Print media is on the decline and the reason is clear. With the rise of digital media putting print publications out of business left and right, Stacker is taking a moment to remember just how important and influential print media has been.
Believe it or not, magazines have been around since the late 17th century. It started with the launch of the 1663 German publication, Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen. America during the 19th century saw the rise of literary magazines, publishing many important American writers, from Edgar Allan Poe to Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce. The end of the 1800s brought pulp magazines to the scene—directly contributing to entertainment magazines, which emerged in the early 20th century. During the 1940s, publishers began targeting a younger age group with teen magazines. Seventeen was the first, published in 1944. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, magazine editors began testing boundaries with notorious cover photos and headlines, many of which caused scandals. Magazine culture also helped to evolve the concept of “new journalism,” which takes the hard rules of journalism and weaves in literary elements for fantastic storytelling.
Since the beginning, magazines have defined generations. There are genres for every interest, from politics and culture to fashion and entertainment, DIY at-home projects, gardening, baking, and everything in between. Over the decades we've seen many beloved titles come and go. Stacker researched and compiled a list of noteworthy magazine events from the past 100 years, one for each year.
How many of these events were you alive for? How many do you remember? Read on to see the most notable magazine events from the past 100 years.
[Pictured: Glamour magazine featuring Jane Fonda in 1959.]
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The beginning of a new era for architecture, 1920 saw the publication of the very first issue of Architectural Digest. The magazine originally focused solely on California design, as the state was paving the way in a melange of different architectural styles.
The first issue of Barron's National Business & Financial Weekly was founded by Clarence W. Barron. It was the sister publication to The Wall Street Journal, which was founded at the end of the 19th century. Barron's first editor was Barron himself. Since then it has become one of the leading financial papers in the world, recounting the previous week's stock market activity, financial statistics, and future projections. The very first issues were only 10 cents apiece.
[Pictured: Clarence W. Barron (center) with President and Mrs. Coolidge in 1925.]
When Reader's Digest first hit the stands (well, mailboxes) it was a series of entertainment and general interest articles taken from other periodicals. It cost 10 cents and was available only by mail. The cover of the first issue said, "Thirty-one articles each month from leading magazines—each article of enduring value and interest in condensed and compact form."
[Pictured: Lila Acheson Wallace and DeWitt Wallace.]
The first issue of Time may not have looked the same, but evidently its content has adhered to the original message throughout the decades. It started as a look at the week's news—the first of its kind—from a variety of angles. The first cover featured then-House Speaker Joseph G. Cannon; the entire issue was only 32 pages.
The pulp magazine genre got a head start with the first issue of True Detective (later changed to True Detective Mysteries in 1939). The first issue was started by American publisher Bernarr Macfadden.
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Founded in 1925, the New Yorker was originally designed to highlight New York's social and cultural life. Upon its release, the magazine was deemed by the editor to be "not edited for the old lady in Dubuque"—a remark that stung Dubuque residents for years after. Eventually it became expanded to include literature, current affairs, and more. The New Yorker's founder, Harold W. Ross, was the first editor and remained in the role until his death in 1951.
When it first burst on the scenes the National Enquirer was called the New York Evening Enquirer, even though it was based in Boca Raton, Florida. Then, as it is today, it was known for its celebrity gossip and investigative reporting. Its founder, William Griffin, secured the funds from William Randolph Hearst. Rumor has it that Hearst used the Enquirer to test experimental journalistic techniques (such as hyperbole—the original ‘clickbait’), but these never proved to be successful and sales were never as high as with other contemporary publications.
[Pictured: William Randolph Hearst.]
Time picked Charles Lindbergh as the magazine's first Time Man of the Year (late Time Person of the Year) in 1927 to celebrate the first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The magazine has gone on to select significant and influential people throughout history every single year, including almost every sitting president, and controversial figures like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Ayatollah Khomeini.
Mechanix Illustrated was launched as a direct competitor to Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. The magazine was a DIY-lover's bible, guiding readers with how-to steps for various at-home projects, from home improvements to how to build your own sports car. In 1996 the magazine was renamed Today's Homeowner, and folded in 2001 after it marched with sister publication, This Old House.
Youth's Companion was one of the earliest American magazines, founded in 1827 and published until 1929. The magazine was known for its wholesome content that had a slightly religious slant. Eventually, the magazine started publishing less “restrictive” content and began including fashion articles and love stories. The magazine was more than 100 years old when it merged with Detroit's American Boy.
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The first issue of Fortune Magazine hit the stands just after the stock market crash in 1929 and the kickoff of the Great Depression. It was founded by Henry Luce, who was one of the co-founders of Time magazine. Despite the national financial situation, Fortune grew to be one of the most innovative business magazines in America. A trailblazer in the industry, Fortune spearheaded much of what we know in business reporting today, bringing to light the behind-the-scenes action. Fortune was also one of the first magazines to utilize color photography. Luce's resume doesn't end with Fortune: He went on to found Life and Sports Illustrated.
