Ink on Paper or Pixels on a Screen… Is this a Magazine?

March 17, 2007

I am looking for answers for a simple question: What is a magazine? I have my own idea and definition, but I would like to hear from others on how they define a magazine. I know it is a wide open ended question, but it will help to get feed back from the audience at large. Is the magazine a printed product? Does it have to publish at least four times a year to be considered a magazine? Does it have to be sold separate from, say, a newspaper? Is 60 minutes on CBS a magazine? Are sheets of paper inside a box a magazine? Is content packaged on the internet considered a magazine? I am hoping for a healthy debate…thanks


  1. I suggested a definition at the start of the We Love Magazines book – something that appears in distinct, numbered editions, and is almost defined by what it’s not – a newspaper, a journal, a book. I would also add to that, something that you can consume at a time of your choosing – so perhaps 60 Minutes isn’t yet a magazine for most people, but is for the Tivo generation…

  2. A secondary definition probably involves something to do with reflection – a magazine responds to events in time rather than join the newspaper’s instant buzz of facts.
    This is one reason why, as the web takes over the job of news updates, we are beginning to talk of newspapers becoming magazines, and is also why TV shows like 60 Minutes can be considered more magazine-like than, say news bulletins.

  3. […] the job of news updates, we are beginning to talk of newspapers becoming magazines. Join the debate here. March 19, 2007 | In Magazines | Permalink […]

  4. A magazine is an information product that has a distinct, usually reflective, editorial voice and is issued at certain often predefined intervals.

  5. A magazine is a friend with lots of time on its hands. The magazine plows through lots of ideas, collects the ones it finds interesting, and presents them to the reader in a polished form. Magazines collections of voices reflecting on a theme, usually in harmony, but occasionally in counterpoint. A magazine can be irregular or a single issue, but those are curiosities. Magazines should be published on a schedule – between weekly and quarterly. The biggest difference between magazines and newspapers comes in the depth of coverage. A magazine should provide the reader with enough information for a cocktail conversation on a topic. The information in the article is partially reconciled with a world of experience outside the article and provides a recognition of greater depth to the covered subjects. Magazines presume some knowledge and build upon it.

    60 Minutes is a magazine. The producers and personalities of 60 Minutes explore regular themes with clear emphasis on certain common elements. Like an online magazine (not available offline), or a paper magazine (mine often get destroyed in the process of reading), a television magazine has format difficulties (but transcripts are available, right?). Still, 60 Minutes has an editorial tone, provides news within context, reconciles issues with a larger world, and is not entirely responsive to the events of the moment. I’m not sure where I’d hear news of opera singers outside of 60 Minutes; I’m not sure any other source would make me care.

  6. There’s a few DVD magazines listed here

  7. Richard – I saw recently that The Guardian had begun describing G2 as a daily magazine, and for me that’s the correct description of the publication. In every sense – the running order of short/long/short pieces, the more opinion/comment orientated writing, the freer design – it is a magazine. Just happens to be daily (and the Sunday newspapers are weekly!).

  8. I know what a magazine can be but I can’t help coming back to thinking ‘what I want a magazine to be is…’

    As magazine consumers do you think there is an expectation that people want their magzines to adhere to certain criteria. Are consumers ready to call G2 a magazine even though it’s printed on the same stock as the bulk of the newspaper it’s contained within. Is a DVD magazine, essentially still a DVD, it’s just got loads of little bits of content on it? Is a website a magazine if you can’t put it in your bag and read it on the train?

  9. […] What is a magazine? (via magCulture) […]

  10. this is a good discussion especially as newspapers are starting to shift from news breaking organizations in print to providing more analysis on stories that have already had 18-24 hours of coverage on the web. Our weekly newspaper had slowly morphed into a magazine and I’m afraid I was one of the last to notice. We have a daily that still feels like a newspaper but the weekly is definitely using more long format stories with sidebars and illustrations. Its still printed on the same low cost stock and has the same writers as the daily but it has changed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: