Matters - Printing The Legacy / by bradlee rutledge

I have always been drawn to anything printed because of the time and thought that no only goes into the images but also how it all works together.  With more and more companies cutting back on print it got me thinking about if print is really dying.  I ended up writing an article for issue 16.3 of Alliance Wake Mag about why print matters.

 Photos: Cortese

Photos: Cortese

"I often get asked if my generation - “The Millennials” - even look at magazines these days. The inundation of Internet-based information has seen a dramatic transformation and shrinking of the print medium over the last ten years. While asking if the 20-somethings of 2016 truly read magazines anymore is a valid question, I think the real question is if magazines even matter anymore, to any generation.

We now live in an age where almost everything we need to know is in our pocket. Almost every life event or anything important can be seen within seconds of it happening. In wakeboarding it takes the anticipation and hype away from things that used to be rumors before anyone ever saw evidence it happened. All you have to do is go through various social media timelines to see that there is a struggle with saving a new trick or product for a proper release versus posting it online for instant gratification. We are all guilty of it, myself included.

When it comes to compiling content for magazines it used to be very simple. Photographers would send in their film and/or slides to the editor. Said editor would hold onto them and make selections for print, which could take months at time. After the magazine was printed (or sometimes after the slides were scanned and digitized) the photos would be sent back to the photographer. Those slides were likely the only copies of those photos, so not only were they extremely valuable, but nobody outside the photographer and magazine’s staff knew what they looked like. Magazines and their editors thrived off getting the first photos of a new trick or a story nobody knew about. At the turn of the century there was no Instagram, or Facebook, or Snapchat, or other ways for content to leak out. There was no issue with photos being “double published” - printed in two magazines at the same time. To say times have changed would be an understatement.

The lack of available information back in the day is what made magazines showing up in the mail that much more special. Everything was fresh and likely never seen before. There was an anticipation every month for a new issue to arrive and with it a new fix for the reader’s stoke. Making a magazine in today’s digital age, while faster and sometimes more convenient, is also much more complicated. A photographer can send off photos to multiple editors at once and cause competing entities to publish similar or the same images. Or, as is often the case, a rider can ask a photographer for a preview of some of the images, which makes it easier for those images to accidentally end up on social media before they even have a chance to make it to print.

This is important because magazines are more than just words and images printed on paper and glued together - even if those words and images have been teased, leaked, or fully exploited online months beforehand. Magazines are a tangible time capsule. Each issue represents a period in the sport - and the moments, trends, riders, photographers, and more within the pages are frozen forever. You can’t take that away with the click of a mouse and it can’t fall into the e-abyss that is the Internet. You can hold onto and keep that magazine as long as you want. Magazines may be created in the present and may try to keep up with the current events, but let's be real, by the time this magazine comes out everything is already old in today’s standards. Whether we want to admit it or not it’s true. These magazines are created to represent wakeboarding now, but to stick around for three, four, five, or even ten years from now when they are found in the back of your closet.

People love bringing out the argument that print is dead. Why would anybody want a paper copy when you can scroll through an iPad and get the same content? Physically though there is something a magazine offers that nothing in the digital realm can replicate. There is something tangible to holding, flipping through, and feeling the pages of a print production. Think of each issue as a family photo on the wall at your grandparents’ house. Your family probably took hundreds of pictures during a vacation, but there is that one picture that symbolizes a certain age and time of your life. These magazines are family photos of wakeboarding that we can’t take away from the sport. I haven’t heard of kids printing photos off the Internet to put on their walls; last time I checked they still rip photos out of magazines. That Instagram post of a sick photo will be long forgotten about and most likely impossible to find anywhere, even with the powers of Google. A magazine though will most likely still be somewhere - and you can pick it up and find that picture.

While I’m not suggesting content should never be posted to social media without being run by a media outlet first, I am saying that we can all be more conscientious of how we distribute things.  We have to look out for ourselves and the sport and decide how we want to leave our mark on wakeboarding. With cameras and the Internet on everybody’s phone today, it’s always going to be a struggle to not leak anything. But is it more rewarding getting 500 likes on that photo only to have it lost to the Internet in a matter of days, or having the photo last forever?"