The heyday of “pulp magazines” (magazines known for their horror-story plotlines and wood pulp paper stock) had its reign between the 1920s and the 1930s. One that is seldom discussed, but important to the genre is Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, abbreviated as Strange Tales. That's because only seven issues were published during its very short time in the spotlight. Strange Tales importantly helped to fuel the escapist mentality rampant during the Great Depression. Though its tales were a bit lackluster by today’s standards, back then they were certainly hair-raising and created a fantasy world in which people could escape a harsher reality.
For a magazine devoted to fashion, design, and creativity, to land on the shelves in full-blown color was certainly a game-changer. The very first cover of Vogue to use color was the July 1932 issue, which used an Edward Steichen photograph of a swimmer holding a beach ball in the air. It set the standard for the magazine that was to shock, amaze, and perplex its readership with brilliantly styled (sometimes controversial) covers for years to come.
In 1932 a Chicago publisher, David Smart, and an editor, Arnold Gingrich, set forth to develop a new magazine geared toward men called Esquire. The first issue launched in 1933, packed with stories dedicated to a male audience, with bylines like Ernest Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett, and Gene Tunney. Other names considered for Esquire were Stag, Trim, and Beau; they settled on the eventual title because it was part of Gingrich's title (Arnold Gingrich, Esquire).
Did you ever wonder how the wedding industry got to be nearly $200 billion? Well, the introduction of Brides magazine certainly had something to do with it. Before bridal magazines there wasn't a concentrated place for all aspects of the wedding market to centralize what they offer. Magazines, starting with Brides, gave suppliers, designers, furniture dealers, and even real estate agents a voice to call out to couples (or, brides, in particular) planning their dream weddings and happily ever afters. Brides magazine gave advertisers a direct avenue. The magazine folded in 2019.
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Before there was Muscle & Fitness, there was Strength. One's death was the spark for the second to begin. Strength entered the marketplace in 1914 and is credited with being the first to introduce weight training to America. With the collapse of Strength, however, came Muscle & Fitness, which was started by a Canadian named Joe Weider. It grew to become one of the leading magazines for fitness and bodybuilding. The very first issue was actually called Your Physique.
The first issue of Life magazine, as we know it, ran in 1936 with a photo of the Fort Peck Dam on the cover. However, this was not the first stab at Life magazine. The original was around since before the Great Depression but failed because of the economic disaster. The magazine as we know it today was relaunched by Henry Luce for 10 cents an issue and was primarily focused on pictures.
Marie Claire burst onto the scene in 1937 as a French magazine aimed at young, professional women. At the time it was distributed on Wednesdays, which was early in the week by other periodicals' standards, and proved to be a successful move. The U.S. version of the magazine didn't launch until 1994.
In one of the most controversial moves in magazine history, Time magazine named Adolf Hitler its Man of the Year in 1938. It was the first time a magazine had glorified someone so atrocious. In defense of the move, Time said, "Hitler became in 1938 the greatest threatening force that the democratic, freedom-loving world faces today."
In 1939, Ann Sheridan splashed the cover of a brand-new glossy, Glamour magazine, then called Glamour of Hollywood. The cover focused primarily on her face, rather than her outfit, which is different from the fashion-focused magazine of future issues. Glamour is part of the Condé Nast corporation and was available on three continents. The print magazine folded in January 2019 and now exists only online.
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Vrij Nederland was a secret, underground magazine developed by Frans Hofker, a worker for Amsterdam's telephone exchange. The magazine launched shortly after the Nazis arrived in the Netherlands. Among the early issues were satirical poems about the invasion of the Netherlands. Only 130 copies were printed of the first edition, and it was dated Aug. 31, 1940, which was Queen Wilhelmina's birthday and is a national holiday.
In a world battling fascism and communism, a group of Antioch College faculty met with the interest of founding a review. The publication was meant to be a space where intellects could raise the voice of liberalism. Today it is one of the longest-running publications in the country, which prints essays, fiction, and poetry.
After Sporting News folded, it was Baseball Digest that picked up the slack and today can be considered the oldest and longest-running baseball magazine that is still active today. It was founded by Herbert F. Simons in 1942, and he remained editor until the early 1960s. Among its credits, Baseball Digest is known for publishing pitching stats, as well as profiling current stars.
In 1943, George C. Marshall, the then secretary of state, was named Time Man of the Year because of his work restructuring the American military program in light of the fact that he believed America was not ready for war. When Time gave him the recognition it wrote, "He is regarded as the man, more than any other, who could be said to have armed the Republic as he oversaw the growth of the U.S. Army personnel from under 200,000 to over 8 million." This was not the first time Marshall would have the title bestowed upon him. He was given it again in 1947.
