How the Internet Killed Magazines

Back in the 80’s, every second Saturday I would nag my Mum for my pocket-money, the grand sum of two dollars. I would get dressed and make my way up to the shops. I then would hightail it into the newsagency and put my paws on a freshly printed, brand spanking new copy of the best thing in the world.

Smash Hits was my world. I would devour it from cover to cover, reading articles over and over again, making sure I was completely up to date with my music, bands and singers. It is the ONLY reason I have retained my place on the Trivia Team in the past few years. My knowledge of 80’s music is extensive. I am kind of a female Glenn A Baker if you will. And if you do not know who Glenn A Baker is, please remove yourself from this blog immediately.

Smash Hits was first published in Australia in 1984 and was warmly received. It went on to become the biggest selling pop magazine and was in print for 23 years, when the internet came along and ruined everything. Well, not everything but it just meant that we didn’t need to wait for our “content” anymore and we didn’t need to pay for it either.

Growing up, magazines were very important for a young lass. You would start out with Smash Hits and then move onto Dolly.

Dolly was important because you got to learn about discharge, diets and David Hasselhoff. Models were models and not “celebrities” and they were all painstakingly beautiful. Then, as you got to about fifteen, and if your Mum was ok with it, you traded up to Cleo.

Cleo is where you really learnt about sex. And for a very long time there used to be a male centerfold so you could actually see a near nude celebrity fella covering up his Jolly Roger, with a COME HITHER look in his eyes, which can sometimes be quite confronting for a young lady’s eye. I am DYING to know whether it is my fate to be fat!

And then. there was the Bible which is still around today.

You were still learning about sex, while judging what other people were doing in the sack. You didn’t need to worry about dieting because you can now just have your fat sucked out and just what the fuck is a star book?

While all the other titles have gone to the great mulcher in the sky, Cosmo lives on, largely on its digital platform. In the editors’ words….

“Cosmopolitan inspires a new generation of young women, starting conversations and pressing the issues that matter to her. Curating her wardrobe, championing great sex and encouraging her to shop, laugh, think, love and dream, Cosmopolitan propels her into the future as the best version of herself.”

Now, I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but have you ever heard such horse-shit in your life? Do their target market (18-35 year olds) really believe this to be true? Do you really need a magazine to champion your sex life?

After 35 you are supposed to be sensible and start reading Women’s Weekly, and as you age further you start buying Take 5 and That’s Life, which interestingly enough are the two of the biggest selling magazine titles today. The editor of Take 5 describes the magazine…

“Take 5 is about real people telling each other their true stories of hope, tragedy, overcoming the odds and finding love. It also gives them the chance to dream about winning awesome puzzle prizes.”

That last sentence is in bold because I read it ten times then had to go and have a wee.

Now the reason that I chose to write about this today was because of something that I saw on Facebook. A Magazine called YOURS has folded. The editor describes the magazine as…

“How nice to finally reach that happy place – where just being you is pure, exhilarating joy.”

Which is all very nice until they closed the title which was not the saddest part, but this message left on their FB page just about did me in. (And yes, I am very weepy at the moment due to hormone fluctuations…)

I WARNED YOU! Pass the tissues please.

You cannot hold a computer in your hands and sniff the pages. You cannot rip out recipes and stick them on the fridge. Yes, content is content and most of it is bullshit, but the good old days of magazines, knowing who the writers were, farewelling and welcoming new editors and putting posters on your wall, well those days are well and truly gone. Do you miss them?

What was your favourite magazine when you were growing up?

Do you still buy magazines? Which ones?

  • I guess I know I’m under 35 because I know I’ve never dreamed about puzzle winnings.

    • I am a writer, and I could never even begin to come up with such crap.

  • Nat

    Yes!! It has been so sad to see the death of so many great magazines. I’m 35 and refuse to read magazines or books in digital form – it is simply not the same. I now buy Home Beautiful and my mum passes on her Women’s Weekly once she’s read them. Cosmo was a fave – and I loved a good sealed section you had to carefully rip open. But Dolly was the Bible – my besties and I used to pour over the pages, questioning each other on the very serious quizes that they seemed to create about anything and everything, and giggling our way through Dolly Doctor while quietly making some mental notes on occasion 😂 Ahh the good ol’ days.

