On the “Grid:” Why Alex Mulcahy is Determined to Keep Print Alive
Due to revenue challenges, all of the media is facing a fight to stay relevant. Here’s how one local publisher is addressing this challenge.
Each year, print publications are disappearing from media markets and there’s no denying that print journalism is suffering financially. These reasons often include cost, lack of substantial consumers, and advertising competition.
Grid magazine is a niche print publication, which focuses specifically on topics relating to sustainability. Founded by Alex Mulcahy, Grid focuses on social, racial, economic and environmental justice. Grid Magazine began as a free magazine because Mulcahy said that he decided that the topics were so important that the magazine “should be able to be read by anyone who cares.”
Mulcahy himself has been in the publishing industry for 26 years, since starting Red Flag Media in 1993. He began by publishing music magazines for independent record stores, and in 2004 launched a national newsstand magazine, Decibel, which covers the underground heavy metal music scene. Grid’s first issue was printed in September of 2008.
In the Philadelphia area, there are over 15 publications including daily papers, magazines, and college print newspapers. Locally, the Philadelphia Inquirer was donated to a nonprofit, and the beloved City Paper ceased publication in 2015.
Recently, Grid has struggled with revenue to continue printing and distributing on a monthly basis. Mulcahy discussed the magazine’s woes by describing the general issue that the magazine industry as a whole is facing. “It’s a hostile market for traditional print publications,” he says, because media has to spend as much money advertising online and competing with Facebook.
While this idea may seem outdated to those of us attached to our phones, this struggle for print is not unique. Google and Facebook now account for 60% of US digital advertising revenue, all media platforms are struggling. (including this one…) Publications now need to branch out in order to raise revenue.
In order to help combat the struggle, Mulcahy appealed to their ‘loyal readers’ to subscribe to the magazine to help fund its printing. On July 2, Mulcahy announced to the community that Grid Magazine had, in fact, reached their 500 subscribers by June 30th goal. As Mulcahy said,
“Local media is going to need to be creative to survive. The support of our readers was a real shot in the arm, and we greatly appreciate it.”
While Grid works to figure out how they will evolve to survive in this ever-hostile market, it is these victories that give a little bit of hope that perhaps print is not dead.