In 1944 Mademoiselle publisher, Walter Annenberg, asked Helen Valentine to revitalize a movie magazine under his umbrella. Instead, she countered with creating a new magazine. Seventeen was designed as a space for teenage girls where they could feel like they were treated like adults. After a year in publication, there were a million readers tuned into Seventeen each month.
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In the aftermath of World War II, the pages of Elle were born. It was time for French women to have a publication that addressed the issues that were relevant to their particular struggles at that time. In France, in 1944, women won the right to vote and Elle became one of the first places that women could go to get involved in the dialogue of French politics and feminism.
When it comes to giving children a well-rounded education, no other publication stepped up quite like Highlights. Highlights for Children was founded by Garry Cleveland Myers and his wife, Caroline. The two developed a strong vision for a top-notch magazine for kids—one that developed thinking and reasoning skills and promoted respect, kindness, and sensitivity. They launched their magazine in 1946. In 2006, 1 billion copies of the magazine had been printed. Their idea, fun with a purpose, has become a beloved touchstone in the lives of so many American children throughout the decades.
The All-Negro Comics was an absolute revolution for its time in American history. The comic book, which debuted in 1947, was a single-issue comic that highlighted not only black characters, but was written and illustrated entirely by a Black staff. Founder Orrin Cromwell Evans was one of the first Black writers to write for a mainstream newspaper in the U.S. He wrote for the Philadelphia Record, which eventually folded. Evans decided to use comic books as a way to further journalism in the Black community. The comic was sold for 15 cents, compared to other comics, which sold for 10 cents.
Paranormal activity, like UFOs, psychics, and hauntings have a literary voice, as well. Fate magazine was one of the first and leading magazines devoted to paranormal phenomena. It launched in 1948 with an article that recounts a first-person encounter with a UFO in 1947.
In an attempt to capture a more widespread female audience, DC Comics launched a romance comic. Topics included worries about not marrying, or marrying for the wrong reason. The comic ran for 180 issues.
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You may remember “Tales From the Crypt” as a horror TV series from the late 1980s starring A-listers like Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks. The TV show got its roots from a comic book series that launched in 1950 as one of the earliest horror comics—the rise of the genre was popular after World War II. The main illustrator of Tales From the Crypt was none other than Jack Davis, who went on to create the iconic designs in Mad Magazine. Eventually, Tales from the Crypt folded in 1955 because the public was not ready for such ghastly images and tales.
When Jet came onto the scene it was filling a void that the country desperately needed—a voice for African American readers. It was founded in 1951 as The Weekly Negro News Magazine, following the civil rights movement, as well as the activities of Martin Luther King, Jr. Today the magazine lives on as an app, but its sister publication, Ebony, is still in print.
It was a sad day in 2019 when Mad Magazine announced it would be shutting down. The legendary humor magazine had a 67-year run, and was a vital source of inspiration for an entire generation of comedians. Since its inception in 1952, the magazine was a treasured source for satire of pop culture and politics.
For so many readers around the world it was a publication that defined generations. Created by the veritable emperor of sex appeal, Hugh Hefner, who got his start at Esquire, Playboy hit the stands in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe as its first Playboy Playmate—a title that launched the careers of many women throughout history. But beyond the titillating photos and obvious sexual slant, Playboy commissioned (and continues to commission) some of the best examples of journalism, with interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Miles Davis, and more.
It was a monumental decision in 1954 when Reader's Digest decided to accept advertising, 33 years into business. The decision to not have advertising was originally made to not affect the value of the reader. But in an effort to adapt to the times, the magazine decided to revise its formerly strict rule. It did maintain, however, that there would be no advertising on the back cover—a decision they reversed in 1997.
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The most learned car enthusiasts will know that the famous Car and Driver magazine was actually founded as Sports Cars Illustrated. In its inception, it focused on small, imported cars. The name changed in 1961 to Car and Driver to build a wider audience. Today the circulation of Car and Driver is 1.21 million.
The Dude was a men's magazine that had a 20-year run from 1956 to 1976. Its tagline was "The magazine devoted to pleasure." It covered everything from style and music to society and politics, and contained seminude pictures of women.
Following the fascination with pseudoscience and paranormal activity, editor Ray Palmer launched Flying Saucers magazine in 1957. At the time, it was called Flying Saucers From Other Worlds, which caused confusion among readers because Palmer also published another magazine called Other Worlds. Palmer was a long-time lover of science fiction and created the Jules Verne Prize Club, which gave out awards for the best in science fiction. The magazine folded in 1976.
In a world that was inundated with magazines geared toward women in their teens and 20s, founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus wanted to create a magazine that would satisfy the social and cultural needs of older women. Her vision was to create a new path for aging and make space for people to share stories and help each other continue to grow and learn in later stages in life. When the magazine launched it was called Modern Maturity. It didn't become AARP The Magazine until 2003. Today it is the largest circulating magazine in the United States.
