Print Is Alive and Well at Cineaste
by The Editors
We have no idea how many of you might have noticed, but in early May, the Cineaste Website unexpectedly crashed and burned. After two weeks, our Web-hosting service was still unable to determine the nature of the problem, much less repair the damage and get our site back online. We terminated our account with them and moved to a new Internet platform, where, in just a few weeks’ time, we had to design a new Website, update it with a record amount of new content, and launch it live as our summer issue started to appear on newsstands in early June.
One unfortunate aftereffect of the crash of our old Website—which, as far as we know, is still smoldering somewhere in cyberspace—is that we lost all the “Web Exclusives,” including several hundred interviews, articles, reviews, and festival reports, previously posted in our Web Archives. Several of our staff members, using a file backup, are now engaged in the effort to restore this content online, although it will likely take us some time to complete the task. In the meantime, we thank both our online readers and contributors for their patience.
Cineaste has maintained a Website for nearly twenty years now, changing its appearance and functionality over the years, developing its content from little more than the cover and table of contents for each new issue, along with some basic information (writer’s guidelines, advertising rate sheet, and a listing of back issues available) to the many additional “Web Exclusives” that now appear each quarter. The new content featured on the site’s summer update, for example, included two interviews, an article, eight film and video reviews, a book review, and a festival report, totaling more than 33,000 words of criticism and commentary exclusive to the Website. In a very real sense, our Website has functioned for many years as a significant supplement to the quarterly magazine, and there’s no question that our Internet presence has enabled many overseas readers to discover Cineaste.
Despite all the time, energy, and money invested in our Website, however, it generates absolutely no income for us (apart from providing a link to our Yahoo store site, where secure credit-card orders may be placed for subscriptions, back issues, and books). Our primary effort with Cineaste is reflected in the magazine you are presently reading. This will no doubt be a surprise for many casual visitors to our Website, who are completely unaware (trust us, we’ve learned this from experience) that we also print a quarterly film magazine, which includes far more outstanding content than that available online. There is no paywall on the Cineaste Website, and anyone visiting it can read any of the content there free of charge. If you want the full Cineaste experience, however, the only way to enjoy that is to subscribe, since the content of our quarterly magazine is exclusive to the magazine, and, other than a few short “previews,” you will find none of it posted online.
A print subscription is all the more important today, since we have no plans for the foreseeable future to provide an online or digital subscription edition. Two separate reader surveys we’ve conducted in recent years, online and in the magazine, have shown an overwhelming preference among our readership for a print-only subscription, as opposed to a print+digital option, and even less for a digital-only option. More importantly, Cineaste is a nonprofit enterprise, not subsidized by any institution, and is edited and managed by an all-volunteer staff. We’ve researched the start-up, maintenance, and promotional costs required for a digital subscription edition, and they are far beyond our current financial means or staff capabilities.
Our Website, on the other hand, remains a continual work-in-progress and we constantly re-evaluate its usefulness, both for ourselves and for our readers. As part of our recent decision to refocus our editorial efforts on the print magazine, you will likely find less Web Exclusive content in the future, but you should also see several new handy features. Cineaste also has both Facebook and Twitter accounts, where you’ll find current news of note and commentary from the film world posted by our editors and readers like yourself.
As we approach our fiftieth anniversary, Cineaste will nevertheless remain a traditional (or old-fashioned, if you insist) print magazine. Ever since the beginning of the digital age in the twenty-first century, we have read numerous reports about the moribund state of print—that, indeed, print is dead. It’s clear to us, however, that even in our contemporary, fast-changing media environment, niche magazines like Cineaste—those that appeal to a special-interest, even passionate, readership—will continue to survive, and even thrive. We believe that, ultimately, it’s the quality of the content, not the publishing technology utilized, that is the most important consideration for readers. With that in mind, print, the oldest form of mass media, will continue to reign at Cineaste.