I’m thinking of subscribing to a magazine . . .


Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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39 Responses

  1. Dan Miller says:

    I say go with the Atlantic. I subscribe and it really is easier to read their longer articles in magazine form. Plus, their stuff really is worth paying for even if you can get it free. And I bet that it exposes you to fewer odious direct-mail lists just by virtue of being non-ideological.Report

    • Concur entirely with Dan. I’m also a subscriber, like having the mobility of reading the longer articles at my disposal and supporting the Atlantic in the time of a crumbling media industry.Report

      • Dan Miller in reply to Scott H. Payne says:

        Another place that does really good long-form journalism is the New Yorker, which is also worth subscribing to. Pretty sure they don’t give away the whole mag online either.Report

        • Sonny Bunch in reply to Dan Miller says:

          I just assumed that Will already subscribed to the New Yorker since it wasn’t on the list. If he hasn’t, then that should be the subscription choice. The New Yorker is, hands down, the best publication in the country.Report

          • Will in reply to Sonny Bunch says:

            Dan and Sonny –

            So you guys would take the New Yorker over any of these other publications? I left it off the list because I’m looking for something a bit more political (for lack of a better word), but maybe I should reconsider . . .Report

            • Dan Miller in reply to Will says:

              It’s a bit of a tough call, but yeah, the New Yorker wins this one. And the front sections (“Talk of the Town”) generally has at least one explicitly political article which is always worth reading.Report

              • Sonny Bunch in reply to Dan Miller says:

                I mean, TWS could probably use the business more…but The New Yorker is, week-in, week-out, the best publication in the country. It’s the only magazine I read cover-to-cover every week.*

                *Not counting the fiction, because I don’t read much fiction in general.Report

            • alkali in reply to Will says:

              Agree on the New Yorker. I would also consider looking at smaller press magazines (Stop Smiling, Diner Journal, The Art Of Eating, Geez, to name a few I have subscribed to) which have the advantage of bringing you things you won’t have read on the net anyway.Report

      • Will in reply to Scott H. Payne says:

        It’s a tempting option, to be sure. And I do want the Atlantic to stay in business. But damnit, why are they giving away their articles for free?Report

  2. Sonny Bunch says:

    I’m obviously biased towards option four, so take this with a grain of salt: Instead of thinking of it as subsidizing Bill Kristol, realize you’re subsidizing Labash and Messenger (and Andy Ferguson and, to a lesser extent since he’s all over the place anyway, Chris Caldwell). Bill’s always going to land on his feet, but the market for intelligent, long form journalism is small and shrinking by the day. (The print edition also looks pretty good in comparison to the web, especially with regard to those longer pieces.) The Atlantic would be my second choice … though I let my subscription lapse a while back, and haven’t really missed it.Report

    • Will in reply to Sonny Bunch says:

      I pretty much agree with all of this. Another reason I’m leaning towards the Standard is their eclecticism; I really can’t think of too many other outlets that would publish a (great) cover story on cocktails.Report

      • Sonny Bunch in reply to Will says:

        Also true. The Standard’s arts section is always an interesting (and eclectic) read as well: This week they have people writing on Gothic architecture, Woodstock, the life of Merce Cunningham, and Inglourious Basterds, among other topics. Most of that stuff stays behind the pay wall, making a subscription actually worth purchasing…Report

  3. zic says:

    I was overjoyed to follow the link to Atlantic bloggers and land on James Fallows’ page.

    My vote goes to “The Atlantic.”

    A second choice would be the progressive “Harper’s.”Report

  4. One comment I recently made to someone (not sure where) is that even the best blog posts will usually only nudge my opinions in a certain direction. Long form articles will sometimes change my thinking for years.Report

  5. E.D. Kain says:

    I have a solution – ask for subscriptions to magazines as Christmas and/or birthday presents. One year at any of these mags is fairly cheap, a good gift price. Then you have a few months to try them all out.

    Also, most of these offer trial subscriptions for two or three issues. That may give you a chance to decide…

    I’d say Atlantic though I’ve never quite forgiven them for taking their fiction out of the monthlies. Weekly Standard is very good despite Kristol, as is TAC despite Buchanan. Funny how that works.

    Another good one is the New Yorker. Excellent writing.Report

  6. Ryan says:

    I third the New Yorker. That’s a spectacularly easy call.Report

  7. Jaybird says:


    You will be amazed.

