Monday, August 14, 2006

Teens, 'Zines, and the Media Machine

Maybe their TrapperKeepers were too heavy. In an age where gum-chewing tweens identify the term "K-Fed" quicker than "K-Pax" (then again, most people can't I.D. "K-Pax"), teenage lifestyle magazines are on their way out.

At least, that's the outlook.

It was recently announced that Sneak, the teen celeb mag, would close after four years, following the trend that the UK's Smash Hits, ELLEgirl, and Teen People paved before them.

But is it really doomsday for teens and 'zines? Hardly.

As many know (just glance at a newsstand), the teen-celeb magazine business is grossly oversaturated. With so many to choose from - many of them identical - it's hard to swear allegiance to one magazine. But choice isn't the only reason that many teens have parted ways with their glossy counterparts. Expensive price, identical content, and attention-sapping technology could all be to blame.

So what's left for all those magazines that haven't migrated to the 'net?

It's clear to me that the newsstand will never be void of teen magazines, and that the current bell that tolls for their demise is quite presumptuous. After a terrific boom of teen-oriented publications - virtually every women's fashion magazine spawned a teen version - it's of no surprise that the segment is returning to normal.

(Though they are separate categories, I'm aware that I'm using "celebrity" and "teen" interchangeably, as both have an impressive partially-shared readership. Nevertheless, the effect ripples. )

Teens will not stop looking for advice and entertainment in magazines, and it would be foolish to think that such an important readership would abandon altogether a source of such information. Although the sources of infomation continue to grow, magazines remain an important source, and it's my belief that the segment will hone itself down into a sleeker, more compact set of publications. In other words, for every five canned YMs (every generation has its teen-celeb magazine, doesn't it?), a Seventeen will prosper. Those that widen their reach to the internet will benefit even more.

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