Monday, March 01, 2010

When Magazines Go Bad

It's happened a lot to me over the years. Well, maybe not a lot, since I've never been a big consumer of periodical literature, but still enough that I see a pattern. I discover a magazine that quickly becomes a regular part of my reading life, with me either subscribing or picking it up regularly at the bookstore or someplace else. I grow to love it, and the magazine goes through a "growth" period. Its page count grows, it packs in more and more articles, and it makes me happier and happier.

Then, at some point, this growth pattern simply...stops.

The magazine suddenly becomes substantially thinner. And worse, there is a "redesign" that guts interesting regular features, increases the amount of advertising in a magazine whose page count has gone down, and a general "new look" that somehow manages to always involve larger fonts and more white space on the pages.

This has happened again recently to a magazine we love here at Casa Jaquandor, Cooking Light. We've subscribed to Cooking Light for years. It's never just been a magazine about low-cal food; it always had some wonderful travel articles and articles about exercise (alongside beauty tip articles that were admittedly not that useful to me). Most of all, though, we loved that it had a much more livable approach to "light cooking", an attitude reflected in a recognition that bacon can have a place in the healthful diet, that fat and sugar need not be avoided at all costs, that food should taste good.

That last attitude is still there, but the magazine has unfortunately undergone a redesign that is just ghastly. Articles are uniformly designed throughout, with the same ugly fonts used for everything; more white space; fewer pages; and now the magazine feels like it's mostly advertising.

Cooking Light hasn't gone down the tubes, but they've made it into a magazine that they can obviously make cheaper, while also making it less pleasant to read. The Wife commented that reading Cooking Light now feels closely similar to reading Family Circle, and I couldn't argue the point. And I don't like reading Family Circle. Now, there's a good chance we'll allow our subscription to lapse.

I know, these aren't good times for magazines, but it still would be nice if some of them would manage to rise above the fray.


fillyjonk said...

I always found the beauty tips in "Cooking Light" to be rather annoying. And I am in the demographic group the tips were supposedly aimed at.

I also admit annoyance at the periodic smuggish letters to the editor that are aghast that a "healthy" cooking magazine would dare permit the entry of recipes for cookies or recipes that called for bacon into their publication.

Mimi said...

That happens a lot to scrapbooking magazines, one of their "upgrades" is to make a lifestyle magazine.

Funny, I read scrapbooking magazines for scrapboooking information.