What started as a thoughtful anniversary gift actually changed the course of magazine history. Samuel Irving Newhouse Sr. was an American businessman and publisher, as well as founder of Advance Publications. He was known for his acquisitions, but none served him quite as well as when he purchased Vogue magazine for his wife, Mitzi, as an anniversary present. He placed his son, Sam Newhouse Jr., known as Si, as the chairman of Condé Nast and the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and others. It was under his leadership that Condé Nast took its shape, and under his guidance the iconic magazines became what they are today.
Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical magazine that is self-described as far left-wing, anti-racist, secular, and skeptical. It's no-holds-barred approach has been controversial over the years. But its origins began in 1960 when it was launched as the monthly magazine, Hara-Kiri, which was banned in 1961 and then again a few more times. This led to the decision to make it a weekly publication, Charlie Hebdo. Since the beginning, the cover and headlines have shocked, delighted, and appalled the public. In 2015, two gunmen opened fire in the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in response to the magazine’s portrayal of Mohammad.
[Pictured: French Cartoonist François Cavanna at Charlie Hebdo in 1978.]
Sophia Loren's first appearance on the cover of Vogue was in 1961. She went on to be the magazine's cover girl four more times. At the time it was a turning point for magazines, which almost never featured celebrities on their covers.
Today The Sunday Times is a household name. But in 1962 the launch of the magazine broke the mold. It became the first color supplement to be published as a supplement to a newspaper. Not only that, it was free. It is known for its hard-hitting journalism, poignant photography, and extensive topics that it covers. The first issue was all about the Swinging Sixties. The cover was splashed with images of Jean Shrimpton. The magazine has covered everything from Beatlemania to 9/11.
At this time in the nation, magazine readership was skyrocketing. The number of titles in circulation was growing. It was time for magazine editors to come together. In 1963 the American Society of Magazine Editors formed as an industry trade group composed of the editors of the major consumer magazines. Today ASME works with the National Magazine Awards, as well as the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.
[Pictured: Vogue editor Diana Vreeland reviews photographs.]
The Green Book's official name was the Negro Motorist Green Book. It was a travel guide designed specifically to help African American drivers avoid establishments and parts of the country that were unwelcoming toward African Americans during racial segregation. Victor Green was the founder, an African American postal worker from Harlem. What started as a guide to New York expanded to include every single state, and even a few international destinations. It included driving tips, restaurants, businesses, and hotels, as well as barbershops, taverns and more. The book was discontinued in 1964 following the Civil Rights Act.
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You may be familiar with the term "Cosmo Girl," but where did that actually come from? It turns out, it can be credited to Helen Gurley Brown, the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1965 to 1997. When Brown took over the magazine (with no previous editing experience, mind you), she transformed it from a magazine for women written by men, to one of the biggest publications by and for women. She stopped sugar-coating women's sexuality; she wanted women to feel free talking about and asking for what they wanted.
When Esquire writer Gay Talese wrote “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” in 1966 for Esquire, the rules of journalism shifted. In one of the most influential American magazine articles, Tales was able to adhere to journalist factual reporting, while weaving in color, style, and panache typically only seen in works of fiction. It is heralded as one of the best-written portraits of any public figure, while shedding light on the state of affairs of American life, as well.
Henry Luce was one of the founding fathers of the American magazine industry. After graduating Yale, he and classmate Briton Hadden accepted positions at the Baltimore News, where they plotted "the gamble" of their lives, according to Luce. They were about to launch a weekly magazine, Facts, which eventually they brought to fruition. Luce went on to publish Life, Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and many others. His death was the end of an era for American journalism.
New York was published with a focus on life, politics, and style, particularly surrounding the culture in New York City. It was aimed to be a competitor of The New Yorker, and strived to embed rich storytelling techniques with top-notch journalism. Previous writers have included Tom Wolfe, Nora Ephron, and Jimmy Breslin.
One of the oldest publications in the U.S., The Saturday Evening Post was a weekly magazine that launched in 1821. By 1855 it had a circulation of 90,000 per year. It was also the first publication to put artwork on the cover. However it's longevity is not exactly uninterrupted: In 1969 the magazine ceased circulation but was revived again in 1971 with the aim of focusing on health and medicine.
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1970 saw the launch of Essence, one of the first magazines to target African American women. The magazine covers everything from fashion and beauty to entertainment and culture. At the time, the Black women market was a widely overlooked demographic in terms of magazines. Founders Edward Lewis and Clarence O. Smith took this as an initiative. The first circulation was 50,000 copies per month, which grew to 1 million for print and more than 5 million visitors monthly to its site.
Ms. Magazine was a revolutionary publication that launched in 1972, founded by feminists Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, and others. The impetus behind Ms. was to bring women more than just recipes and ways to maintain a household. It was the first publication to address feminism and bring it to the masses. Its content was based around contemporary news coverage as it related to women, as well as stories of women's history, poetry written by women, and more. It also would not sell ad space to any advertisements that played into stereotypes. The magazine is credited with helping to expand the women's movement throughout the 1970s.
