Magazines and newspapers are quite often thought of as rather dubious forms of intellectual expression. Tabloid and gossip magazines, too often at the forefront of new stands, connote a filthy feeling of trashy paparazzi journalism, with their airbrushed cover girls and less than factual facts, casting the entire journalism industry in an unflattering and morally questionable light. Newspapers often fall into this same bracket, my own town’s daily newspaper being so often riddled with spelling and grammatical errors that it’s too nauseating to read. However, these examples, though often monopolising the journalistic limelight, are only a sliver of the news industry and if you label all magazines and newspapers as inferior publications, you are doing yourself a great disservice, depriving yourself of a cornucopia of succulent articles, reviews and reports.
For quite a while, I was of the very unjust opinion that magazines were for those who couldn’t commit themselves to an actual book. I didn’t much care to read my friends’ favourites, Girlfriend and Dolly, nor was I inclined to spend $8 reading about Kim Kardashian’s new diet. I read real books and that’s all there was to it. Recently however, I discovered the other side of the journalism coin: the very shiny side; the side with juicy content, grammatical perfection, thorough research and sublime presentation. And let me just take a moment to lament all the time I’ve spent without it…
The New Yorker magazine has become a regular must-read for me. Far from the sickeningly shallow and inaccurate likes of sleaze journalism, the New Yorker is a thoughtful, diverse and informed collection of feature articles, politics, artistic reviews, pictures, fiction and poetry. Because I was such an angelic girl in 2011, Santa Claus left an iPad 2 in my stocking and I have therefore been able to subscribe to the New Yorker’s electronic version (a postal subscription being somewhat impractical considering my living in Australia). As a glorious result, I’ve read an in depth review of Meryl Streep’s portrayal of The Iron Lady, I’ve revelled in the poetry of Leonard Cohen and I’ve even stumbled across a fascinating and extraordinarily well-informed comparison of the film and book versions of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. A worthwhile allocation of my funds? You bet.
What really does make The New Yorker a divine publication, sent straight to Earth from the gods and goddesses of journalism, is the balance it achieves between informed, intelligent, researched writing and artistic, creative, satirical presentation. More so than for its content, I think The New Yorker is famous for and instantly recognisable by its cover art. Without ever displaying the flawlessly-skinned faces of young celebrities accompanied by article tasters, The New Yorker is adorned with thematic art, tailored to reflect its major feature article or the current economic, political or social climate. Always designed with talent and cleverness, the cover art can be deeply read into and interpreted in a variety ways, though always managing to clearly communicate its general gist.
Some examples of my favourite The New Yorker covers:
The New Yorker magazine saved the entire journalism industry from my to-avoid list of literary forms and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in in-depth and thoughtful articles about politics, the world and the arts. Should you not find its feature articles of great consequence, at least you’ll be entertained and intrigued by its cover art, its poetry, its fiction examples and its commentary on the art scene. Impeccable writing, thoughtful content and witty illustrations…what more could a nerd want?