The New Yorker: Juicy Journalism

The New Yorker Logo

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

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, The New Yorker shows the ghosts of the twin towers reaching downward from Ground Zero.

The New Yorker Magazine

Illustrated by Ana Juan, this cover pays tribute to fashion designer, Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide a few weeks before this cover ran. He had once created a hat designed entirely of butterflies.

The New Yorker Magazine

In commemoration of Steve Jobs' death, this cover features him at the Pearly Gates with St Peter on an iPad. Note the very demanding, hands-on-hips stance of Jobs...

The New Yorker Magazine

In celebration of the 84th Academy Awards, The New Yorker's cover is that of a group of Oscar trophies no doubt drowning their sorrows as would the unsuccessful artists.

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?

Listen to Will Smith: Run and Read!

 

“The keys to life are running and reading. When you’re running, there’s a little person that talks to you and says, “Oh I’m tired. My lung’s about to pop. I’m so hurt. There’s no way I can possibly continue.” You want to quit. If you learn how to defeat that person when you’re running. You will know how to not quit when things get hard in your life. For reading: there have been gazillions of people that have lived before all of us. There’s no new problem you could have–with your parents, with school, with a bully. There’s no new problem that someone hasn’t already had and written about it in a book.” – Will Smith

I am a huge fan of Will Smith and just not because he’s a rib-cracking-ly funny comedian or because I love to get jiggy with it. Will Smith is an inspirational man with a whole host of inspirational wisdom to share with those who love to listen and learn. His work ethic, his approach to success, his genuine desire to contribute to the world in which we live and his down-to-earth personality make him a very rare breed of man and an extremely talented one at that.

At Nickelodeon’s 2005 Kid’s Choice Awards, Will Smith shared the above advice with the children who voted for him to receive his award. Now, I’m not a huge fan of running, I’ll admit, exercise never having been my choice of pastime. But, I am in full agreement with his advice that running and reading are incremental keys to success in life, agreeing especially with his esteem of books and their role: “There’s no new problem that someone hasn’t already had and written about it in a book.”

Some Wisdom from Books:

Feeling pressured by your friends? Unsure whether or not to stand up for what you believe in? Take Professor Dumbledore’s advice, from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

When you find yourself in a situation where you feel the odds stacked against you and the only conceivable option seems to be to give up, think of Pi, from Life of Pi by Yann Martel. He spent countless weeks afloat the Pacific Ocean, in a tiny boat with an injured zebra, a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, an orangutan and a spotted hyena. But with faith and perseverance…

Life of Pi Cover

Knocked down? Ganged up on? Making mistakes? Take a leaf out of Steve Jobs’ biography: believe in yourself, don’t sell yourself out, push for excellence and don’t relent until you succeed.

Steve Jobs' Biography

Want to learn more about the power of positive thinking? Want to know how to turn the lead of your life into gold? Well, according to Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist, “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”

The Alchemist Novel

These four books exemplify only a sliver of the wisdom and inspiration that can be found within the binding of a book. Will Smith is right; trillions of people have lived before us, made mistakes before us, triumphed before us and written before us. There are an astronomical number of books on our planet, written in every existing language and about every conceivable topic and, if we only took the time to read a little more, we just might find ourselves better equipped with the necessary emotional tools to survive any obstacles that lie ahead.

Shall I say it again? The keys to life are running and reading.