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The Onion vs. Life Magazine

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

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.

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"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

Matt Schneider
Read more from Matt

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