Is Print Media Dying: American Angler Ends Print Edition, Focuses on Digital

American Angler has ceased publishing print and digital editions and will focus on its digital assets.

If most print publications weren’t struggling right now, and hadn’t been for many years, with full-staffed mainstream titles included in the mix, I would say you could call me a print media killer.

I used to work for a commercial fishing publication called Alaska Fisherman’s Journal and that went under a few years after I stopped working for it. And several years after I took the helm at Fly Rod & Reel magazine that title disappeared. And, unfortunately, I have to announce that American Angler magazine, which I’ve run for the past two years, recently  pulled the plug on its print and digital versions, effective immediately. It makes me feel like print media is dead.

A lot of the American Angler decision has to do with Covid 19, but all editors and publishers know that this downward spiral is longstanding and tough to deal with, financially and emotionally—most of the editors I know consider their work to be a form of art and they pour their souls into it.

American Angler magazine is not alone. Dun magazine recently announced it would stop the print edition for the time being and go strictly digital. Several Euro fly-fishing magazines pulled the plug completely. Angling Trade, which serves the fly-fishing industry just announced it would be strictly digital from here forward. I believe the Drake magazine skipped an issue. Field & Stream and Outdoor Life started concentrating more on their digital presence a few years ago. And in conversations with fellow editors, they’ve described the slashing of page counts in future editions and reductions in rates for authors and photographers. Many of them privately told me they are just hanging on and not wanting to get that phone call.

Personally, I really hope that several print magazines in the fly-fishing arena can garner the support of the industry. Is there value in print advertising? I think there is, especially in those of you who read it—I’m not against the digital assault, and I can see an advertiser’s reasons for pushing ad dollars there, but it’s still a crapshoot on who that audience really is. With print, you knew you were reaching the right people, that being truly dedicated fish-heads like you.

To all of you who read American Angler, and to everyone who worked with me to fill its pages, I say thanks. And thanks to the advertisers who stuck with us all the way. American Angler will continue its social media presence, and the web site will continue to offer classic American Angler material and fresh content, too. So, don’t despair—you can stay in the AA community if you choose. —GT


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10 Responses to Is Print Media Dying: American Angler Ends Print Edition, Focuses on Digital

  1. Jeff Erickson says:

    Naturally, I’m heartbroken to see the loss of another excellent fly fishing magazine. Having worked with you at Big Sky Journal, Fly Rod & Reel, and most recently American Angler, I thought you did a hell of a job. American Angler, in particular, got dramatically more interesting after you took over. So, a bitter pill to swallow for all of us. Hang in there.

    • Greg Thomas says:

      Bitter is right. It’s hard to watch. There’s something special about print and what it offered—a place where you could go for quality content, written by talented people who were really out there and invested in their words. Hopefully we can put something together on the digital side that stands out and provides something people really need.

  2. Guy Gregory says:

    “I thought you did a hell of a job. American Angler, in particular, got dramatically more interesting after you took over..”

    As a long time subscriber of Fly Rod and Reel, and a reader/sometime subscriber of American Angler since Farrow Allen days, I’m just heartbroken. These days, we need more real journalism, accountable to subscribers and advertisers, to push out more truth (or a reasonable approximation therof) against a torrent of unaccountable digital bullshit. We need more in every facet of life, be it angling, public land, politics, what have you.

    We don’t need less accountable journalism.

    Yet as one guy, there really doesn’t seem to be anything I can do. Fish clubs are dying, non-profits are sucking air all over the place, enjoyment publications are disappearing, even pool leagues and bowling night are gone.

    Sorry for the rant. Thanks for turning out high quality, literate, and enjoyable publications for the time you did. You enriched my life.

    • Greg Thomas says:

      I really appreciate those comments, Guy. I got into the business to provide journalism and it’s sort of all gone away from that with the media being owned, literal or otherwise, by the companies. I hope there will be a time where real journalism holds people and corps accountable again. Right now, it’s difficult to know what is true or not, who to believe if anyone at all. Crazy. But thank you for your comments.

  3. Jen Ripple says:

    You’re no magazine killer … you’re one of the best editors of our time. Sad but unfortunately true turn of events we are all facing….

    • Greg Thomas says:

      Kind words for sure. It is refreshing to think about learning everything I can for the digital space. There are advantages to it for sure, as you know. Dun mag has done a nice job with both print and digital and your hard work shows.

  4. Derrick says:

    I have the totally opposite view. I grew up with print (I’m 63) and I love digital. It is the convenience and the rich content that digital has to offer. American Angler is the case in point – the 1st app offered a whole new experience in reading (the modern term is content consumption). When it went back to the current format of a print magazine presented digitally I canned my subscription. Big corporate publishers owning the industry is a thing of the past. It is not just fly fishing. It is all about re-imagining the basics in a new and exciting way. Amazon and Sears. Sears started as a mail order company with a great print catalogue. Amazon is the same business model but digital. Greg, this is your opportunity. The corporate print door has been slammed in your face twice. Time to open new doors.
    BTW Fly Tyer cannot survive this year. Dave K and Morris are clueless when it comes to digital.

    • Greg Thomas says:

      I still prefer print for viewing and not having to deal with distractions such as popups and ads, etc. I prefer to make the choice to consume that on my own. And I don’t think there is as much “rich content” on online. To much of a sales pitch. But I like it for other reasons—easy to share with an audience, can share from damn near anywhere, and responses are almost immediate.

  5. Chris Schnepf says:

    Really sorry to see American Angler go – you were doing such a great job as editor, particularly with the choice of authors (Sanchez, Gierach, etc.), that I actually subscribed a few months ago instead of buying at news stands and fly shops.

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