Help! My Industry is Dying

Yesterday I got an e-mail from the entertainment editor at King magazine soliciting pitches for the magazine’s July/August issue.  I immediately started brainstorming potential story ideas. Six hours later I learned via a status update on a staff member’s Twitter profile that the magazine had folded.

Yes, I am not ashamed to admit it: I like King magazine and have been trying to become a contributor for quite a while now. Put aside the rearview cover shot for a moment.  Inside you'll find some of the wittiest writing for any publication targeting black men (or any, for that matter). Now King is nothing more than yet another victim of a plummeting industry, tanking along with the economy. Well at least I can scratch “write for King” off my to-do list.

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Just a week ago, another major publication, the music magazine Blender, where I interned four years ago, had to close down shop. Now that I look back on it, that summer I spent in New York was my first hint at how much times were changing. The same summer I also interned at a Web site of a major TV network that was pumping a lot of money into a new broadband channel. Turns out it was just a hint of the hurting that the Internet would put on the print world.

There are a few of my peers who have managed to find great opportunities in the digital medium in spite of the economy. But I know even more people who now find themselves unemployed. For those working at newspapers and magazines, many worry every day whether or not they will stay have a job by year’s end. Yesterday the Chicago Sun-Times filed for bankruptcy. The Los Angeles Times continues to lay off workers. The New York Times has cut the salaries of staff members. The Boston Herald cut 6 percent of its staff. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has decided to end its run as a print paper — making the choice to only print online. The San Francisco Chronicle may die altogether.

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With major publications struggling, it’s no wonder alternative newspapers are quickly disappearing, too.

I’ve received many e-mails from young writers asking for advice on how to break into the writing industry. I’m never quite sure what to tell them other than to be aggressive as I’m still trying to break in myself.

When I started college, I made many friends who dreamed of living in New York and working at major pubs. The reality of today has put a damper on many of those dreams as some still hope to make waves as a writer while others are debating over whether to break into another field altogether.

During my time at Howard, I worked several internships – six to be exact – thinking my varied experience in different facets of the media would set me a part from the competition. In hindsight, while I’m glad I got a taste of all that’s out there, I now wonder if my time online searching for internships would have been better spent putting more effort into my blog.

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After Twitter confirmed the bad news about King, Fresh, the blogger behind Crunk + Disorderly, twittered: “Freshalina is glad she started her blog in 2005. Owwww!”

With very little overhead, no filter and ad revenue she profits from, are there any other writers out there who wish they could say the same?

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E-mail me at therecessiondiaries@gmail.com.

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.

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