5 months ago
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Print, they say, is dead.
Which is true — for the monthly glossies and newsprinted dailies that once dominated checkout lines and city-corner kiosks. Their relevance, page counts and editorial staffs are dwindling with a quickness, advertisers shunning them in favor of the (largely unfounded) promises of the all-consuming and data-driven world of digital.
But in their place, a new form of print journalism has risen, and even thrived. We’re talking about the world of independent magazines, the unlikely hero of the 24-hour news cycle. According to The Financial Times, alt-mag distribution service Stack reported a 32% growth in subscribers in 2017, with The Guardian having cited 76% growth for the same service back in 2014 (it launched in 2008).
So what are they doing differently? Why are the monoliths of media being put to pasture while frisky young upstarts continue to find purchase? The answer is simple, if a bit hard to define: quality.
An independent magazine, as far we can tell, no longer refers to a staple-bound packet passed around in rock ‘n’ roll venues or high-school hallways, but rather any work of “slow journalism,” which can be thought of as the spiritual antithesis of clickbait.
Where clickbait is hastily assigned and edited, often riddled with factual errors and intended to leave the popular consciousness almost as quickly as it enters it, slow journalism is built for a long and healthy shelf life. It is typically printed on cardstock, distributed quarterly or bimonthly, and filled with rigorously edited longform stories and original photography, illustrations and graphics. Slow journalism is not something to be tossed in the waste bin after a quick skim; it is meant to be displayed, ogled and admired.
Independent magazines also — vitally — tend not to depend on ad dollars for their sustenance. Most come with a bit of sticker shock, which their readers see as a fair tradeoff for quality. Still others (like the Facebook-backed GROW or Away luggage’s Here), may be viewed as marketing vehicles for the tech companies that operate them.
The only remaining question, then, is where to begin your own journey into the world of slow journalism. Luckily, the kaleidoscope of titles covers just about any subject or interest one can think of, 100 of which we’ve compiled and categorized below for your dutiful perusal.
We at RCL slimmed the pickings down to highlight the best magazine of each category, giving you the definitive answer on which to read. Should you want more options, head over to InsideHook’s original article.
Think of the “journal of sport and culture” as the New Yorker meets Sports Illustrated, in newspaper form. They also have a nascent video division.
A magazine in which each issue focuses entirely on a single street? That’s right.
Sneak Peek: Notes From a Mobile Phone Diary
Artistic nudes, sure, but this French journal is just as much about fashion, cinema and contemporary photography … with the occasional erotic David Lynch photo essay.
Supplements original fiction and poetry with literary criticism, author interviews and food writing. Especially notable for its “New Voices” section, which highlights previously unpublished authors.
Men in This Town
Based on the popular Australian street style blog, MITT focuses on “capturing men with a distinct look in their natural habitat” — in other words, finding regular dudes with dope style on the street all over the world and then interviewing them to get a peek into the rest of their lives.
A sumptuous exploration of contemporary photography and visual art to feast your eyes upon.
As its name states, this mag is meant to provide a moment away from the screen for people who are consumed by them. It explores this world through interviews with the people moving the industry; think pieces and scoops on brand-new gadgets and technologies.
Tattoo culture, from its history and traditions through its modern-day practitioners, as told through profiles, essays and photography,
At the crossroads of conceptual photography and Formula One comes a magazine you’ll want to dismember and tack onto your garage walls.
It’s wax as in vinyl, and inside you’ll find coverage of hip-hop, jazz, reggae, blues and more, interspersed with history lessons and takeaways about important books and films.
Sneak Peek: A Mac Miller Interview from the archives
Dedicated to exploring “the many facets of radical culture,” Huck not only provides a healthy dose of skate, surf and snow, but also music, art, pop culture and activism — all shot with a gritty, realist eye.
Science and Nature
Instead of man versus wild, Beside breaks down our relationship with nature (from migration to fly fishing), advocating for symbiosis.
Food and Drink
A cheeky, graphic-tastic food-and-wine mag meant to blur the lines between gastronomy and the creative arts.
Little White Lies
Film subjects high (Agnes Varda’s Faces Places) and low (Dwayne Johnson’s Skyscraper) are reviewed with equal fervor in this poppy film journal.
See how the other half lives in this digestible, expertly curated look inside the homes and minds of international creatives, intellectuals and people of good taste.
Old-school journalism in format (broadsheet newspaper), new-school protest in content (cataloging resistance movements around the world).
At 20 years, the literary-based Gertrude is the longest consecutively published queer journal — although, sadly, they recently moved the “journal” part online. However, they now publish (in print) fiction and non-fiction themed “chapbooks” and have their own quarterly, subscription-based book club.
Doesn’t take itself too seriously but still has a discerning eye for all things photographic, plus a very open policy on calling for submissions from readers, often showcasing upcoming artists.