The Medium and the Message
For those of us who work on this publication, our heads are counted among those employed in the printing and publishing industry. However, our hearts are with those who work metal on the shop floor to make the things that keep other economic sectors and the military establishment functioning.
Let us for a moment revisit the concept of “magazine.” In a traditional sense, the word means a printed publication, usually issued periodically, that contains articles, essays, news items, photographs and other information useful or interesting to its readers. Additionally, commercial magazine enterprises sell advertising that supports the cost of presenting the selected editorial material. Typically, a magazine’s trim size is smaller than a newspaper but larger than a book. It is printed on “forms” in multiples of four pages (usually 8, 16 or 32) that are then folded and trimmed to arrange pages in their proper sequence and bound with glue or saddle-stitched with staples.
The preceding paragraph would adequately describe what a magazine is. About 15 years ago, however, the concept of “magazine” began to change as personal computers and networks opened the realm of cyberspace to individuals, and the Internet became the vehicle to travel through it. Suddenly, though not without warning, there was another medium by which those in printing and publishing could reach their readers with information that, until then, came only on a printed page.
To the editor of an industry trade journal, the future of communication and the forms it will take are of great interest. The ways of traditional business communication have changed and continue to do so. The “magazine” concept is no longer fettered to the confines of paper and printing ink. Rather, it has broadened to include electronic versions, newsletters, links to advertisers and their products, more timely news releases and more color. Even animation is possible in an electronic format.
In the early 1990s, when the Internet was still in its infancy, some thought we were headed toward a truly paperless society. We certainly use less paper than we used to, but we’ve also found that the printed page has not yet been relegated to the tar pits to be excavated by archeologists of a later age. To many, in fact, there is still nothing that quite matches the feel, optical texture and portability of print media. Still, it is amazing that today you can read this publication by opening its paper pages, view it on a desktop or laptop, or even read it on your cell phone.
My point is this: Though advertiser supported, this is a reader-driven publication. In a business world in which the only constant is change, there is still one thing that stays the same. You – our readers – ultimately determine what we print and by what medium you read it.