Tuesday, September 27, 2005

WaPo's Magazine Reader Reviews the Good, Bad & Ugly

The Washington Post's Peter Carlson, a.k.a. Magazine Reader, has a great job. He reads and reviews magazines for a living. And as "Mr. Magazine" Samir Husni (a journalism professor in Mississippi who has carved himself a career as a regular quotemeister) observes, Carlson is unlikely to ever run out of new ones to review, since would-be publishers are forever ignoring the long odds against success in this industry. Unfortunately, most of these new magazines are ill-advised, little more than vanity presses for their owners. Today Carlson expertly carves up a trio of idiotic new entrants to the local Washington magazine rack, including one that boasts it will never run a negative restaurant review or any investigative journalism. How honest of them--most pubs these days have similar policies, but they keep it to themselves.
Carlson isn't always negative. Not by any means. I spoke with him by phone briefly a few years ago, after he had written about Cleveland-based Funny Times, calling it one of America's great lesser-known humor pubs. The monthly humor digest, whose offices are on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, has been the little engine that could for more than 20 years, owned and still operated by a married couple. And I've always been impressed with how Carlson took the time to review such a relatively obscure title.

In fact, he revels in sharing his enthusiasm for obscure magazines, as this Mediabistro interview notes. You can check out some of his work at this archive of his columns.


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