Eurozine Online Workshops
Let’s talk crisis! COVID-19’s impact on cultural journals
The coronavirus pandemic has severely hit cultural sectors, including cultural journals. On Tuesday, 31 March 2020 (14:00-15:30 CET), Eurozine held an online workshop to discuss the pandemic’s impact on publishing, share experiences and strategize for the future. 20 editors and cultural managers, representing 14 different publications and institutions, joined the exchange.
As the situation is changing rapidly, it is increasingly difficult to plan ahead. At present, it is unclear when certain activities will restart and services will be available again. One participant’s institution, located in Germany, which mainly relies on live events, has had to cancel their upcoming programme. It is unclear when their events programme will recommence. Print journals, which typically publish anything from one to 12 times a year, face a similar challenge when attempting to plan editorial work, printing and distribution for upcoming issues. Some are considering a reduction in their publishing frequency or print runs for the upcoming months. Others are thinking of switching to publishing only online for a period.
Many journals are responding to COVID-19 and its manifold impacts by publishing pandemic-related material both online and in print. Several magazine editors have adapted entire upcoming issues to the subject. Please find a list of online articles, which were available at the time of the webinar, at the end of this report. Eurozine is also covering the topic in our Coronavirus crisis focal point.
Editors present at the webinar weren’t finding it difficult to adapt to remote working and digital communication and workflow, as this is their usual working environment. Journals typically collaborate with external authors, translators and graphic designers, who appreciate that work is continuing and still being commissioned.
As creative sectors are forced to move or limit their activities to the online realm, audiences are currently overwhelmed by the amount of cultural material on offer, which includes long-form articles, online training and courses, and livestreams of concerts, plays and discussions. Will social distancing result in a higher demand for cultural journalism? And, if so, might this create an opportunity for content unrelated to the predominant issue to reach a broader audience?
Cultural journals are witnessing the indirect, negative consequences of events being cancelled all over Europe. Many journals are partially funded by advertising, including ads for cultural events such as book fairs, festivals and cultural performances; as events are cancelled, so too is their advertising. Generally, editors were worried about advertising revenue being reduced in the forthcoming months.
Cultural journals are experts in combining the advantages of print and online publishing, and use various models to combine both worlds. The COVID-19 crisis has clearly had a negative impact on print publishing. The most direct effect has been seen on channels of distribution: as retail outlets, including bookshops, newsstands and cultural venues, have been forced to close, some journals have been left without important points of sale.
Most print journals are also partially reliant on subscriptions, which has been less affected overall. However, international deliveries are an issue, especially for one journal that distributes to as many as 30 countries. This particular publication has asked its subscribers to be patient.
After distribution, production may well become the next issue, especially for journals that are printed abroad. So far, print companies seem to be continuing without much interruption. One editor commented on rising paper prices, a major budget item for print journals.
Cultural journals generally rely on a variety of income sources, including sales and subscriptions, subsidies, donations and advertising. Obviously, their respective shares will depend on each individual journal’s business model. For journals that rely in part on public subsidies, repercussions from the coronavirus crisis may well threaten their existence. Several editors expressed concern that public subsidies for cultural journals may soon be cut as part of general budgetary measures that tend be unfavourable to culture and media sectors.
Practical ideas and insights
- During the workshop, several ideas and suggestions were shared, many of which have not yet been tested but might inspire cultural journals when facing effects of the pandemic, including:
- COVID-19 is forcing some journals to start or accelerate the digitisation of organisational working practices and publishing, which can be viewed as a positive impact and opportunity.
- Journals that publish print and online versions could temporarily switch to online-only. The challenge is to ensure that print can be continued and ‘temporary’ does not become ‘permanent’.
- Online conferencing companies that are profiting from the current situation could be approached for partnerships/advertising.
- An additional donation option could be added to the journal and/or author of any given article when selling issues/articles online.
- Digital sales could be accompanied by coupons for print versions that would be distributed later.
- Journals could ask subscribers to still pay for issues that have been cancelled due to the pandemic as with ticket refunds for cancelled cultural events.
