What Are America’s Most Essential Magazines?

Help CJR create an alternative to AdWeek’s “Hot List”

Michael Wolff’s revamped AdWeek published its thirty-first annual “Hot List” yesterday—its ranking of the top ten magazines of the moment. Number one, of course (?!), was Hearst’s Food Network Magazine, which nabbed the heaviest crown for refusing to take itself too seriously while cooking up a 1.3 million circulation in just two years. (Somewhere under a layer of rich, truffle-addled soil in leafiest Park Slope, a certain former Conde Nast-er is rolling in its grave.)

As explained by AdWeek’s editors, the “rankings are based on financial performance metrics—ad page, ad revenue, newsstand, and overall circulation, growth—along with an influence measurement derived from social media footprint, press impressions, and search engine results. Also factored in is a product quality measurement, based on the number of edit pages, Web traffic, awards, and other reader satisfaction benchmarks.”

The result is an eclectic group: 1. Food Network Magazine, 2. Marie Claire, 3. Elle Decor, 4. Wired, 5. GQ, 6. People StyleWatch, 7. Cosmopolitan, 8. Rolling Stone, 9. Bloomberg Businessweek, and 10. Vanity Fair. Some shrewd choices—Rolling Stone’s impact has been outsized, with influential reporting on America’s wars and the people running them, even as it has physically shrunk—along with a fair number of head-scratchers.

But it got us thinking: this isn’t necessarily the list that we’d put together if we were thinking of America’s finest journals. As such, we’d like your help to put together an alternative “Hot List” of the ten most essential magazines in America. So give us the names of up to ten magazines you feel qualify as “essential,” and tell us why you feel they are. We’re thinking of those that feature exemplary writing in their fronts, backs, and features; striking and relevant photography and design; and a distinct, recognizable voice all their own. And they should have influence and a cultural impact.

Oh, and no need to cite CJR—that’s assumed.

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The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review. Tags: , , , , ,