Welcome to the election-year special collector’s edition of The New York Review of Magazines. In a nod to the democratic process, NYRM contains a smattering of political pieces. We delve into the list of presidential campaign donors, to see which magazine luminaries gave cash to whom. With the benefit of hindsight, we look at journalists’ confident primary race predictions that were way off the mark. To top it all, we glean some insights into the media-savvy decisions behind Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits.

Here in New York, our senator won the state’s Democratic primary, but her movements were eclipsed by the governor, who one-upped her with his prostitution brouhaha. Larry Flynt was busy with the scandal, but he couldn’t resist the urge to chat. New York enjoyed its last weekend under Gov. Eliot Spitzer and, after David Paterson’s dull induction ceremony, voters breathed a sigh of relief when he admitted to snorting cocaine and sleeping with women other than his wife. The city was in capable hands once again.

Sex, as our Cosmo quiz reminds us, sells, but there was a time when magazines used the promise of something other than sex to sell clothes. We considered putting a photo of a sexy postal worker on the cover, to illustrate the article on magazine postal rate hikes. Our philatelic research earned us a stern e-mail from the Postal Regulatory Commission. While its stamps feature pretty pictures of butterflies and symbols of Freedom (the Liberty Bell, Liberty herself, soaring jet planes), the Post Office is all business when it comes to pricing.

NYRM waded through Vice’s delightful musings on bullshit, and followed Christopher Hitchens into the bathroom. Presciently, we watched the Oscars for the past five years in preparation for this very magazine. One reporter sequestered herself in the sex museum archives, got a discount from a newsstand guy when she bought porn magazines and explored an S&M; dungeon in Chelsea. (OK, so that last bit had nothing to do with NYRM; just a date gone fascinatingly awry.)

Having done all of this, returned and typed up our notes, we realized that the industry still doesn’t know where it’s headed. Many magazines have folded or have been swallowed by behemoth corporations. One of our reporters surveys these changes, while another probes the plight of the struggling Washington Monthly. While business is booming on the web, NYRM takes stock of this whole internet thing.

Magazines compete for readers’ attention, and now they’re fighting with bloggers, too. Conflict makes a great story; hence our article about the magazine war between The Weekly Standard and The New Republic. We also deconstruct the uneasy relationship between editorial and advertising: some fitness publications espouse a healthy lifestyle even as they hawk hokey diet pills that taste like Clorox. Journalists might resort to such quack fixes, given their patchy or nonexistent health-insurance coverage.

As Spitzer discovered, sometimes it’s all about the money. Our lack of it meant that we couldn’t afford to print NYRM on recycled paper. We also tried, and failed, to sell ad space to bring in some cash. So despite the best efforts of one of our reporters, we can boast that we’re 100 percent advertisement-free.





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Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
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