Everyone knows what a magazine is. Or, do we? It used to be easy to recognize a magazine. It was a printed and bound sheaf of pages that was published periodically, whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Then came the Internet. Wow! That solved the printing and distribution problem. Just take the magazine and put all the content up there for everyone (or no one) to read. Wait a minute. Is it a Web site now or a magazine?
What distinguishes a Web site from an e-zine, or, for that matter, from a print magazine with a presence on the Internet? Can someone who is publishing only on the World Wide Web call themselves a magazine? How do they know they aren’t simply another Web site or even just a blog? Traditionally, a magazine has been categorized as a periodical. If we keep that category as a defining characteristic, then the question is whether the “magazine” on the Web is published on a regular periodical schedule or whether information is entered haphazardly.
I asked Idelette Vicker, editor of the beautiful “She Loves Magazine” on the Internet, how she distinguishes the site from a Web site or a blog. She responded: “To me, a Web site is more static with basic information about a business, church, or product. You can order a product, get contact information, reserve a stay for your pet at a kennel, etc. Blog content is more personal. A magazine is creating content around the issues of the day or questions of the heart, just as a print publication might do.”
You might ask why defining what a magazine is matters. It matters to me because our name is Magazine Training International and our mission is to provide training and resources for Christian magazine publishers. So, we have to know what a magazine is and who we are supposed to be training in what kind of skills. We’ve just added digital publishing to our training program. But if Web sites can also be magazines, how far do we go in changing who we are and what we do?