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Teen Magazines Lack Substance This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Want to revive your wardrobe with the latest trends? Want to hook that hottie but not sure how? Looking for an entirely new you? Frankly, I’m not. What I am searching for is new literature. After two years of devotedly reading Seventeen magazine, I am tired of being instructed on how to use brown liner for my blue eyes and how to achieve a sunless tan. Scanning an article explaining how to steal celebrities’ swimsuits (not literally, mind you), I wondered whether any teen journalism has more substance.

There is a serious lack of magazines geared toward adolescents that deal with current affairs, politics, and social issues. With the options that exist today, if my peers were given the choice between an MTV special detailing Paris Hilton’s jail time and a news segment on crop shortages, the heiress would likely win their attention ... unless Brad Pitt was in the wheat field. Needless to say, entertainment stories and celebrity gossip rule the magazine world, as does fashion and beauty. However, there are practically no publishers who provide a teen magazine that deals with issues other than the latest trends.

I found a website that listed the 20 most popular teen magazines in America. Their brief descriptions were nauseatingly similar. Number one promises “information on fashion, beauty, boys, dating, celebrities.” The second one offers articles on “real issues - guys, beauty, fashion.” The synopsis of my dear Seventeen, ranking third, provides a nice change of wording but nothing more.

Teen male magazines have a basic formula as well. They tend to focus on a single hobby or interest such as technology, cars, or sports.

I was hard-pressed to find any teen journalism that does not adhere to this structure. I did find one: Canada’s Shameless. It focuses on women’s issues but is published only three times a year, and I have yet to find it in local stores.

It can be easily argued that the market for a nonconformist magazine is small - too small to risk a venture into a literary world without lipgloss and nail polish. However an adolescent-targeted current events publication would elicit an audience. Take a moment to observe a high school ethics or global issues class and it will become clear that students have more on their minds than hotel princesses.

I often hear my friends recounting a story that they perused in a parent’s edition of Canada’s Maclean’s or The Walrus. I have read Maclean’s with some interest but skipped half the articles due to their lack of relevance to my young adult world. Therein lies the problem. While there is a place for gossip and beauty magazines, as well as the occasional browse through Papa’s “grown-up” journals, there exists no in-between area that would appeal to average adolescents with a wide range of issues racking their developing minds.

Seventeen prides itself on being the “most popular magazine for the modern teenage girl.” Yet, it manages to capture only half of the teen universe. These publications fail to notice that adolescents are growing up in an adult world. We, therefore, concern ourselves with matters similar to those in adult journals.

What will grab teenagers’ attention is reading material that covers the entire spectrum of topics, from makeup to relationships to world affairs. The desired magazine is one that is written with the intention to be understood and enjoyed by my age group. It’s not for lack of interest that I skip the political articles in Maclean’s. I do so because, not having been given a chance to read up on the topic, I do not have enough background to understand the issues being discussed. The lack of teen journals that cover a variety of topics creates a vicious cycle. The less young people know about current events, the less likely they are to want to read about them.

It is surprising that the journalism community has not realized that producing magazines like these could help get teenagers interested and involved in world affairs. While politicians have observed the positive effects of other media on encouraging teen involvement in global issues, they have overlooked journalism.

As for publishing companies, they do not believe that topics like the environment and human rights will bring in the big bucks that the paparazzi pictures do. But isn’t there a profit to be made by educating the future generation of doctors, teachers, and world leaders about the issues affecting humankind? After all, we would like to know about the world we are inheriting - and it’s not coated in lipgloss.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 23 comments. Post your own!

zlochi said...
Aug. 10, 2010 at 12:08 am:
I agree. I've yet to find an interesting magazine meant for young adults. When I want an interesting, funny look at politics I go to The Daily Show. But I'm craving for something I can actually leaf through and read leisurely. TV gets a little too fast-pased sometimes.
 
danny replied...
Mar. 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm :
I not a teen, but I just noticed the massive number of teen girl magazines everywhere and not a single male oriented magazine with similar themes (ie dating, fashion etc). I find that very strange....
 
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whispersofthenight said...
May 30, 2010 at 9:10 pm:

Good job! I agree. But I don't really read stuff about politics and such, because it's hard to find things directed to my age group, as you said. Most things are either too adult or too childish.

