Abstracts from 2011 Papers

Don’t Feed the Trolls!
Managing troublemakers in magazines’ online communities.

Magazines increasingly seek to drive up traffic by developing busy online communities with high levels of UGC, without the resources for active management of every comment. This paper argues that a sensitive touch by staff taking part in community life can mitigate some of the problems without expensive pre-moderation.

If successful, a highly interactive site can generate free content, attract regular visitors, give an insight into readers’ concerns and provide revenue. Like a successful pub, it generates and thrives on lively debate, which may carry the seeds of trouble. The anonymity provided is a magnet for “trolls”, individuals whose main purpose is to disrupt and annoy. How do we prevent our lively site tipping over into an all-out brawl? How can we distinguish and manage the trolls without losing the buzz of controversial, outspoken contributors who may be the life and soul of the party?

Penalties for failure can be high. Legal issues can be expensive. Also, magazines have traditionally traded on the sense of trust, belonging and support given to readers who are part of our club. Even one nasty and determined troll can destroy the feeling of community that is a major draw for regular visitors.

My research is based largely on interviews with online editors at Natmags, Bauer and the Guardian, and with web-only communities such as i-village. This paper discusses how their journalists work with communities, writing with the consciousness of what will happen later on the threads, and how they respond to comments to avoid “feeding the trolls”. This paper also describes how trolls can be identified and dealt with individually.

Amy Binns, senior lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire,



Raunchy, Girly, Rock Bitch and Lavender: Mapping Female Reader Repertoires Within Tabloid Metal Magazine Culture


Despite the impact of Web 2.0 ‘interactive’ new media on older forms of media communication and on the cultural practices of contemporary youth, the niche-oriented magazine – especially music magazines with a subcultural or ‘scene’ focus – continue to recruit new readers because they offer an attractively mediated point of entry into subcultural worlds that appear to exist just below the radar of mainstream culture. With the industry-wide reorganisation of the magazine sector from the 1990s onwards into branded and niche-oriented titles, identifying and breaking new trends has become a survival strategy, in gaining new readers. This is particularly true of the metal press – via the notable success of branded titles, such as Kerrang! – in closely identifying themselves with new music, such as nu-metal, alt.rock, pop-punk, death-core and emo, and thereby recruiting a new cohort of teen female readers into a genre that has traditionally been male dominated but also celebratory of a non-conformist style of youthful masculinity. Drawing on a 36 month analysis of six leading UK and US tabloid magazines – Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Terrorizer, Metal Maniacs, Decibel and Revolver – this paper explores how such readers engage with and negotiate a range of female metal identities through their reception and interaction with metal magazine culture, notably through the letter’s page. Examining, in particular, female reader’s responses to the Revolver feature on female metal musicians, The Hottest Chicks in Metal series, the paper seeks to explore the range of responses in evidence and how they can map female reader repertoires of accommodation, negotiation, challenge and contestation of sexism in metal magazine editorial strategies. Seeking to contextualise this analysis, the paper goes on to examine a 36 month sample of the letter’s page of Kerrang!, revealing a vibrant participatory culture of young female fans who claim metal music for themselves.


Andy R. Brown

Bath Spa University, UK


County magazines: lost in cyberspace?

There are more than 300 county, regional and local magazines around Britain, with upwards of six million readers per month, yet this vibrant sector has received little attention from academic researchers. Such publications, with their high production values, aspirational content and positive local coverage, offer an instructive contrast to the steeply falling circulations and profits of regional newspapers.

However, county magazine publishers have yet to find a way of moving their successful formula from the coffee table to the PC. This paper addresses some of the reasons why the websites of such magazines have yet to ignite the enthusiasm of browsers and advertisers, and offers some suggestions for improved online engagement.

The place of county magazines in the wider media ecology is mapped using two contrasting counties in the North of England, Lancashire and Cumbria, as case studies. Here, traditional local interest magazines such as Cumbria sit alongside established glossy titles such as Lancashire Life and new, free-distribution entrants such as Live Ribble Valley to the market. Using interviews with editors, quantitative analysis of their digital offerings and current best practice from elsewhere in the magazine sector, the study looks at the contrasting fortunes of print and online products.

