January 15, 2004

Magazine Formats and Digital Media

Magazines are doomed. Doomed! Okay, they're not, but in one way in particular they are very backward, and in no way compatible with our digital media world online. They are often formated and sent for printing formated in Quark, the most awful program, in that it is difficult to move files back and forth between PC and Mac systems (fonts and extensions get lost and what's the point if you are trying to copy layouts dependent on those), hard or impossible to make pdfs, hard to figure out what's going on even (you have to see it to realize, but basically, there is so much white space around pages that it's not simple to navigate or find the pages others have made). Yes, an expert would say all this stuff is easy. But what if you've never used it, and just want to translate a print magazine to the web, make it digital? Even if it was easy to translate, those designers put a couple of words each into millions of little boxes, that make up the layout over 65 pages, and well, you can't just drag select, and then paste all that into an html file. Cutting and pasting each little box is itself too time consuming to do on a regular basis.

I've been trying to do all this, and it's sapped days, and still all the converted files are corrupted, as I've tried to move them from Quark to Photoshop eps files, or make pdfs, or copy them into jpgs or cut and paste the text into a .doc file. At this point, I'm taking the original image files, and then retyping a lot of the text that is in small blocks and then scanning the rest into jpgs, though those look muddy and not very nice.

Magazines are lovely on paper, but as we move more to the digital for our news information (as was reported the other day in the PEW study everyone was talking about), news magazines if they want to stay relevant will have to shift from this old way of publishing to something quickly compatible with the web. Some do it now, but not nearly enough, and if we want to preserve information in the future, we need to stop using proprietary software like this to make things, and keep it simple. Otherwise, the information is as good as lost, if we can't get to it.

Posted by Mary Hodder at January 15, 2004 01:51 PM | TrackBack

Magazines and the like will not die... why? (With a nod to Tufte) Resolution. There are things you can do in print that you just can't duplicated easily in digital (screen-output) formats... same the other way around.

Granted, a design needs to start off being digital friendly... I've been playing around with Adobe's InDesign and it's pretty good for things like this. I'm just a novice, of course... best of luck in your format struggles, Mary.

Posted by: joe at January 15, 2004 02:12 PM