Last week, that first lady of women’s magazines, Marie Claire, announced that it was closing its print edition and would be online only, that stepping stone over the River Styx to the magazine underworld.
It is far from the only women’s magazine to do so in recent years but for me, it really does feel like the end of an era because Marie Claire was always meant to be one of those ‘good’ women’s magazines because it included serious investigative journalism alongside the frivolous stuff about fashion and celebrity gossip. If Marie Claire can’t survive, then what hope do any remaining women’s magazines have?
Women’s magazines have always both been fun but problematic – claiming to champion women but also simultaneously putting them down with the imagery used and the judgement on celebrity actions and fashion. However, as a young wannabe journalist, they were what I aspired to. I wanted to be a journalist on Marie Claire or Glamour, how, well, glamorous.
I failed young Ploy on the women’s magazine front. I never even got accepted on internships with those glossy manuals to female life. Apparently a degree from Cambridge doesn’t open all the doors you want it to – particularly if you have a foreign name. The closest I got was an internship on a meant to be glamorous mother and baby magazine, at the end of which the editor ran out of the door after me and said to never use my full Thai name on a CV, because no one would want to even interview me let alone offer me an internship, in fact she nearly didn’t.
I know, boohoo, at least I have a good job and a pretty nice life, and I hardly can complain on the glamour front. A career in financial journalism in fact led to a lot of black tie events, international travel to Singapore, Switzerland and Dubai (the latter to interview the princess who is currently on the run from her sheikh husband), plenty of lunches, dinners and drinks in very nice private members clubs, private boxes at major sporting events, restaurants and bars paid for by charming men in suits.
But I still felt like a failure in some ways. So it is an unsettling feeling, to see those magazines I aspired to work for, fail. The rise of the internet, social media and the dominance of Facebook and Google advertising has killed off an aspiration, that thousands if not more, wanted as a career for decades. Furthermore, it’s killed it off at a time in my life when I’ve moved my day job over from journalism full-time to PR; from poacher, I have become gamekeeper.
My move to PR/gamekeeper of company reputations was a pragmatic one made over a year ago; for the last few years journalism has looked like a career shitshow for the majority of aspiring journalists/actual journalists, as the employees of the likes of Marie Claire are sadly finding out. The closure of Marie Claire’s print edition now feels like a definite end to that (admittedly highly unlikely) possibility of me ever being published in it. A door closed. A path not taken. Another failure.
It also throws up melancholy ponderings about the future. If all the journalists become PRs, who will they be PRing to? Will print magazines be weird relics that several generations from now will think are dead quaint? What other careers will be rendered obsolete, killing off the career aspirations of swathes of people?
RIP Marie Claire. It is truly the end of an era.