Q&A with Future Now Speaker Julia Michalska, The Art Newspaper

Julia Michalska is the Deputy Web Editor at The Art Newspaper, and is a speaker at Future Now: The Aesthetica Art Prize Symposium, running 26-27 May at York St John University. Michalska is a panelist in Session 10: The Permanence of Print: Part II and joins Lee Taylor, Flux; Susanna Davies-Crook, Journalist & Contributing Editor, Dazed & Confused, Sleek, and Thisistomorrow, and Kate Simpson, Aesthetica for a discussion on print in today’s digital world. This session asks, what is the future for independent publishing and the art press at large?We speak to Michalska ahead of the event.

A: This session will focus on the impact of technology on independent publishing and the art press at large. In your opinion, what is the future of the circulation of newspapers and magazines that we enjoy today?
JM: If you mean print circulation, it will probably continue to decline as technology provides the reader with more comfortable ways of consuming content. But brand loyalty and a high subscriber base will keep certain stable titles profitable. If you mean circulation in general, then as long as a newspaper or magazine can adapt to the changes, it will see its circulation rise as technology eliminates geographical limitations and issues of scale. But with this digital freedom of content, there will be a lot more to choose from so readers become more picky and it will become harder to get their attention.

A: The Art Newspaper is sistered with five other newspapers worldwide, including Il Giornale dell’Arte based in Turin, Italy and The Art Newspaper Russia. To what extent would you say that the impact of technology on print newspapers is a worldwide phenomenon?
JM: Yes, we see it as a global phenomenon. Two of our sister publications, The Art Newspaper China and The Art Newspaper Russia, are very young and digital was at their core from the start. Technology has greatly helped our editorial teams across offices work together more effectively. We regularly share content with our sister publications using shared servers and cloud drives, we are able to translate content from our sister papers the same day the stories are published and technology allows our writers and editors to work closely despite the separation of time zones and continents. Even our weekly editorial meeting between the London and New York offices is run on Skype.

A: The imminent introduction of 5G and the ever evolving iPhone range are two of the largest threats faced by print newspapers today. How are publications like The Art Newspaper adapting in order to accommodate this?
JM: We no longer see digital platforms as a way of simply promoting our print stories. We are shifting towards a daily news service that then helps us populate our website and social media channels. We are recruiting journalists who are used to writing daily web items and are getting our writers used to a daily rather than monthly production cycle. In regards to the iPhone, we noticed that the majority of our readers accessed our web articles through their desktops last year. This year, more people are reading The Art Newspaper through their mobiles than their desktops. So we have developed an app to cater to this mobile audience, our website is mobile friendly and we’re available on Apple News. iPhone and other mobile devices are just another platform through which readers consume news, I wouldn’t see them as a threat but an opportunity to reach a wider audience.

A: Visitor Figures 2015 was a project undertaken by The Art Newspaper in March 2016, focusing on global exhibition and museum attendance numbers and how galleries and museums can, and have, boosted their number of visitors. What were the general findings of this research?
JM: One major finding is that when museums expand—especially if their extensions were designed by starchitects—they see their attendance rise significantly faster than museums that do not. But this could be a consequence rather than a motivation. Big names are important too. Tate Modern saw its attendance figures drop last year because it staged fewer shows on blockbuster names and more on critically-acclaimed but lesser-known artists. “Externalities”, such as a big parade outside your doorstep, also have a negative effect on attendance figures.

A: Many current artists and exhibitions are featured in your Shows & Events online section. Are there any in particular that you would recommend, or that we should look out for in the coming months?
JM: I would like to see: Christo’s floating peers on Lake Iseo in Italy, Picasso Sculptures at the Picasso Museum in Paris, Alex Katz at the Serpentine, William Eggleston at the National Portrait Gallery, Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern (and its new extension), Manifesta, Bosch at the Prado and Edmund de Waal’s show at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which he is curating.

Hear Michalska at Future Now, Session 10: The Permanence of Print: Part II, 13:00 – 14:15, 27 May, De Grey 125, York St John University.

Book your Pass and Sessions here: www.aestheticamagazine.com/symposium

Travel to Future Now: The Aesthetica Art Prize Symposium in York with Virgin Trains.

1. Daniel Rich, Amazon Books (2014).