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Scholarly vs. Popular Articles: Popular Magazines

Popular Magazines

The term "popular" includes a few types of publications including entertainment magazines, news magazines, special interest magazines, and journals of commentary and opinion.

Entertainment and Recreational Magazines

  • Entertainment is a perfectly good purpose, but these publications are not for any academic use.
  • Articles are very short and never cite sources.
  • Authors are usually staff writers,
  • Entertainment magazines include a lot of advertisements.
  • If in reading an entertainment magazine you come across an article on a topic you want to pursue academically, check scholarly journals and/or reputable news magazines for more substantial information.
  • Examples of entertainment magazines include People, O: The Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and Rolling Stone.

News Magazines and Newspapers

  • News magazines and newspapers keep the public up to date on current events.
  • Articles are written for the broad general public.
  • Most publications include both short and long articles.
  • Some publications, such as The New York Times, are known for publishing in-depth investigative articles.
  • These publications rarely give citations, but sources are often noted in the text.
  • Articles are usually written by journalists.
  • News publications usually include photographs and advertising.
  • Newspapers are also often known for their editorials and book/film/theater reviews.
  • Reputable news magazines and newspapers may be appropriate sources for some college assignments.
  • Time and The Economist are examples of news magazines.

Special Interest Magazines

  • Special interest magazines target people who want to read about an avocation or other special interest.
  • The topics in these publications may often be pursued at the professional research level and written about in scholarly journals. However, special interest magazines target the non-scholar.
  • Special interest magazines may use specialized vocabulary and assume some prior knowledge of the topic.
  • These publications rarely include citations, but sources are often noted in the text.
  • Special interest magazines contain advertising and are heavily illustrated.
  • Some special interest magazines are published by non-profit organizations.  Examples of these magazines are Audubon and Sierra.
  • Other special interest magazines include AARP The Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, Money, Psychology Today, Scientific American, and Vegetarian Times.
  • Special interest publications may be appropriate sources for some college assignments.

Magazines of Commentary and Opinion

  • These publications provide a forum for the discussion of social and political issues.
  • The intended audiences is the general educated public.
  • Some publications have a specific point of view, e.g. conservative or liberal.
  • Articles may be written by public figures, representatives of organizations, or professional authors.
  • Article length varies, with some publications having very short articles, others lengthier.
  • Most also include book reviews.
  • Examples of commentary and opinion are The Atlantic, The Nation, National Review, The New Republic, The Progressive, and The Weekly Standard.
  • Magazines of commentary and opinion may be appropriate sources for some college assignments.