Magazines bow in print, online

With more journalism going online, magazines are trying to figure out where they should live.


One locally published magazine has just left paper behind while another is launching as print-only.

Six months ago, a bilingual magazine called Tek Lado debuted in bright-red street boxes all over Philadelphia. They boldly featured QR codes at a time when few people knew what one is: a square of black-and-while pixels that can be scanned with a smart phone to automatically open a web page. They are just the thing for a magazine about technology and geek culture.

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The QR code brings the magazine from the physical world directly into the online world. If the article was written in English, Tek Lado’s website would also have it in Spanish; and vice versa. Editor Liz Spikol says the Spanish-language articles got the most traffic, particularly when the Wikileaks controversy erupted.

“Nobody was writing about it in Spanish,” said Spikol, a former writer for the Philadelphia Weekly. “We had a whole series, culling news from Argentina and Venezuela, posting stories and linking to other articles. That’s when the traffic really spiked.”

Spikol’s office is a small end table — not unlike a TV tray — and a straight-back wooden chair arranged in a West Philly apartment that has been converted into an office. The old offices of Tek Lado were at Bartash Printing in Southwest Philadelphia. Bartash was the publisher, but abruptly shut down the magazine last month after only two issues.

Since then Spikol and her partner Mel Gomez bought the name and website from Bartash, and relaunched it as their own venture, sans print.

They say their readers are increasingly not on Philadelphia streets, but in Spanish-speaking countries starved of geekdom.

‘How do you say ‘geek’ in Spanish?’

“One of our biggest challenges was, how do you say ‘geek’ in Spanish?” said Spikol, who notes that 20 countries use Spanish as the primary language, almost all with unique idioms.

Gomez sits about three feet away in his own dining-set chair with a down pillow on the seat. “I don’t think there is a way,” he says. “I think they say ‘geek.'”

“Although the Spanish say friki, but the connotations are different,” adds Spikol. “And nobody knows the Spanish say friki except people in Spain.”

While their virtual magazine has a physical office, ironically, a different new magazine — a physical one — has a virtual office.

“We have no infrastructure,” said George Miller.

Miller produces the new local music magazine, Jump, out of his own laptop and those of his network of volunteers, students and interns. With extremely low overhead costs and no ambition to get rich, the former photojournalist is committed to creating a print magazine.

“The Internet is ephemera. You can print it out, but probably in black and white,” said Miller, who teaches journalism at Temple University. “We’re a big, glossy magazine — you can rip these pages out and hang them on your walls.”

Miller admits he is not the hippest music fan in Philadelphia, and the city’s blogs and alternative weeklies can offer more coverage than his quarterly glossy. But with long-form narrative journalism, he says Jump can tell the story of the city through its music scene. The first issue will hit the streets March 11.

One more magazine is wakening from a long sleep. Collier’s, known for investigative muckraking journalism, was last published in 1957. John Elduff of Berwyn will bring it back into publication on July 4.

Elduff will be appealing mostly to an older demographic — those who might remember the original Collier’s — by riding what he describes as “changes in the American sentiment.” Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will write an article for the first issue.

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