In 1972 founder of Elle magazine, Helene Gordon-Lazareff, stepped down. The magazine was founded in 1945. Her career began in the 1930s as a journalist, during which time she moved from Paris to New York. She took a job as the editor of the women's page of the New York Times. After the liberation of Paris in World War II, Gordon-Lazareff returned to Paris where she started her own fashion magazine, Elle, and set the bar for all future fashion magazines.
While Playboy was redefining the porn industry, actor Douglas Lambert wanted to carve out space for himself. It turns out it was his wife, Jenny, who came up with the million-dollar idea—a magazine for women full of naked men. With the rise of the sexual revolution, the Cosmo Girl, and feminism, it was becoming apparent that women in the 1970s were eager to be a part of the sexual space, except in the role of the consumer. The first cover of Playgirl, which launched in 1973, had a man sitting cross-legged as a woman cuddles him from behind: 600,000 copies sold in four days.
People magazine is one of the highest-circulating magazines of all time, with a readership of 46.6 million adults. The magazine was dreamed up by former Life publisher, Andrew Heiskell. The focus of the magazine was to be, quite simply, people and their stories. The first issue had Mia Farrow on the cover. Inside its pages were stories about Gloria Vanderbilt and wives of U.S. Vietnam veterans who were MIA. Today People is credited with its special issues, like Sexiest Man Alive and Best & Worst Dressed.
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While soap operas have been around since the 1930s, the literature devoted to them didn't spring up until 1975. Soap Opera Digest is a weekly magazine that covers American soap operas with news, interviews, story-line analysis, and more. The very first issue had actors like John Aniston, Ron Tomme, Audrey Peters, and more. The magazine started as a monthly, before eventually becoming a weekly.
In 1967 The New York Times Magazine published Joan Didion's "Why I Write." It was written as a narrative and details her journey to becoming a writer by illustrating her writing methods behind “Play It As It Lays” and “A Book of Common Prayer.” She was heralded as a leader in new journalism for her ability to combine style with reporting. Her career started in the 1960s when she wrote "Self-Respect: Its Source, Its Power," which was published in Vogue simply to fill space because another writer fell short of the assignment.
Alfred Hitchcock's Anthology was a series of suspenseful short stories that ran from 1977 to 1989. Notable writers whose names filled its pages included Patricia Highsmith, Robert Bloch, Isaac Asimov, and more. The first issue contained 29 stories reprinted from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
Adweek is a trade publication geared toward the American advertising trade industry. Its pages cover everything from client-agency relationships to new campaigns, as well as changes in technology. Today Adweek is owned by Beringer Capital in Canada. Its known for Brandweek, which launched in 2018 as a three-day brand marketing symposium.
Self magazine began its run in 1979 as a publication devoted to health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness—the same themes it prides itself on today. It was the first Condé Nast publication that focused on the wellbeing of the body and mind, rather than fashion. In 2017 the last print issue ran and the magazine converted to digital-only.
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Guitar World burst onto the scenes in July 1980 as a source for music lovers to find interviews, review of gear, album information, as well as tab music for guitar and bass players for different songs each month. It is one of the longest-reigning music magazines, even as others have collapsed around it, like Guitar Shop, Maximum Guitar, and Guitar One. NewBay Media purchased Guitar World in 2012 as part of a $3 million deal.
It wasn't the first time the iconic couple had graced the cover of Rolling Stone. The first was in 1968 and it helped skyrocket Rolling Stone to stardom; the second time was a bit different. The 1981 cover was the first reemergence of Lennon after he had taken five years out of the public eye to raise his son. After completing "Double Fantasy," he and Ono agreed to an interview. Shot by Annie Leibovitz, the image was taken just hours before John Lennon was killed in front of his apartment in New York City.
While digital imaging is now widely accepted across all forms of media, it didn't start that way. During the 1980s, magazines and newspapers began using technology sold by Scitex America to manipulate images. That said, there was one instance that lives on in infamy—the February 1982 cover of National Geographic, which showed a camel train in front of the Pyramids of Giza. It wasn't disclosed that the technology had moved the pyramids closer together in order to fit them on the cover. This became the source of a major scandal, which questioned the ethics of photo manipulation in journalism in order to tell a complete story.
One of the most influential editors of all time, Gayle Goodson Butler, known for her work as editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, joined the Meredith Corporation in 1983. She was first brought on as a staff writer to the magazine, before briefly stepping away for a freelance career. She returned to the corporation in 1994 and was eventually appointed editor-in-chief. She was credited with reshaping the magazine, as well as expanding it digitally. In 2016 she was elected to the American Society of Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame.
