In my sixteen months of blogging, I have never been so jarred by a publishing industry news story that I was compelled to post a response immediately...until now.
Word broke today that Viacom is shuttering Nickelodeon Magazine.
The print magazine industry has been under siege for some time, so it should not be a surprise to hear of any one publication folding. Yet if there was a list of magazines that I would have said are immune to the digital invasion, I would have guessed Nick would be on it.
The apparent end of Nick Mag is sad for multiple reasons.
The magazine editors are a remarkably accomplished (and nice) bunch. I have full confidence that they will soon find (or be snatched up by) other outlets that recognize their talent. I had a rewarding relationship with Nick since my first sale to them, in 2001; thanks to my work for the magazine, I was able to segue into writing for other divisions of Nick.
For the past five years, I've made a point to praise Nick at literally every school (and most other venues) I've spoken at. Some elementary educators and librarians could not get past the celebs and licensed characters on the cover to discover the smart non-licensed content it always featured as well. It was a simple yet savvy (and, to me, defensible) strategy—hook kids with familiar faces and then ambush them with other less glam (but often more enjoyable) content inside, such as theme-based nonfiction and humor. My only quibble with the magazine was that it accepted advertising for junk food. But I understand the realities.
I know almost nothing about Nickelodeon the cable network. I know almost nothing about their characters. I have never watched an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants (and to the disappointment of many kids at the schools I visit, I can't draw him, either).
Yet I know that the passing of Nick Mag is a genuine loss for kids. It was one of the most consistently quality products (in any medium) for young people. It did die once before, in the early 1990s, but it came back. I hope that one day soon, it can pull that off again.