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If one thing has stuck with Tyler Brûlé, the founder of Wallpaper* and Monocle, it’s that digital media cannot do what print magazines can do. Brûlé doesn’t have Twitter, Facebook or any other social media. He doesn’t believe in online media at all and follows suit with his magazines.
On January 29, the Canadian magazine mogul shared his views on social media and its relation to the journalism industry during a lecture at the Ontario College of Art & Design in downtown Toronto. Raised eyebrows, laughter, and applause broke out as he told the story of his career and faults of the industry.

Brûlé started out in Ryerson University’s journalism program but dropped out just before his third year to move to Manchester to be a television reporter for the BBC. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he didn’t want to work in television. He knew that he didn’t want to write either but he had always liked magazines, the freedom of the print medium and being able to pitch stories.

Years later, Brûlé made an important decision: he was going to launch his own design magazine and the first issue of Wallpaper* hit newsstands in September of 1996.

The ambitious tastemaker went on to launch Monocle, a magazine devoted to world affairs, business, design, and culture. Monocle hit newsstands in February of 2007, and, according to Brûlé, has grown at a rate of about eight or nine per cent—impressive for print, a medium that’s currently gasping for air elsewhere. The secret, he says, has to do with the Monocle branding identity and the willingness of readers to associate themselves with it.

“One of the greatest failings of media right now is that people forget that there is huge value in what this says about you,” Brûlé said. “People concern themselves with their sunglasses, what luggage they’re going to have, the shoes they’re wearing, and this is just as important. And this is something that digital media cannot conquer.” This is why Monocle readers can forget about an iPad edition of the magazine, Brûlé says, remarking that he thinks the only people who are making money on the iPad are in the porn business.

His traditional views on journalism and enthusiasm for print media is hopeful, to say the least, but perhaps something to aspire to.

“Social media, hopefully, is going to be what we’ll do afterwards, which is having a drink, looking at each other in the eye, exchanging business cards and being at the next party,” Brûlé says. “That’s what it should be about and what we have been doing for six years.”

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About the author

Arta was the Production Manager for the Summer 2013 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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