It examines the potential of county magazines to fill the growing void left by the negative ‘crime and cuts’ fare of regional newspapers, and offers insight into how the visual and tactile pleasures of the county magazine can translate to the fragmented virtual world of the internet.


Clare Cook and Catherine Darby

University of Central Lancashire


More than news:
The work of women’s magazine editors

This paper presents the empirical and qualitative findings of an ethnographic study of magazine editors in Australia that explored their understanding of their role within their workplaces and within culture. Kicking off with a summary of the thinking that preceded the study and the choice of methodology, it summarizes the responses given by 30 women’s magazine editors to a questionnaire (developed through interviews with other editors) and discusses reactions to the editors’ statements by six key industry figures. The study found that magazine editing is less glamorous, but more fun and draining, than most editors expected before landing their jobs; that 62% of them are at risk of burnout; that they would rather change culture than report on it; and that other key players in the media industry think they are, at times, delusional and Pollyanna-ish.


Kayt Davies, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia


Reviving the ‘aesthetic function’ of journalism: subjectivity, time and the online feature

This paper follows a trajectory from George Herbert Mead’s discussion of media in his 1926 essay, ‘The Nature of Aesthetic Experience’ to Steen Steensen’s work on the remediation of features through online magazine platforms (2009) and Alfredo Cramerotti’s Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform without Informing (2009). Rather than interpreting the effect of digitization on long form journalism as a break with the past, I argue that the freedoms, interactivity and multi-media potentials of online feature journalism—drawing from narrative techniques, reporting conventions, film, television and radio, magazine design, and art curatorship—enable a revival of the ambitions of pre-objectivity reporter-reader relationships, where witnessing, time and a sense of community are fostered through multi-layered storytelling about real events. In particular, I focus on the critique of objectivity that an aesthetics of journalism performs together with the opening out of time through narrative, and the curatorial potential of the writer/editor (Le Masurier 2011). Despite the tendency towards brevity, speed and sound bites that online journalism might initially invite, and its potential for erosion of the magazine feature, there is also scope for slow writing and reading relationships with online material to develop, whether ultimately intended for print, or existing purely onscreen. A number of examples from magazine websites will be referred to.

Dr Fiona Giles
Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney


Place in print: A history of the provincial magazine

County and local magazines are flourishing, unlike the regional newspaper press. But where did these publications come from? This paper begins to map the history of the magazine outside London, with a focus on twentieth-century county magazines.

After suggesting some definitions to differentiate between periodicals and newspapers, and between national publications produced outside London and those with local content, this paper offers a timeline and a typology from the early nineteenth century to the present day, with illustrative examples. It then focuses on the development of the county magazine as we know it today, beginning with Kent magazine in the 1920s, and the output of the largest mid-century publisher of this genre, English Life Publications of Derby, working in collaboration with rural development agencies. The editors and contributors of these publications included novelists, poets and personnel from national magazines, such as JB Priestley, Communist and Good Food Guide founder Raymond Postgate, and the northern editor of Picture Post.

Factors in the success of the twentieth-century provincial magazine are examined, including the decline of the regional morning newspaper, the growing interest in the countryside, and the post-war boom.

While this history does not challenge the supremacy of London as a periodical publishing centre, it does highlight the reader appeal and commercial value of local identities and sense of place in this fascinating and neglected sector of magazine publishing.

Andrew Hobbs
University of Central Lancashire



Romancing the customer: the cablization of the magazine publishing model

When cable television was first introduced in the United States in the late 1970s the majority of critics doubted that people will pay for television after years of watching content free of charge. Yet, the majority of households in America are now paying for television an average of $60.00 a month. The magazine industry can learn from the success of the cable industry and how the cable business model moved from a no-ads programming to a mix of no advertising and advertising models. This paper will examine the pros and cons of adapting a new business model for the publishing industry both in print and online. The paper will try to answer the following questions:
1. Is the American Magazine Publishing model dead?
2. What are the effects of the online and digital publications on print and the business model in general?
3. What are the lessons that can be learned from cable television.
4. What is the prescription for a new business model?
5. Why would customers pay for curation?
In short, this paper will address the role of publishers and customers in the future business model for publishing and surviving in the 21st Century.

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.
Director, Magazine Innovation Center
@The University of Mississippi
218 Farley Hall
University, MS 38677


Selling Consumerism: Magazines in the Public Eye
Why is consumerism so seductive?

