Does this mean anything to anyone?
Apologies for the existential nature of that question. What I mean is: This thing you hold in your hands. A magazine. Pictures and words on paper. Does it mean something in 2020? Anything?
In October, after 60 years in operation, SURFER Magazine, often referred to as the “bible of the sport,” shutdown. Judging by the reaction on social media, SURFER meant something–or it did at some point. It certainly meant a lot to me; as a kid, the magazine took me places, figuratively. As a contributor for the last five years, SURFER literally took me around the globe.
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The coronavirus pandemic was said to be the nail in the coffin. But the writing seemed to be on the wall for some time–thin issues, a general contraction among large, corporately owned advertisers in the surf sphere, etc. And SURFER wasn’t the first casualty of the decline of print media (nor will it be the last). Big national glossies like Time, nearly every surf magazine of note, alternative newsweeklies in nearly every major city (including Northeast Florida’s Folio Weekly, though it’s since been revived), have all bit the dust in recent years.
Sure, declining ad revenue and drastic cuts in circulation among the fallen point to a lack of enthusiasm for print products. And you can blame social media if you’d like. But I have to believe that people still care about print.
SURFER, for its part, was a victim of its own success. Under corporate control since the days of 200-page issues and billion-dollar-surf-brands-gone-public, the magazine was expected to turn a profit each year in order to line the pockets of shareholders. Though SURFER paid salaries to a staff of employees, provided steady work for dozens of contributors, brought joy to thousands of subscribers across the globe, and, by many accounts, remained in the black until its dying breath, that wasn’t enough to appease the soulless private equity group who’d recently purchased it.
SURFER meant something to many people. It meant nothing to the people who owned it.
I can say with full certainty that things look a lot different, here, at Void Magazine. When the pandemic tightened the screws on our advertisers, it was the community–hundreds of artists, small businesses, and readers–who pitched in to keep us in production. We employ a small staff and pay dozens of freelance creatives each month to contribute to Void. There are no shareholders. No corporate overlords. The magazine we put out is for and, most importantly, of the community we live in. It’s a place we care deeply about.
This issue is filled with things that mean a lot to us.
Arts and Music columnist Daniel A. Brown profiled artist Tony Rodriguez (“Do The Collapse” p. 46) and we caught up with prolific local singer-songwriter rickoLus (“yArD-tUnEs” p. 18) to see how he’s stayed prolific during the pandemic. Style and music contributor Glenn Van Dyke gets to the root of millennial’s earnest affection for houseplants (“#plantparenthood” p. 36).
Our feature on the vibrant Four Color Florida installation (“Sunny Missives” p. 42) provides a century’s-worth of vintage-y evidence of our region’s prevailing appeal. Contributor Zander Morton and a group of local surf sharpshooters supply a photogenic recap of the 2020 Atlantic Storm season (“Hurricane Party” p. 24). And, in case you’re looking to buy something for someone who means something to you, our Holiday Gift Guide is stacked with cool gear from cool local retailers.
In parting, I’ll mention that this is our last issue of the year. And simply add: Phew! We made it through 2020. Thanks for putting your eyeballs on this magazine. It sure means a lot to us.
This feature appears as the Liner Notes to Void Magazine’s winter 2020 issue, available at more than 300 locations around Northeast Florida.