The Internet is the future. Kids don't hold the same reverence towards print as their elders. But whatever the reason - and however you spin it - magazines shuttering their print operations are not a cause for celebration.
Sure, there are online-only news and features destinations, but when companies - especially of the traditional vanguard - are forced to close down a print operation, media watchers often wonder if it's a brief respite on the way to the final grave. Because, let's face it, no magazine eliminates one source of revenue to fall back on the less-expensive operation when times are swell.
Young adult magazines Teen People and Elle Girl, as well as the eclectic Radar, are among those that have shuttered print operations to remain online.
True, the media mandate publish or perish does not discriminate against mediums, and any dedicated reader to a print brand will likely migrate online. But how many times can a person watch the one he or she loves die? Can anyone today admit being a reader of Radar or be excited to see just how new and improved Radar 3.0b is? At least you know if you claim fandom of perpetually losing teams like the Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Hawks, Arizona Cardinals, or New York Islanders, they will always show up to play.
But it's certainly possible to rebound from a print purgatory. Deity knows that Radar will try again. Seed, the magazine promising the great meet up of science and culture, dragged its feet on releasing new issues in the years 2003 and 2004, but has ridden a dedicated Web site back to steady print issues. Seed can even ignore those rough years, evidenced by the "first" back issue it offers: October/November 2005.
While the magazine is doing fine now - some might even say healthy - its Web presence can certainly reassure those formerly disgruntled print subscriber. Every article on the homepage clearly labels date and time. No one who had an unsavory experience with Seed is left to wonder if the publication is still alive.
The problem with TeenPeople.com and ElleGirl.com is there's nothing (save for the silence at Gawker and Jossip) to immediately tell you that the publication is still posting stories. Stories about celebrities and fashions seem frozen in time, as there's nothing to signify whether any of the homepage stories were posted yesterday or in June. Ignoring the obvious content differences, their dateless setup is similar to CMO, a magazine that completely folded, but let its archives remain online.
If we are to see more print magazines migrating exclusively online, we're going to expect a banner screaming "Not dead yet!" if they expect us to pay them any mind, especially when you're covering cyclical topics like fashion and celebrity. If readers didn't pick up the magazine when they knew it was fresh information, the properties have a long fight ahead of them online or anywhere.