Not long ago, the print magazine, flush and glossy, was journalism’s most vibrant arena—the place where big writers went to tell big stories. But then it started to die, and kept dying at such a rate that a website, magazinedeathpool.com, emerged to track the print magazine as it circled the drain. And yet, not only do new print magazines continue to launch—52 in the first quarter of this year, when launches outpaced closures four to one—but a number of titles that were already resting in peace are being resurrected. Recent years have seen the second coming of Collier’s (back after a 55-year nap), Playgirl (ushered back by Levi Johnson and his, um, 15 minutes), Vibe (it disappeared for a couple of months in 2009), and The Saturday Evening Post (okay, it has apparently been publishing since it was revived after a two-year hiatus in 1971—who knew?—but in ’09 it was overhauled in an effort to let more people know that it didn’t, in fact, die with Norman Rockwell).
The undead trend has continued this year, with the return of The Baffler, Tom Frank’s lively journal of criticism; two high-end men’s magazines, Best Life and M; and a special-issue appearance of the design mag Domino.
Life, which set the modern standard for second-comings, is conspicuously absent from this zombie parade; perhaps it used up all nine of its lives already. And what of magazinedeathpool.com? RIP 2010.The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review.