Monday, July 19, 2010

a blog is not a magazine


i bought a rather eclectic collection of magazines when i was in the US. i tend to do that when i get into a barnes & noble - i go a little crazy when faced with the dizzying array of choice. last time, i bought real simple, but didn't make that mistake again this time around (since simple is apparently the key word). mostly i bought old favorites, but i did pick up several that were new to me - mary janes farm, selvedge and dwell. i've seen dwell online, but never in person. i've seen references to selvedge in the blogosphere, but i'd never seen nor heard of mary janes farm. i loved the photo on the front and was intrigued by the headlines - it seemed like it would be my kind of magazine.

but (you knew there was a but)...i was so disappointed. my impression of it is that it was a blog first and became a magazine after lucking into some kind of publishing contract. and while (obviously) i love blogs, they are not magazines. every medium has something it's good at and blogs are good at being immediate and current and informal. magazines that try to do the same end up coming off trying too hard and they also end up too light on content. and worst of all, they end up seeming hokey and unprofessional. because what's acceptable on a blog - e.g. pictures you took of yourself dressed up in a ball gown on your tractor - just don't come off the same in a magazine, especially if it was laid out by an amateur who learned just enough InDesign to be dangerous. in short, it's a mistake of a magazine. i'm sure it was lovely as a blog and probably still is lovely as a blog, but frankly, i'm so turned off by the magazine version of it, that i'm not going to bother to find out.

and that makes me sad. because i'd really like there to be such a magazine - an "everyday organic lifestyle" magazine, a phrase of ordinary strung-together words that they claim to have trademarked. a magazine for someone like me - someone who wants to make thoughtful choices in the food that goes on the table, who wants to know about how to do things herself (make cider, cheese, milk a goat, raise hens), but who also wants a regular, everyday career-type job and a wide variety of smart electronics. i want to read about people who have put up their own windmill and how that process worked. i want to read about high end stoves and how they'll help me live a greener (and yes, classier) lifestyle that will make me look good in the process. but most of all, i want it to be written in a smart way, aimed at the type of educated, worldly person i fancy myself to be. that's what i wanted mary janes farm to be, but it fell far short of that.

then, at the airport in minneapolis, i picked up fast company. i hadn't had an issue of that in years, and i bought it because it had steve jobs on the cover. i bought it because i knew it would confirm me in my apple worship. because i am an apple-ite through and through. and i read the article on apple and it was everything i had hoped. but i found myself reading every single other article and being completely engaged by every one of them, even if they were about something i wouldn't have thought i was interested in - skateboards, golf balls, former BP executives turned green, a neuroeconomist who studies why our online friends give us just as much oxytocin rush as a baby. all of it written in a smart way that also assumed that i, the reader, was smart and worldly.

what we need is a fast company for the organic lifestyle and mary janes farm needs to go back to being a blog.

9 comments:

Meri said...

I love browsing magazines. I'm mostly attracted to artsy and photography ones, plus environmental and political ones.

rayfamily said...

I love leafing through a good magazine too. They do seem to be hard to come by these days (case in point Real Simple). Since we've moved to the farm, I'd say my favorite organic living magazine is Mother Earth News. I'm always excited when I receive it read it cover to cover and have gotten great ideas from it.

Stacey said...

I think maybe you should start this magazine you talk of... you'd be great at it!!

CatLadyLarew said...

Too bad about Mary Jane... I love the cover photo of the "sexy" tractor. (Especially the overhanging "hat".)

Erin Wallace said...

I love magazines. I was toyally taken with the first issue of Mary Janes that I read but now agree with you - it lacks something in its execution. Which is sad because the idea is so fantastic! Want Selvedge, but then saw the price!! My husband already has palpitations every time I buy Artful Blogger, so had to pass it up.

xo Erin

Diane said...

All I could think of was "Mother Earth News" Through the whole description.

The Fragrant Muse said...

What Danish magazines do you love?

Cyndy said...

I have to agree with Anne about Mother Earth News ~ give it a try. And you really can't beat The Old Farmers Almanac (both print and web versions) for simple yet informative info. I'll get back to you about organic gardening and food ~ my daughter has been gobbling them up this year and may have some recommendations...

Elizabeth said...

Hej Julie,

Back from Norway and now I'm reading up on your blog. Was surprised that you never heard of Mary Jane. But I feel just like Stacey Why don't you give it a try to write articles about organic lifestyle in the style and quality of fastcompany.

Even if it is only one article. You can always submit it to fastcompany!!!!