As someone who writes online for a living, the news that Google is now larger (financially) than the entire US newspaper industry (advertising and sales) is depressing in a way that’s hard to explain. I love the internet and I love what I do, don’t get me wrong, but I have always secretly wanted to have things in print. It’s an old-fashioned thing, perhaps, or a subconscious rejection of the transience of online writing, but I saw Abraham Reisman say this in a Warren Ellis blog post and it rang true:
Writing a cover feature for a magazine remains one of the — if not the — brass rings for a freelancer or young staff writer. Like, for real.
The blue-chip publications are, of course, ideal — your New Yorkers and New York Times Magazines and Wireds. And I don’t suppose anyone has little fantasies about writing for the official Amtrak magazine (although, y’know what, I really shouldn’t say such things in this economy). But even a spot in a smaller-market title is an insane boon to one’s career/prestige/wallet, when one is starting out.
I dream of the day that I can write a cover story — or even just an internal feature. I want to go glossy. I’d literally do it for zero money, because it brings with it a hope that dollar-signs will be in my corneas in the not-so-distant future.
There’s something about writing for print that feels more… successful? established? both? that writing for the internet, and I say that as someone who’s written for Time Magazine and Gawker Media online, two big, somewhat prestigious media empires. In time, that sense of self-success will shift for writers, I’m sure, but for now… print is still where it’s at, despite the size of Google and the weight of reality. And because of that, I think the “death of print” is still a little bit off… or, at least, I hope it is.