Ouch: National Geographic Adventure Magazine Folds

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After 10 years, and citing systemic changes in publishing and the down economy, National Geographic Adventure Magazine won't print another issue.

If you've been buried in diapers and those parties you have to throw during potty training, you may not realize that the print publishing industry is dog-paddling in the swimming race that's known as the business of journalism.

". . . for those of us who care about good writing, great photography, insight and curiosity and advocacy for an engaged relationship with the world at large, it is a truly remorseful day. The outdoor culture is far emptier for this news. Magazines are, of course, businesses, and some of them are nakedly commercial. But some are built around an idea or a calling, and these, the best of them, can create an emotional bond with their readership based on shared philosophy, common passion, and mutual respect."

-- Steve Casimiro, www.theadventurelife.org

I like the way Steve said that.

Much like the music distribution industry, the modern consumer is getting all the stuff they want (need?) straight from the internet.  Where it's free. And unreliable, and onery, and surly, and most often mediocre. Callings, emotional bonds, and mutual respect get traded in for something else that's free. That's my dark conclusion, anyway.

Furthermore, unless you've been living under a mound of children's books, you can ride all the WiFi you want at no cost in most cafés and bookstores; 16oz lattes are mysteriously $9.00, though.

While consumers don't mind paying a joke of a fee for beans and water with chocolate sprinkles on top, they've largely stopped paying for news, information, and stories. Much might be available on the web at virtually no cost, I dare not draw a conclusion regarding quality or reliability. At least in print publications there's a built in risk - capital investment of real green money - that demands a certain level of writing and photography that goes into the final product.  The web, while largely free, is largely low level.

I can relate this much, too: for part of my day job, I buy magazine advertising.  As an advertiser in magazines, the challenges of tracking sales leads and results are plainly antiquated, inaccurate, and therefore it's more and more evident every day that, in my position, buying magazine advertisng is borderline irresponsible spending.  We advertisers can spend the $1,000 (for instance) we'd spend on a 1/12th page ad and put that toward web advertising - where we've got reports about the real numbers of people who respond to ads, in what manner they respond, and we can control landing pages and ad content at the wave of a wand to improve conversion rates. This is the competition for the print advertising dollar: trackable results, adjustable campaigning.

I wish - so wish- it was different.

Curling up on the couch or laying down in the tent with a Kindle or notebook computer just can't compete with the personal experience of dog-earing magazine pages or flipping through one cohesive work with a beginning, middle and end.  Or starting with the back page.  All of those idiosyncratic human behaviors of reading good adventure stories for fun are being wiped out faster than the polar ice caps.

Sorry for the diversion. All that to say National Geographic Adventure is a beautiful magazine with content to match; crying shame that that's not what makes a magazine survive.

Here's to you, National Geographic Adventure.  Here's to inspiration and damn good editorial.  We'll see you on the internet, not because it's better but because that's just the way it is going to be.



+5 / 0
# Matt 2009-12-07 12:45
This is one of two magazines I subscribe to and I was dissapointed (to say the last) to read that it was going away. On my budget I couldn't touch many of the adventure trips portrayed on the pages but damn if it didn't give me ideas for putting together my own budget conscience adventure dreams! And the fitness/nutriti on/gear information was good stuff too.
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d. l.
0 / 0
# d. l. 2009-12-07 13:51
All I cna say is that sucks. loved picking this mag up. hope they keep going on the net
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Lorraine Chittock
+1 / 0
# Lorraine Chittock 2010-09-03 13:53
Well written and thought. And sadly all too true. Hopefully this phase of infomercials etc will give way to something which helps reader and media maker.
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