It’s not a good time to be a print magazine right now. Even a crowdsourced magazine with a stripped-down staff that relies on the contributions of its more talented readers. JPG Magazine and its parent company 8020 Media is shutting down after running out of money and not being able to find any new investors. The seed investment had come from Cnet founder Halsey Minor, who apparently also did not want to put in any more.
JPG was an attempt to create a photography magazine that relied on its readers for its content and included them in the editing process. Nearly 200,000 photographers have submitted photographs for consideration to JPG, many of them via Flickr. The site itself was able to attract about 300,000 unique U.S. viewers a month (Quantcast), but its business model relied on selling print ads. And that’s a business you don’t want to be in right now, especially if you are a startup with an artsy photo mag that was never very appealing to advertisers.
But it was a worthy experiment nonetheless. 8020 Media was founded upon the belief that a print magazine publisher could be viable if it stripped out most of the costs and created a community of readers to help in its production. Perhaps the flaw was in sticking to a print magazine as its final product. In reality, the print magazine was nothing but an artifact of the Website and the community that created it. The value of JPG was in the online portion—the process by which the best photographs were commissioned, curated, and selected with the help of other reader-photographers. It is a model that I believe we will see more of in the future because talent is everywhere. We just need a better way of finding and highlighting the very best of it.
You can download back issues in PDF form before the site goes down on Monday.