The Magazine Medic
An industry expert offers a critique of 'Where to Retire'.
THE PATIENT: Where to Retire
AGE: 20 years
PROGNOSIS: Positive if patient is
willing to make changes.
Who doesnât harbor dreams of a happy, active retirement in a (choose one): beach house/mountain retreat/golf community/island condo? Even the Magazine Medic, who truly loves his work, imagines one day trashing his toolkit and livinâ easy in a yet-to-be determined paradise.
But where? Cue Where to Retire, a magazine born on a bet that Americaâs aging workers were all busy fantasizing about cloudless climes elsewhere. It was a great idea.
Unfortunately, the magazine hasnât changed enough over the years. The housing market, meanwhile, tanked. Household âwealthâ is, for many, but a sad memory. And many retirees are staying put, albeit reluctantly.
Where to Retire hasnât been entirely blind to these economic calamities. Itâs responded by slightly reshuffling the edit mix. In particular, youâll see lots more about vacations. The obvious thinking here: If you canât afford that luxe kick-back pad when you exit the workforce, maybe thereâs enough cash remaining for a few decent getaways.
What We Prescribe
â˘ Number one, letâs immediately infuse some cred into this patient. Most of Where to Retireâs stories practically drool over the wonders of its featured towns. Câmon, tell your 200,000 readers that sometimes a place is not all itâs cracked up to be by its visitors bureau. Thatâs your obligation. Your readers will be the better for this honestyâand so too will your advertisers, who, even in a book like this, are banking on readersâ trust of the surrounding edit. We realize that risking the wrath of advertisers is a sacrilege in our business, but itâs often exactly what makes a magazine valuable to its prime asset, its readers.
â˘ Ever heard of white space? Donât go looking for any here, and donât even enter if youâre the slightest bit claustrophobic. (On the other hand, some of the magazineâs infographics are excellent and just need to be aired out.) Covers: Where to Retire needs to produce some that donât look nearly identical to the ones that just preceded it. Finally, while designers are completely revamping the magazineâthe sooner the better, we sayâdonât forget to send the logo to its much-deserved retirement. It emphasizes the word to, which is just plain wacky.
â˘ Re-set navigation throughout, and recalibrate the pacing, aiming for less of a bargain-huntersâ vacation-catalog sensibility. Be far more transparent about whatâs editorial and whatâs advertorial. Assign feature photography thatâs unblinkingly journalistic.
If the magazine can see its way clear to respecting readers more, its owners can one day retire with a clearer conscience.
A well-known reporter, writer, and editorâat Time Inc., Primedia, and other American publishing companiesâCable Neuhaus has frequently been called on to help create, repair, and run consumer and trade titles of various kinds.
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