June 12, 2014

ESSAY: internet an new media platforms

Internet has given us the opportuninty to have all kind of sources we want and when we want it, without having to pay for any of them. Which for us, as a consumers is trully amazing and a huge perk when we want to find information about our interests and curiosities. But for the media sector, this have been quite frustrating when they realised all their hard work they have been doing to provide quality content is ignored and replaced for the internet sources, which sometomes, the information may be wrong. So, when something revolutionary that changes the way of living of the whole society comes to our lives, we can do two things: take it as an enemy and compete with it; or take it at your advantage and try to make the best profit thanks to it. And this is what the media have had to do, both newspapers and magazines, which have had to compete with the boom of blogs, who came out thanks to internet. The traditional medias have had to adapt to this new situation.
As an example, Deloitte’s latest Media Consumer Survey (deloitte.com),  a survey done among UK consumers, describes how they are swithching, everytime more, their analogical sources, for their digital ones to get the information they want about their hobbies or simply to read the news.
The survey was done in 2013, and just a 39% said that print was their preferred way to access to their favorite newspapers. While in 2012 it represented a 75% of the population. This demonstrates how things are changes over the years and what is the next direction.
About subscriptions made in newspapaer and magazines, a 27% of the surveyed declare they bought a print subscription in 2012, down to 2011’s figure of 35%. And digital magazines, in 2012 a 10% of the surveyed said they have bought a subscription in a digital magazine, up from a titchy 2% in 2011.
Seeing this, the media have had to adapt to the new ways of communication to stay in the market, and the fashion industry is not an exception. Publishers have created different strategies to drive up digital sales and increase their online readership.
As an example, Condé Nast, Vogue’s publisher offers subscriptions for both digital and print for 99$, when two years ago, a print subscription cost $39. Condé Nast now has 1.5m digital readers, and 500.000 reader who are solely subscribed in the package offered. “We’re using this new platform and the clear demand for all access to our content as a way to redefine our subscription offerings at a higher price,” said Bob Sauerberg, president of Condé Nast (m24m.co.za). But one the subscribers are gotten, what to do to make them to stay subscribed? The online media works by clicks, and Vogue has been using the online media to inform about the ultimate fashion news that are happening, they try to be the first source of information people will find and they will go directly to their clicks to know more about the new. If in the printed magazines the are long interviews, deep fashion editorials (writen and photoshoots), and long articles, in the online version, we find scoops and stories that can be read in a couple of minutes. We can also find new designer’s collection reviews, the bests dressed, etc. And something really unique and with a lot of value that Vogue US have in their digital version, is the Voguepedia, a neverending informative and knowledge source about Fashion History, talking about desingers, brands, models, famous personalities, photogrpaphers, that have or have had relevance in the fashion world.
Vogue, is now accessibe for anyone who has access to internet. And Vogue has changed since this revolution. They have been now using their social media channels, such as Instagram as a lifestyle source, sharing the events they attend, fashion week snaphsots, and the “it” products of the season. Thanks to this new sources of communication have made followers to interact with the fashion bible. Something that some years ago was totally unthinkable.
Vogue US has always been one of the first magazines to talk about a trend, that after has turned popular all over the globe. It is a magazine that has always seeked for the innovation. Vogue US could be considered the top fashion magazine that turns in gold anything they talk about, whether it is a product, and style, a designer, a old trend that instantly is worn again after appearing in the Vogue pages, etc. Because as Anna Wintour says, “to be in Vogue has to mean something”. And Vogue US is not scared to take risky decicions in order to stay innovative and role the revolution of the fashion world. When Anna Wintour first became editor-in-chief of Vogue US in 1988, the first Vogue cover she did yet made people to talk about it, as it was a picture taken outdoors of a model wearing jeans and a sweater, instead of the typical portraits of the “it” models of the moment. People even though they had made a mistake and used a wrong picture! Anna also was the first to add influencers who weren’t models in the covers: actresses or singers. And despite people first thoung this would be a bad idea, it had a huge success and revolutioned the fashion magazine industry in some way. But this past April 2014, Anna has taken another risk, and the cover has been extremelly critisized, even there are people who has decised to do a boicot against Vogue stopping buying it. Because as Anna herslef says that “to be in Vogue has to mean something”, most of the readers don’t undertand why, such a vulgar personality as Kim Kardashian that is famous thanks to a pornographic video spread on the internet, is in the cover with her fiancé (now her husband) Kanye West. Wintour defended the cover saying that Vogue reflects the culture of every moment. And in this moment Kim (with more than 20 million followers on Twitter) and Kanye (more than 10 million followers on Twitter), are the most famous couple on earth, especially now that have recently married and did an extravagant wedding. Vogue even created a hashtag especially for them: #WorldsMostTalkedAboutCouple, and made an amazing report about the couple and their recent daugther called North West. And despite Anna Wintour had never liked Kim, like it or not, she knows this coulple are a trending topic now, and Vogue have had to adapt to it (elpais.com), just like it has had to adapt to the internet.
T Magazine, another American magazine, that belongs to one of the most successful newspapers of the country, The New York Times. T Magazine was launched in August 2004, it is published 15 times a year and distributed throgh the Sunday edition of the New York Times. It covers fashion for both, men and women. But it also talks about design, travel, food and culture (exhibitions, art, etc.). They have also taken advantage of what the digital media offers in order to be more visible and to increase the number of readers. It is quite curious, because in the printed version is it a magazine, but in the digital one, it has a blog format using two platforms: tumblr and blog. The tumblr is uploaded very esporadically, and it is more visual, there is only the cover picture of the article and a link to access to the full article. 