    Don’t keep it in the bathroom. You’ll sit down for one reason or another and not get up again for an hour.Report

  8. Sheldon says:

    Atlantic is the class publication in that list. American Conservative isn’t bad, but Buchanan and, more generally, the totally reflexive anti-immigrant and anti-Israel postitioning are turnoffs. As for the Weekly Standard, anyone considering that pro-torture rag in the same context as the other publications needs his head – and moral compass – examined.Report

  9. Dan Summers says:

    I’m with everyone who said The New Yorker trumps all of those. However, after that I’d say The Atlantic. The writing there is consistently excellent.Report

  10. greg says:

    The New Yorker is a no brainer — cheap, superb writing most of the time. Only arguments against: too liberal – but usually not in a screechy sense. Liberal in the good sense of liberality, eg. a recent sympathetic profile of Michael Savage. Maybe that’s a bad example! New York Review of Books is also excellent. But my sense is that you want to be closer to the political muck, in which case, the Atlantic or Harpers might be better. Lapham’s Quarterly is a nice idea but it’s a little frustrating — just snippets of wisdom from various sources over the centuries, without context or argument. Good for the bathroom.Report

  11. Sheldon says:

    Sorry, Will, but a smug, smirking, and deeply deranged Kristol totally corrupts any publication associated with him. Add a buffoon like Fred Barnes to the mix and you couldn’t pay this reader to pick up the Standard even to throw it away.Report

  12. jfxgillis says:


    Two points. One:

    I feel pretty guilty ….

    Salve that guilt by buying a newsstand copy once or twice a year. Bonus is, you can spread the wealth around to all the mags you list instead of just the one you subscribe to.

    Point the Second:

    If you’re going to read something “generally sympathetic to conservative ideas,” you really need to read Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture anyway. Real-deal paleo-conservatives.Report

    • Will in reply to jfxgillis says:

      jfxgillis –

      I’m wading into murky waters here, but doesn’t Chronicles have a reputation of playing host to some real nutjobs?Report

      • jfxgillis in reply to Will says:


        … doesn’t Chronicles have a reputation of playing host to some real nutjobs?

        Sure. But that doesn’t seem to bother you with respect to other mags you listed. To be perfectly honest, “American Conservative” is simply a Chronicles knock-off for a more general audience. Both Taki and Buchanan write for both, iirc.

        And you get Andrei Navrozov on occasion in Chronicles.Report

    • M.Z. in reply to jfxgillis says:

      I subscribed to Chronicles last year and let the prescription lapse. Mostly one trick ponies. There’s absolutely no engagement with the current political scene.Report

  13. Lee says:

    Agree with the folks above: the New Yorker is a no-brainer.Report

  14. Scott says:

    What’s wrong with the Economist? Don’t you want to subsidize Julian Sanchez?Report

  15. Michael Drew says:

    The only option here where you’ll get perspectives that aren’t essentially saturated into the media environment already is TAC. The Atlantic has descended into utterly predictable cw-peddling. Reason? Well, if that’s you bag… And the second you see Katrina vanden Huevel’s face on TV, don’t you instantaneously know what she is going to say? (Granted, supporting Jeremy Scahill’s reporting would be a worthy justification of sending the dollars that way. From a willing free-rider’s perspective, however, I believe most of his reporting is available free.)

    Only with The American Conservative will you get an unpredictable, eclectic assortment of views not broadly available elsewhere. The bloggers’ work is available free, but many or most articles are not. Also, I believe Pat Buchanan has largely separated himself from the magazine.

    I sound like a shill, but this is my true view. I’m far from sympathetic to most views expressed in TAC, but from among those you mention (indeed, from among nearly all public-affairs publications), this is clearly the best value when considering a subscription.Report

    • zic in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Only with The American Conservative will you get an unpredictable, eclectic assortment of views not broadly available elsewhere

      That reads like copy for a TV ad; deep voice over needed.Report

  16. kadzimiel says:

    The Atlantic is worth reading for two authors/bloggers: Fallows and Sullivan. McArdle is an embarrassment to any serious political or economic thinker, Coates spends a lot of time playing a variety of riffs on the “I don’t want to play the racial victim, but…” theme, coupled with some of the laziest English in any respectable publication, while Ambinder offers soggy centrism for your delight. Reason is glibertarian pablum, even by the low standards of the modern libertarian. If you want mediocre fiction, surely you can buy a copy of Ayn Rand secondhand? The Weekly Standard offers nothing constructive, and you can predict that it will only get more snarlingly reactionary as time goes by. The American Conservative is slightly more interesting, but again, hardly original. As for your take on the Nation – isn’t it the case that the one magazine you need is the one that will challenge your views, rather than simply reinforcing you as you hunker down in your comfort zone? Or are you afraid that your arguments might not be quite as strong as you believe?Report

    • Will in reply to kadzimiel says:

      I read plenty of commentators who don’t share my views, thank you very much. As far as long form journalism is concerned, however, I’m interested in a publication that is at least sympathetic to conservative ideas.Report

  17. kadzimiel says:

    But do you want Paleocon? Crunchy con? Cheney Con? Sullivan Con? Libertarian Default Con? What sort of “conservative” ideas are you looking for? Are we looking more at George H. W. or George W?Report

  18. Max says:

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    You’ll come for the Goofus and Gallant, you’ll stay for the Hidden Pictures.Report