Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Spectator. A great magazine that's cannibalising it's income for the sake of online hits.


For a good number of years I've subscribed to The Spectator. It was and still is the best by far of the UK's political and cultural magazines - even though it's arts coverage does has a tendency to disappear up its own London-centric arse.

This evening, after dinner, my wife was reading this weeks issue and exclaimed:

"Why do we pay for a subscription when I've seen most of the articles already online? And not just the main headline articles but little ones."

It has struck me for some while that the search for currency is getting ahead of the desire for subscriptions. What The Spectator is doing by focusing its attention online is treating paying customers like my wife and I with a degree of contempt. We pay what John Major would call 'a not inconsiderable amount of money' to receive the magazine on our doormat every week. But now I can see most of what I want to see without the need to spend that money.

In times past the arrival of The Spectator was an event - not a huge event but still something anticipated and enjoyed. It would prompt a break from whatever I was doing to open the magazine and see what interesting stuff had be gathered together for my pleasure by the editor and his staff. I might brew up a pot of tea or even have a bath so as to create a space and some time to savour the magazine's insights.

Now I open the magazine and look at the articles and, like the frog with the library books, exclaim 'reddit, reddit, reddit'. The reasons for subscription gradually diminish to the point whereas they're merely a combination of inertia and misplaced loyalty (the magazine barely knows where Bradford is, let alone Cullingworth).

So, unless I get a privileged access to content I pay for, I'm very unlikely to renew my subscription.


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