Vanessa Williams has been a household name for decades. Today she's a popular actress and singer, but before that ,she was crowned the first African American Miss America in 1984. Her reign lasted only 10 months until it was uncovered that she had posed nude for Penthouse. At the time it was a major scandal, but in 2015 Sam Haskell, CEO of Miss America, offered a public apology to Williams for publicly shaming her and stripping her of a title she deserved, especially considering that today celebrities are often lauded for their nudity.
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It's one of the most evocative faces in the world. The June 1985 cover of National Geographic is one that is pulsing with emotion. The famous "Afghan Girl" cover featured Sharbat Gula, an Afghani refugee who left her home at 12 years old and conveyed so much through a single stare with those piercing green eyes. The story of Gula is that she was orphaned at 6 years old and walked by foot with her siblings and grandmother to Pakistan. In 2017 National Geographic reported that more than 30 years later the government of Afghanistan gifted her a house, as well as a monthly stipend for living expenses.
[Pictured: Photographer Steve McCurry poses next to his photos of the "Afghan Girl" at an exhibition of his work in Hamburg, Germany, in 2013.]
In 1986 Cosmopolitan magazine celebrated its 100th birthday. When the magazine launched it sold for 12.5 cents and was primarily geared toward families. In the 1960s, however, it stepped into the role as one of the top women's magazines in the country. Today Cosmo has 64 international editions and is printed in 35 different countries.
In a 1983 issue of Hustler, a monthly magazine known for humor and political satire, a faux ad for Campari was printed that targeted various celebrities. One was Jerry Falwell, a Christian televangelist and political commentator. The ad suggested that Falwell was a drunk, as well as incestuous. While the magazine had stated that the ad was a parody, Falwell sued the magazine and the case went to the Supreme Court. The ruling held that the First and Fourteenth Amendments rule out public figures from recovering damages of emotional distress if that distress was caused by caricature, parody, or satire of the public figure that any reasonable person could see as being parody.
In the world of fashion and editorial, there are very few people as influential or well known as Anna Wintour. In 1986 she was named the chief editor of British Vogue. By then she had already developed a reputation for blazing trails and changing the status quo of magazines. She transitioned briefly to Home and Garden, where she, again, shook up the entire operation. Quickly she was named editor-in-chief of Vogue, whose publishers were afraid the magazine was becoming boring. Wintour was given carte blanche to work her magic. She ushered in a new era of the magazine, but also established herself as a titan of industry, a force to be reckoned with, and a media legend.
[Pictured: Anna Wintour and Barney’s New York CEO Gene Pressman attend an event in 1989.]
The new journalism movement was a literary movement from the 1960s and 1970s that combined journalistic research with storytelling. One of the main pioneers of this style was none other than Harold Hayes, the editor of Esquire magazine from 1963 to 1973. His star writers included Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, and Nora Ephron. His death in 1989 marked the end of an era for one of the great architects of modern magazine journalism.
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Entertainment Weekly was built as a spinoff to People. At the time it launched there were only three television networks and a few basic-cable selections. This was before things had gone digital at all. So where was the demand? Many critics felt the magazine would fold in less than a year. Fortunately, entertainment continued to flourish and explode, and Entertainment Weekly did with it. The magazine was not immune to the recent blows in publishing. But despite cutbacks and switching to monthly publication, the magazine still lives on.
[Pictured: Michael Klingensmith, president and founding publisher of Entertainment Weekly in 1997.]
Ruth Whitney was anything but subtle: In her obituary in The New York Times, she was called the “editor who made Glamour relevant.” She wasn't afraid to take risks and chose to drive the magazine in a direction that empowered women, rather than just show them what to wear. Nowhere else was this best represented than in her feature of Anita Hill as one of the most notable women of the year in 1991. In fact, she reconfigured the December issue of that year—at the last minute—to include the now-famous interview with Hill, outpacing most other monthlies to the punch.
[Pictured: Anita Hill testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 14, 1991.]
For 25 years, Graydon Carter was the editor of Vanity Fair, ending his tenure as the center of the entertainment world, the political world, and the financial world. His magazine career began in the 1980s when he co-founded Spy magazine. However he sky-rocketed to magazine stardom when he was named the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair in 1992. Though his editorial choices weren't always widely respected, he was the first to get major headlines, like unveiling Deep Throat or his spread on Caitlyn Jenner.
Another household name and Condé Nast title, Wired hit the newsstands in 1993 and has been one of the premier sources of tech culture news ever since. In fact, it called itself “the Rolling Stone of technology.” It's known for its cultural impact—it coined the word crowdsourcing—and in its first four years won two National Magazine Awards for General Excellence and one for Design.
It was one of the most widely publicized and controversial court cases of the century. The People of the State of California v. O.J. Simpson is a court case most have at least heard about. It was a case that had two outcomes: one for the victims, and one for race relations in America, which at the time, especially in Los Angeles, was at a boiling point. Time magazine made the decision to make its cover a “blurry, darkened, and unshaven” mugshot of Simpson—a photo edited by the Los Angeles Police Department. The cover is one that will live in infamy, as Time was criticized for criminalizing Simpson by publicizing this photo.
