I heard some news yesterday that left me seriously upset – The Word Magazine is closing down.
This probably sounds a little pathetic to a lot people, but I'm feeling something like grief. I've read every issue of the magazine since I picked up a copy in 2004, had a subscription for the past four years, listened to all its podcasts for the past five, and logged into its website nearly every day. It's been part of my life and I'm going to miss it terribly.
It's been the regular filler for chunks of my time, anything between fifteen minutes and two hours, when I want to flop out with something that entertains yet stimulates me. The magazine focuses mainly on music but also covers movies, TV, books and often strays into technology and social issues. The podcasts have been lovely, light hearted chunks of conversation between the staff and various figures from music and the media. The weekly email has introduced me to lots of entertaining snippets from the internet, and the giveaway CD lots of great music that I wouldn't otherwise have heard.
On top of that the website has been something special. Its blog section has allowed the readers to take over, starting their own conversations – sometimes serious, sometimes flippant – that often draw hundreds of comments. It's pulled off the stroke that gets the best out of the internet, creating a community of people with similar interests who enjoy conversing with each other. For a middle aged bloke who doesn't do regular evenings in the pub in any more – and I'm sure it's the same for many of its male and female readers – it's given me the joy of jumping into fun conversations whenever I'm in the mood. And I have been to a couple of its readers' mingles, and found them to be lovely occasions.
No-one's sure how much of this may continue in another form, but the magazine has provided the focus and after one last issue it won't be with us any more, another victim of the business model for publishers has fallen apart. I've got every sympathy for the guys who set it up – Mark Ellen and David Hepworth – and all the people who work with them. They've done a great job and I hope they can earn a living doing something similar.
It's nothing like as bad as losing a person that you love, but I'm losing something that I've treasured over the past few years, and it's going to leave an ache that won't go away for a long time. That's why I don't think there's anything silly in saying that I'm beginning to grieve for a magazine.