The New York Review of Magazines

Mag-a-zine [mag-uh-zeen]: noun

By Zachary Sniderman

We here at NYRM are celebrating the magazine in all its printed, online, left, right, political, cultural — err, what is it again? It’s a catch-all brand of journalism that is easy to recognize but not necessarily easy to define. To help pin down a definition, we asked industry folks, academics — and even a student or two — a simple question: What is a magazine? Their answers weren’t so simple.

“I figure altogether magazines have less of a tie to news hooks and have an
open philosophy towards layout, design and, in that sense, curation of the story.”
Lam Thuy Vo, multimedia editor, The Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong

“To me, a magazine has to be printed, with colorful photos and interesting prose.
I’m old-school when it comes to my magazines.”
Cilia Kohn, blogger and business development associate, British Consulate-General

“Unlike a newspaper, at which all readers are welcome for their money, a magazine
caters to members of a club. Thus, The New York Times may, when occasion warrants, write
about guns and ammo, but Guns and Ammo magazine must always steer the conversation
back to the two things in its name.”
Anthony Ramirez, former reporter, The New York Times

“Magazines are built to both inform and delight. I think the latter aspect is really the defining quality.”
Andrew Nusca, associate editor, CBS Interactive

“A good magazine is a community of thought, a place to tell and read good stories,
to learn and to understand. It has a voice, a point of view that speaks to its readers every
week/month/quarter — it carries on a kind of conversation with them unavailable in a newspaper report.”
David Funkhouser, journalism student, Columbia University

“The word ‘magazine’ means storage space for dynamite. A magazine is full
of surprises and it can explode at any minute.”
Jeremy Leslie, founder, magCulture blog (from a 2009 post)

“Magazines take news and information one step beyond what constitutes ‘news’
— whether it’s developing a topic into an in-depth feature or adding an ‘a-ha’ spin on
well-known topics, the role of the magazines in today’s society is to spark further
discussion and water cooler conversations.”
Rachel Chang, editor-in-chief, J-14 magazine

“A print magazine to me is the perfect mix of art and education. A magazine
offers a journey, aspirational wants, visual delights and insight.”
Sophia Brown, integrated market manager at Here Media, Out

“Online-only magazines are an evolution of magazine journalism’s defining characteristic:
going more deeply into more aspects of a story than afforded by the 1,000-word news
analysis piece in a daily paper or the 90-second segment on the nightly news.”
Greg Bocquet, multimedia reporter, FLYPMedia.com

“Magazines are an equal balance between presentation and content. Graphics and illustration
bring the content to life, just as the content gives its design heft and meaning.”
Zachary Sniderman, journalism student, Columbia University

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