Consumer culture is synonymous with westernised societies. How did this particular ethic come to achieve so much success? This paper argues that one reason is the way in which consumerism is marketed through the media. To demonstrate this, the paper provides a detailed analysis of the case study of consumer magazine covers.

The ‘walls of magazines’ that exists in many retail spaces in cities like London are an unremarkable, everyday phenomenon, perhaps not considered terribly interesting or worthy of close attention by the average passer-by. But the position taken by this paper is that it is sometimes necessary to make one element of the familiar, media-saturated urban environment ‘strange’ – to step back to observe from a critical distance – in order to reassess its ‘naturalness’. Rather than seeing magazine retail displays as ‘natural’ elements of London’s urban environment, the paper aims to deconstruct magazine displays and show how they function as marketing devices for individualistic consumption, driven by an ethic of consumer capitalism, saturated by power dynamics.

The existing body of research into magazines (which is both deep and broad, encompassing historical, feminist, discursive, audience and semiotic studies) reveals two key lacunae. The first is the lack of any account of a shared underlying discourse to all consumer magazines (despite the differences evident between sub-genres of the media form). The second is the lack of any account of the retail geography within which magazines exist as commodities as well as media texts. This paper lays out a response to these research opportunities by reporting on a socio-semiotic analysis of consumer magazine covers as situated in public retail space. It argues that the ways magazines are displayed and sold in retail spaces, the literal glossiness of the texts, and the intertwined messages about sexiness, commodities and self-identity communicated by them combine to create a powerful and seductive advertisement for consumer culture.

As well as outlining an account of how the texts and spaces of consumerism work to promote and naturalise it, the paper also discusses why this is important. How does the pervasive presence of consumerist messages in media culture affect what it means for something to be ‘public’? Does the way that consumerism sells itself through media like magazines suggest that its ‘power’ is waxing or waning? Underlying the deconstruction of how magazines sell consumerism, the paper thus engages with big questions about ‘the public’, ‘identity’ and ‘power’ in media culture.

Mehita Iqani
Department of Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


State of Independents – Print Survival in the Digital Era

Many are ringing the death knell for print, due not only to rising prices, an environmental impact but specifically the rapid advance of digitalisation – where the screen is heralded as a new and more convenient instrument for consumption. This consistently evolving setting, coupled with a lack of studies within the area, makes the need for this research timely. Looking to Renard’s prediction that independent magazines will represent ‘the last magazines in print’, the aim of this study is to critically evaluate its current and future position; concentrating on identifying strengths of the print medium, specifically drawing comparisons with digital counterparts, levels of reader and publisher loyalty and the opportunities afforded by digital media for continual survival.

Based upon a review of current literature and a mixed methods research strategy, this study makes use of interviews, questionnaires and a case study in order to gage opinion and experiences within the industry. The findings show that although independent magazines are the ideal proponents of the medium, reader and publisher loyalty will not maintain the medium alone. Looking to the opportunities afforded by digital media – industry recommendations are identified. Independent magazines, more akin sometimes to art projects than moneymaking businesses, should utilise these in order to counteract struggling methods for retail distribution and widening the audience for print – digitally. It is too early to say how long the independent magazine will survive in print, but as shown by this research study – it can become a complementary medium that inspires, informs and brings people together.

Belinda Johnson



From Chrysalis to Bitch: Characteristics of the Feminist Magazine Publishing Model

The wave of feminism that swept the United States during the 1970s resulted in hundreds of magazine start-ups that challenged traditional publications such as Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook, and Good Housekeeping. Feminist magazines were developed by women who were unhappy about the established media’s coverage and treatment of them and disillusioned with the sexist attitude toward women in the underground press of the 1960s. They wanted a literature of their own for the 1970s. That same attitude continues today, with edgy start-ups like Bitch trying to reach young, non-traditional women who don’t want to read Cosmopolitan or Glamour.

From the start, feminist magazines identified themselves as an alternative press, so they didn’t follow traditional publishing models with investors, business plans, spread sheets, and advertising contracts. In the 1970s, most alternative magazines were self-published on a shoestring budget by women’s groups who wrote, designed, and laid out the publication on the kitchen table and then gave each issue to a few friends, who then passed them on to other friends.

