Much has been written about the death, or at least the increasing decrepitude, of traditional media. Print media are among those taking the hardest hits, with newspapers and magazines seeing drops in circulation and advertising, and few of them able to take profitable advantage of online opportunities. While all this is true, there are success stories that deserve recognition, particularly among magazines, some of which are not just surviving. Here are five print magazines with trend-setting influence that occupy the leading edge of style and content.
Vogue has been around since 1892, when it started life as a weekly. It now appears in 18 countries, along with a regional “Latin America/Mexico” edition, and has not strayed from its position as the place to go for high fashion. This is the magazine that enshrined fashion models as celebrities, and perhaps the wheel has come full-circle when its editor, Anna Wintour, achieved celebrity status herself. Wintour has made a number of changes that have kept the magazine relevant in order to maintain their readership and influence. With its content becoming somewhat more accessible to a mass audience, it began to showcase the work of new, young designers on a regular basis and it extended its editorial coverage to art, culture and politics.
Not as old as Vogue, but no youngster, Print has been around since 1942. As Vogue is to fashion, Print is to graphic design and typography, and it has been influential in wider areas by bringing as sense of the broad importance of design in many contexts. The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) gave it the award for general excellence in 2008 and 2009, noting its “determination to look at design not in a vacuum but as a crucial gateway to popular culture, the environment, even politics.”
If staying power counts, Popular Science is among the champions. Another ASME award winner, it was first published in 1872 and started life as a scholarly journal that became more of a mass-market periodical over the years. It now appears in 45 countries in 30 languages and has branched into television and, briefly, into an exchange that allowed participants to place virtual bets on coming scientific and technological events.
A comparative newcomer, Wired has been around since 1993, got off to a strong start and foundered temporarily during the years of the dot-com boom, when it faced competition from a great many new publications covering technology and the internet. It survived, however, while much of the competition disappeared. The magazine found a way to broaden its focus beyond the purely technical, extending its coverage to worldwide cultural and social change, albeit with a technological edge. The American edition has been joined by English and Italian versions, and the magazine has extended its reach through alternative media, including a Tablet Edition that was a success on Apple’s iPad, without sacrificing its print version..
Entrepreneur has been around for almost 30 years in its magazine form and has sustained interest in a readership that skews toward relatively affluent business owners and executives. The magazine found a way to tap into a trend that was barely recognized at the time of its birth, when the notion of the entrepreneur as a distinct specimen was not widely accepted. It has played a distinct role in elevating the entrepreneurial role to one that is acknowledged as an intrinsic part of the business world instead of a lone-wolf outsider.
All of these publications have managed to thrive in a print-media landscape that is often described as bleak, and the common denominator of their continued viability is a willingness to take a tested formula and change with the times. Regardless of the editorial focus, none of them have been too stubborn to acknowledge the realities of the world in which they exist. While they have all embraced the internet and new means of distribution, they have found a way to accommodate those new approaches without sacrificing the freshness and quality of their traditional offerings.