Rise and shine. The world is doomed.
May 23, 2023 6:15 AM   Subscribe

 
Oh shoot, first time I hear of something cool and...
posted by sammyo at 6:33 AM on May 23


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posted by warriorqueen at 6:48 AM on May 23


Really hate how we're losing all of this quality media/journalism b/c of bullshit capitalism.

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posted by Fizz at 6:51 AM on May 23 [17 favorites]


I know there's a deeper lesson here--nobody wants to pay for political comics, they just want to make memes about them--and a question about how you create a business model in that environment, but I think I'm just going to take a minute to mourn. The Nib was so good. Finding Jen Sorenson and Matt Bors and Tom Tomorrow and Mattie Lubchansky all in the same place, and then finding new artists to follow, was a massive public service that should've been funded by an NEA grant or something. Bors really created something here, something distinct and different than the "try to find that one magazine's website that publishes that one cartoonist you like" (something that made a little more sense back in the blog and RSS days, I guess), and we should be grateful it lasted as long as it did.
posted by mittens at 6:53 AM on May 23 [22 favorites]


oh, snap.
posted by clavdivs at 7:03 AM on May 23


I think the lesson to be learned is that, after ten years of running a successful web presence, making money and paying people, there’s no media group that will pick up The Nib or run a parallel org. I mean, Bors has singlehanded proven that there’s a market for this material in the US/Anglo speaking world, but there’s nobody else doing this. Why?
posted by The River Ivel at 7:07 AM on May 23 [11 favorites]


I don’t know. EVERYTHING seems to be being ground up into mulch right now, it’s pretty grim.
posted by Artw at 7:13 AM on May 23 [12 favorites]


ARRRGGGGGG

This is the ONE magazine I subscribe too, the only one! I’ve loved getting it in the mail, reading it in bed or at the table, and keeping the back issues around to flip though. Having it around makes me happy and I’m sad now that there’s one less thing out there to look forward too.

I want to move this part of my budget to support similar artists, guess I need to go see what else is out there.
posted by lepus at 7:17 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


This is so hard. I feel partly responsible, in a way, the same as with Buzzfeed News and so many other site closures. I’ll see a piece from time to time and I’ll like it. But it won’t be enough to take me to the site, and often not enough to share it - I feel like even my shares have become commodified. Like because my (so-called) friend list is so disparately distributed, if I share too many things, or the “wrong” things, someone will judge me in some weird unintended way that I’ll suddenly have to deal with, when all I wanted was to say “here’s this funny / interesting / cool thing I saw.” So fewer clicks means less revenue. And meanwhile I’m at the age where Napster really twisted my brain about the need for having to pay for content. I don’t know what the fix is. I can’t say this one hurts like a lot of you can, because I only know The Nib from its name, and from seeing cartoonists I like on the list of its contributors. I’m hopeful that each of them have enough of a following that they’ll land on their feet. I hope. But I still feel that sick feeling when someone you know died and maybe you could have done more when you had the chance. Ugh.
posted by Mchelly at 7:24 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Really hate how we're losing all of this quality media/journalism b/c of bullshit capitalism.

Just to be real here, it's not just bullshit capitalism, it's that the vast majority of people have said that they won't pay for quality media/journalism. If people wanted quality media, they could pay for it. They just ..... don't.
posted by Candleman at 7:37 AM on May 23 [11 favorites]


Well, dammit. I've been a subscriber for a long time (since June 2019), even though I don't actually visit the site much and I have several unread issues. I liked the fact that The Nib existed and was happy to keep paying the $8 a month to keep it alive. Also bought the "Be Gay, Do Comics" anthology for my kiddo which I think they appreciated.

Just.. fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck fuck. This comes on the heels of the last print computer magazines in the U.S. closing shop, and some other online media closures that hit close to home. I really just want to howl about the death of good publishing. It really feels at times like we're at the end of everything and it fucking sucks.

10 years isn't a bad run for an indie publication. Matt Bors is to be commended for everything. I hope he and the rest of the staff are doing OK.
posted by jzb at 7:41 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


I would love it if someone who was good at manipulating rich people good for once to get a billionaire or three to subsidize some non-fascist media. The conundrum of good media not being viable under late capitalism is in part because free fascist propaganda is available to sate people’s desire for content without the need to turn a profit.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:45 AM on May 23 [10 favorites]


>Just to be real here, it's not just bullshit capitalism, it's that the vast majority of people have said that they won't pay for quality media/journalism. If people wanted quality media, they could pay for it. They just ..... don't.

