Friday, November 14, 2008

Take a deep breath, cinch up your belt, get
back to work

I have been noticing an increase in the figurative rending of garments over recent bad news for the magazine industry. In some perverse way, magazine people (and other media people) can't resist an "if it bleeds, it leads" approach and the internet allows instant forwarding of increasingly hysterical reports about vaporizing ad budgets and the end of life as we know it.

This real appetite for gloom and a tendency to ramp up stories with more and more apocalyptic predictions could make you think this was the first recession we've ever seen. Well, it isn't, so snap out of it.

There will be magazines once the dust has settled. There will be readers. There will be newspapers. There will be web sites. There will be advertising. To quote the cartoonist Aislin during a now-long-ago crisis: "Everybody take a Valium".

Yes, there are going to be casualties and nobody can predict exactly who or how, but what can be predicted is that marginal publications with audiences that don't care about them will be the first to go. Sure, you hear about 5% and 10% layoffs at big, New York publishing houses and human nature leads us to the temptation to assume thereby that we are all doomed. But we all need to get a grip and get back to work.

Good magazines will suffer some bruises and may be a bit thinner for a while. Some good publications may not be able to make it, for a variety of reasons and we'll lament that. Some people will lose their jobs -- I'm not sanguine about it, but also not suicidal (perhaps easy for me to say, being self-employed). It will be harder to find entry level jobs but that's true throughout the economy and people who have jobs will find they are asked to do more for not much more or even less.

Creative solutions aren't easy even in the best of times, but we've found them before and will find them again. Belt tightening is in this year. But panic won't do any of us any good. I'm not suggesting that we should avoid unpleasant realities, just not go off half-cocked. I always liked the slogan of the Dead Dog Cafe on CBC Radio:

Stay calm. Be brave. Wait for the signs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much needed and much appreciated.

11:51 am  

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