Dave Itzkoff has written a confessional based on his two and a half years editing Maxim, one of the so-called "lad magazines" that cater to male interest in topics like beer, sex and gadgets. Itzkoff describes the magazine's formula as "unrealistically retouched photographs, patently invented pillow talk, obvious editorial concessions to advertisers and a pervasively smug attitude. ... We didn't do issue-oriented news features or authoritative first-person narratives, and hadn't published a proper profile in almost a year -- all hallmarks of basic magazine journalism. In fact, aside from the monthly true crime feature, we wouldn't run more than 1500 continuous words anywhere, as if our readers might be insulted if we asked them to, y'know, read. What we specialized in were headlines whose promises weren't quite fulfilled by the accompanying articles, boxes of text cropped to the point where they couldn't possibly convey any information and, by design, gratuitous girlie pix everywhere, at the rate of one every five or six pages. ... Now, belatedly, I understand the dilemma its success has raised, one that cuts right to the heart of this industry: Is a magazine supposed to engage, enlighten and edify its readers, or is it only intended to distract them as they flip from one advertisement to the next?"
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