‘Print and digital media should support each other’

Kültür Mafyasi

Even if journals are interested in current affairs, they should go to the root of the matter and present alternatives, writes Turgay Özçelik of “Kültür Mafyasi” – a journal that began online and just launched a print version: “We need to shed light on what mainstream media choose not to see”.

Roughly speaking, what percentage of your budget currently comes from sales and what percentage from and advertising? How do you deal with economic difficulties? Are you widening your field of activities beyond strictly publishing? Are you exploring new business models, lobbying cultural decision-makers, or appealing to the public?

We have only published two issues, so I can’t give a realistic answer. We don’t even have the accounting done for our first issue, but roughly speaking, it appears to be half and half. I think advertising will begin to have more weight in the future. We know it is difficult to materially sustain a journal, but we don’t receive any funding, and have no plans to do so.

While journals in Europe continue their existence largely with the help of public support, this is not the case in Turkey. What should be done in Turkey to secure public support for art and literature journals?

Public support would have come as a relief, but it’s a fact that in countries like ours, the government tends to intervene in areas that it lends its support. This would damage the independence of journals.

What is your distribution and sales strategy? How do you take your journal to its readers?

We are currently selling the journals in bookstores, civic centres and galleries. We plan to expand this network and start a subscription scheme with the third issue.

Journals tend to extend their publication intervals due to economic difficulties. How does this impact a journal’s communication with its readers?

Unless they have some capital to back them up, journals are printed whenever money is available every two months, three months… This causes a decline in readership, of course. Readers look for some sort of regularity. Changing periods means a loss of readers.

Financing European cultural journals

Like other types of cultural organization reliant on public funds, cultural journals throughout Europe have felt the impact of recession. In addition to funding cuts, journals are also having to negotiate the upheavals taking place in the print sector.

Through a European survey of financing for cultural journals, Eurozine takes stock of the situation of the network, in order to communicate its experiences internally and to others who hold a stake in European cultural policy today. [more]

Read the statements here:

Varlik, Turkey

Ord&Bild and Glänta, Sweden

Vikerkaar, Estonia

Wespennest, Austria

Sodobnost, Slovenia

Host, Czech Republic

Res Publica Nowa, Poland

Mute, UK

Intellectum, Greece

Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, Germany

Do you have a website? How much of your content do you make accessible on it and what other uses does it serve? How do you make use of social media and what do you perceive to be its benefits?

We have a website, and we were an online journal before we appeared in print. We put some content on the website a few months after the journal is printed, but not all of it. The website and the journal don’t have the same content. We use social media to share the articles on our website and promote our journal. I think social media plays a large part in our sales.

Are you experiencing opportunities for synergy or co-operation between big and small media, or print and digital media, that previously did not exist?

I believe print and digital media should be in support of each other, and that is what we are trying to do now. As for big and small media, the big entities will support the small only if it has news or advertising value. I don’t think much is going to change in the near future.

How do changing readership habits brought on by digitization and Internet media effect circulation and sales? Is digitization bringing a change in the type of text that is submitted to your journal? Do you plan to adapt the journal’s content to changing readership preferences?

We make content according to our wishes both on the website and in the journal. We admit that digital media has had an impact on print media, but we also know that there is a group of readers who prefer to read a printed journal.

Are there political or literary polarizations between journals? If any, what should be the nature of contest between journals?

We can talk about polarization in political matters; the divisions in the literary sphere are more along lines of individual disagreements. I think the style of writing we call “polemic” is quite useful. We will support – and be a part of if necessary – any polemic competition between journals.

Do you think journals continue to be a school for aspiring writers and poets? In the past, writers and poets would usually publish their books after gaining acceptance by having their works published in journals; journals were stepping stones for young writers and poets, and would introduce important foreign writers to their readers before their books were translated. Has this situation changed? What is your opinion of writers who publish books after gaining popularity online?

I think journals are still important. All our contributors are young writers, some had written elsewhere before, but many started their writing career with us. In this respect, I think Kültür Mafyasi has brought up new writers and will continue to do so.

What responsibility does the bias and cultural inadequacy of mainstream media (daily newspapers and others) bring on journals? Are journals able to stand up to the task? What responsibilities do readers expect journals to undertake?

Journals shouldn’t chase after current issues; even if they are interested in current affairs, they should go to the roots and present alternatives. We try to build our own agenda here. The popular agenda is all across the mainstream media. We need to shed light on things that they choose not to see.

Published 29 March 2013
Original in Turkish
Translated by Sila Okur
First published by Varlik 2/2013 (Turkish version); Eurozine (English version)

Contributed by Varlik © Turgay Özçelik / Varlik / Eurozine

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