• Some magazine covers are
honored as works of art.
Others are considered
controversial. Often, these
are the same covers.
• ASME’s top 40 magazine
Annie Leibovitz took the
photo of John Lennon
clinging to Yoko One just
hours before he was
• www.magazine.org/Editorial/Top_40_C
• She also took the photo of Demi Moore, who was eight
months pregnant at the time. The Moore cover sold an
extra 500,000 copies and Vanity Fair received about
75,000 new subscriptions as a result of the cover photo.
The Moore cover led to 95 separate television stories, 64
radio shows, and 1,500 newspaper articles. It has even
been credited with spearheading a trend toward using
pregnant women as a subject in art.
June 2008 Vanity Fair cover photo
• Magazines have contributed importantly to U.S. culture.
• Magazines have been journalistic and visual innovators.
• Most newsrack magazines aim at narrow audience
• Sponsored magazines and trade journals outnumber
newsrack magazines.
• Magazines continue to demassify.
• Magazines are changing along with the needs of their
A Short History
The first magazines printed in America featured a variety
of literary materials gathered from books, pamphlets,
and newspapers.
Andrew Bradford printed American
Magazine and Benjamin Franklin
printed General Magazine, the first
continuous magazines in the colonies.
The publications carried political and
economic articles along with literary
and newsworthy items of the day.
Saturday Evening Post was
launched, ushering in the era of
general interest magazines
written for the literate middle class.
Harper's Weekly introduced visual
news with Civil War illustrations. It
then began publishing
reproductions of Mathew Brady’s
war photographs.
The Nation, America’s oldest continuously published
weekly magazine, was founded.
Congress gave discount postal rates to magazines
(a penny a pound). With the Postal Act, Congress
recognized the role of magazines in creating a
national culture and promoting literacy.
1885 (to 1905)
This is the beginning of the golden age for American
magazines. During this period, the number of magazines
grew from 3,500 to 7,000. These magazines became
important in shaping public opinion and providing a
forum for the discussion of important ideas.
Gilbert Grosvenor
photographs in
National Geographic.
DeWitt and Lila
Wallace founded
Reader's Digest.
Henry Luce and Briton
Hadden founded Time,
the first newsmagazine.
Oversize general
magazines fold
as advertisers
moved to
Hugh Hefner
introduced the
modern questionand-answer
format in Playboy.
About 12,000 magazines titles are available in the
United States. About 90 percent of adult Americans
read an average of 10 magazines per month.
About 4,000 of these are consumer magazines and
8,000 are sponsored magazines and trade magazines.
Only about 160 of these are called majors, magazines
with circulations of more than 500,000 and revenues of
more than $1 million.
The First American magazines
• Americans were not heavy magazines readers during the
mid-1700s to early 1800s. Books and newspapers were
considered necessities, but magazines were seen as a
luxury. Early magazines were expensive. A single copy
could cost one shilling, half a day’s wages for a working
• The first magazines eventually were becoming more
successful though because they were more affordable
than books. Magazines became more popular by the
mid-1800s. Fewer than 100 magazines were published in
1825, but by 1850, more than 600 were published.
• Small, specialized magazines were often based on
literature, religion, or professions.
Golden age of magazines
The Saturday Evening Post’s
(1821-1969) success began the age of
general interest magazines and the
golden age for these publications.
Magazines helped shape public
opinion and provided a forum for
discussion of important ideas and
Magazines eventually were less
expensive than books so more people
could afford to buy them.
• These publications built literacy as immigrants learned
how to read and write English by reading early
• Magazines also became a national advertising medium.
That was something companies needed in order to sell
their products.
• Technical changes led to color illustrations, modern
lithography, and photographs.
What events helped these general interest
magazines to become mass circulation magazines?
Free universal education was available.
Postal Act of 1879 reduced bulk mailing rates.
Rural free delivery postal system was established.
Price of magazines was reduced as publishers began to
focus on advertising revenue instead of subscription
• Advances in printing technology helped to lower the
printing costs.
Magazines as Media
Investigative reporting
McClure’s (In 1902, Ida
Tarbell wrote a 19-part
expose on Standard Oil
Company’s monopoly
through bribery, fraud,
and unfair business
Writer Lincoln Steffens
exposed municipal
government graft and
corruption. The result was
reform in most municipalities
even though graft and
corruption was part of life.
Stories focused on municipal
corruption, meat-packing
plants, and government
officials’ dishonesty.
