The Name of the Game  

By katie Prout  


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A is for Atlas. The name of the Greek brute who supported the weight of the heavens on his shoulders made focus groups think of maps. So the magazine’s publishers wisely changed the name to the more obvious Men’s Journal.

B is for Brill’s Content. Although some may think it’s so called because editor Steve Brill is an egomaniac, Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni, a journalism professor at Ole Miss, says Brill did not necessarily want his name on the cover. The magazine was originally called Content, but when a publication by the same name threatened a lawsuit, the publishers added Brill’s to avoid legal trouble. Following Brill’s Media Holdings’ merger with Kurt Andersen’s and Powerful Media’s, the magazine will now be called "Inside Content."

C is for Curve. Publisher Frances Stevens came up with this title while on vacation in the Rockies with her girlfriend. As she pondered the curves of the mountains, her girlfriend walked by in a bikini. Suddenly the title was obvious.
D is for Detour. CEO Andrew Left says, "We always try to provide cutting-edge information about alternative, counter-culture things, so it’s a detour from the normal. People get confused between Details and Detour, but we were Detour before Details even existed."

E is for Essence. They were originally going to call it Sapphire, using the strong, precious jewel to represent African-American women, but focus groups said no. Many years ago, "sapphire" was a derogatory term for black women, implying that they were uncouth, unfeminine and loud mouthed. So, instead, someone suggested Essence, which also connotes substance and strength.

F is for Folio: Probably only magazine industry geeks know what the title means, which is the point. This trade journal for magazine publishers gets its name from the folded sheets of paper that make up the pages of a book or magazine. A folio can also be a page number.

G is for George. This political-social magazine was named after our first president — George Washington — a political figure above partisanship. After the death of founder John F. Kennedy, Jr., son of another president, the magazine was unable to attract enough advertisers. It folded earlier this year.

H is for Harper’s Magazine. Born in 1850, it was the brainchild of the New York book-publishing firm, Harper & Brothers. And before you ask, it bears no relation to Harper’s BAZAAR, which arrived around the same time, as a women’s social magazine.

I is for ICE Magazine. Although a product of the ‘80s, ICE was not named for Vanilla Ice, Ice T or Ice Cube. Instead, it is the acronym for International CD Exchange, because people used the magazine to trade international CDs when CDs were still a new medium. ICE is now a music news magazine.

J is for Jane. Tarzan had nothing to do with this one. Jane was named after its editor, Jane Pratt, who must have thought her fans from her first magazine, Sassy, would make the connection.

K is for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Founded in 1947, this magazine started as The Kiplinger Magazine and then became Changing Times, before re-adopting the Kiplinger name about ten years ago. Founder W.M. Kiplinger was an AP reporter, not an economist. It just goes to show that not all young, struggling journalists find finance to be alien and mundane.

L is for Lingua Franca
. "Latin for ‘common tongue,’ the title is a specialized phrase that means not using specialized phrases," explains founder Jeffrey Kittay. Imagine a dinner party full of academics explaining their brilliance to each other, and you’ve got the concept of the magazine.

M is for McCall’s. McCall’s came about when a late 19th-century tailor named James McCall wanted a vehicle through which to sell his paper patterns and fabrics. But the title has no association anymore. In April, the magazine was re-launched as Rosie, after Rosie O’Donnell, its new celebrity editor [see article about Rosie on page 20 ].

N is for Nerve. "We went through 150 names, and Nerve just jumped out at us. It was a combination of moxie bravado — you know, some nerve — as well as the nerve endings/physical association of the name," says CEO Rufus Griscom. Another name considered for this sex Web site/print magazine was "Whelm," which means to submerge. "It’s a cool name, but it doesn’t mean anything to the reader right away," says Griscom.

O is for ON Magazine. Formerly known as TIME Digital, ON puts less emphasis on the net economy and more emphasis on technology lifestyle and products. The "O" in ON’s logo looks like the "on" switch of a computer. Without this name and content repositioning — as the net economy chokes and flops around — Time probably would have hit ON’s off switch.

P is for Paper. Sick of the ‘80s new wave aesthetic, co-editors and co-publishers Kim Hastreiter and David Hershkovitz wanted something plain and un-decorative. And they didn’t want the name to have too much content. The goal: a plain outside with a wild inside.

Q is for Q. Even though Q is the 15-year-old British answer to Rolling Stone, with its own prestigious awards (the Q Awards) and music television show (QTV), its creators proudly announce on the Q Web site that no one remembers how it got its name. Those wacky Brits.

R is for Rolling Stone
. Let’s clear this up once and for all. Is it named after: A) the band (the Rolling Stones); B) the Bob Dylan song ("Like a Rolling Stone"); C) the expression ("a rolling stone gathers no moss"), or D) the Muddy Waters song ("Rollin’ Stone")? The answer is D–both the band and the magazine took their names from the famous Muddy Waters tune.

S is for Spin. Journalism professor Abe Peck says of this music magazine’s title, "Its name is durable beyond the technology. Records spin, CDs spin. Do MP3 files spin, though?"
T is for Time. The newsweekly was initially created for the busy, affluent, white male who didn’t have the time to read the news.

U is for Utne Reader. Because he founded it and used to do all the work, Eric Utne felt entitled to name it after himself. This digest of alternative press is published every two months in Minnesota, where people actually might know that "Utne" rhymes with chutney and means "far out" in Norwegian.

V is for Vanity Fair. William Makepeace Thackeray’s 19th-century satirical novel about wealthy, corrupt and amoral social climbers seems to have inspired not just the name but also the content of the magazine.

W is for W. No, it’s not about the new president, and it’s not pronounced "dubya." Fairchild Publications simply pulled one of the w’s from WWD (Women’s Wear Daily), its daily trade newspaper for the fashion industry, and used it to name its consumer-targeted fashion publication.

X is for XY Magazine. A magazine for young gay males, XY was named for the male chromosome. (But it wouldn’t have surprised us if the title had come from the childhood expression, "XYZ!," which means eXamine Your Zipper!)

Y is for Yahoo! Internet Life
. This magazine about Internet culture takes its name from the popular Internet search engine. While rumor has it that YAHOO stands for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle," creators David Filo and Jerry Yang say they found the word in Webster’s Dictionary, which defines a yahoo as: "a member of a race of brutes in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels who have the form and all the vices of humans; 2: a boorish, crass, or stupid person." They say they like the word because they consider themselves to be yahoos.

Z is for Z Magazine
. This magazine casts a critical eye on all things political, social, cultural and economic. It was named after Costa-Gavras’s 1969 movie, Z, about the assassination of the Greek pacifist Z and the Greek resistance after World War II.