They provide investigative articles and interviews  about the current trending topics. As an example, Tavi Gevinson, who last month she turned 18 years old and last week she also graduated from High School. So, she has now been featured in an interview, talking about her evolution and her plans for the future as an actress (among other interesting things).
And talking about Tavi Gevinson, born in 1996, is the founder of the online magazine, Rookie. She also publishes a yearbookook of the magazine that is sold in Amazon.com. Her magazine came as the next step of her blog, called Style Rookie, which she has when she was 12 years old. Now it is innactive, as she now publishes for her magazine. Rookie is about art, pop culture and fashion from a teenage point of view. There are also a wide variery of contributors, which can be journalists, celebrities and even magazine’s readers. It is divided in issues by months, and each one is built around a different topic. It updates from one to three times a day: afterschool; dinnertime; and sweetdreams. Everymonth there is the editor’s letter, by Tavi, and there are also opinion articles mainly written by readers that want their articles to be feauted in the magazine. All supervised and picked up by the Rookie team, of course. But this make Rookie a really interactive magazine between readers and the magazine team. It is a magzine born with the internet, it didn’t have to fight or to adapt to it, as it happended with the previous cases (Vogue and T Magazine). The crew also knows exactly how to adress to their readers, as the founder, Tavi, and the big part of the crew and the contributers have all the same age, and they now exaclty their thoughts and necessities.  They know exacltly how to adress, as they “speack the same language” in most of the cases, and now how  to drive the magazine perfectly. The amount of reader, in that case is quite small, (if we compare it to other magazines such as Vogue), but with a high influence amont them all. We could say that Rookie prefers quality over quantity when we talk about the amount of readers it has.  
Another huge fashion blogger, also from the States, with really great articles talking personal her reflections mainly related to fashion and lifestyle, but always told with the most humorous way as possible. Her articles will never be weak and lacking quality. We are talking about Leandra Medine, editor-in-chief and founder since May 2010 of the Man Repeller blog (www.manrepeller.com), a humurous website for serious fashion, as Leandra herself describes it. She has outsanding writing skills, as she is graduated in Journalism and since the early beginning, the Man Repeller achieved to engade a huge amount of loyal readers. Thanks to her blog, the term “man repeller” has became official, refering  to the “fashion-loving woman who gravitates towards outre clothing, even if it makes its wearer unattractive to the opposite sex”, as she describes the term in an interview to Leandra carried by Vanity Fair (vanifyfair.com). She started the blog having in mind the idea of reporting and commenting about fashion, but then she figured out, that pictures about her and showing her outfits had a much more bigger impact to her readers. This is the reason why she now combines both aspects (herslef and her style and reports about fashion in general and news). The Man Repeller also have a Tumblr, and as T Magazine, there are pictures of some of the posts of the blog, with links that have direct access to articles on the Man Repeller blog, where we find tones of humour, irony and a big knowledge about fashion, all on her opinion articles. On the blog, we can also find articles writen by her contributors and as Rookie magazine, readers have also the chance to get their writings feauted on the Man Repeller. And through her articles, we also find a strong girl, with a strong opinion, that mixed with her unique humor creates a strong voice on the media and a trully influencer among all her readers.
And another fashion blog to not dismiss, especially for the freaks of luxury and the snoby environment, is Snob Essentials (www.snobessentials.com). A blog founded in 2005 by Tina Craig and Kelly Cook. Both have more than 20 years of experience in the entertaintment and fashion industry respectivelly. Tina being a host of various television programs, MTV Asia included, and Kelly worked for the fashion designer, Mark Eisen and moved in to finance and business development for internet start-ups. Tina and Kelly were the first fashion bloggers to sit front row at designer runway shows. Snob Essentials now covers seven separate online channels: Bag Snob, Beauty Snob, Couture Snob, Jewel Snob, Shoe Snob,Tot Snob (kids category) and Snob Living, where they talk about food, home decoration, gift ideas, etc. (ahalife.com).
The articles are written by the founders, Tina and Kelly, and also by a part of their staff (interns and freelances). Their articles are mainly reviews of beauty products, bags, shoes, etc. and they also post links to articles from other online magazines that in their opinion are worth to not dismiss. The blogs is essentially focused to the American readers, as all the products and services they talk about are sold in the States, but thanks to internet, most of them can also be purchased world-wide. Snob Essentials also writes they kind of opinion articles/ reviews talking about products and services to not to do. As for example, they explain their argumentatations about why not to be an snob spending $100 in a cronut delivery service from New York. Which it’s ture that sounds too crazy (and stupid?).
All this blogs and magazines, in their own way, have created a huge and profitable business thanks to the freedom that the internet allows to anyone. Especially in the case of blogs, that most of them were started out as a hobby to talk about and spread their talent, message, interest… But the content created such expectation that have been able to perform and turn their hobby in to an incredible job. 
But the internet has still a lot to offer, this is jut a hint about the path that the media is taking. Becaue as seen in the survey results provided before, despite there are yet a huge amout of people who are already taking advante of the perks of internet, and the new generation don’t even imagine a world without internet. It has trully became a jack of all trades. Perhaps internet is in a way, lowering the quality of the writings, as the text is there quite reduced, and anyone can write on the internet as well, whether they have excellent fashion skills or not… But here is where the journalism has to focus on, finding the way to stay as strong as the printed versions. This could be the next step to reach. Now that we have a new source, it’s time to reach the quality that the journalism deserves.

