx Johnstone, now 22, is another reader who used magazines as a way to express her personal identity: “I used to read magazines all the time. My parents would buy me magazines aimed at tweens and teenagers and I remember my mum would buy me a copy of OK magazine every Thursday after school when I was really young.

“I was obsessed with reading and looking at pictures of celebrities and their weddings, homes, and lives. I had such a happy childhood and some of my fondest memories are spending hours in my room with magazines, cutting them up and collaging on my walls and then showing my mum what I had done.

“I think it was definitely a good way for me to express myself when I was younger. I was too young to have my own money to go out and buy clothes and makeup but with collaging it was almost like my vision board for what I wanted to be like when I was older”.

However, despite the many fond memories that readers share with magazines, this form of physical media is unfortunately falling victim to the new digital revolution which is transforming the way magazines can be enjoyed.

Some publications are now closing their doors on print altogether and NME is one example of a magazine that is now-online only after having ceased printing after 66 years.

Alyx said: “It actually makes me so sad that magazines are dying a bit of death. I do read articles online but it will never be the same as an actual physical magazine.

“When I have a physical magazine, I tend to read it page to page because I find all of the stories are so engaging. With some magazines just being online now I do tend to only read the stories that are of real interest to me because I don’t find reading on my phone as enjoyable.

“I think it’s really heart breaking that one day all magazines could be online. I would happily pay for a monthly subscription if it meant supporting magazines to stay afloat and keep their paper copy. I think that too much of our lives are online now and I would hate to see all magazines doing the same”.

39-year-old Jan Lakowski stresses the importance of physical magazines for younger people: “In a time when you are developing your personality and opinions, they provide great inspiration and knowledge that is held dearer being in tangible form.

“They are a source of light to youth, being online they are even more disposable and have far less impact on creativity and self-expression”.

The meaningful and sentimental nature of magazines is completely lost in the digital world as the thing that makes magazines so special is the fact that they are tangible, multipurpose, and can be physically enjoyed and interacted with.

Magazines undoubtedly have an innate allure to them, but one that only exists in tangible form.