The resurgence of Macworld Magazine

In a few articles written by yours truly over the past year, I have been very critical of Macworld magazine. I saw what I (and most) considered the premier Macintosh print magazine coasting along on its laurels. The attitude I read in Macworld every month was “We’re it, and you will buy us because you don’t have any viable alternatives. We are the king of the Macintosh publishing world, we set the standard, and we will do what we want.” I did not think they were really publishing a magazine that most readers would benefit from. It did not read like a magazine for its readers, but rather a magazine catering to the Macintosh vendors. And after reading their latest offering, the September 2001 issue, I find myself pleasantly surprised.

This issue of Macworld may just mark a new resurgence of the once great publication. It is a much better read on a whole than the last year and a half’s worth of issues. And while it is not one or two (or three) things better in this issue than even last month, the entire issue seems to have more life in it. It really seems to be written with the reader in mind. There is a lot of very useful information in this issue, presented in what seems to me a newer, refreshing manner. But I will be darned if I can put my finger on what it is I like so much about it?

A closer look, then.

The “Forums and Feedback” page (ostensibly the letter page) is way too short, only one page. And I really wish they would actually respond to the letters. The last letter “Toasting iTunes” alone would have provided a good forum to answer a vexing question many Mac users have.

Readers enjoy reading other peoples letters in magazines. I know this from when was known as My Mac Magazine, a monthly digital magazine. I would get more letters about our letter page than almost any other content on a monthly basis. That was one of the reasons I always tried to run a long, or at least full, letter page. And I responded to each and every letter on that page when a reply was warranted. I would think a major magazine would at least make that much of an effort.

So, the letter page is smaller and not given enough attention as it deserves. That surly does not make this issue of Macworld better, yet I still feel that this issue could be an upward turning point for them.

We also have the obligatory “The Vision Thing” from outgoing editor in chief Andrew Gore. While I enjoy some of Mr. Gore’s writing, his stuff as of late has been less than inspiring. I read his last years worth of editorials and felt he was more going through the motions than really moving Macworld magazine into the future. It felt like it was more of the “Same old, same old” every month.

I enjoyed his column this month. Maybe it is because I know it will probably be his last. Rick LePage is taking over Mr. Gore’s duties. As was announced on July 9th, Rick LePage will join Macworld in September, as vice president of content and editor in chief for Macworld magazine and its Web site. (Noted by MacCentral) Rick’s last stint was over at MacInTouch, a good information site for Mac users. I think Rick will bring something new to the magazine, while I hope he keeps what has been working.

The special “Macworld Expo New York 2001” had no new information at all. Almost everyone reading it had read all the same information for the whole of last month, but Macworld magazine would be remiss without the three-page spread on the event.

Most of the content in the magazine this month was typical fare, but seemed to exhume an excitement I had not seen in a long while. Some of the featured content, such as the excellent nine pages of “Master Final Cut” was very well written. Now THIS is content users can really use! As was Adam C. Angst’s “Save Your Data” column. Just a really good, informative, well thought out article.

Maybe, just maybe, someone realized that this is MACWORLD, the magazine that is supposed to set the standard. The magazine each and every Mac writers really wants to be writing for. It will take another few issues to prove one way or another if this is truly a resurgence or just a one-issue fluke, but I have a good feeling about the future of Macworld Magazine. I HOPE this is the start of something really great from the King of the Mac press. And if it is not, hey, maybe I will just have to find an investor and start my own print Mac magazine, and show them how it’s REALLY done! Hey, it could happen!

In the meantime, I have some flying pigs to catch…

Tim Robertson

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