It’s 2012, and The New York Review of Magazines is back after a two-year absence. A lot has changed in that time—readers switched on iPads, The New York Times Magazine laid off columnists and, oddly, Google started a print magazine. This issue is full of content that attempts to come to grips with everything that’s happened.
One of the challenges of putting out a publication like The New York Review of Magazines is that we find ourselves, at the top of each new calendar year, with the pressing need to define some terms and justify our mission. So let’s start by defining the most important term of all. What is a magazine?
Simply put, the magazine is both a medium and a cultural product. As with all cultural products, a close examination of it can tell us something of our society’s preoccupations and concerns. That’s where NYRM comes in. Magazines are the chosen lens through which we look at a host of larger issues. You’ll find our features address matters of technology, humor, food and more.
But we also value the simple pleasures of reading. We don’t just examine the magazine as a cultural product; we believe in it as a medium. Whether on pixels or bound paper, it remains the best venue for in-depth analysis and long-form nonfiction as well as for various kinds of creative writing.
We haven’t shied away from long investigations. Our writers’ stories took them everywhere from a military base in Maryland (“Military Mags Retreat From Print”) to the insular world of college humor magazines (“College Humor Gets the Last Laugh”). But we also have plenty of light snacks to whet your appetite, including one staffer’s kiss-off to her first love among magazines (“Breaking Up With Vogue”) and a quiz that will test your magazine knowledge (“How Well Do You Know Your Newsstand?”). There’s even a poem for you literary types.
We love magazines. We wouldn’t be putting NYRM out into the world if we didn’t. Our back-of-the-book review section surveys more than a dozen of them—some good, some not so good and some just plain weird. We like to think there’s something here for everyone.
In this age of instant communication, of news that breaks even before it’s supposed to break, we’re confident that magazines, whether print or digital, still have a purpose and can still bring pleasure. We will have succeeded if this issue of NYRM introduces you to some that are getting it right and excites you about how much is still possible.
Download the 2012 print issue of The New York Review of Magazines here.