Personality profiles
New Yorker owned by
Harold Ross (1920s)
Writers used multiple
interviews with a range
of sources to create an
in-depth profile of a
Gilbert Grosvenor’s
National Geographic
Henry Luce’s Life
(1930s) and Look
Consumer Magazines
—available by subscription or at the
news rack
Circulation leaders
AARP The Magazine and AARP
Bulletin (23 million each)
Readers Digest (10 million
News magazines
Time (3.3 million circulation)
U.S. News & World Report
• Women's magazines
"Seven Sisters"
Better Homes & Garden (7.6 million circulation),
Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home
Journal, Redbook, Woman's Day and Rosie (was
McCall's). Cosmopolitan
• Men's magazines
Sports Illustrated (3.2 million circulation)
Popular Mechanics
• Teen/Young adult magazines
Seventeen (2 million)
• Elite (highbrow slicks)
New Yorker (1.1 million)
National Review
The Nation
• Newspaper supplements
Parade (30 million circulation)
USA Weekend (21 million circulation)
• No advertisements
Consumer Reports
Guideposts (nondenominational
Ms. (feminist)
MAD magazine
Reader’s Digest (no cigarette
• Newspaper magazine
National Enquirer
(1.5 million circulation)
Top 10 magazines for circulation
1. AARP The Magazine/Bulletin
2. Reader's Digest
3. Better Homes And Gardens
4. National Geographic
5. Good Housekeeping
6. Family Circle
7. Woman's Day
8. Ladies' Home Journal
9. AAA Westways
10. People
Total circulation (2008): 90 million
Non-newsrack magazines
• Sponsored magazines
—published for members
National Geographic
AARP The Magazine
• Trade journals—keep people in a certain profession
informed but sometimes have a poor reputation
—4,000 trade journals
—sometimes the news stories and advertisements are
—might excessively promote advertisers and ignore
negative stories about the industry
—offer leading information about the industry that
the mainstream media do not report
Billboard, Modern Hospital, Advertising Age
• Like consumer magazines, trade journals are
numerous and specialized. Hog farmers can
subscribe to Hogs Today, Hog News, National Hog
Farmer, Pig Farming, The Pig Journal, Pig International,
PigWorld, Pork Magazine, and many others.
focused content on one subject
expensive ($600 to $5,000 per year)
small print run
little or no advertising
Foreign Auto Mechanic
Magazines continue to demassify
Heyday of mass magazines (1890s-1920s)
Magazines were the dominant mass medium. They
helped create a national culture of shared
information, perspectives, and literature. Magazines
were the venue for advertising nationally
available products.
Assault from television (1960s)
Television delivered more people to advertisers for a
cheaper amount per person.
As advertisers moved to television, publishers turned
to special interest magazines.
These magazines offered their readers information
they could not find anywhere else.
Magazines were modified to reach the readers with
special interests:
-business magazines
-recreational interest magazines
-diversity of people
The circulation was lower and so were the advertising
Critics say these demassified magazines betray
their traditional role of enriching the American
culture. They also say that specialization reduces the
intellectual role of magazines.
New competition—cable television, webzines/e-zines
(online only magazines), direct mail advertising
• U.S. publishers are moving to international
editions to take advantage of new markets for
their magazines.
• Cosmopolitan is the magazine with the most
international editions (58 international editions2008).
• One of the reasons for the recent growth in international
editions is that it is less risky to launch a foreign
version of an established magazine than it is to
start a new magazine in the United States.
Most of these international editions are offered in
Reader’s Digest was one of the first magazines to feature an
international edition. Now it has 21 million overseas circulation in
35 languages in 52 editions.
In South America, Reader’s Digest, Fortune, National Geographic,
and Glamour are best sellers. Reader’s Digest is the best-selling
magazine in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil.
