Glossy Mags’ “Journalistic Triple Axel?”

Salon’s Rebecca Traister “scour[ed] periodical racks” and reports back on how “an industry built on a meringue of material aspiration adjust[s] to the fast-deflating circumstances of its readers.” Asks Traister, “Do they gingerly attempt a journalistic triple axel: simultaneously delivering dank reality, aspirational fantasy and useful analysis of what it all means?”

Double axels, maybe, in more cases — or, the “split-personality” approach of a dash of reality followed by aspirational fantasy (“outfits for under $50,” in Elle, for example, “pages away from… ‘patent leather open-toe shoe with black socks attached, Proenza Schouler, $1,815.’”) That third axel? I’m not sure Traister found much “useful analysis of what it all means” in the glossies she surveyed.

And here is how Traister describes New York magazine of late:

Picking up New York these days…feels like talking to a relentlessly upbeat friend who has suddenly gone off her meds. The hand-wringing and self-flagellating begins on the Letters to the Editor page…

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.