June 5, 2014

Investigative article: the online superstar phenomenon of bloggers

Internet appeared during the 1990’s, and during this time there have appeared platforms that encouraged our freedom in the way of finding the information we want and when we want, and also freedom to express what we want and when we want. Blogs, who started to be more popular during the first years of 2000, unifies these two facts for both sides (the ones who want to express and the ones who seek for information or entertainment). They encourage all those who want to scream to the world who they are and what they do, while they are also a source of information for all the curious who want to know more about one topic they are interested or simply to entertain themselves reading blogs from people they don’t know personally, just because they enjoy reading and watching what they post. From this, lots of blogs have death after a few months, but there are others who have catch the attention from lots of readers. This makes wonder how these bloggers came out.
This is a formula that just a few are able to achieve perfectly. Depending on the kind of blog you are going to do, the ingredients may vary a bit. There are those who think they provide a fresh personal point of view, and thanks to their approachable relationship with their readers, for the good or for the bad, they can end up turning really influencers among them all.
While others opine bloggers are profaning the art of journalism and destroying the professionalism. But internet, for the bad or for the good, has democratized the freedom of delivering information, whether they were professionals or they have no clue what they are talking about, and some people is against them because their information may be wrong or too weak. 
Anyway, whether all what they say are words of wisdom, or they have write poor opinions about their topics, there are bloggers who ended up being really successful. But in what moment did these bloggers became so influential? How the hell can a “normal” person turn in such an influencer, and even end up turning in a celebrity (or net-celebrity). They have reached all this success thanks to the freedom of internet, and since there, they have managed to catch the attention of as much people as possible blogging about their topic.
This celebrity phenomenon has taken place, especially in the fashion and beauty bloggers, and youtubers, because videos may be the next big thing, as it assures the Social Media Explorer blog. These people were providing something different in some way that engaged readers (or followers, which actually transmits an idol adoration sense, in the word) as such point that some of them have even turn in truly influencers and celebrities. As examples of some of this web-celebrities, we can’t dismiss Chiara Ferragni, which has been blogging in The Blonde Salad since 2009, and now has been described as “la regina del web” for Grazia Magazine Italia in its most recent issue, and two weeks ago, she debuted in the Cannes film festival in her Condée des Marches walking the red carpet next to the most successful Hollywood actors and actresses.

Chiara Ferragni in Grazia Italia magazine cover June 2014

Chiara Ferragni in Cannes film festival (May 2014)
Chiara Ferragni in her first blog posts (2009)

But after this happened, she achieved to catch the attention, and managed to create a base of followers which have never stopped increasing. She didn’t outstand by her style, at least at the beginning, it was because of herself. And over the years, she started to professionalize her blog as it is today.
And another example would be the youtuber Michelle Phan, which since 2007 she has been uploading makeup video tutorials. Nowadays, her videos exceed the millions of visits when a new video is launched very week. And some of her most viewed videos she has reached 53.940.690 visits on her video “Barbie Transformation Tutorial”.  

Michelle Phan teaching us how to look like Barbie

Michelle Phan taking a selfie with her teen fans

Michelle Phan with her makeup line, em cosmetics

Last year, she founded her own cosmetics line called, em cosmetics. Here, her strategy is different than Chiara, but equally effective: from the very beginning she has demonstrated she knows what she is doing when she uploads her makeup tutorial. But what makes her so loved, followed and admired, perhaps it is her message: to accept and love every part of yourself and be truth to whom you are. Which for teenage girls (her main target) is a strong message and full of meaning for them. They can easily feel identified with her words. 
Seeing this, apart from being good at what you do, it is also important to find a niche and a message to bring them to outstand and to be successful blogging. Stay true to your message and to your style.