Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oh, No, I Agree with David Granger!


In an article on the web site of the magazine industry publication Folio:, Esquire Editor David Granger said: "When I talk to groups I sometimes speak about the days I had when I'd get the new issue of Esquire and go through it and think to myself, ‘F--k, it's still a magazine,'" Granger said in a recent interview with FOLIO:. "What I mean is that the medium is so compelling that I and we should all be able to do more with it. The magazine experience is one of the last remaining opportunities to enter a hermetically-sealed world, an edited experience of our culture created by someone else. And, more importantly, it's an experience that encourages you to stay in it rather than constantly bounce in and out of it."

The first part of that reference is why I can't bear to read Esquire these days. It's clear that its editors are just tired of the magazine format. But as a magazine editor (and reader) who still loves the magazine format, I was impressed with the second part of his comments, in which he said, "The magazine experience is one of the last remaining opportunities to enter a hermetically-sealed world, an edited experience of our culture created by someone else."

Exactly. A good magazine isn't a bulletin board or YouTube. It's a presentation of a worldview (sometimes limited to a narrow subject, such as foreign films or knitting, but sometimes literally surveying the world) done by people who want to present it in a certain way, want it to be experienced in a certain way, and who have reasons for it to be done so. The person putting his or her imprint on that "hermetically-sealed world" might be Hugh Hefner, Kerry O'Quinn and Norman Jacobs, Gloria Steinem, or it might be a group of radical cartoonists in New York or a church society in Minnesota. Whatever. It's their world that they want to present in a way that lets them engage readers in a discussion of what they think is important.

It's why I think magazines are challenged today (because the "everyone's a creator" ethos of the internet undercuts it), and why I think magazines are a valuable tool (because, to steal more of Granger's words, "it's an experience that encourages you to stay in it rather than constantly bounce in and out of it").

I noted it in an earlier posting, but I'll reiterate it: Magazines have a bright future, if they can survive the serious and hazardous technological and market changes of today.
Post a Comment