Media Analysis Essay on Magazine

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Since the 1700s, magazines have been an integral part of the media industry. However, it was not until the 19th century that they started taking the form that we recognize today. Previously, magazines looked more like newspapers-- they were shorter, black and white, and more text-heavy. This was because of the high cost of distribution (Tucker & Unwin, 2019). In the 19th century, companies started to change the layout of their magazines in order to make their own unique brand. Having a brand gave magazine companies more opportunities for increasing revenue through advertising. The revenue obtained from ads could cover most of the production costs, which allowed magazines to charge lower subscription prices. Increases in profits from advertisements and a larger audience led to an overall increase in revenue, which allowed magazines to become a dominant form of media (Turow, 2014).

Relying on advertisements for revenue was highly successful until television became popular, which caused advertising companies to shift to TV and away from print media. Magazine companies adjusted to this change by narrowing their target audience by focusing on very specific interests and lifestyles and by targeting the relatively affluent population since this was the audience that advertisers typically wanted to reach (Turow, 2014). This tactic gave advertisers more of a reason to continue advertising through magazines rather than shifting to TV and allowed magazine companies to continue thriving through the 1900s.

However, magazine companies are currently experiencing difficulties with financing once again, due to the shift towards digital media. Many magazine companies have experienced a drop of more than 20% in revenue over the past few years. This decrease stemmed from the 2008 recession when advertisers turned to digital media because it was a cheaper alternative. This pushed magazine companies to try to adapt to the digital era. However, many companies were unable to return to the same level of profitability as before the recession (Turow, 2014).

Magazines Today

In addition to advertisements, magazines get revenue through their readers by selling their products through two types of distribution: subscriptions and single-copy sales. Today, 89.6% of magazine circulation is through subscriptions (Turow, 2014). This presents an issue in the magazine industry because it makes it difficult for new companies to enter the market. Generally, companies gain an audience through single-copy sales before they can get their readers to commit to a subscription. This is especially difficult because it is more expensive for smaller publishers to send out individual magazines through the mail because they do not qualify for the bulk rate, cheaper mailing that large publishers qualify for. Therefore, smaller publishers must resort to raising their prices which limits their audience size. This cycle keeps the top magazines at the top and the bottom ones at the bottom.

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Another problem that the magazine industry faces today is the misrepresentation of body image (Humphreys, 2019). Currently, over 5 million women in America suffer from eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia (PBS, 2003). This can be partly attributed to the fact that models in magazines set an ideal body type that is unattainable by the general population. The average female magazine model is 5’11” and weighs 117 pounds whereas the average female weighs 170.6 pounds and is 5’4” (Marcin, 2019). This discrepancy is a problem for young girls who are surrounded by images of models who set the standard of what is considered “beautiful” in society. This pushes many towards developing eating disorders.

Recently, companies started to recognize the misrepresentation of bodies in magazines as a problem. In 2017, France banned “extremely thin models,” and required them to provide a doctor’s certificate to prove they are healthy, to prevent eating disorders and inaccessible ideals of beauty (BBC, 2017). Additionally, Vogue magazine has taken similar steps by banning models who are too skinny or underaged. Many companies hire young girls to model because they naturally have a lower BMI than the average adult. Vogue admits to this and states that they will “commit to no longer using models under the age of 16 which marks an evolution in the industry” (Critchell, 2012). The companies that have increased their health requirements for models state that they want to inspire others to do the same, in order to lower the rates of eating disorders caused by idealistic body images set by the magazine industry.

Condé Nast

Condé Nast is a media company that was founded in 1909 by Condé Montrose Nast. The company started off with just Vogue magazine but quickly became one of the largest magazine publishing companies in the world. The CEO now is Roger Lynch and its headquarters is located in New York City. Condé Nast produces a total of 24 brands, including some of the most popular, well-known magazines such as Vogue, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. They are known for their comprehensive coverage of diverse content, all geared toward an upper-class audience. For example, Vogue Magazine has 502,000 print readers and 1.2 million digital users monthly with the average female reader's income being $175,000. In comparison, the average female income in the United States is $41,912 (Condé Nast, 2019). Their major competitor is Meredith Magazines since they publish similar content and have overlap in target audiences. Both companies publish articles about celebrities, lifestyles, and food targeted at the upper-middle to upper class.

A recent problem that Condé Nast has been facing is, like many other magazine companies, revenue losses due to the overall shift toward digital media. In 2017, they lost more than $120 million because of a sharp decline in revenue generated by print magazines. In fact, the company lost more than 20% of its ad pages in 2017, compared to the previous year. During this time, the company had to adapt so that it could survive the change of preferred media type. To cope with these losses, they decided to sell three of their magazines. W is now owned by Future Media Group, Brides is owned by Dotdash and Golf Digest is owned by Discovery Inc. Through these sales, Condé Nast was able to regain losses and adapt to the shift to digital media (Lee, Maheshwari, 2018).

Condé Nast’s adjustment to the digital era is one of its most notable recent successes. They now create videos on Youtube, which accumulate over 1 billion views each month. The videos they create attract a younger, upper-class audience. These videos include “Get Ready With Me” and “73 Questions” videos with celebrities that are popular among young adults. For example, their video “Kylie Jenner’s Guide to Lips, Brows, and Confidence” has accumulated 27 million views, and “Camila Cabello Gets Ready for the VMAs” has 6.4 million views. In fact, in 2018, an important milestone for the company was reached when its total revenue from its web and video business surpassed its revenue from print. This is an important success because it shows that Condé Nast is adapting to the new era of digital media and gaining a new generation of consumers that can support them into the future.

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Media Analysis Essay on Magazine. (2023, November 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/media-analysis-essay-on-magazine/
“Media Analysis Essay on Magazine.” Edubirdie, 15 Nov. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/media-analysis-essay-on-magazine/
Media Analysis Essay on Magazine. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/media-analysis-essay-on-magazine/> [Accessed 18 Apr. 2024].
Media Analysis Essay on Magazine [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Nov 15 [cited 2024 Apr 18]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/media-analysis-essay-on-magazine/
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