The Difference Between a Magazine & a Newspaper

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Both newspapers and magazines publish on a regular schedule, offering articles for readers. Both are struggling to survive in the digital age. Despite the similarities, there are significant differences between the two types of publications.

Subject Matter

Newspapers and magazines often overlap in the topics they cover. A news magazine and a newspaper might both report on a major trial, for instance. City and regional magazines might cover similar events or personalities as local newspapers in the same area. However there are also significant differences:

•Newspapers typically come out daily, bi-weekly or weekly, so they tend to put a focus on shorter, hard news articles. Magazines are published anywhere from weekly to monthly or bimonthly. Their articles tend to be longer features that take a big-picture approach. A day-old newspaper might be out of date, where magazines have a longer shelf life.

•The newspaper industry tends to focus on providing something for everyone — hard news, sports, entertainment, fashion, celebrities. While some magazines, such as Time or Newsweek, are generalists, many are highly specialized. For example, there are magazines on Civil War history, art, golf, vegetarian recipes and trends in Southern decorating.

•Some magazines print fiction. Newspapers tend not to, but many of them run comic strips.

Tip

  • Libraries distinguish magazines from journals. Even magazines that cover a specialized field are geared to general readers. Journals such as Current Research in Social Psychology, for instance are more scholarly, with in-depth articles often including original research. Journal articles are written by scholars and scientists and often published by universities or scientific organizations.

Audience and Advertising

Newspapers have a broader audience because of the "something for everyone" approach. A given magazine may appeal only to members of the organization that publishes it, or to people interested in a particular topic. At the same time, even special-interest magazines such as Vegetarian Times or the shopping magazine Lucky might go out to everyone in the country. Few newspapers are read outside their home cities or counties.

This in turn affects the ads inside the publication. Both types of publications rely on subscriptions for part of their income, though most rely more heavily on advertising for income. Advertising in newspapers reaches all readers in a specific geographical area. Specialty magazines can tailor advertising to a niche audience. Someone selling services or software to writers knows that an ad in The Writer or Writer's Digest will be seen by people interested in writing careers and probably nobody else.

Unlike a daily newspaper, which can advertise a sale or event happening just a couple of days later, a magazine with a slower publication schedule needs ads that are more evergreen. Many readers may not pick up and read the issue they bought immediately.

Design

Newspapers have a simple layout and design. They're overwhelmingly black and white, with occasional color photos and ads. Magazine layouts are often more complex, and make a much stronger use of color.

Online Strategy

Print magazines and papers haven't disappeared in the digital age, but they have found staying profitable a challenge. Newspapers were hard-hit first because their design translated so easily to digital viewing. Magazines started to feel the pinch when tablets made it possible to recreate the magazine's layout online. According to Advertising Age magazine, newspaper revenues as of 2014 were sinking much faster than magazines.

Both types of publications have tried to offset lower revenues by operating more efficiently, with smaller staffs and overhead. However, certain costs, such as printing and paper, make it difficult to remain profitable, which has led many newspapers and magazines to cease their print operations.

"While consumers may have cut back from eight magazines to three magazines, they're still going to purchase the content they think is extremely valuable."—Greg Boyer of Price Waterhouse Coopers, as told to Advertising Age.

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