As for those magazines like Seventeen that gossip and talk about boys and makeup and all, I find them very pointless... What the leaders of the world do is what shapes our lives, not a celebrity. And I bet most of what they say about boys is wrong anyway.

 
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Electricity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 28, 2010 at 9:40 pm:

I completely agree. I have to buy newspapers (new york times, washington post) to read about politics and the econemy. I haven't read an actual magazine in years.

It's all pertaining to the general public, and the average American. Clearly, the average American adolescent doesn't "care", when they should. 

 
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Fayrouz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 28, 2010 at 11:58 am:

This is so true. I want a magazine that will tell me how to dress---only not like a little model with outrageous high heels, crazy designs, and ridiculous tops. How about how to dress in a fashionable, yet clean way that incorporates jewelry and make up?

 

Teens should know about issues that involve them--women's rights, what politicians plan to do to them, current world problems, etc. Editorial cartoons are actually enjoyed by many teens.

 

Teen mag... (more »)

 
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hiddenstar97 said...
Mar. 10, 2010 at 9:58 pm:
i totally agree, in fact i was wondering where i could go to a site that would give me some opinion articles that would discusse world or something for a class im taking(also cuz im seriously interested in that kind of stuff) but all of them were directed to adults- i could barely undersstand what they were saying which quickly made me lose interest, and i dont care about gossip and stuff, i want something that will help me in the future, something actually important, i want to know whats going... (more »)
 
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earthmuffin This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm:
Extremely true. We cannot live with veils over our eyes magazines put the world in a faux disguise.
 
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MarielAntoinette said...
Mar. 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm:
Seventeen used to be much more multifaceted about four or so years ago, when it had a different editor. And the thing with that magazine is that the girls they pick for all the comments throughout the magazine are SO PAINFULLY...Normal? Bizarrely immature? I dont even know! "My friends and I decided to get together for a pedicure party and we watched V For Vendetta which is like totally old but still kinda cool and totally scary." ugh. Seventeen is cultureless and, sadly, anti-intellectual.
 
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toxic.monkey said...
Mar. 8, 2010 at 8:47 am:
i love reading Wired. but i agree that mags for teenagers are pretty shallow... sometimes i think the adults who write in those magazines think all teenagers are interested in about five things in total.
 
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KaplunkyMonkey said...
Feb. 3, 2010 at 10:36 pm:
So as a personal recommendation to you, I like TIME, National Geographic, and Newsweek as great weekly political/cultural/international news sources.
I totally agree that there need to be magazines in the vain of TIME and Newsweek that are geared more towards teens (such as how teens can get involved etc) but also don't treat them like mindless hormonal fashionistas.
 
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yahoo said...
Dec. 2, 2009 at 1:34 am:
wat!!!!!!!!!!!! i don read magazines..!!!!
i prefer national geography...
 
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yahoo said...
Dec. 2, 2009 at 1:31 am:
i don understand wat much of it but could u give some pic and statistics....((:
 
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bella cullen said...
Jun. 28, 2009 at 7:36 pm:
i LOVE seventeen. i completley disagree. i think that world issues and politics are SO BORING!!
 
thetiedyecrayon replied...
Mar. 8, 2010 at 6:04 am :
True, politics and business may be boring to you, but just think, twenty years from now, are you in more need of knowing how the stock markets run or how to apply the perfect eye shadow or something?
 
JacobMeeks replied...
Mar. 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm :
I believe that this opinion, and the fact you must be rather uninformed because of it is part of the PROBLEM SHE IS ADRESSING.
 
thetiedyecrayon replied...
Mar. 8, 2010 at 6:59 pm :
I am not addressing the author, I am replying a comment made by bella cullen, on disagreeing with the author. I understand what the author is trying to address.
 
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HOPEMVP said...
Jun. 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm:
i agree, well said
 
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LipGlossMagazine said...
Mar. 30, 2009 at 8:14 pm:
Very well put. We completely agree. Hopefully more conscientious magazines will continue to pop up.
 
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ILuvMusic said...
Feb. 13, 2009 at 2:03 am:
I completely agree. =]
 
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Ms. F said...
Nov. 21, 2008 at 3:34 am:
http://www.nytimes.com/learning/
 
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