How Can We Survive the Media Apocalypse?
As many of you probably know at this point, on Monday Interview magazine decided to shut their doors. These days it’s not uncommon to witness the folding of a magazine (and this is the second one I’ve been through in the last year) but is in many ways sad to see a publication with such a unique voice and vision disappear. In 2018, no one who works in media is immune to changes in the industry and it can be easy to feel discouraged by the whole thing. And while we can't predict the future, there are a few things that we (writers, editors, journalists) can do to prepare ourselves for whatever curveballs get thrown our way.
Picture the worst case scenario
I don’t mean to start on such a negative note and you don’t have to spend more than a few minutes thinking about this but it’s important to do. Let’s say that the publication your working for folds or your company experiences layoffs and next thing you know you find yourself without a job. Do you have enough money to pay rent? Can you rely on dollar slice pizza for a few days? Have you thought about life after your current position and what you’d be doing? You may of course feel differently once you actually find yourself in that scenario, but at least you’ll have done a tiny bit of mental preparation. Which brings me to my next point…
Have an emergency fund
This is something that I started thinking about when I got laid off from Nylon. Thankfully, the timing of getting the job at Interview happened pretty quickly and there was only about a month in between the jobs for me. I also got severance from Nylon which was a big help. But not all places give out severance and even if they do it might not be that much. So when you can, start to set a little bit of money aside. It’s a sucky feeling to start dipping into savings, but just remember that that’s what emergency funds are for.
Never stop networking
You don’t have to be actively looking for a new job to be in networking mode. In fact, you should sort of be in it all of the time. I’m always meeting new writers and editors at events, following them on Twitter and Instagram, and reading their stories and reaching out to them on LinkedIn to see if I can ask them some questions about their work and their careers. There really are so many people in this industry who are willing to help out and all you have to do is ask. For more networking tips, read this blog post.
Back up everything
This was definitely the biggest mistake I made when Nylon folded because I had no contacts saved. Our emails were disconnected and suddenly I wasn’t able to get in touch with anyone. For some unknown reason, a few days before the mag folded I had decided to update my website with PDF clips from the print magazine so I had everything I needed on that end but I could not get over how silly I felt that I didn’t have a contact spreadsheet. Now every time someone hands me their business card or I get a new email their name, company and email address goes straight into my spreadsheet so I never lose them. My Interview email also stopped working on Monday as the news was being shared with us and I was so grateful that I had copied stuff over. Also don’t forget about audio files of interviews, transcripts, drafts, or anything that you think you might want in the future.
And what does the future of magazines and digital publications look like? Well, I’m not entirely sure. There are no doubt more changes to come and many of them may knock us around a little more than we’d like. It’s also made me think about skills that I have that go beyond traditional editorial ones and how those might translate into future jobs that I’ve never even dreamed about before. So while a lot of these changes can be scary, I there’s so much to look forward to.
What advice would you give to someone working in media?
Photographs by Francesca Gariano