The End of Teen Vogue’s Print Edition: Another Disadvantage to Encouraging the Subsequent Generation’s Interest in the Tactility of the Written Word

There are little moments and small flickers where one is led to believe that maybe, just maybe, print is now “novelty” enough to remain of interest to the generation coming into the early phase of their twenties. The success of a publication like Teen Vogue, which began its journey as an offshoot of Vogue in 2003, had perhaps falsely led the remaining grandmothers of print (Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington of course being the chief examples) to have faith in its continued merit.

With cover stars like Grimes (soon to have a “precious” celebrity book release), Emma Watson and Millie Bobby Brown (the modern answer to Emma Watson), Teen Vogue resonated with an audience that had been ignored for its “sophisticate” potential, instead finding themselves stuck with more puerile rags like Seventeen (which has devolved quite significantly from the time that Sylvia Plath was writing for it). But Teen Vogue was special because it did something that is still rare with regard to interacting with a youthful readership: gave them the benefit of the doubt where their intelligence is concerned.

Its prosperousness, however, saw its greatest increase with online readership, which spiked drastically in 2016, the year that laid the groundwork for Elaine Welteroth to take over as editor-in-chief for Amy Astley. As the youngest editor-in-chief in Condé Nast history at twenty-nine, Welteroth’s influence can’t be overlooked when considering all the factors that have led to making Teen Vogue online only. While this might seem perfectly normal to a generation that has never known an existence without internet, a large sect of print magazine readers and enthusiasts still live and die by the printed word.

But the end of this phenomenon was spelled out with Teen Vogue‘s gradual transition away from print (the magazine reduced its output from ten issues to just four a year in December 2016) and Condé Nast’s abrupt reduction of 2.5% of its workforce (3,000 jobs) in the wake of also slashing the regularity of other publications including Glamour, Allure, GQ, Bon Appétit and Condé Nast Traveler (this editor’s personal favorite).

Though an online presence is, of course, essential, often taking precedence in the twenty-first century, let one put it this way: there are people who get uppity when they’re told The Opiate wants to publish them online, valuing the “legitimacy” of print over the instantaneousness of digital. In short, what makes the notion of online somehow “lesser than” to an ever-deteriorating sect is its lack of tangibility. There is still something to be said for a tactile interaction with the written word, allowing for the total engagement of all the senses. Yet as those of us not in Generation Z die out, this five-sense concept with regard to reading and absorbing literature of any kind is threatened with total extinction. So, sure, it can’t be argued with that printing publications turns no profit–but what about the profit it turns for the atrophying collective mind of those coming up in the Trump era?

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