It’s always nice when people comment on blog posts, but it’s a total blast when people write their own posts in response to something they’ve read on this blog. That’s exactly what happened with Chris Phin’s “What is a magazine?” piece.
Alan Rutter, currently working with Conde Naste and the Guardian Masterclasses, recognised the existential nature of the question posed by Chris and has added his own perspective to the debate.
Building on the historic Arabic roots of the word itself, Alan describes modern magazines as,
… spaces filled with stuff.
and then goes on to ask,
So what makes this storeroom full of stuff special, and different from the endless landscape of stuff that is the internet?
You should read Alan’s answers in full, but here is a very brief summary of what he sees as the right stuff for modern magazines:
- A collection Thematically linked stories, anything from news to esoteric illustration.
- Curated Not just aggregated, there is a careful selection process.
- Finite We like to complete things, sometimes a glass of water is better than a firehose.
- Designed The part of magazines that makes stories greater than the sum of their parts.
- An experience Functional publications have been hit hardest by digital. Buying is an emotive act.
- Collaborative Nothing in isolation – images, design, writing and production come together seamlessly.
- Periodical Weekly, fortnightly or every second-Thursday of the month – the wait is important.
- Shareable For the community around a magazine to exist, sharing and discussion are essential.
Big thanks to Alan for continuing the debate. Join in by leaving a comment, tweet with the hashtag #whatisamagazine, or it would be a real blast if you wrote your own “What is a magazine?” post.