Today is catching up on my (magazine) reading day

Clockwise from upper left: Vanity Fair October 2013 Special Anniversary Issue with Kate Upton on the cover; Esquire October 2013 Life of Man 80th Anniversary issue; Glamour November 2013 with Rhianna on the cover, Vanity Fair November 2013, with Jay-Z on the cover
Clockwise from upper left: Vanity Fair October 2013 Special Anniversary Issue with Kate Upton on the cover; Esquire October 2013 Life of Man 80th Anniversary issue; Glamour November 2013 with Rhianna on the cover; Vanity Fair November 2013, with Jay-Z on the cover

I used to be a voracious magazine reader. However, since I started working in magazine publishing eons ago, reading magazines has ceased to be the pure pleasure it once was. I would start out opening one for the sheer fun of it but even before the halfway point, I would be thinking of story ideas, which layouts worked and which didn’t, and of course, agonizing over the articles. The last part was envy mostly — why I can’t write the way the writers in these magazines wrote. And so, ironically, while I was putting together my own publications, I was reading fewer and fewer of them. I still browse through a lot, but they were mostly for professional reasons, not for the joy of actually having a new issue of a favorite magazine in hand.

Until recently, that is; reading them is fun once again. Maybe because my work, though still in publishing, is about one step removed from the glossies I used to work in before. I have come to accept though that part of me will always view them as work; I go through them with half a professional eye open. Occupational hazard I guess.

Anyway, today, there’s no work as it is Hari Raya Haji here in Singapore. So I’m spending the day puttering about the house and reading the four magazines that have always been on my reading list. (Though I don’t buy as many issues as before because they take up too much space!) These are the magazines that I would (still!) want to work for, given half the chance.

Vanity Fair: In this magazine, gossip and serious issues all get the same level of in-depth reportage. The result? A very engrossing read. I bought both the October and November 2013 issues, because I always try to buy the special issues and the October issue is the magazine’s 100th while the November issue has Maureen Orth’s interview with Mia Farrow about Woody Allen, among others. Explosive stuff!

Esquire October 2013: This is the magazine’s 80th issue. Esquire has always been one of my go-to magazines for great writing and this issue does not disappoint.

Glamour: I always buy this magazine. For me, it contains the best balance of fashion, beauty, advocacy and serious reportage that’s possible in a fashion lifestyle magazine. Of course, I don’t know how long the formula will remain the same. Rumor has it that Anna Wintour is eyeing a revamp of the magazine. I hope it’s not true because I like what Cindy Lieve has done to Glamour and no disrespect to La Wintour, she’s going to make a Vogue clone out of it once she’s done.

So anyway, back to my catch-up reading. Esquire first…

One of those issues that must be read cover to cover
One of those issues that must be read cover to cover

Deep think of the week: Can women’s magazines produce serious journalism?


Elle EIC Robbie Myers says yes — and I wholeheartedly agree!

Basically, if you’re saying women’s magazines don’t care about good writing, you’re saying women don’t [either], because that’s who reads women’s magazines.”

So why do women’s fashion/lifestyle magazines always get the short shrift when it comes to credibility and seriousness? It’s now time for a rethink. As someone who has been on both sides of the fence and is a voracious reader to boot, I think it’s doing a disservice to women readers anywhere (and in the magazine world, we are the bigger market than the men) to marginalize women in this way — because it is marginalization when we view the issues that are relevant to a group of people as “less than” or “other” and not important enough to be part of the main conversation.

Anyway, read the rest of Robbie’s interview here here.

And here’s the link to the article in New Republic: “Can Women’s Magazines Do Serious Journalism?” The title alone is enough to infuriate me, frankly.

Says the piece:

“Crowe didn’t ask other female editors in Wintour’s—or any other’s stead—because, as he put it, ‘unfortunately these are not the people editing’ truly excellent magazines. This reveals another pernicious assumption: that what women’s magazines publish is not as influential or important as what men’s and general interest magazines publish. How and when did this assumption arise?”

