Is this graph an accurate history of American magazine publishing? Has the Internet decimated the remains of our attention spans? That’s not exactly the case. Read The Life and Death and Life of Magazines, and learn how magazines have been dying since there have been magazines.
“Worse, weâ€™re told that it has paradoxically fostered a new scourge for great magazine writing: more of it,” writes Evan Ratliff. “In just the last five years, web sites and magazines new and oldâ€”from Nautilus to BuzzFeed to Matter to The Atavist Magazine, which I editâ€”have added to an ambitious resurgence in long, serious magazine writing. While this might seem like a sign of life, critics have explained that in fact such efforts are diminishing this great craft. Terms like â€œlongformâ€ and #hashtags like #longreadsâ€”through which readers recommend work they appreciate to other potential readersâ€”only serve to dilute what was once the purview of discriminating enthusiasts alone. â€œThe problem,â€ Jonathan Mahler wrote in the New York Times in 2014, â€œis that long-form stories are too often celebrated simply because they exist.â€ It was bad enough when our capacity to produce and read great stories collapsed. Now it seems weâ€™ve turned around and loved magazine writing to death.”