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More content please

Amanda Gray | Friday, February 18, 2011

I’ve got a beef with magazine advertisements.

My best friend got me a subscription to Vanity Fair for my birthday. This seems to be a trend, because another friend got me a subscription to Cosmopolitan last year. Two magazines arrive in my little mailbox once a month, making me happy while I’m on the exercise bike at the Rock.

When I got the gigantic Hollywood Edition of Vanity Fair last week, I was ecstatic. It was huge! It took up all the space in my box, nearly an inch thick with glossy pages, bright pictures and sure-to-be scandalous articles. I popped it into my bag without opening it, deciding to head to the Rock and read while I worked out. I grabbed Cosmo, too, because the Lea Michele issue was sitting unread on my desk.

I was downright insulted when I opened them up during my warm up. Starting with Cosmo, it took me 12 pages of advertisements before I hit the Contents page. Twelve! Flipping through the issue, I couldn’t help noticing how intrusive these ads were. The ads weren’t just traditional pages — a cardboard insert page had foundation samples in every skin tone and perfume samples overpowering everything else poked out between the skanky articles. (You know that’s all anyone reads Cosmo for. Don’t lie.)

After powering through Cosmo in 20 minutes, I switched to Vanity Fair. I was so excited, hoping this super-thick edition would be enough reading material left to get me through my workout.

I should have stuck with Cosmo.

The Contents page was on page 48. The second page of the Contents page was on page 62. Honestly, I don’t mind flipping through one or two pages of ads. I like looking at the new styles just as much as the next girl, and the ‘haute couture’ ads in magazines like Vanity Fair are always visually interesting, if not always applicable to real fashion sense. However, 48 pages of ads are not necessary at all. I know the journalism industry is fading quickly, but is it that bad? So much for expectations. I wanted page after page of Vanity Fair writing, which is known in the magazine industry to be some of the best long-form journalism out there. Don’t believe me? Check out the January issue — the Johnny Depp feature will blow your mind. But I didn’t get this writing with the March issue. Out of the 352-page issue, I got 70, maybe 80 pages of content. That’s 23 percent content, 77 percent ads, adding up to 100 percent disgruntled reader.

Consider this a plea, oh magazines of my mailbox:

Cut down on the ads, and increase the content. Hundreds, if not thousands, of writers would love to touch pen to paper for you, filling those pages devoted to Clearasil and Rimmel London with compelling and interesting stories that readers will prefer much more when they’re sweating in the gym.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Amanda Gray at agray3@nd.edu