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Women's magazines: style vs. substance
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Besides running editorial that's designed to increase newsstand and subscription sales, editors have an important responsibility to their readerships. And pushing exercise is a good thing. It helps maintain good health, which is more important than anything. Indirectly it's a money piece, because good health saves readers money that might otherwise be spent on medical bills. Of course, those who opt for shortcuts such as a tummy tuck or other unnatural ways of shedding pounds may end up spending a lot. Fortunately I didn't run across any articles pushing the knife or a gastric bypass as key solutions to weight problems.

Each of the magazines offered something for everyone. The editors have to take a shotgun approach with topics, since their audience demographics are vaguely defined as women between the ages of 20 and 55, with most tilting toward the younger end of the scale. And while I was delighted to see that most favor substance over style, I was disappointed that in all instances, less than 1 percent of content was devoted to personal finances. Do editors think that women dislike reading about finances as much as they dislike taking bad-tasting medicine?

Here are some highlights of each publication, listed in alphabetical order, with quotients for style and for substance. Pages counted toward style include beauty, fashion tips, home furnishings and things focusing on outward appearances. Substance was deemed everything else, though I excluded contents pages, mastheads, advertisements and articles about foods and recipes from the page count.


Good Housekeeping -- This publication has a good mix of light fare and thought-provoking pieces. A profile of Sarah Jessica Parker satisfies the need for celebrity insights. Fluff stuff included table-setting ideas, floral patterns and flowerpot designs. Among more serious topics is one on children who need medical devices that are ill-designed for them and a profile of a doctor in Africa saving poverty-stricken children from malaria. In between are natural ways to get rid of bugs and ways to clean your outdoor furniture, deck and grill.

The magazine's "money" section is skimpy, with a short piece on how to enjoy a vacation at home, another on how to stop automatic payments and a short profile on a woman and her small business.

Style: 32 percent
Substance: 68 percent

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