That's... just more bullshit capitalism? The problem is media + capitalism. As long as media is forced to use capitalism to stay in existence, it's doomed.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:47 AM on May 23 [16 favorites]


"If people wanted quality media, they could pay for it"

I agree with that, to a point. As noted, I do subscribe to The Nib and a bunch of other publications – probably more than $100 a month in subscriptions, easily. Not to mention another $50-$100 a month in Bandcamp subscriptions, MeFi, and Mastodon support.

But a lot has changed in the last 25 years with publications. Google and a few others have hoovered up a lot of ad money that used to go to publications. And, at least in the tech industry, in-house publications and placed content spend have replaced ad money that used to support quality publications.

Bullshit capitalism has a lot of answer for in the hollowing out of publishing. (Source: Spent many years in tech publishing, starting with print and then online, and then vendor content. At every step, "bullshit capitalism" has eroded all forms of publishing, relentlessly.)
posted by jzb at 7:50 AM on May 23 [11 favorites]


Just to be real here, it's not just bullshit capitalism, it's that the vast majority of people have said that they won't pay for quality media/journalism. If people wanted quality media, they could pay for it. They just ..... don't.

If I supported everything I'd like to support, I'd go broke. I mean, technically, I could refuse to visit sites that require support that I don't pay for, unfollow people's twitters when they ask for donations and I don't donate, etc.

There really is a free rider problem, but it's not the problem. The problem is that wages are stagnant, rents are extremely high, people are in debt and there is no social safety net. For people to be able to make challenging art that is accessible, there needs to be affordable housing and you need to be able to get by on a stable part-time or at least non-draining job. That's how working class artists flourished in the late mid-century. And all these things mean that patrons - ordinary people patrons, that is - also have less money to throw around.

I could spend hundreds of dollars every month without even trying if I gave just five dollars to every artist who asked for money and every person on my twitter who has a medical emergency, doesn't have money for groceries or can't afford to pay their rent. I support a few things, metafilter among them, and make donations of $20 or so to a few people a month in emergency situations, and that taps me out.

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On a practical level, I wonder if it would be possible to reinvent the magazine, so to speak - like, back in the day, I paid about $30 per year for a monthly magazine subscription. It was more for the Nation because the Nation was more frequent, but I had a couple of subscriptions and $30 went further back then. If people bundled their substacks or websites so that I got multiples for my subscription, I'd be more likely to subscribe.

But I think the real issues are housing costs and debt, because they put pressure both on artists to earn and on potential subscribers to save.
posted by Frowner at 8:21 AM on May 23 [28 favorites]


Subscriptions never paid the full costs of the vast majority of magazines (somewhere around 20-30% of gross revenue was what we discussed in my magazine editing programme, as an across-the-board number for consumer for-profit magazines. Some tilted more towards newsstand sales. Which have their own costs.)

Ad revenue was way, way (waywayway) different too.

So yes, pay creators, but it's not the full story - especially with print publications.

ETA: I was in that program in 2003.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:25 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Subscriptions never paid the full costs of the vast majority of magazines (somewhere around 20-30% of gross revenue was what we discussed in my magazine editing programme, as an across-the-board number for consumer for-profit magazines. Some tilted more towards newsstand sales. Which have their own costs.)

And for newspapers, it was south of 10 percent. They could have given away newspapers and still profited, back in the Before Times.
posted by Etrigan at 8:31 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Is Jen Sorenson reprinted in The Funny Times? Is Tom Tomorrow, still? I'm thinking it's time to get a subscription. Back in the day, I'd see this publication in my more rural friends' homes, but I'd already read that stuff in the free weeklies, which are almost all gone now also.
posted by Rash at 9:20 AM on May 23


I agree with all of this, but I also have a vague feeling around how making media a lot easier to produce has also thinned the support pools to the point that resource-intensive projects are folding.

Pre-Internet, my support dollars (had I the money back then to patronize anything) would have been reflected in magazine subscriptions, which sometimes didn't pan out (I'm still mad about Might magazine collapsing the very issue after I paid for a two-year sub), buying CDs by artists I like, plunking down money at the theatre / rental place for movies I wanted to watch, and... not complaining about taxes funding libraries and the CBC, I guess. It took a lot of capital and energy and effort to generate something that could be supported, at least in a large geographical sense.