Magazines devoted to the 1970s feminist movement have been neglected by scholars, not because they were unworthy of study or because they were a publishing rarity, but because many of the magazines published exclusively by and for women then were not archived. Yet the publishing model they followed continues to influence today’s feminist magazines, such as Bitch. Using Chrysalis (1977-1980) as a guide, this research identifies 10 characteristics of feminist publications during the 1970s that are still applicable to today.

Sammye Johnson
Department of Communication
Trinity University
San Antonio, TX 78212


“Paper politics? The pleasures of the ‘indie’ magazine”

The past two decades have seen a proliferation of independent producer-owned and made, small-circulation style and culture magazines (indies) that relish the magazine as printed material object. As the magazine industry experiments with modes of online delivery, the (usually young) indie producers’ choice of print seems paradoxical, even anachronistic.

This paper will use the wide lens of ‘pleasure’ to analyse the appeal of print for the producers of independent magazines. While there is a long tradition within media and cultural studies of the pleasures (and dangers) of consumption, there is little work on the pleasures of production. Interviews with indie magazine producers reveal the pleasures to be found in exploring the outer-limits of medium specificity, in making magazines as collectible objects with a material and social afterlife, in using digital literacy and technology to expand the possibilities of print magazine culture, in the temporal choice of slow rather than fast media. There are pleasures in the process of conception, of editing (redacting, curating) and designing reality, and in creative collaboration. Pleasure too in transforming work into play, where commercial profit is neither despised nor valorised, and in participating in micro-communities of shared tastes, values and identities, outside of the mainstream.

The motivation behind these magazines is generally not the critical politics of much alternative media, but the jouissance that comes with semiotic self-determination. These magazines are not, however, without political significance. It will be suggested that they encourage us to experience and imagine pleasure – alongside ‘liberty, comfort and democratic equivalence’ (Hartley, 1996) – as one of the aims of living in advanced democratic societies.

Dr Megan Le Masurier, Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney
E: megan.lemasurier@sydney.edu.au



When a television travel channel goes on-line. A map

In this paper, digital hybridization of television travel channels is studied, presenting how they are using their on-line presence to extend their reach and widen their business. Thanks to a grid, designed to cluster all the types of content and functionalities offered on-line by 30 travel channels and programs, a picture of their actual use of the Internet has been taken and discussed. When entering the on-line world, travel channels get many elements that are not affordable through broadcasting, while at the same time losing other elements. But this process is not just a matter of adding or removing features, rather, it requires a deep re-consideration of travel representation itself, offering venues for new business models and for a new agreement between the channels themselves and their audiences.

This paper focuses on the difference between travel representation through the television and the web. According to Grierson (1971), documentary is the creative treatment of actuality, and gives meaning to time and space fragmentation. The camera works as a filter on reality and filmmakers use their cine-eye (Vertov, 1924) to catch the unaware. Representation of reality is the result of the filmmaker’s ability to discover the truth and propose it to the audience. Travel channels and travel websites have different users and use different languages. While TV focuses on audio-visual suggestions to draw the audience’s attention, the web is an interactive space that allows to get, share, and produce text, photos or videos. In the websites analysed, users can create, co-create and re-create impressions, discover places, search on interactive maps, build their own travel plans.

This paper also focuses on how travel channels on the web are using web 2.0 functionalities in order to give a more complex representation of the world and also a deeper awareness about intercultural dialogue.

Giulio Lizzia,
Lorenzo Cantonib, and
Francesca Borrionea

a University of Perugia, Italy
b webatelier.net
Università della Svizzera italiana (USI, University of Lugano, Switzerland)



The Magazine and the Nineteenth-Century Information Economy: Or, What Were Victorian Magazines For?

This paper considers the role of the magazine in the nineteenth-century information economy. The recent digital revolution has changed the way we understand the role of information in culture, but tends to adopt an anachronistic definition of information with little regard to the way information was created, stored and processed in the past. Through a close analysis of the magazine as print genre, I will argue, we can begin to recover the information economy of the nineteenth-century and the constitutive role that periodicals such as magazines played within it.

