What Is a Magazine?

Scott C. McDonald
Time Warner Inc.

What is a magazine? I have been asked to address this question, presumably because, after having spent more than a decade studying consumer and market dynamics surrounding conventional print magazines, I have devoted the past four to the study of interactive media. So, it is probably thought, I might have something interesting to say about what happens when regular magazines take on an electronic form, or when publications are created expressly for an electronic medium. Are these still magazines? Do readers read them in the same way? Does cognition, the relationship between what is written and what is comprehended, operate in the same way? And on the commercial side of things, do advertisements serve the same function when presented on a computer screen that they serve when printed on a page? Can you pitch your product or build your brand in the same way in an electronic magazine? In other words, does the rise of electronic media challenge our fundamental understanding of the magazine?