FishbowlNY Interviews The Grim Reaper

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Few assignments have been as haunting as our interview — via email — with The Grim Reaper, editor of

FishbowlNY: What compelled you to create

The Grim Reaper: ”When Time Inc. began to lay off people in droves at the end of 2005, I knew that this was the slow beginning of the end. You could say the Reaper felt a paradigm shift and wanted to officially record magazines going down one by one. I was getting bored by just knocking on ordinary Joe Blow’s door telling them it was their time to go. If I was going to do it, at least let the person be some self-congratulatory publishing executive.

”In the 90s, magazines were true celebrities. In this decade, they’re like Gloria Swanson in ‘Hollywood Boulevard,’ sitting in an old mansion living out a fantasy of what it used to be.

”Much of the industry is still in the denial stage, except Radar, which always seems to be in the ‘bargaining’ stage. I’m here to remind them all to get on to the next stage. There’s plenty of room down here. You wouldn’t believe how many people I crammed in here for the Super Bowl and still had room left over.

FishbowlNY: Do you think the trend is against print, old media and towards the digital?

GR: ”People are consuming media differently. The web is instantly stealing what people would wait weekly or monthly to receive. As the population ages, this will surely continue. I don’t know if you could say the trend is ‘against’ media per se, as much as going where the eyeballs are.

FishbowlNY: How do you see most print magazines in 5 years time.

GR: ”There will be a lot less of them. Imagine what Wal-Mart just did, dropping thousands of titles, except on a national basis. There are still too many out there and the game is changing.

”For some magazines, it is inevitable because they are in categories which are so popular on the web, that there is no need to buy a magazine (personal finance, entertainment, sports, personal computing and teen interests are five of the most vulnerable categories in that regard).

”For others, it will be much longer, if ever, because their audience is either not tech savvy enough to make a difference (Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Day, and Family Circle are four that come to mind), or they are bought for their big beautiful ad and fashion spreads (i.e. Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Harpers Bazaar).

FishbowlNY: In your bio you write, ”We dedicate this blog to those magazine which look like they may be joining that Great Trashbin in the Sky, polybagged onto the River Styx, with blow-in cards a one-way ticket to oblivion.” Can the industry do anything to stave off the icy grip of Death?

Grim Reaper: Well, I do have this reputation as a good chess player … *FishbowlNY shudders*

(image via clipart)