The paper will be in two parts. The first will consider what information meant to the Victorians. This is a surprisingly under-researched area: even dedicated books such as Toni Weller’s The Victorians and Information (2009) refuse to define how information was understood. By looking at certain key sites for the transmission of content that is apparently independent of form, I hope to literally ‘flesh out’ a definition of information that situates it within material culture.

The second section considers how the Victorian magazine, in all its diversity, participates in the information economy. Not as timely as the newspaper and lacking an explicit focus on the newsworthy, magazines nonetheless communicated information to their readers. Using Carolyn Miller’s definition of genre as social action, I explore how the magazine presented content in such a way that readers understood it as information, extracting it from the page, article, or issue and then using it elsewhere.

Jim Mussell, University of Birmingham



From Move to Real: Mediating the Margins in Magazines for Women of Mzanzi

In this paper I extend my socio-semiotic interest in print magazines for black South African women by applying a discourse analytic approach to readers’ letters and the presentation of selves in personal and advice columns in two women’s magazines, Move! and Real, which target low to middle-income black South African female readers. In so doing I hope to achieve at least two ends:

(1) To describe and analyse some of the ways in which local (Mzanzi) magazine discourse(s) addressing black South African women are underpinned and mediated by globally marketed commercial discourses, and to assess whether these modes of mediation are ultimately conducive, however implicitly, to marketing and authorizing local South African values, cultural mores, and societal concerns.

(2)To reconsider, from a specifically South African perspective, the incompatibility believed to exist between the acknowledged position of magazines Mzansi (South African) culture as frivolous, transient and trivial, in light of the ostensible success of the two titles addressed, and the growing regularity and constancy with which they continue to be produced and consumed (Narunsky-Laden 2007). Here I hope to illuminate how the ‘‘seriousness’’ of magazines such as Move! and Real is taken up and rendered socially and discursively significant through the discourse(s) of readers’ letters and the discursive models through which readers and columnists convey the presentation of individual and social selves in personal and advice columns.

In this sense I hope to illuminate new ways in which consumer magazines for Mzanzi women are indeed instrumental in facilitating what Orvar Lofgren calls ‘‘the microphysics of learning to belong’’ (Lofgren, 1996) in urban environments, by mediating their access to a growing ‘‘marketplace’’ of global and local discourses, lifestyle practices, commodities and intercultural modes of being.

Sonja Narunsky-Laden, Phd
Dept of Communication and Media Studies
School of Communication
University of Johannesburg
South Africa


Panel: “Re-Reading Magazine Forms of the Early 20th Century”

By approaching different magazine formats from the 20th century in North American this panel aims at unfolding a series of examples that underline that the emergence of various magazines must be seen within a broader media landscape. Magazines are thus often to be seen as intermedial events or crossroads through which various cultural forms circulate and in turn are highlighted. Processes of intermediality and cross-media so often emphasized in relation to the digital media landscape were (are) thus inherent features of certain strands of the printed magazine.

Although a central feature of the intermediality and cultural circulation identified in the magazines studied was linked to visual representations this panel also seeks to call attention to how the writings of magazines were an important part of situating these publications in relation to other media forms, e.g. newspapers and novels, and how such intermedial relations — created trough both writing and visual aspects — were linked to the formation of audience identities. Finally, these issues will be framed by and related to broader questions of historiography linked to the processes through which earlier cultural forms are situated in a contemporary digital media landscape.


“Follies, Brevities and Ballyhoo: Magazines and Intermedial sensations in early 1930s American culture”.

This paper will deal with the relationship of Hollywood cinema to a forgotten but, in its time, vital less strata of sensational magazines in the late 1920s and early 1930s — some of them weekly hybrids of the magazine and newspaper, like Broadway Brevities or the New York Tattler, others, like Burten’s Follies, Hooey or Hollywood Squawkies, published as monthly magazines satirizing and exploiting the perceived scandals and sensations of early 1930s entertainment culture. Most of the latter class of periodicals was produced within cultural networks occupied by people who moved between sensational publishing and Hollywood screenwriting (like Gordon Kahn, former employee of Broadway Brevities and co-writer of the 1931 Hollywood exposé of tabloid newspapers, X Marks the Spot). These magazines mocked the perceived moral licentiousness of Hollywood even as films devoted to the sensational press, like Love is a Racket and, Is My Face Red? (both 1932) devised (and exploited) a moralizing, relationship to these periodicals. The cultural proximity of this class of periodicals to a range of media phenomena of the time, like radio gossip programs and the lower strata of the early 1930s newspaper film, and their common participation in a culture of sensation observable across several media forms will be the focus of this paper.