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It's no wonder the Met Gala is the international pinnacle of fashion and always the A-list event of the year—Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, is the chairwoman. Once a "humble" event at $50 a plate, the now $30,000-per-person-event is the social and cultural event to see and be seen, with a guest list that must be approved by Wintour.
Established in 1995, the American Society of Magazine Editors established the Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame awards, which has since been a coveted space among the editorial elite. Among the first inductees in 1996 were Helen Gurley Brown, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan; Osborn Elliott, former editor-in-chief, Newsweek; Clay Felker, founding editor, New York Magazine; Richard B. Stolley, founding editor, People; and Ruth Whitney, editor-in-chief, Glamour.
[Pictured: The Magazine Editors' Hall Of Fame Gala Awards dinner in 2003.]
It was a cover that the LGBTQ+ community will never forget—the cover of Time magazine's April 1997 edition with Ellen DeGeneres proclaiming, “Yep, I'm gay.” It was a critical move that helped pave the way for others struggling at the time to come out. The cover story came on the heels of her then-ABC sitcom leading character, Ellen Morgan, coming out on the show, which made her the first gay lead on American network TV.
It was a bold move—but Tina Brown, the former celebrity editor of The New Yorker, was anything but subtle. After being offered millions of dollars by The New Yorker to re-up a five-year contract, she turned it down. According to the Washington Post, she had been "frustrated" by the merger between The New Yorker and Condé Nast, and by the fact that she felt stifled in starting her own creative ventures.
Right before the start of the new millennium, Time magazine changed its iconic "Man of the Year" title to "Person of the Year." It was a big step for gender equality, however the person that year was Pope Francis, and the magazine received wide criticism for still selecting a man after such an important change.
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In 2000 David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, was named Editor of the Year by Advertising Age. His career at The New Yorker began in 1992, following 10 years at The Washington Post. He brought the magazine to new heights, and made controversial moves. He supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq and argued in his editorials for the war. Under his stewardship, The New Yorker, for the first time in its history, endorsed a presidential candidate—John Kerry in 2004.
It's an image most people will never forget—the cover of People magazine's September 2001 issue, which featured the collapse of the Twin Towers. It captured the exact moment that forever changed the course of history, though at the time the decision was widely criticized. It was one of the few magazines to actually publish photos, but it is People's best-selling issue to date.
From 1981 to 2000, Susan L. Taylor worked as the editor of Essence magazine, and used her pen and her position to influence the magazine industry. She began her role at Essence as a freelance fashion and beauty editor in 1970, the year the magazine was founded. She is credited with building the Essence brand. She was the host and executive producer of Essence, the Television Program, and she also began Essence Books. She also ran a monthly column, "In the Spirit," which became a much-anticipated fixture of the magazine. Because of her role in the industry she was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame in 2002.
Based on the 1998 article by the same name, “Shattered Glass” premiered in 2004 at the Toronto Film Festival. It told the real-life story of Stephen Glass' fall from grace as a respected reporter when it came to light that he had made up more than 20 of his published stories. A reporter for the New Republic—and a coveted one, at that—the then-25 year old was fingered as a fraud, which not only shocked his readers, but shook the very essence of journalism to its core.
[Pictured: Steve Zahn at a screening for the film "Shattered Glass."]
An institution of New York high society and magazine royalty, Anna Wintour has effectively put her stamp on Vogue through her precision, perfection, attention to detail, and fearlessness. She is also credited with publishing encyclopedia-length issues of the magazine, the first of which was the September 2004 issue of Vogue, which clocked in at 840 pages—the largest issue of a monthly magazine at that time. This was only to be outdone by the 2012 September issue, which was 916 pages.
[Pictured: Chairman and CEO of Advance Publications, Si Newhouse and editor-in-chief of American Vogue, Anna Wintour with the September 2011 issue of Vogue.]
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In an attempt to appeal to men the way it did to women, in 2005 Condé Nast launched Men's Vogue. The monthly magazine featured celebrities, athletes, financial power players, and other aspects of style. The first issue's cover story was a profile of George Clooney. However it didn't take off quite as well as the publishers had hoped and closed after three years.
Elle Girl, one of the leading magazines for teenage girls, with a circulation of 300,000 at its peak, made the decision in 2006 to go digital. It was yet another in the long line of publishing deaths. At the time, Elle Girl was set to lead the way for the brand's digital initiative, with plans to expand its content and increase its staff. However, as of 2014, ElleGirl.com redirects to Elle.com.
A beloved magazine by young, professional, and creative women, Jane magazine defined a generation. In its 10-year run it covered everything from attainable fashion and beauty to music reviews, celebrity profiles, and more. Its inaugural issue featured Drew Barrymore. Jane Pratt, the founder of the magazine, left in 2005 and for many that was the beginning of the end.