- In continuing to work together, the network could advocate for cultural journals at national and international levels
- „Health, trust and journalism: a Coronavirus Plan for the Media“ Open Letter to the President of the EU Commission https://www.euractiv.com/section/digital/opinion/health-trust-and-journalism-a-coronavirus-plan-for-the-media/
- Culture Action Europe: Open Letter to the EU Demanding Support for CCS during Covid-19 https://cultureactioneurope.org/news/open-letter-to-the-eu-demanding-support-for-ccs-during-covid-19/
- In addition to national support programmes, not all of which seem to be suited for cultural journals (more research needed), some international grants are available and could prove useful.
International funding opportunities
- GIJN: https://gijn.org/new-sources-of-media-funding-on-the-covid-19-pandemic/
- Eurozine Funding Opportunities Outlook: https://www.eurozine.com/eurozine-funding-opportunities-outlook/
- Civitates call: https://civitates-eu.org/independent-public-interest-journalism/
Selected examples of articles published online by Eurozine partner journals and associates related to COVID–19
Coronavirus crisis focal point
Fabian Kretschmer: China: Von der Virus- in die Wirtschaftskrise?
Dilema Veche (Romania):
Rodica Zafiu: Izoleta şi contacţii
Paul Alexandru: Cumpărături la ușa ta, ajutor în lupta cu COVID-19, învățare online
Matei Martin: Virusul care strică viața și piața
Sever Voinescu: Ce faci în carantină?
Krytyka Polityczna (Poland):
Olena Babakova: Twój dom jest tam, gdzie cię wpuszczą podczas pandemii
Piotr Szumlewicz: Koronawirus. Oto jedyny sensowny plan antykryzysowy dla polskiego rządu
Maja Staśko: Zostań w domu – Chyba że jesteś pracownikiem
Piotr Wójcik: Jak wykupić się od wirusa
Agata Popęda: Trump zrobił sobie test na wirusa. Amerykanie jeszcze nie
Janis Warufakis: Pożyczki nie pomagają bankrutom
Dyskryminacja w czasach pandemii koronawirusa uderza mocniej
Jacek Olender: Brytyjczycy idą na czołowkę z koronawirusem
Paulina Januszewska: Koronawirus zabija instytucje kultury. Czy rząd wyciągnie do nich rękę?
Filip Konopczyński, Aleksandra Wójtowicz: Gospodarka i państwo po koronawirusie. Instrukcja obsługi.
Kultura Liberalna (Poland):
Koronawirus. Na pięć minut przed gospodarczym krachem?
Kampania prezydencka w czasie epidemii przekracza granice przyzwoitości. Z Jerzym Buzkiem rozmawia Jakub Bodziony
Zamykanie granic to początek katastrofy gospodarczej. Z ekonomistami, Joanną Tyrowicz i Janem Hagemejerem, rozmawia Łukasz Pawłowski
Po epidemii spojrzymy na globalizację bardziej realistycznie. Z dziennikarzem tygodnika „The Economist” Adrianem Wooldridge’em rozmawia Łukasz Pawłowski
Le monde diplomatique (Norway):
https://www.lmd.no/2020/03/koronavirusets-kilde/ (from The Nation, US)
Letras Libres (Spain):
2020, el año de la pandemia
Andy Climacus: Resisiting Coronavirus.
New Eastern Europe (Poland):
Coronavirus in the Eastern Partnership states (updates)
Ny Tid (Norway):
Alexander Carnera: Corona Nat
Wouter Hillaert: Het financiële slagveld genaamd corona
Res publica nowa (Poland):
Gabriela Rogowska: Koronawirus – czego nauczyły nas doświadczenia Włochów?
Reset / Reset doc (Italy):
Umberto De Giovannangeli: Israele, l’emergenza sanitaria spinge Gantz. Centrosinistra o unità nazionale?
Martina Forti: Fare i conti con la pandemia, sotto le sanzioni. Voci dal focolaio Iran (In English: Iran’s Double Emergency. Fighting the Virus, Under International Sanctions)
Umberto De Giovannangeli: Lesbo, l’allarme di medici e Ong. Ora si rischia la catastrofe sanitaria
Revolver Revue (Czech Republic)
Adam Drda: Čas epidemie s malým Putinem
Christian Johannes Idskov: Coronavirussen er ved at forandre os
Eurozine Online Workshops are part of the project “Eurozine – Network of cultural journals”, which is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.