The decline in quality of magazines – More evidence this world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Time was I subscribed to 10-15 magazines, always looking forward to receiving each issue. Heck, as a kid I regularly bought several every month; I even kept them organized and stacked neatly on a bookshelf like I was running some sort of little nerd library.

The other day I happened across a copy of Sports Illustrated. It was as thin as a pamphlet and just as fulfilling. I was appalled.

I still receive the New Yorker weekly, but (some parts of) its quality have noticeably diminished in my eyes.

Even candy like Entertainment Weekly and People are worth maybe 3 minutes of page-flipping.

I have fond memories of TV Guide. No more.

The one exception I can cite is National Geographic. I still marvel at the photographs and feast on the articles.

Hell in a handbasket, I tells ya.

It’s old media. Going the way of the Western Union telegraph.

National Geographic and Consumer Reports are my only remaining magazine subscriptions.

Nat Geo still does a great job. Best photography in any magazine.

I used to have several other subscriptions: Time, Newsweek, TV Guide and People. Each one got thinner and thinner until they weren’t worth the ever increasing cost.

I miss the glory days of Computer Shopper.

Mojo is a good read but I never pay for it.

The New Yorker is $9 an issue, ditto.

I’ve seen ads for a digital service called Texture. It features 200 different magazines for a set monthly fee including National Geographic, The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone. If you have a tablet, it seems like a great deal. Their home page shows “14 days free then 3 months for $10.”

How so?

Magazines that had traditionally delivered “news” content (that is, content dependent on recent events – the news magazines, sports magazines like SI, and even the gossip / personality magazines like People) have suffered greatly with the easy (and much more timely) availability of that same content online. Most (if not all) of them rely on their web sites to provide that up-to-the-minute news, and their hard-copy versions are increasingly irrelevant. (Heck, Newsweek was online-only for a year-plus, only resuming a print copy after being sold in 2013.)

TV Guide is an example of a magazine which has completely lost its reason for being, as its original focus (program guides) has been supplanted by on-screen guides for the vast majority of viewers. They keep trying to soldier on with their general content, but I’m really surprised that they’re still around.

Magazine formats which are more about long-form stories, and less reliant on timely reporting (such as National Geographic, The Atlantic, New Yorker, Smithsonian, etc.) seem to generally be doing a bit better.

The problems I always had with magazines were: they take up too much space; they’re outdated very quickly; the information sometimes has to be so superficial; the images are nice, but not big or sharp enough for me.

Not all magazines apply to those problems, the aforementioned National Geographic a notable exception, but generally they have a lot of shortcomings.

I am very happy that with the internet most of those problems have been eliminated or addressed: online “magazines” take up no physical space; they get updated immediately as new information comes to hand; you can search on past issues or other places easily to get more info; images are often huge and downloadable to keep. Plus, video can (sometimes) provide additional value, if they aren’t auto-play or full of gobbledegook.

It’s the end of an era, but it is both inevitable and, for the most part, better.

Ditto. The quality of the New Yorker did decline when that woman was editor, but it is back to as good as the later Shawn years. Yeah, it is thin, but that is the advertising market, not editorial quality.
Now Scientific American, that went down hill when it became popular.

Is The Economist generally thought to have kept its quality, or has it also gone down? I’ve only been a subscriber for about 4 years. Sure, I could go hunting around the internet to read about the latest election in Bangladesh or Zimbabwe, but it’s a lot easier to just read it all in a weekly magazine. The daily newspaper certainly isn’t going to devote more than one sentence to topics like that.

Yeah that’s the newsstand price, but if you subscribe it’s a buck or two an issue (depending on what sort of deal you can find/are offered.)

On Amazon, for example, if you are willing to sign up for auto-renewal, you can get a 3-month (12 issue) subscription to The New Yorker for $5.00, which works out to 42 cents per issue.

I’ve subscribed the The New Yorker for a zillion years, so I get it on the cheap. But the content these days is so thin I couldn’t imagine paying nine bucks at the newsstand. Even the cartoons suck.

When I travel to Europe I pick up copies of the latest Atlantic and Harper’s, which have enough going for them that I can read them on the john for the following two weeks. I hate reading novels on the crapper.

For those not in the know, this would be Tina Brown, named by (I think) a Doper as the “Kevorkian of journalism”.

Vanity Fair is thick enough to be perfect-bound, but the damn magazine doesn’t even begin until page 70-something! Everything prior to that is fashion advertising with a few contents pages starting at page 50 or so.

The New York Thruway is a toll road so it has services periodically at rest stops so people don’t have to get off and on. Most of the stops have a small store in addition to fast food outlets. Since they were first introduced the cashier’s section was inside a square whose sides were lined with candy, snacks, and magazines. All four sides had magazines.

Today those magazines weren’t there. Not a magazine, not a newspaper. A decline in quality isn’t the reason. A decline in bodies who want to read a magazine is. You can’t run a magazine without readers.

Still tons of them in airports, though. I can sort of see why a commercial establishment that caters mostly to drivers would find magazines and newspapers less profitable than one that caters mostly to passengers. (Also perhaps airline users are older on average than Thruway users?)

Before the internet, reading magazines came perhaps the closest of any media to browsing the web.

Now that we have the internet, it has replaced many of the things that people used to turn to magazines for.


If it wasn’t for Facebook feeds I probably would’ve never read anything from a handful of magazines I’d heard of but was always too cheap to cough up a subscription.