Will Straw, Professor and Chair, Department of Art History and Communications Studies, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; william.straw@mcgill.ca


“An Intermedial History of the Sunday Newspaper Magazine in the U.S.A, 1893-1922”.

The American Sunday newspaper developed in the 1890s as an intermedial umbrella for popular culture. Drawing especially upon magazine material—and materiality—specialized inserts were themselves “magazines,” eventually folded, stapled, and printed in colour on quality paper stock. Newspapers claimed their Sunday editions provided “a complete newspaper, a complete magazine” together for a low five-cent cost. Alongside colour comics and women’s society sections, the Sunday newspaper’s magazine insert became central to weekend leisure. Given the metropolitan basis of newspaper circulation, the cost of such inserts initially limited Sunday newspaper magazines to only the largest cities in the country. In the first decade of the twentieth century, however, syndicated pre-printed magazine inserts emerged, drawing upon long-standing networks of newswire services and syndicated feature content. The syndicated supplements Associated Sunday Magazine, Illustrated Sunday Magazine, and Hearst’s American Sunday Magazine were the standardized culmination of a decade of experimentation in the design and form of weekend newspapers. Barnhurst and Nerone’s The Form of News (2002) explains such processes of standardization as a matter of modernization. They claim that newspapers’ design and form secured their cultural authority, their social roles as cultural institutions. Rather than consider the newspaper-magazine as competing against the magazine-proper, we propose the newspaper publishers adopted the magazine’s connotations of quality reading for a national public in securing their own authority over the more polyglot tastes of metropolitan mass publics. The newspaper-magazine thus demonstrates aspects of the political economy of cultural circulation

Paul S. Moore, Associate Professor, Sociology and Communication, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada; psmoore@ryerson.ca

Sandra Gabriele, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec Canada; s.gabriele@concordia.ca


“The Refined and the Obvious — Vanity Fair from 1913-1935”.

A number of (men’s) magazines, e.g. Playboy, Esquire, GQ and Vanity Fair, openly deny cultural oppositions between refined, insightful and complex writings and the blatant pleasures of celebrating surfaces. Indeed, more than simply denying such an opposition, such publications rather seem to posit an inherent relation between an artistic, analytical and writerly sensibility and a refined carefulness and reflexivity about appearances.

Based on a combination of critical discourse analysis, theories of gender, literary theory and history as well as on various approaches to visual culture this paper consequently focuses on how the writings and their visual contexts in the first run of Vanity Fair together and dialectically construed a certain “modern” male identity premised on the “deep” meaning of surfaces and thus to certain (theoretical) perspectives on lifestyle and consumption. Such a position were somehow linked to earlier literary constructions of maleness, including certain aspects notions of homosexuality, and was simultaneously premised on the obverse relation between depth and surface constructed in relation to the female gender.

Vanity Fair was started by Condé Nast in 1913 as a men’s fashion magazine called Dress, then Dress and Vanity Fair and then Vanity Fair from 1914 until 1935 when it gave in to the Great Depression. Although this paper will draw on examples from various issues in this period the main focus will be on a longitudinal reading of one particular issue from July 1923 in which the writers Aldous Huxley, T. S. Eliot, Ferenc Molnár and Gertrude Stein appeared.

Henrik Bodker, Associate Professor and Director, Center for University Studies in Journalism, The Department of Information and Media Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark; imvhb@hum.au.dk


Darren Werschler has had to withdraw from the conference but I have included his contribution to the panel:

“The Pirate As Archivist: Reading Digital Scans of Golden Age Comics”

Affordable high-quality colour scanners, cheap storage media, open file formats, peer-to-peer networking, file storage locker services and high-bandwidth home connections have all contributed to the availability of large, often complete copies of entire print runs of magazines and comics from the early decades of the 20th century. Such archives, which are usually advertised with dubious disclaimers proclaiming their status as public domain objects, are often available as gray-market DVD sets, which may be purchased through online auction sites such as eBay (though, in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the auction sites respond quickly to claims of infringement from copyright holders). The question is, what is a scholar to do when confronted with such an artifact? Is a set of digital scans an “archive” in the traditional sense? Why does eBay describe them as “counterfeit” when they are clearly not attempting to emulate the original magazines? How do we deal with the materiality of lossy file formats, low-quality scans, colour correction and retouching? How can we describe the editing practices of pirates, which often include removing advertising and editorial sections, and the inclusion of graphic signature pages? And what are the ethics of studying an object that would not exist without copyright infringement, yet is likely unavailable in any library on the planet? This paper attempts to grapple with these issues, using a gray-market DVD set of the early years of Action Comics (1938-1971) as its object.


