OPINION | There's something in a magazine that YouTube just won't replace

Die tydskrif ‘Drum’ was in 2011 sestig jaar oud. Dié tydskrif verskyn voortaan net digitaal. Foto: Foto24
Die tydskrif ‘Drum’ was in 2011 sestig jaar oud. Dié tydskrif verskyn voortaan net digitaal. Foto: Foto24
  • Lameez Omarjee considers the important role print media played in her life growing up. 
  • She looks back on the rite of passage that was passing around magazines as a teenager, learning to read as a child, or battling with your siblings to get hold of a new edition first. 
  • For many, she says, losing print media as they are shut down is like losing a friend. 

Growing up, a stack of magazines in the corner of the living room next to the telephone was a common sight. For many of us, buying the Sunday paper was a family tradition. In fact, you could say these accessible forms of literature, now relics, were how most of us learnt to read.

Print media has been such a force in shaping culture, for generations. It's hard to believe that a pandemic, not social media or the mighty internet, has rudely ushered in the end for a number of print titles, some of which are household names.

Just this week Media24 announced plans to close five magazines and two newspapers, this after the lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19 dealt a blow to the print industry.

While Media24 will continue to produce and publish flagship weeklies Huisgenoot, YOU and Landbouweekblad, the iconic Drum magazine will only be available in digital format.

Associated Media Publishing which owned Cosmopolitan, Women on Wheels and House and Leisure, suffered a worse fate and closed its doors permanently in April.

Caxton & CTP Publishers & Printers in May rang the death knell of 10 of its magazines, including some of the oldest titles in the country such as Bona, Garden & Home and Rooi Rose.

While some media houses are adapting their news offerings for a digital environment, I can't help but wonder how kids these days are learning to read, or if they will ever know the joys of flipping through a magazine?

There are just some things a YouTube video, or a game of Candy Crush can't give you. Like that thrill of filling in a crossword puzzle with pen – you have to get it right the first time otherwise you just end up with a blotchy mess.

Whenever my parents came home with a magazine among the groceries, it became a game of wits to get your hands on it first. If I wasn't bugging my dad to finish so that I could get to read the jokes page, he was bugging me to finish so that he could read the features. At first, I was only interested in the comic strips, but eventually being able to read the features felt like an accomplishment, even if it meant that I took breaks in between.

Reading Seventeen magazine as a teenager was a rite of passage. If someone brought a copy to school it surely would have passed through the hands of the entire grade by the end of the week. The same is true for any magazine really - teenagers just gravitate towards it like forbidden fruit, asking to be next in line for a perusal that could last for a class or a ride home.

If anything, magazines taught us the importance of patience. A copy could be read twice, and then you would consult parts of it for the remainder of the month or until a new issue came out. Remember the thrill of being able to get a new edition?

Now you can get content whenever you want, if you have the data. We weren't always the "microwave generation", living to binge on series and wasting hours watching Instagram stories.

Just like our behaviour and actions were shaped by the magazines and newspapers in our homes, the apps on our smartphones now hold that power.

There are many ways the switch to digital has enriched our lives. But it's also made us impatient, seeking instant gratification or immediate responses. I'm not convinced that we're becoming better people because of it either.

Magazines remind me of a simpler time. They took up so much space in our lives. Seeing these titles close, is like saying goodbye to a friend.

Lameez Omarjee is a financial reporter for Fin24. Views expressed are her own. 

* Fin24 is part of News24, a division of Media24.

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