| Women's magazines: style vs. substance
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
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.
-- 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