National Geographic Magazine
• National Geographic Society founders started the
magazine to promote the society’s values and build
• It is the most widely recognized sponsored
magazine. The magazine’s U.S. circulation is about 5
• National Geographic is
printed in numerous
languages, including:
• Chinese
• Chinese Traditional
• Croatian
• Czech
• Danish
• Dutch (Belgium)
• Dutch (Netherlands)
• English
• Finnish
• French
• German
• Greek
• Polish
• Portuguese—Brazil
• Portuguese—Portugal
• Romanian
• Russian
• Spanish (U.S. and Latin
• Swedish
• Turkish
• National Geographic Society also
Traveler Magazine
Adventure Magazine
Kids Magazine
Explorer Magazine
The Green Guide
Classroom Magazine
It also has the National Geographic Channel on
Leading magazine publishers
• Time Inc (Time, People)
• Advance Publications-Conde Nast is part of this
company- (Parade, Vogue, GQ)
• Hearst Corp. (Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping,
• Meredith Corp. (Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies’
Home Journal)
Top magazines for revenue
Magazine concentration
• Primedia (and Source InterLink) owns:
Broad Reach Automotive
Motor Trend
Truck Trend
New York Magazine
Soap Opera Digest
Soap Opera Weekly
4-Wheel & Off-Road
4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility
5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
ATV Rider
Car Audio and Electronics
Car Craft
Chevy High Performance
Circle Track
Classic Trucks
Corvette Fever 5.0
Custom Classic Trucks
Custom Rodder
Dirt Rider
European Car
Four Wheeler
GM High Tech Performance
High Performance Pontiac
Honda Tuning
Hot Bike
Hot Rod
Hot Rod Bikes
Import Tuner
Kit Car
Lowrider Arte
Lowrider Euro
Mini Truckin'
Mopar Muscle
Motorcycle Cruiser
Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Mustang & Fords
Mustang Monthly
Popular Hot Rodding
Rod & Custom
Sport Compact Car
Sport Rider
Sport Truck
Stock Car Racing
Street Chopper
Street Rodder
Super Chevy
Super Street
Truckin's SUV
VW Trends
Action Sports
Canoe & Kayak
High Technology
Audio Video Interiors
eDigital Photo
Home Theater
Petersen's Photographic
Stereophile Guide to Home Theater
Creative Machine Embroidery
Creating Keepsakes
McCall's Quilting
McCall's Quick Quilts
Quilter's Newsletter
Sew News
Simple Scrapbooks
Step by Step Beads
American History
America's Civil War
Aviation History
British Heritage
Civil War Times
Military History
Quarterly Journal of Military History
Wild West
World War II
Arabian Horse World
Dressage Today
Horse & Rider
Practical Horseman
Florida Sportsman
Fly Fisherman
Game & Fish
Gun Dog
Guns & Ammo
In-Fisherman Bass Guide
In-Fisherman Catfish Guide
In-Fisherman Ice Fishing Guide
In-Fisherman Walleye Guide
North American Whitetail
Petersen's Bowhunting
Petersen's Hunting
Rifle Shooter
Shooting Times
Shotgun News
Walleye In-Sider
Colored Stone
Lapidary Journal Marine
Power & Motoryacht
Magazines divide into regional
or demographic editions
• Regional—national magazine has
different editions for regions (Sunset).
• Demographic—identify subscribers by
occupation, income or ZIP code.
• Split runs—national magazines tailor
advertisements to different regions.
(Time, Newsweek)
• Ink-jet imaging—specialized, personal message to
individual subscribers
• Time Warner’s geodemographic TargetSelect
program—makes it possible for magazine publishers to
identify narrower and narrower segments of the mass
audience and then to gear their publications to those
narrower interests.
• Mobile magazines—magazine readers are able to read
portions of some publications on their PDAs or cell
phones. European countries are pioneering this trend.
• Magazine publishers moved into cable television
production and home video.
• In 2006, magazine publishers introduced online social
networks and user-generated content on their
websites. Publishers used more blogs, mobile
applications, podcasts, and video content for
websites and cell phones or PDAs.
• Time Inc.
– Online guru guides, acquired social networks,
downloadable sports tickers, sports tracking
applications, special swimsuit issue website, mobile
content series, several new blogs, upgraded social
networking functions on its websites.
• Dub Publishing: brand extensions, new
Advertising magazines
• Brand—carry ads for company's products and parent
company's products. (Benetton's Colors)
• Magalogue—glorified versions of catalogs—designer
publication produced to look like a magazine
(Abercrombie & Fitch) or publications that pages of
products with favorable reviews, prices, and websites
were the reader can buy the product (Lucky, Cargo,
Vitals, Domino, Shop Etc.)
• Synergistic magazine—designed to generate stories
that will become movies, television programs or other
media content.
Magazines with highest advertising
• The large circulation of a magazine doesn’t equal high
advertising revenue.
• A weekly magazine could make more money than a
monthly magazine. Appealing readers also might raise
advertising rates.
Top magazines for advertising
People (Time Warner)
Better Homes and Gardens (Meredith Corp.)
Time (Time Warner)
Sports Illustrated (Time Warner)
• (Aug. 2007)
Advertising revenue
• A significant trend in magazine publishing is the
growing importance of advertising revenue.
• By 2003, advertising accounted for almost 70 percent of
the revenue of the top 300 consumer magazines.
Subscription revenue makes up about 20 percent and
newsstand sales make up the remainder.
• The revenue from advertising, subscriptions and
newsstand sales varies by magazine.
• Reader’s Digest—46 percent revenue from advertising
• Cosmopolitan—72 percent revenue from advertising
• How have magazines contributed to
early U.S. culture?
• How have magazines been innovative as
a journalistic and as a visual medium?
• How do sponsored magazines and trade
journals differ from the consumer
magazines available at news racks?
• Why are most magazines edited for
special interests of targeted audiences?
• What is the status of demassification in
the magazine industry?
• Are magazines losing their influence as a
shaper of the culture? Explain.

Magazines - Walla Walla Community College