There have been some rumors about this online for a few months, but as of today, it looks official. VIBE Magazine is folding. It's another profound loss for the print industry of journalism, especially black journalism. Since 1993, VIBE was seen by a lot of people to be the premier black music, fashion, and lifestyle magazine for a certain demographic. Some of the best music reporting I've ever read came out of VIBE. Recent readers of the magazine might not understand that last sentence -- these haven't exactly been its glory years but I can remember incredible articles on Tupac Shakur, Wu Tang Clan, and Master P by writers who got it, and weren't just writing to sensationalize. I had a subscription when I was a teenager and learned a lot about music journalism long before I thought I'd ever get into this profession. I can remember writers and editors there like Kevin Powell, Cheo Hodari Coker, Dream Hampton, Rob Kenner, Sasha Jenkins, etc. giving me something to look forward to each month. I feel privileged to have written for them and feel sad that they're going away.
With VIBE out, that leaves only two major magazines left, XXL and The Source, covering urban culture and lifestyles. Considering how crappy The Source is (can't even remember the last time I purchase one) it looks like urban reporting at the major magazine level is dead in the water. But...I also think it's a fine time for young journalists to be witty enough to craft a new model for the future of print media (if there even is one). Blender folded earlier this year, Paste is on the skids and it doesn't look good for this industry as a whole. So folks are going to have to create something brand new that's not as dependent on advertising to survive because those dollars are gone.