Magazines as a Medium

Magazines have been around for centuries, and have evolved tremendously over the years. The first magazines were created to publish stories, fictional or nonfictional, and to spread news of certain events happening in that day in age. Today, there is a magazine for basically everything and everyone. There are magazines for teenagers, parents, and even grandparents and small children. There are also several different themes that magazines cover, such as fashion, food, home décor, and sports, to name a few. Magazines provide feelings for the many different age groups reading them, and readers are able to engage in these feelings by using their senses.

One of the first periodicals written and published was back in 1663 and was a German publication called Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredungen, which translates to “Edifying Monthly Discussions” (“Magazine” 2015). These “monthly magazines” were a way for readers to catch up with political events happening throughout the world, as well as news pertaining to literature and other events that were happening at the time. A few centuries later, in the 1900s, the magazine started to become more diverse and separated, and there was a special magazine for families, women, religions, and much more. These magazines for different types of people started to appeal to their sense of sight with the different colors and pictures that could easily catch a person’s attention, and they even appealed to their sense of smell in certain cases where the magazine provided a fragrance sample for the reader to test and decide if they liked.

Magazines can be connected to Marshall McLuhan’s book The Medium is the Massage in many ways. Throughout McLuhan’s book, he explains the several ways that people analyze different mediums, and he includes many of these mediums in his book. For example, on one page there will only be a picture and the reader is expected to make their own conclusions and opinions about the picture. However, on the next page, there may be an entire page covered with words, and the reader’s mind has to switch from analyzing a picture to analyzing and interpreting what the words on the page mean and decide whether or not the words have anything to do with the picture. Magazines are very similar because they are full of random pictures and articles. Usually, the picture does not have anything to do with the article on the next page or even the page before it. However, with the several different types of magazines out there today, the pictures and articles that the reader views usually correspond to the theme of the entire magazine. For example, a magazine that is all about fashion will have several pictures of models in also different types of clothing, and different articles that pertain to fashion, such as an interview with a designer or a fashion icon. The colors and designs portrayed throughout the magazine are there to make the reader even more interested in the content of the magazine.

Most magazines today, if not all, contain advertisements that pertain to the content of the magazine. This is a great way for marketers of new products to get the word out on these new products because the advertisements are randomly spread throughout the magazine, so if a person is reading it cover to cover, or even just flipping through, they will come across that ad and probably look at it, even if it is just briefly. Magazines for teenage girls often have tips for how to do their hair and makeup, and more often than not there is some type of hair product or makeup advertisement conveniently on the next page that claims it will make the girls hair or face as beautiful as they see it in the advertisement. This gives these girls a feeling of excitement as they go out and buy the new product and hope that their hair or makeup turns out just like the models’ in the magazine they saw. Magazines can generate many types of feelings within the reader. The reader can often become intimidated by the pictures and articles published in a magazine. An example would be a girl looking at a model who is very tall and skinny, and the girl reading the magazine may feel like she has to look the same way as that model in order to be accepted in society. The models in the magazines provide an abundance of pressure on women to look and dress a certain way, and often times this decreases the level of self-confidence a girl has for herself. On the other hand, magazines can provide a feeling of excitement, especially when a girl sees a style of clothing she really likes in a magazine, and wants to go shopping to find that same style. Magazines provide a rollercoaster of emotions, depending on the type of magazine, but many people enjoy reading them or browsing through them no matter what types of feelings come about for them.

There are thousands of different types of magazines in the United States alone for people of all ages and genders. Some of the most important magazines are those for teenagers because they provide entertainment, and especially advice and ideas that pertain to their age group alone. The very first teen magazine was Seventeen, which was first published back in 1944 (“Seventeen Magazine Throughout the Years!”). Seventeen is a magazine targeted at girls in their teens, especially those in high school. The magazine features tips on fashion, beauty, boys, friends, and real world issues, such as a young girl in an abusive relationship. Seventeen tries to help girls get through the most awkward and troubling times of their lives by using idolized celebrities and even sometimes real girls as role models. By incorporating stories and advice from some of the most idolized celebrities, teenage girls start to feel better about themselves and their situations because they are seeing someone very popular and well-respected go through the exact same situations. There are usually several pictures of these celebrities to show their sense of style and possibly give teenage girls some fashion advice and ideas to create their own style. Seventeen and other teenage magazines help teenage girls get through some of the toughest years of their lives, and the words and pictures throughout the magazine create feelings for the girls, whether those feelings are of excitement, anger, belonging, or understanding.

