What Will Happen to the Magazine Industry Amidst Coronavirus?

The magazine industry as we know it has been teetering with digital at the rise. Print is (unfortunately) slowly becoming obsolete and many companies are trying to find ways to merge the worlds of digital and print together.  With the world at a standstill due to COVID-19 and many businesses forced to turn remote, you would think that this would be an opportunity for magazines to take the plunge towards more digital content. However, it is becoming evident that this is not the case.

Andrea Whittle, the features editor at W Magazine, allowed me to interview her and she explained the struggles her team is currently facing.

“We’re all still in the works of figuring it out,” she said.  “Using Google Docs, Zoom calls, and Slack with articles has worked well so far, but there’s the struggle that we can’t shoot anything since no one can travel and it’s not safe to have creative teams gather together.”

She relates that companies, including her own, have been forced to get more creative with their imagery and are trying to find ways to create collages, fine art, or self-portraits to present in the magazine that is both visually appealing for the reader and fit the W Magazine aesthetic.

Creating content isn’t the only struggle right now.  Some magazines are finding it hard to even keep their staff and have had to resort to layoffs due to the current situation. Due to not being able to come together and create content, almost all freelance photographers and stylists have been out of a job and struggling to pay their bills.

This unemployment is not just affecting freelancers.  Highsnobiety, a mostly digital magazine and online platform, had released that they have had to lay off a quarter of the global Highsnobiety team.

In a statement on LinkedIn, founder David Fischer said, “Cutting costs, taking voluntary salary cuts, and making other tactical adjustments are not enough to get the company through this crisis.  Yesterday we had to exercise the option we had wanted to avoid the most: we had to lay off one-quarter of the global Highsnobiety team. It was the most difficult decision that I ever had to take in the 15 years I’ve been doing this.  We wish all of our former teammates well, and cannot stress enough that none of these layoffs are based on the quality of their work or personal performance.”

This is most likely due to big-name advertisers feeling the need to pull out of deals due to the global crisis.  Highsnobiety has been working and creating content with smaller brands in the past couple of weeks, which most likely is an effort to compensate and make up for lost revenue.

Like with many aspects of life due to this new strain of coronavirus, only time will tell how this will affect the fashion and magazine industries in the long run.