Written by Mike Rogge
May 21st is National Magazine Day. Don’t Google it or anything. You’ll see there is a World Magazine Day six months from now, too. Given today is a national day of celebration for bound media, I found this to be a moment to remind you of what a magazine can be.
This week we lost a few great titles. It’s become clear that large conglomerations, put together for that magical word synergy, don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to magazines. They don’t understand what a magazine really is—a mirror to the culture the title covers. One former staffer, laid off in the recent 15% reduction in staff, told me, “The mission over there changes every eight weeks.” This likely not the end of these layoffs and print reduction.
Outside Inc’s failure to protect its magazines is not what National Magazine Day is about. Today is about the magazines that kick ass. Print titles are not a NFT or a podcast or a web story littered with affiliate gear links (that’s how they’re tracking you, you know). A magazine at its best is a collection of ideas, carefully put together. It’s a mixtape of good people playing good music with words, photos, art, and opinion. Because it exists in a physical space, magazines can have an outsized influence on the world around us. Here are a few that I love.
-Creem Magazine, born out of Detroit and, yes, the iconic magazine from the film Almost Famous, is relaunching next month. JJ Kramer, the owner, spent nearly a lifetime reacquiring the title his father started before he was born. With my good friend John Martin at the helm, I’m certain this title is going to remind us that rock ‘n roll is supposed to be fun.
-Height of Land produces four titles, but Alpinist and Backcountry Magazine are my favorites. Adam Howard has been a constant sounding board for us during the revitalization of Mountain Gazette. Alpinist has regained its form and Backcountry is clearly the leader in the ski category these days.
-Bomb Snow calls itself a quarterly that puts out three magazines per year. Their irreverent spirit represents the best of magazines.
-McSweeney’s and the story of The Believer is just a great story. Read about it here. I just backed The Believer Kickstarter campaign.
-The Motoring Journal has a sick social club in Los Angeles. How do you join? Subscribe to the magazine.
-Adventure Journal has written extensively about why magazines are simply products and folks (rightfully) expect greatness from their products. Steve Casimiro has been at this a long time.
-Forecast Magazine is a ski magazine Canadians can be proud of…and so it Kootenay Mountain Culture.
-The women behind Flagrant Magazine have made the best magazine about basketball.
-While we’re on the topic of sports, Victory Journal just put out a 200+ page MONSTER of a magazine with Michael Jordan on the cover.
-The folks over at Whalebone are putting out a magazine out of Montauk, New York, and it’s the title the East Coast deserves.
-Hard to argue with a subscriber-based business model when the Pezmans and The Surfer’s Journal have been doing it for over three decades.
-Speaking of that group, The Golfer’s Journal created a not-so-secret-society called The Broken Tee Society. They show the cultural side of golf.
-Freehub recently put out a Vermont issue that I instantly fell in love with.
-Daybreak Magazine is a new one out of the Midwest. Tommy Moore and his crew are putting out fire in their first few issues. Amazing.
-Closer is a new skate magazine by former Skateboarder and Transworld Skate Editor Jamie Owens. Their first cover? Shot by legendary Beastie Boys music video director, Spike Jonze.
-HiHeyHello Magazine is rewriting what a great outdoor magazine looks like. Publishing twice-per-year is a smart move if I do say so myself. By women, for everyone, when HiHeyHello takes shots they don’t miss.
-Apology Magazine is from the brain of former Vice Editor Jesse Pearson. It’s out there, different, and a representative of mags having unique voices at time when culture media online feels pretty boring and loud.
-Former SNOWBOARDER Magazine Editor Pat Bridges and I used to drink together in San Clemente, CA. After the title shut down, Pat moved on and started Slush, a snowboard magazine that makes no apologies in pushing snowboard culture forward.
-The Fretboard Journal covers all things guitar related. No celebrities. Beautiful craftsmen and women making the world’s best stringed instruments.
-The Drake is Editor Tom Bie’s love letter to fly fishing. It’s hands down the best in the genre.
…and that’s just the list of magazines I love. There are so many more out there. Check out Import News or any independent mag distributors out there to find a title you’ll love. Their existence is proof that magazines are shut down due to poor management at the top and not a disinterest in them. Print is not dead. Bad management should be.
Smart people read magazines. These titles don’t need your “support.” They are all proof of the Great Print Revival happening with magazines at the moment. They all make consistently great issues, have their own voices, and you should give them a try.
Magazines give a measured, thoughtful, insightful, and factual account of what’s happening in our world. If you’re tired of bullshit, subscribe to a good magazine.
Happy International Magazine Day, friends. It’s a real holiday. I promise.
(And if you were laid off because of a corporate, IPO-hungry, Jeff Bezos wanna-be needed to show his investors he knows what a bear market is, please send any and all of these magazines a pitch. Your words and photos and art are valued here.)