Wednesday, October 3, 2007

My Top Ten Magazines

I spend a lot of time on planes. This week I’m flying London-Dallas, Dallas-Honolulu, Honolulu-Berlin, Berlin-New York in a 7-day period with a stopover at Cardiff for the Rugby World Cup Quarter Final. All of these flights are more than 10 hours each way. I do three things on planes: work, read magazines and sleep.

The magazine market continues to innovate and excite. I think there is some brilliant writing going on in the US, Europe and New Zealand and I thought I’d share my current top ten with you. Because in the US the value through subscription is immense, I get delivered copies of all these titles, and many more.

So, working from the bottom up...

#10 Fast Company
Alan Webber was the Founding Editor of what I consider to be the most innovative, inspirational and progressive business magazine of its era. Alan was way ahead of his time and turned his reader base into a virtual and real community. He was also the mentor of Lovemarks, and for that alone, I owe him. Alan is now in Santa Fe agitating, thinking and innovating. Over the last few years Fast Company has been through a couple of tough patches, but it’s back now. September with Adam Werbach, a great guy with a great business idea on sustainability, is on the cover and was terrific. The October 'Masters of Design' issue was probably hitting a whole new market thanks to the very smart cover choice of heartthrob Yves Behar. Linda Tischler, a senior writer, has been with Fast Company for a while now and represents everything best about them. Intuitive, intelligent, inspirational and positive. She’s a very welcome rarity in today’s journalism.

#9 Paper
I live in Tribeca and have done so for the last 10 years. Our house magazine is Paper. Edited, or rather curated, by Kim Hastreiter and David Hershkovits, Paper is a must for any downtown New York dweller. David interviewed me for the magazine a couple of years back and I was blown away by his idealism, conviction and out of the box way of viewing the world. My friend, Bridget DeSocio, was creative director there for a while, and the magazine has become a movement, thanks to Kim and David being at the leading edge of fashion, music, cool and hip.

#8 Metro
Whilst we are all global citizens, I guess we define ourselves by the local. For any Aucklander, Metro magazine is a monthly must. And I know for a fact it gets sent to every Aucklander living outside New Zealand too. It’s controversial, provocative and not afraid of the in-depth interview. This month’s effort with my good friend and old business partner, Simon Gault, is worth the cover price alone.

#7 Advertising Age
Under Jonah Bloom, Ad Age has undergone a revolution. Jonah has injected wit, wisdom and foresight into what was previously a dry industry trade magazine. Along with reporting news, Ad Age has taken a provocative view to become much more of a shaping influence. While Campaign in the UK can bring SoHo to a stop when published, and Adweek does a good job with great writing from Andy McMains and Barbara Lippert, Ad Age is still the first industry publication I pick up every week.

#6 Uncut
Despite the dire predictions that the music business is going to hell, Uncut still makes provocative, fun reading. I like Q and I like Rolling Stone (more for its political commentary now than for its music), but Uncut has the best reviews and the best writing, mixing 60’s nostalgia with tomorrow’s trends.

#5 Vanity Fair
An institution in the US under the brilliant Graydon Carter. Some great writers appear here and there’s always an eclectic mix of 2 or 3 must read articles. OK, the anti-Republican rants are somewhat over the top, but the breadth and depth of stories covered more than make up for it. A great mix of movies, entertainment, politics and current issues. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also Dominick Dunne!

#4 New Zealand Rugby World
The best rugby magazine in the world (I guess I would say that, wouldn’t I). I’ve been contributing to this magazine for 5 or 6 years now under a number of illustrious editors such as Bob Howett and Grant Harding. NZRW really manages to mix the local and the global particularly well, while retaining an obvious focus on all things Black. To a Kiwi living most of his life overseas, this is mana from heaven.

#3 Portfolio
The newest business magazine in the US, published by ex-New Yorker honcho David Carey. Portfolio is a monthly and covers in depth the big business stories with real perspective. It does a fantastic job telling readers what things mean for them, what outcomes are likely and what they might want to do about an issue. It has left BusinessWeek and Fortune struggling to define their positions in the weekly business magazine space.

#2 Monocle
I’ve written about Tyler Brûlé’s magazine before. This month’s edition is as eclectic as the past 6. Ranging from Rwanda to Germany with an article on the perfect Saturday night-in, it’s just a unique proposition. Perfect for long plane rides.

#1 FourFourTwo
My all time favorite. A soccer monthly magazine published by a bunch of likely lads in England. This month is my ol’ time favorite, because it covers the return of local club Morecambe as a major power. Well, at least they’ve got into the Football League for the first time in their history. FourFourTwo’s laddish tone is perfect for the sport it covers. It has the best writers (Henry Winter), and covers the full gamut from the good ol’ days, which is great for nostalgia buffs like me, as well as the latest developments in the game. It’s provocative, humorous and irreverent.

So, that’s my top 10. Of course, I also read Sports Illustrated, Wallpaper*, The Wisden Cricketer, Harper’s, V and Men’s Vogue, with an occasional foray into GQ, Esquire, Details, etc. In this ever digitalizing age, it’s great to see there is still a role for great writing, great photography, great art design and great production values. Long may magazine innovation continue.