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The Onion vs. Life Magazine

Time Inc. recently announced it will halt publishing Life magazine, for years a window into American culture and society.

According to a March 26 story from Reuters:

Although April 20 will be Life's last print issue, the brand name will survive on the Internet, Time Inc., a unit of Time Warner Inc., said in a statement.

It is the latest magazine to shut down as more readers desert print publications for online news and photos.

"Growth requires taking risks, and the potential upside was huge, but unfortunately the timing worked against us," Time Inc. Chief Executive Ann Moore said. "The market has moved dramatically since October 2004, and it is no longer appropriate to continue publication of Life as a newspaper supplement."

Time is laying off 15 editorial workers and 27 in its business department in connection with the shutdown, said spokeswoman Dawn Bridges. ...

Time will make Life's collection of 10 million images available online, with "the most important collection of imagery covering the events and people of the 20th century" available for free for personal use, it said.

Web, Camera, the Onion!

Meanwhile, a recent Nightline segment highlighted the fact that the Onion, a satirical print-and-Web publication, is unveiling its first online newscast.

According to the ABC News Web site:

Dubbing itself the "Undisputed Leader in 24-Hour News," the Onion news publication is bringing its brand of humor online with the launch of its first online newscast on the Onion Network News, or ONN.

The "serious" news outlet claims it will present information "faster, harder, scarier" and will be "all-knowing." While the latest development in bogus news bulletins doesn't exactly have major news outlets quaking in their boots, it will certainly go up against more established spoof television broadcasts, such as "The Daily Show," "The Colbert Report" and "Saturday Night Live's" "Weekend Update."

However, the Onion's President Sean Mills likens the ONN online newscast to that of a more traditional network newscast.

"Colbert, 'The Daily Show,' Fox News, these shows are all kinds of parodies of what we do," said Mills jokingly in an interview with ABC News. "This is news with a level of seriousness that is beyond what those companies are doing. There's no winking and nodding to the camera. This is real, hard, unvarnished journalism."

Print Journalism: Careers at a Crossroads?

Nightline's Terry Moran made the distinction between Life closing shop and the Onion broadening its reach, and it forced me to question what's going on with my profession. Are Americans so disenchanted with real news they're opting instead for all-satire-all-the-time?

I enjoy satire: it's a fun way of reflecting on the news, which is sometimes heavy. But it shouldn't be a substitute for real news. The job of real newsmakers is to inform and equip people with knowledge--without knowledge, the public lacks power.

I also wonder if, someday, print journalists will become extinct.

The Web has revolutionized news for the better--I'm a product of a "new media" graduate program and I relish my work as an online journalist. But I've never believed the successes of the Web should quash print journalism. If anything, the Web should challenge print publications to improve--this way, everyone, particularly readers, benefits.

We're all busier than ever, with more choices, opportunities and things to do, and technology helps us accomplish much. But in the rush-and-buzz of our lives, let's not forget what it means to hold a news magazine, marvel at its glossy images and catch a glimpse into worlds near and far.

Any thoughts?

--kc

Reuters story about Time, Inc. closing down Life magazine

ABC News article on the Onion

Bloggers Blog on the Onion

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