Early Internet, I could throw a few dollars around for Internet things, and I remember in the late '90s / early 2000s a lot of conversations about microtransactions. I was into webcomics as a creator for a while and have fond memories of Keenspot, and Joey Manley's Modern Tales (I wrote a comic for the adventure-themed offshoot, whose name escapes me) as early precursors of Patreon-style support and microtransaction experiments.

Now? Good grief! At a glance there are 250,000 creators on Patreon alone. To say nothing of Substack, or places like MeFi I can directly support, and all the folks on GoFundMe and Kickstarter; I can buy albums or even subscribe to artists' annual output directly on Bandcamp, I can buy art and prints a zillion different places.

All of the above again for advertising -- if I wanted to put an ad in front of people in a given market in the 1980s, I'd have a very finite sent of choices. Now, I have a zillion places to splash money, from influencers to sponsorships to highly targeted social/search spends through "classic" display ads.

It feels like resource-light efforts like podcasts and Twitch streams and newsletter-writing are huge contributors to the hollowing out of wallets -- and ad budgets -- that might have once supported "big" projects with printing expenses and staff and deliveries and postage. Which is not to throw shade on small project creators, I have been one and likely will be again, that's just... where we're at.
posted by Shepherd at 9:21 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


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posted by gentlyepigrams at 9:35 AM on May 23


There’s also been a lot of damage to means of fundraising and support for those projects lately too: Twitter getting bought and turned upside down by a fascist loser, Kickstarters foray into NFTs cost projects supporters, Patreon keeps threatening to do unfortunate things with its business model and many small art and writing dude gifs being automated out of existence.
posted by Artw at 9:46 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I kind of wonder if this explains Tom Tomorrow's latest cartoon.
posted by kyrademon at 11:13 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]


And for newspapers, it was south of 10 percent. They could have given away newspapers and still profited, back in the Before Times.

Yeah.

It's the advertising dollars, basically. For newspapers that included classifieds, ha ha ha.

I mean definitely there's a rolling impact on the actual creators and staff, but the real hollowing out is cheap ads you buy via Google and Facebook, and that buying ads *inside* Facebook actually just...works better, because all people are clicking away from to look at the ad is their feed, whereas a great comic is something where you ignore the ads to keep reading.

Which becomes self-serving because then advertisers (like me) are like "well, forget Google Display Network, I just want Search."

My spouse and I were sitting down to do some number crunching because my new job requires that I pay insurance premiums and contribute to a pension so our disposable income is shifting a bit and we were both like 'how are we paying for so many subscriptions?' But it's really because that's the only way to get the creators any money now. I didn't mind getting Vanity Fair at the library for free (still don't actually but...) when I knew advertisers were paying for it but when it's a Substack it's sort of like...well I want to pay for that person's time and I know they aren't getting paid otherwise.

I really wonder whether companies have been able to lower their ad spend based on all this.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:20 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


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Back in the 90s, Tom Tomorrow allowed my high school left-wing zine to print his cartoons free. (I emailed him! Through the internet!) I don't think we did it more than once, but I've never forgotten. I owe him a purchase of something.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:29 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]


I kind of wonder if this explains Tom Tomorrow's latest cartoon.

Back in the 90s, Tom Tomorrow allowed my high school left-wing zine to print his cartoons free. (I emailed him! Through the internet!) I don't think we did it more than once, but I've never forgotten. I owe him a purchase of something.

You can support Tom Tomorrow directly by joining his subscription service at Sparky's List.
posted by JDC8 at 1:15 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]


It turned that journalism was something you got in exchange for being the audience for the buyers of classifieds, movie listings and weekly coupon and specials circulars. Hard to see how much more capitalist that could have been.
posted by MattD at 1:20 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


That created space within which it could be done, if all constraints were gone people would still do it.
posted by Artw at 2:03 PM on May 23


The disappearance of advertising revenue has clobbered so many media companies -- I suspect that the print magazine would have broken even on costs, but to actually pay the whole staff the website itself needed to be profitable with ad revenue.

I bought the Future issue and a book as a last hurrah and thank you for a wonderful site.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:39 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


A really marvelous site and a wonderful publication. I’m sad that the most recent issue will be the last. I’ve only been subscribed for less than a year. Glad I got to enjoy the Nib while it was around and wish it could continue.

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posted by sciencegeek at 2:08 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I was a freeloader for a few years but I got my niece a nice gift subscription about a month ago, worth close to $300 CAD and that felt good

this does not feel good
posted by elkevelvet at 7:23 AM on May 24


damn i knew i should have subscribed
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:32 PM on June 6


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