[Pictured: Guests at a Jane event in 2007.]
The publishing business lost a titan of the industry in 2008 with the death of Clay Felker. A magazine editor and journalist, and co-founder of New York Magazine, he left a profound mark on the industry, and on other journalists who admired him. Among his other titles included editor at The Village Voice, Esquire, Adweek, and Manhattan inc.
[Pictured: Former New York Magazine president Clay Felker and A.L. Blinder, chairman of the Board of Esquire, Inc. in 1977.]
In 1999 magazine Cosmopolitan created a spinoff for teenage girls—CosmoGirl. The contents of its pages featured fashion and celebrity news. Each issue had a celebrity interview, a beauty section, a fashion section, and a Stars section. Later the magazine went on to include a Body & Soul section, which covered issues that fixated more on the inside than the outside, like fitness, mental health, sexual health, and nutrition. In 2009 the magazine folded with the December issue and went all digital. In 2010 the website merged with Seventeen magazine.
[Pictured: Actress America Ferrera at a Cosmogirl event in 2007.]
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Founded in 1933, U.S. News & World Report was a magazine that focused on the economy, health care, and education. Since the 1980s it has been known for ranking colleges and graduate schools, and is considered to be one of the top authorities on university rankings. After changing its frequency several times, increasing it to a biweekly, and then decreasing it to a monthly, the magazine made the decision in 2010 to take operations strictly online.
[Pictured: US. News & World Report chairman and editor-in-chief Mortimer B. Zuckerman at an event in 2005.]
In 2011 Osama bin Laden, the man behind 9/11, was killed. When Time ran the story it chose to do so boldly, and in a style only used three other times in the magazine's history. It put a red X over his face. The headline read, "Killing bin Laden: How the U.S. Finally Got Its Man." Symbolically the X was used to show the end of a battle with an enemy. Previous examples included making the end of World War II, the second in 2003 for Saddam Hussein, and the third in 2006 for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
In 2012 The Atlantic published a piece titled, "Fear of a Black President." It was the cover story, written by senior editor, Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the most influential writers on race. The piece was 10,000 words and touched on the fact that even though the U.S. elected a Black president, racism was far from over in America. He won the National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism for the piece.
[Pictured: Author Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2014.]
In 2013 the country was rocked again when a bomb was planted at the Boston Marathon. Rolling Stone placed bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover that August, which was met with a flurry of comments and criticism. Many stores refused to sell that month's issue, to which Rolling Stone issued a statement saying, "Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone's long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day."
In 2014 Anna Wintour shook the industry (again) when she made the decision to put Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on the cover of Vogue magazine, with a hashtag that read #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple. The cover received significant backlash, claiming that Wintour had tarnished the reputation of the magazine and, according to Time magazine, "some accused the magazine of being desperate for buzz." Wintour has since defended her decision in a recent trailer for her new MasterClass. "This was a deeply controversial cover," she says. "But Kim and Kanye were a part of the conversation of the day. And for Vogue not to recognize that would have been a big misstep."
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In 2014 Rolling Stone published a more than 9,000-word article titled "A Rape on Campus," which told the story of "Jackie," who said she was the victim of a gang rape at a fraternity at the University of Virginia. The story, it turns out, was incorrect. The writer never verified the story, and only relied on one source—Jackie, herself. The fraternity, as well as an administrator who was defamed in the article, sued Rolling Stone. The magazine retracted the article.
In 2016 Teen Vogue got a brand-new editor: Elaine Welteroth. But Welteroth was no ordinary editor—at 29 years old she was the second youngest editor in Condé Nast history, as well as the second person of African American heritage to be named editor-in-chief of a Condé Nast publication. It is because of her influence that Teen Vogue amped up its coverage of politics and social justice, empowering readers to take more of a stand.
It was the end of an era in 2017 when Condé Nast made the executive decision to close the print edition of Teen Vogue, taking its voice completely digital. It was yet another example of the death of print, whose toll has been nonstop the last few years. Condé Nast has always been the frontrunner when it comes to glossy magazines, but the shuttering of Teen Vogue's print edition shows the company's consistent shift away from its roots.
Following the legendary Graydon Carter's stepping down as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, Radhika Jones, then 44, took up the reins. It was a new era for the magazine, which thrived under Carter's lead. But it was time for the voice of a young, smart woman of color. She was the first editor-in-chief of Indian origin. In December 2018 she completed her first year as editor, making a quarter of what Graydon Carter made—$500,000 to his $2 million.
After a 67-year run, Mad Magazine shut down in 2019, marking the end of an era for thousands of people. Known as one of the best satirical publications in the world, it was founded in 1952 as a comic book, but became a magazine in 1955. Its August issue was its last. Today fans can access past content via comic book stores and subscriptions.
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