Unfortunately, this way of thinking is not limited to the foreign press. I’ve encountered journalists — men and women — who look askance and condescendingly at the fashion and lifestyle press as if what these were doing were not as important as their work. In my opinion, it takes the same amount of skill and chutzpah, if not more, to report about lifestyle subjects and make them come across as relevant pieces as it does to report “serious” news. And equally as important. Because more than the national headlines or the major stories, it is the “trivial” the fashion/lifestyle/cultural writing the sort that comes out in women’s publications when they report about everyday ephemera that makes an impact and resonates down the ages. Picture this: Two millennia from now, when archeologists are digging through our records of what our lives are like, it will be popular culture, as recorded in women’s magazines (among others) that scholars will look to for leads, the same way that archeologists now look at cave drawings and artwork on jar shards to know what life was like ages ago.

There is enough space in the journalism playground for both kinds of writing to exist.

Wikipedia needs help

Wikipedia needs help

Can’t imagine a world without Wikipedia, can you? So I’m doing my bit. Let’s all do our share to keep it alive.

From Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia is the #5 site on the web and serves 450 million different people every month – with billions of page views.

Commerce is fine. Advertising is not evil. But it doesn’t belong here. Not in Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others.

When I founded Wikipedia, I could have made it into a for-profit company with advertising banners, but I decided to do something different. We’ve worked hard over the years to keep it lean and tight. We fulfill our mission efficiently.

If everyone reading this donated $10, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. But not everyone can or will donate. And that’s fine. Each year just enough people decide to give.

This year, please consider making a donation of $10, $20, $50 or whatever you can to protect and sustain Wikipedia.


Jimmy Wales
Wikipedia Founder


From the July issue of Glamour: I love this magazine, but it still warms my heart when I see proof that the big guns make mistakes, not just us little fishies…Then again, as far as mistakes go, this is relatively minor and maybe only fellow publishing types will notice, but still. Schadenfreude, indeed!

Tim Gunn rules!

You’re so articulate — I put you in the same category as the old What’s My Line host John Charles Daly, whose elocution was astonishing. But that show was 50 years ago. Do you feel you belong to a bygone era in this way?

“Do you think it’s a bygone era? Because if you do, you’re underscoring how I feel, Louis. It really concerns me. It really concerns me! There’s a general erosion of, first of all, practical knowledge or general knowledge, I should say, of — forget about other languages because people don’t speak or write any — the English language! I’m very unnerved by it! And thank you for the comparison with John Daly, it’s a great compliment. My first experience with email was when I was at Parsons, part of the New School, and it was an email from the provost of the University. the provost is the chief academic officer. This email contained no capitalization and no punctuation. I. Was. Horrified. I asked her about it, and she said basically, ‘You’ve got to get with it, man!’ Get with it? I had a similar experience with someone I won’t name. I’d been part of a very lengthy cover story about her, and the interview took three days and probably collectively 10 hours. But when the article came out, it was wonderful, and I wrote her a long e-mail about how great the article was and congratulations and I was honored to be a part of it. Two days later — the time doesn’t matter, I’m setting the stage — but two days later, I get an email back: ‘T-H-N-X.’ I didn’t even warrant a vowel! T-H-N-X! Horrified!” — Tim Gunn in an interview with Movieline about his new book. Can’t wait for the book to be available here!

Tim Gunn rules!

Pilipinas represent!

Been spending a lot of time in lately. I used to read this site all the time then kind of forgotten about it until Karen reminded me of it (Methos!). Anyways, I’m really proud of these writers — proof that our lit landscape is vastly underrated and undiscovered. So here’s doing my bit to push Pinoy talent out there.

Pilipinas represent!

Words to live by

Randomness. Sunny day. Stuck in cube. Slow day (thank god!). I want coffee. Two magazines still in limbo (approve them already!). Trawling the Net for stuff to watch/read. This article is why I love these guys. Oh, and the stories are great, of course. I have to get back to reading again. And writing my own stuff. Thinking of starting a new blog, but kinda lazy to.

Words to live by