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Magazines and the 'power of print'

Posted: February 1, 2011 10:24 a.m.
Updated: February 2, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Anyone who knows me knows I have a mild addiction to Gentleman’s Quarterly, more commonly known as GQ.

Similarly, I’m drawn to GQ’s Conde Nast counterpart, Vanity Fair.

(I did, however, refuse to buy the January issue of VF featuring Justin Bieber on the cover. No, I do not have Bieber Fever.)

To be honest, I’m a junkie for many magazines -- Rolling Stone, Travel & Leisure, Architectural Digest, Esquire, the New Yorker, etc. -- but I’m dogged in never missing an issue GQ and VF -- unless, again, Justin Bieber is gracing the cover. That said, I’ve still read the bulk of the Bieber issue online, I just don’t want the cover in my apartment.

(Hey, I think I have a column topic for next week -- “Disdain for Bieber.”)

What I so love about the stories in magazines is that they find a balance between newspapers and books. Given the intent of newspapers, the writing can often be dull and dreadful. Conversely, I rarely have the time and persistence to finish many books, something I’m always resolving to improve on.

However, I can usually manage to wrap up a magazine story in a couple hours of reading, although some are more manageable split into two sessions.

Magazine journalists, in my view, will typically delve into every small element as a story, whereas newspapers, given stricter deadlines and time constraints, are able to only give a few paragraphs on the main bullet points.

If you take the time to read and dissect the three or four full-length features in each issue of GQ or VF or Esquire or Rolling Stone (or more high-brow publications such as the New Yorker, Harpers, National Review), you’ll realize how devoted and artistic the world’s top journalists are.

While plenty of people are questioning the lasting power of newspapers -- myself excluded, I believe we’ll endure; magazines, on the other hand, are thriving. According to a new public relations campaign called the “Power of Print,” which was formed by various presidents, CEOs and chairmen in the publishing and media industry, four out of five adults read magazines; readership in the 18-34 segment is growing, as is overall readership in the past five years; and magazines outperform other media in driving positive shifts in purchase consideration/intent.

If you’re an avid magazine reader, you’ve undoubtedly seen “Power of Print” ads in recent months.

As someone who cherishes great writing and wants to share it with those who may not have the time to browse hoards of publications, I’ve provided here five brilliant pieces of magazine journalism, which can easily be found through Google:

-- Frank Sinatra has a Cold. The 1966 profile by Gay Talese in Esquire is widely regarded as one of the greatest profiles in the history of magazines, and with Talese’s prolific writing on a subject as celebrated as Sinatra, how could it not be?

-- Remember His Name. Gary Smith’s research and perspective on the muddy death of NFL star-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman in a 2006 Sports Illustrated cover story will bring tears to your eyes.

-- Grace Kelly’s Forever Look. Who isn’t fascinated with Ms. Kelly’s look? In this VF piece, Laura Jacobs tells of Kelly’s upbringing, her all-too-brief career, her years as a princess, and, of course, her style.

-- The Falling Man. Tom Junod’s 2003 piece in Esquire revolves around the identity of the man leaping to his death from one of the Twin Towers during the 9/11 attacks.

-- Federer as Religious Experience. David Foster Wallace (RIP) does a masterful job portraying the jubilation sport lovers have while watching Roger Federer, arguably the greatest tennis player to live, in this 2006 piece for the New York Times’ Play Magazine.

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