Presenting Media Guy’s B, B-, C, C-, D, D-, F Lists

Weekly Commentary From the Media Guy

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Elsewhere in this week’s issue of Advertising Age you’ll find the annual “A-list” of magazines, which is all very well and good—but just a bit too exclusive for Media Guy’s tastes. Away with the velvet rope! Presenting my slightly more inclusive list:

The B-list
Celebrity Hairstyles only comes out four times a year, and that makes me sad. Really, the times we live in demand that CH should be a weekly, at the very least. I know that would be a lot more work for the editors, but as it is, they’re overthinking the stories—by which I mean captions—and if I were running the show, I’d move it toward more direct, streamlined, relatable captions along the lines of “Shiny… pretty… want hair like Jessica Simpson… So… pretty!”

The B-minus list
This honor goes to ADDitude, the magazine for people with attention deficit disorder. Mainly because it writes its own jo—you know, I should really check my e-mail again. Wait, did I remember to buy more cat food? Martha Stewart totally has man-hands.

The C-plus list
Every Day with Rachel Ray. OK, it’s probably not fair to rate a magazine before it’s even come out, but speaking of Martha Stewart, hello, she’s already got a great little title called Everyday Food. How cheesy is it that the Readers Digest Association bit off of Martha’s food magazine for its title? OK, I guess there are some other words in there. (That’s why I’m launching Sports Illustrated With Simon Dumenco.) Ray’s magazine has reportedly been having a tumultuous launch—a shocking amount of staff turnover. For my money, the bad karma begins with the title.

The C-list
Maxim et al. Remember when laddie mags sort of briefly mattered? Remember when they were kind of amusing? Now they’re just tired. And thoroughly average. And totally indistinguishable from one another.

The C-minus list
U.S. News & World Report aka News You Can’t Use aka News You Won’t Use aka News You Don’t Want aka News You -- Wait, Is That Thing Still Being Published?

The D-plus list
Once upon a time, Out probably mattered. But ever since quasi-straight mass magazines like GQ and Details (full disclosure: I’m a contributing editor at the latter) have been gaying it up, not even the gays need Out anymore. So what’s Out good for now? Don’t ask Editor in Chief Brendan Lemon, who just quit. Probably because he got sick of its idiotic signature motif: putting cute straight celebs on the cover and then making them testify as to their gay-friendliness -- which is sort of like Ebony putting Ray Romano on its cover and getting him to say, “I have lots of black friends, really!”

The D-list
The once-venerable Life, reborn as a Friday newspaper supplement, is so suffocatingly lame it has me thinking DGINFAII (Dear God, It’s Not Friday Again, Is It?) instead of TGIF. What is this nothing-sandwich quasi-pamphlet, and why is Time Inc. pouring so much good money after bad? Life’s latest grasp at relevance: adding a sudoku puzzle. Why not turn the whole damn thing into nothing but sudoku? Or a coloring book (which would considerably raise Life’s reading level).

The D-minus list
High Times. Dude, you made it! You don’t have to repeat ninth grade!

The F-list
Instead of giving this honor to a title, I’m giving it to Rodale, which shuttered Organic Style just as it was finally getting really good under its last editor, Jeanie Pyun. The title that was to embody Rodale’s corporate philosophy only got four years. What serious publishing company only gives a supposed new-flagship four years to prove itself before composting it?

The V-list
Seventeen gets a special shout-out for its recent “Vagina 101: What’s normal -- and what’s not” page, with its now legendary, eerily clinical illustration. (This from a mag that had already put Paris Hilton on its cover.) The whole thing was printed in a box bordered by clip-and-save-style dotted lines (stick that in your Hello Kitty wallet!) and not only gave the lowdown on the vulva, but offered (I’m not kidding) bonus info like “Anus: The opening of the rectum, where feces come out.” I know you’re expecting some sort of punch line here, but there’s really nothing I can add to that.

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The Media Guy's column appears weekly on AdAge.com and in the print edition of Advertising Age. E-mail him at dumenco@gmail.com

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