Darren Wershler, Assistant Professor of English, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada; d.wershler@concordia.ca


Strategic development of political specialized magazines.
The case of Le Monde diplomatique

As a result of the nowadays crisis and structural changes that the press sector is going through, the methodological specialization is arisen as an economical opportunity and necessary professional expansion channel for the journalism, press and magazines in the next decades.

Looking for professional models of reference in this redefinition time, this paper focus on political magazine sector for its social and journalistic relevance. Specifically, the Le Monde diplomatique case is deeply analyzed as significant example of professional prestige and successful evolution within the current globalized context. Monthly, this rooted political magazine is published in 72 different editions around the world (46 in paper with a circulation of about 2.4 million monthly copies and 26 electronic), in over 45 countries and 25 languages. These current data (2011) have enabled him to gain a global scale since middle nineties, and move from being an important medium in France to become a prime reference on critical thinking throughout the world.

So, from the study of Le Monde diplomatique’s journalistic and business singularity and its professional development in the last decades, this paper provides the following results. Firstly, an updated description of “le Dipló” independent economical model and the expansion of its internationals editions project (1995-2011). Secondly, It’s explained in the detail the consolidation of a critical discourse journalistic globally recognizable in this political magazine, providing empirical data on the construction of its specialized agenda (issues, actors and informative spaces). And finally, to conclude, it’s presented a series of meaningful trends for future positioning of the political magazine sector.


Pablo López Rabadán
Universitat Jaume I – Campus de Riu Sec
Facultat de Ciències Humanes i Socials
Departament de Ciències de la Comunicació
Av. Sos Baynat s/n. 12071 Castelló de la Plana. ESPAÑA (SPAIN)


Women’s Magazines and the General Election 2011 in Finland

While there’s a large amount of research done on women’s magazines from the perspective of gender representation, identity construction and addressing audiences as consumers, there’s still little work done on women’s magazines as part of the political public sphere.

Party politics, elections and political personalities have been popular subjects in Finnish women’s magazines from the 1960s onwards. Today, Finnish female top politicians are familiar sight in women’s magazine interviews.

In our research project Women’s magazines as sites of journalism and publicness (2010) we interviewed 22 women’s magazine journalists working in the 11 presently published Finnish women’s magazines, including both long lived magazine brands and new franchise brands such as Cosmopolitan and Elle. We asked women’s magazine journalists about their views on participating in the political public sphere.

The interviews indicated that the relationship between women’s magazines and politics is ambiguous. Women’s magazine journalists tend to belittle their role in giving public space and visibility for (some) female politicians. In my paper I discuss these questions focusing in the general election of Finland in April 2011.


Laura Saarenmaa,
Research fellow, PhD.
School of Communication, Media and Theatre
University of Tampere, Finland
Åkerlundinkatu 5, room 339
FI-33014 University of Tampere



Activist Magazines Online (or Not)

Magazines have long been recognized as media in which communities both share information and reinforce their unifying identities. Although some research has been conducted on the development of particular political and gender identities through the medium of print magazines, little is known about the growing activist use of digital magazine distribution (such as webzines, mobile apps, print‐on‐demand magazines, or digital replica services). Although these digital tools would seem to provide a simple, relatively low‐cost distribution method for often cash‐strapped activist publications, only a few such magazines have yet chosen to take advantage of them.

In this paper, I will explore the existing uses of new magazine technologies by activist magazine publishers – their motivations, choices and future plans – through interviews with a variety of these publishers. Their recognition or refusal of the ability of these digital media to build a communal identity in ways similar to print may reflect and inform some of the issues the larger publishing world faces in adopting these new tools. I will also examine the theoretical significance of the shift toward digital publishing for our understanding of the relationship between social movements and the media, especially the unique medium of the magazine and its particular functions in society.

