Magazines in the Age of Specialization Chapter 9
Magazine Specialization • Like radio, magazines specialized to survive television. • Ex. TV Guide. Also an early example of media convergence • Developed market niches to cope • Appealed to advertisers who wanted specific audiences • Defined by gender, age, race, class, or social and cultural interests More than 22,000 commercial, alternative, and noncommercial publications and newsletters are published in the U.S. today.
Early History of Magazines • Defoe’s Review, 1704 • For elites • Political commentary • Looked like a newspaper • Gentleman’s Magazine, 1731 • Samuel Johnson • Alexander Pope
Colonial Magazines • No middle class • Often unaffordable • No widespread literacy • Served political, commercial, and cultural concerns • BenFranklin, in Philadelphia • General Magazine • Ruthlessly suppressed competition • Used privileged position as postmaster • By 1776 about 100 magazines in colonies
Saturday Evening Post • Longest-running magazine in U.S. history • Started by Alexander and Coate, 1821 • First major magazine to appeal directly to women • First important general-interest magazine aimed at national audience
The National Magazine • Better, cheaper technology • Fed growing literacy and education • Better distribution and transportation • Most aimed at women • Sara Josepha Hale: Ladies’ Magazine • Godey’s Lady Book • E. L. Godkin’s Nation, 1865 • Oldest continuously published magazine
Modern American Magazines • Postal Act of 1879 lowered postage rates. • Equal footing with newspapers delivered by mail • By late 1800s, advertising revenues soared. • Captured customers’ attention and built national marketplace • The magazine became an instrument of emerging American nationalism. • Readers no longer maintained only local or regional identities.
Muckrakers • Teddy Roosevelt coins term in 1906. • Early form of investigative reporting • Journalists discouraged with newspapers sought out magazines where they could write in depth about broader issues. • Not without personal risk to reporter • Famous American muckrakers: • Ida Tarbell takes on Standard Oil • Lincoln Steffens takes on city hall • Upton Sinclair takes on meatpacking industry
General-Interest Magazines • Popular after WWI from 1920s to 1950s • Combined investigative journalism with broad national topics • Rise of photojournalism plays a prominent role in general-interest magazines.
The General-Interest “Bigs” • Saturday Evening Post • 300+ cover illustrations by Norman Rockwell • Reader’s Digest • Applicability, lasting interest, constructiveness • Time • Interpretive journalism using reporter search teams • Increasingly conservative as became more successful • Life • Oversized pictorial weekly • Pass-along readership of more than 17 million
“Original film has qualities that make it easy to determine whether it has been tampered with. Digital images, by contrast, can be easily altered.” —Christopher R. Harris Modern Challenges to Photojournalism
Decline of General-Interest Magazines • Advertising money shifts to TV. • TV Guide is born. • Paper costs rise in early 1970s • Life • Look • Saturday Evening Post • …all fail • But many women’s magazines survive. • People, 1974, is first successful mass market magazine in decades.
Fragmentation of the Industry • In 2006, the Magazine Publishers of America trade organization listed more than forty special categories of consumer magazines.
Magazine Classifications • Leisure, sports, and music • E.g., Playboy, Soap Opera Digest, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone • Travel and geography • E.g., Smithsonian, Travel & Leisure, National Geographic • Age-group specific • E.g., Highlights for Children, Teen People, AARP The Magazine • Elite magazines and cultural minorities • E.g., The New Yorker, the New Republic, Ebony, Imagen
Web Magazines • By 2006, the three most popular Internet magazines were Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Sports Illustrated, with entrepreneur.com scoring “6 million unique visitors” in February 2006.
Tabloids • National Enquirer is founded in 1926 by Hearst. • News Corp.launches Star in 1974. • In early 1990s tabloid circulation numbers start to decrease. “I love talking to witches and Satanists and vampire hunters, and people who have been kidnapped by UFOs — it sure beats covering zoning board meetings.” —Cliff Linedecker
Magazine Structure • Production • Machines and paper • Layout and design • Editorial • Content, writing quality, publication focus, and mission • Advertising and sales • Manage the income stream from ads • Circulation and distribution • Either “paid” or “controlled”
Chains • Hearst • Condé Nast • Advance Publications • Time, Inc. • PRIMEDIA • Hachette Filipacchi • Rodale • Meredith
Contemporary Magazines • Fewer than 90 U.S. magazines sell to more than 1 million readers. • The other nearly 19,000 U.S. magazines struggle to find a niche.