    • Do you remember the article that was a weight loss piece that advised us to squeeze lemon juice onto cruskits? Can you imagine if they tried that now?

  • Shivers

    I had the exact same progression as you did with magazines and though I bought them less as I got older it was favourite thing to buy in preparation for a holiday when I would have the time to devour several magazines cover to cover. If the holiday coincided with awards season it was heaven!

    All that changed several years ago when a story was run on Kate (Middleton) after having George and her appearance, with particular attention to her grey hairs. I was irrationally pissed off that this was considered worthy of front covers and vowed not to buy another trash mag again, a resolution I’ve stuck to since.

    • My son bought NW this week and then reported back on all the gossip. I told him that they were all lies.

    • Also I used to love Woman’s Day and New Idea in the 80s and 90s (prime Diana years) but I wouldn’t touch them now with a 10-foot pole. How they lie! THE LIES! I can’t cope.

      I do miss the Monstercross, tho.

  • I loved Dolly and Dolly doctor was a favourite!

    • DOLLY DOCTOR! What an Australian Icon.

  • Emma

    Notebook, I used to love this magazine was quite sad when it went, I have kept some very old copies to keep me going.

    • Debbie Howarth

      That was my fave mag too

    • I am in the right headspace for that magazine now. What a shame it has gone.

  • Barb Fisher

    I used to be obsessed with Smash Hits too. Devouring every page and wondering how I would answer interview questions about my life as a back-up singer for Icehouse.

    • ICEHOUSE! God they were good.

  • Oh what a trip down memory lane – SMASH HITS – and the posters of River Phoenix and Johnny Depp and the 21 Jump Street gang! Now I only read North & South and the Listener, which are two AMAZING current affairs magazines written by incredible journos (and former colleagues) in NZ… happy 2018 lovely xxx

    • I was so in love with River that I used to write to him so much. I even said he could stay with my and my family if he ever came to Australia!

  • KT

    I loved Smash Hits too!! My bedroom was plastered with Smash Hits posters. And it’s so funny that you mentioned Glenn A. Baker – that’s the nickname my friends gave me back in the day, and it’s stuck! Usually used in the context of asking me a trivia/pop culture question: “Hey Glenn A, what was the name of that song…?” I love having such a weird nickname!

  • Oh my goodness, that progression through the magazines – exactly how it went for me! Nostalgia! I also read TV Hits alongside Smash Hits. I loved my JTT posters haha. Now as an adult, my weakness is Marie Claire. It’s the only magazine that I really love to sink my teeth into.

    • It is one of the more intelligent ones.

  • Heidi D

    My journey through the magazines is just the same, only difference being I was a few years older & earning my own money before I got my hands on a Cleo or a Cosmo. I am now at the Take 5 & Yours age. I don’t actually buy them myself though, I did buy Take 5 for a little while but decided I was wasting too much money over a year that could buy something better, chocolate maybe ! My Mum buys them & passes them on to me when shes done. If she is quick there is still time for me to enter the puzzle competitions.

    • It is a shame about YOURS closing.

  • I used to buy Tigerbeat. It was a US magazine and told me all I wanted to know about Donny Osmond and David Cassidy. My mother is a magazine addict and used to buy the Australian Post. I used to enjoy reading a funny column where the editor wrote about his family. He referred to his son as “Brick for Brains” in an affectionate way. Who would know that I would one day marry that particular “Brick for Brains”!

  • Tracey

    Smash Hits was my bible too! I used to love the Editor’s comments in the articles, they really made me laugh. Now I just subscribe to Donna Hay magazine for the recipes.

  • Amy Wells

    I loved Smash Hits and stealing my older sisters copy of Dolly! I now see my 9 year old get joy from It Girl magazine and the new magazine called Teen Breathe. I remember putting posters up in my room of Scott and Charlene’s Wedding along with Madonna, Wham and Duran Duran!

    • I had the Thomspon Twins. Teen Breathe is an excellent magazine. I read the grown up version!

  • Alicia Geikowski

    I still have my most favourite copies of Dolly magazine from the early 80’s I just couldn’t bare to throw them out. I will keep them forever, such a huge part of my early teenage years