Susan Currie Sivek , California State University, Fresno


‘Men do not read magazines’. Researching the failure of men’s lifestyle magazines in Romania

Men’s lifestyles magazines launched in Romania in the last 15 years, sharing a single business model: the acquisition of an international magazine license. The first Romanian edition of a men’s lifestyle magazine was Maxim (1997). The competition developed as important media groups acquired FHM (2000), Men’s Health (2005), Esquire (2008) and GQ (2009). After a short period of success, mostly due to the preeminence of the international brand, the circulation and audience decreased dramatically (50% in the last 4 years, according to the National Audience Survey). In the same time, other types of magazines (e.g. women’s magazines or TV guides) maintained constant circulation and audience figures, despite the Romanian (and global) print media crisis.

The paper will try to offer pertinent answers to an intriguing question: why Romanian men do not read lifestyle magazines, and to its corollary: what mode of magazine production is more appropriate to male readership consumption.

The analysis has 3 layers: the business model (Is importing and adapting an international title a solution?); the editorial content (Is it appropriate to the expectations of male audience? Is the metrosexual model relevant for the readership?); the characteristics of the readership (Are Romanian men traditionalist, opaque, reluctant to accept innovation and consumerism?). The analysis is based on in-depth interviews with professionals (publishers, editors, and media planners), and on VALS studies made by magazines, advertising agencies and academic groups. The theoretical part of the paper is based on the seminal work of Benthan Benwell and his collaborators (Masculinity and Men’s Lifestyle Magazine, 2003).

Romina Surugiu, Lecturer in Print Media at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication Studies.


From individual work towards planning and editing in Finnish magazines

Magazines in Finland are moving towards an anglo-american way of producing content – which means planning and editing stories in detail. Increasing media competition and fragmentation of audiences has resulted in detailed planning and execution of media concepts in magazines. We have studied this ongoing change in over 30 magazines since 2003.

The new kind of editing process begins already in story planning meetings and continues through the visual planning, data gathering, story revisions, layouting and finally with the feedback.

We show how this change was implemented in a large weekly consumer magazine where we conducted a developmental research project in 2007-2008 and a follow-up in 2011. Most reporters we used to do whatever pleased them, layout was done at the last moment and there were numerous disturbances in the work process.

Our developmental interventions are based on cultural historical activity theory and the notion of a media concept. Using work process analysis, creating a model reader, structured page plan, visual guidelines, story types and a five stage editing process the way of working changed from “my stories” towards creating lasting readership relations. And advance planning and editing stories to fit the new media concept. Art director became a central figure in the planning process.

We propose that the tools we created for managing change and developing print journalism and work processes can also be utilized when magazines engage in cross media publishing or are move their content to digital reading devices.

Maija Töyry & Merja Helle.
Aalto University School of Art and Design, Finland


Producing editorial portrait photography in magazine context

This paper presents an empirical case study on the production process of editorial portrait photographs in a Finnish special-interest consumer magazine.

The style of photography is a crucial part of a magazine’s visual strategy. According to my data, the journalists collectively define this strategy in the newsroom by comparing their magazine to its competitors and negotiating different magazines’ views of the world in relation to their readers. A prominent topic of photography-related discussions is the fine balancing of realism with emotion. In the studio sessions, these negotiations continue in different forms, and the idealizations and conceptualizations are put into practice.

Traditionally the photojournalist has had the freedom to produce ‘windows to the world’ for the readers. Thus, in academic and professional discussions journalistic photography is often seen as more or less neutral verification of facts. Digital alteration and other constructive photographic practices have been regarded as misleading the audience. In the planning and editing journalistic culture, the photographer’s position has in this aspect changed, and the role of photography has moved from verifying factual reality towards adding credibility to the magazine’s unique view of the world.

I compare recent studies on magazine photojournalism and photojournalistic practices to my data. I suggest that a magazine collective produces intentionally contextualized photojournalism that should not be studied in terms of journalistic objectivity and dissemination of information alone, but more attention should be paid to the contexts of production and the collectively negotiated definitions of realism.

Hanna Weselius (MA)
Project Researcher
Aalto University School of Art and Design