Confessions of an Amnesty magazine reader

At Amnesty we’re always trying to speak to different audiences about human rights, sometimes in places that you wouldn’t always necessarily expect to find that kind of topic or issue. We’re always telling each other about not preaching to the converted and there are certain areas of the media which regularly remind us why it’s so important to try and engage with people on human rights and have the debate. Magazines!

Along with a shiny new Vogue, ID and the Italian title l’Espresso I recently picked up an edition of the Economist’s magazine Intelligent Life, their new bi-monthly offering of lifestyle and culture. I’m always interested in new titles, those that are different and offer an alternative from the very generic. Interesting, intellectual features with a good measure of debate and polemic, but also those incorporating arts and culture are what I opt for. Sifting through the weekend  supplements  I’m still  struck by how powerful a strong reportage feature can be, or how important photojournalism has become; in itself a way of telling a story.

I was reading an interesting blog today following the closure of yet another long-standing title the Word. The editor touches on how the digital era has made it much harder for magazines and raises “the content versus revenue debate”. Lots of titles have been reformatted and rebranded over the years.  Many I used to enjoy have slimmed down dramatically from their former thickness, where they would have been brimming with features. I certainly miss the more edgy titles like the Face and Arena, amongst others who quietly folded a few years ago.

Thankfully there does seem to have been a bit of a cultural shift recently, away from the intrusive voyeurism of the gossip mag that’s consumed the market and newsagent shelves over the last decade. Like many I’ve been wondering what the long-term implications of Levenson will be. Hopefully, and amongst other things, it will go some way to redressing the balance or at least give pause for thought on what we are bombarded with.

There are some things though every once in a while that do break the mould, and the Pussy Riot story was one of those rarities that seemed to resonate across all areas of the media. As well as the major newspapers, it has been covered by Dazed and Confused, the women’s  glossy Grazia, NME and it will also be appearing in the November edition of Q. The case goes to appeal next week and we’re hoping the amount of exposure it received will have some impact on the case. It’s also a reminder of how powerful the media can be, especially when used for a positive cause. These mainstream, consumer magazines have a significant readership and not only speak to a different kind of audience, but help to keep things in the news after the fast flow of the daily news agenda has moved on. Which is reason enough, for us at least, to keeping banging on to them about human rights.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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