Farewell to Teen Vogue: Why Magazine Covers Matter

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Debbie says:

Writing at the awesome site The Mary Sue, Teresa Jusino discusses the implications of Condé Nast’s decision to stop printing Teen Vogue and make it online only.  This change happened in the midst of major layoffs and restructuring at Condé Nast, and is generally being framed as, in Jusino’s words: “Makes sense, right? After all, aren’t all kids on their phones all day anyway?”

However, it’s far too easy for those of us on the “kids are on their phones all day” side of the digital divide to forget that the divide exists. Here’s Jusino:

I used to mentor for an organization called WriteGirl in Los Angeles, which empowers underserved teen girls through the written word. It’s an amazing organization that helps girls find their voices, ensures they graduate high school and go to college, no matter their circumstances. What often struck me was that many of the girls were difficult to reach…because they didn’t have cell phones. They just couldn’t afford them. So, if they were working one of two part-time jobs that they often had to help their families out financially, in addition to going to school, and weren’t home to receive a call on a landline, you couldn’t speak with them at all.

She goes on to break down which print publications Condé Nast is keeping (hint: most of them aren’t directed at young people, or any other group with generally less money).  Architectural Digest, for example, is losing one issue a year (from 12 to 11), while Teen Vogue is losing its entire annual budget of four issues.  (Later in the article, Jusino also reveals some of the ways that Condé Nast ghosts on and doesn’t pay its freelancers–especially freelancers of color–including Jusino herself). There’s never any excuse for that.

Where this topic intersects with Laurie’s and my core agenda is that the print edition of Teen Vogue, under the direction of Elaine Welteroth  (above), has become more political, and more inclusive, including a wonderful array of teens of color on the covers. The cover image at the top of the blog is one of many I could have chosen.

Without a print edition, even teens who read the magazine online will not get the same impact of the covers. With a print edition, teens who never pick up an issue still have the opportunity to see themselves, and other interesting teens who don’t look like every other conventional blonde teen idol–on newstands, on copies left on public transit, at their friends’ homes. Much has been written about how online searching is different from physical research, and much of it is a kind of “viewing with alarm” fear about how our brains are changing. But in this case, I’m just saying that print magazine covers simply get more places, and are seen by more random people, than online front pages.

If you believe, as Laurie and I do, that seeing yourself and people like you is a key factor in learning to accept your body, and your rightful place in the world, the loss of Teen Vogue  covers alone, even if there was nothing else of value in the magazine is a loss indeed.

Thanks to supergee for the pointer.

 

 

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Debbie says:

I was going to blog about something else altogether, but I checked my feed first, and I found the newest comic from Robot Hugs.

I reproduce it here not just because it reflects Robot Hugs’ reliable ability to tell whole truths. It spoke to me especially because I’ve been listening to Deray McKesson on Pod Save the People for a few months now. One feature of the show is that Deray interviews a very wide range of people–actors, politicians, political staffers, chefs, artists, just about anyone who has some connection to work that saves the people, in a very wide sense.

Deray is a brilliant interviewer, and he has a couple of questions he comes back to again and again. The pertinent one here is “What do you say to people who have given up? Who think things are going so badly, or who’ve been fighting for so long, that they just don’t have any hope for change?”

I love this question and I love the range of answers. Last night, I was talking about it and someone asked me what my answer would be. I said that there are lots of reasons to not give up (at least not for too long), but that in my mind the biggest one is that doing something is good for most people. Feeling the weight of the trouble, the scope of the danger, the magnitude of past failures pulls you under; doing something energizes — not everyone, because nothing is true of everyone — but a wide range of people.

Robot Hugs is going local; that’s a great direction. Any direction that calls to you is a great direction. Sliding under the water isn’t just not helping anyone else–it’s also not helping you. And in the end, you’re who you’ve got.