Remake, Remodel, Redundent?

This week’s reading, “Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age” by Brook Erin Duffy discusses the implications that digitization has on what Henry Jenkins would call “medium-specific paradigms”. The medium-specific paradigm in question is the magazine industry, an industry whose shift from analog into digital is of special import in that it is an industry run predominantly by and for women. Specifically, that “Contemporary women’s magazine producers are directly confronting the challenges of digitization, participatory media, and splintering audiences” (Duffy, 4). As noted later in her book, there are myriad “medium-specific paradigms” that are facing the exact same challenges as those found within the magazine industry, why they are of not of special note I am not sure.

To keep their jobs, magazine workers are forced to balance specialization with being Jacks-and-Jills-of-all-trades, face a loss of creative autonomy, and are entrenched in a professional culture in which social andgender inequalities may be exacerbated. At the same time, the ways in which magazine producers redefines their work are gradually yielding different approaches to offerings for audiences. this results in new definitions of qualityand creativity across platforms as well as content increasingly created by and for advertisers. (Duffy, 5)

 Maybe it’s because I’m a filmmaker and I fully expect to produce, distribute, and exhibit my own films for a while until I (hopefully) make it big but I believe increased versatility in your media skills, i.e., being a “Jack and Jill of all trade” is simply where the professional industry is headed. In order to succeed in media and media communications, which is arguably a saturated field albeit burgeoning field, one must have myriad media production capabilities in order to land lucrative and influential positions in this transforming mediascape. Specifically, I agree with Mark Deuze’s definition of media work as “the complex process of making media, the organization of work, the role of new technologies, the interdependence of issues such as creativity and commerce, and the translation  of increasingly precise market orientations to the differentiation of productivity.” Mark Deuze hits the nail on the head by describing the processes as “complex” and media and specifically new media is increasingly multi-modal and has cross-platform capabilities.

Duffy continues: “The publishing business, she explains, became decentralized as a way for foster “flexibility, internal competition, innovation, and a greater degree of emphasis on design and quality” Apparently these new work patterns were “especially pronounced within the women’s magazine market” (38). Again, I don’t the downside to this, I believe that as homo-sapiens we are getting better at doing things–every and all things– and if convergence means having a higher, multi-faceted skill set, so be it. “The industry’s collective responses to such threats fall along two main lines:celebrating the unique strengths of print and, concomitantly, repositioning magazines as cross-platform brands.” (41) This is an appropriate response. In the era of digitization, what else can you do but remediate and converge? You won’t survive any other way. Instead of demonizing the multi-modal capabilities and affordance of digital media, understand that consumers are not looking at their media in an entirely new way but rather an alternative way.

Perhaps I may have missed the key gender politics that makes this particular institution noteworthy in regards to studying convergence culture and digitization, but throughout the entire reading I felt that the author was clinging to analog traditions and overlooking the remediated aspects of magazine publishing that actually did translate well into the digital medium as well as complaining about the increased complexity and multi-modal aspect of new media making.

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