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Just last week, Rodale shut down its men’s lifestyle magazine Best Life. Many other publications have also folded in recent months. However, the general conclusion that you would reach from all of this recent news isn’t necessarily correct. From this story in Slate: “Yet the general conclusion that many extrapolate from these recent shutdowns is…

The Magazine Isn't Dying

Just last week, Rodale shut down its men’s lifestyle magazine Best Life. Many other publications have also folded in recent months. However, the general conclusion that you would reach from all of this recent news isn’t necessarily correct. From this story in Slate:

“Yet the general conclusion that many extrapolate from these recent shutdowns is wrong. It’s not that magazines are dying; it’s that magazines that were created solely for advertising or market-share purposes are. New magazine titles often fail from a combination of bad timing, bad thinking, and a bad choice of brands to extend. Put simply, there are too many mediocre magazines (as anyone who gazes at the newsstand at Barnes and Nobles would conclude).

“In one way, publishers are suffering from the same tendencies as traders binging on mortgage-backed securities: When the advertising market in a particular genre begins to rain really hard, publishers respond by trying to create more buckets, instead of working to find the next bucket where passion resides. The reality is that once a market is mature enough to support a national magazine, chances are it has already peaked.”

Posted by Joel on March 21 2009 • Journalism

Changing Lives Through Literature

An interesting program in Massachusetts allows prisoners to join a book club or go to jail. From the New York Times story: “The class is taught through Changing Lives Through Literature, an alternative sentencing program that allows felons and other offenders to choose between going to jail or joining a book club. At each two-hour meeting, students discuss fiction, memoirs and the occasional poem; authors range from Frederick Douglass to John Steinbeck to Toni Morrison, topics from self- mutilation and family quarrels to the Holocaust and the Montgomery bus boycott.”

According to the story, the program is controversial. It’s not clear that it is successful in aiding rehabilitation. Also, some residents of the community complain that prisoners should not have free access to classes for which students must pay full tuition. Despite those concerns, several participants have called their encounter with literature as causing “changes,” “turning points,” “epiphanies,” even “grace,” according to the story.

However, I’m not sure this exchange is the best first-encounter to the classics: “I don’t want to be all negative,” the officer begins, “but you have to read this book.” Not as in “This is a must-read,” but “We’ve had people go to jail for not reading.”

Posted by Joel on March 07 2009 • Current Affairs