There are plenty of magazines for women and men in their twenties and older. For women, there are several magazines like Cosmopolitan and Vogue. These magazines feature women who are in their twenties or thirties and give women fashion advice, as well as advice on how to eat healthy and stay fit. Similarly to Seventeen, these magazines feature articles and advice for how to handle men and deal with problems they may be having with men. There is plenty of gossip on celebrities and style “dos and don’ts” that women are always interested in catching up on. The several pictures help women visually understand what types of clothing would be the best fit for them, and even makes the reader feel included when it comes to finding clothes for their different body types.

There are several different magazines for men to read as well, such as Sport’s Illustrated and Men’s Health. These magazines contain information for how to stay fit and how to dress at this stage in their lives as well. Also portrayed in these magazines are workouts and supplements men can take to achieve their desired bodies. There are several advertisements for these supplements, as well as pictures of very buff men, giving the reader an idea of what to look for in a supplement in order to look like the man in the picture. These magazines for both men and women contain several images that could make the reader feel very motivated to achieve their desired bodies, depressed because they do not look like the models in the magazine, and even excited and determined to put some of the material they learned to use in their lives.

Another target audience of magazines are for parents both expecting and with grown children. Some magazines that are usually associated with expecting mothers are Baby Talk and Fit Pregnancy. Baby Talk is sometimes known as the “bible for new mothers” because it gives mothers an idea of what is normal and what to expect during the first years with their babies. This magazine may also provide examples of how to decorate their newborn’s room and the must-haves for their babies. Fit Pregnancy is a magazine that explains which types of prenatal vitamins are essential to take to have a healthy baby. This magazine also gives examples of what expecting mothers should wear to be fashionable throughout their pregnancy, as well as how to stay fit and not gain an abundance of baby weight. There are several photos in each of these magazines to give mothers a visual of how they should look, ideas for their baby’s room, and much more.

Parents with children who are grown are more interested in other magazines, such as Good Housekeeping and Bon Appetit. The Good Housekeeping magazine gives their reader an idea of how to rearrange or modernize their homes through photos and descriptions of how a certain project is done in case the readers want to do it themselves. With not a lot of other stuff happening in their lives, readers often become interested in sprucing up their homes. Bon Appetit is a magazine for those people who have the time to try new recipes. This magazine has a picture of a very appetizing dish followed up with the recipe and instructions on how to make it. Readers of Good Housekeeping and Bon Appetit rely on the pictures portrayed in the magazines to decide whether or not they would like to remodel their homes or test out a new recipe. The readers may also become very excited to try something new, or sometimes even become depressed because they do not have the means to fix up their homes.

Finally, there are magazines for older people in their sixties and beyond, such as Grand. This magazine focuses on self-improvement and also contains different recipes and health tips. Grand helps older people keep their minds strong with all of its content. There are also workout ideas that directly relate to older people and are not too advanced for their age. Recipes are included in this magazine as well, which older people love because if they have extra time on their hands, many times they like to spend it in the kitchen. Grand appeals to their readers’ needs, and exemplifies these needs through photos and articles that leave the reader feeling fulfilled and anxious to try out their new findings, or upset if they may not be physically able to cook or exercise anymore.

Magazines as a medium appeal to many readers’ senses through photos and descriptions of topics they are most interested in. In the years to come, magazines are most likely going to slowly phase out as they lose their effect on people. Today, most articles published in magazines can be found on the internet, which is often more convenient than waiting for a copy of that magazine to come in the mail or having to go to the store and buy a copy. Magazines will not completely die out, they will most likely still be in waiting rooms or the people who actually enjoy the act of flipping through the magazines will still be purchasing them. The content of magazines will always have an effect on their readers in some way as they use their senses to analyze the content, whether it is a positive or a negative effect.

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Magazine Publishing.” Britannica. Encyclopedia

Brtiannica, Inc., 2015. Web. 8 March 2015.

“Seventeen Magazines Through the Years.” Seventeen. Hearst Communications, Inc., 2015.

Web. 8 March 2015.


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