American Mass-Market Magazines

By Alan Nourie; Barbara Nourie | Go to book overview
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technical editor, describes the magazine's philosophy: "We approach equipment as a means to an end--reproducing music." 7

Graphically High Fidelity is quite attractive; page layout is clear and uncluttered and photography is usually excellent (though, perhaps predictably, photographs of audio components are often of higher quality than those of people). The magazine has undergone a normal evolution in graphic design to keep its appearance up-to-date; most of the changes have been innocuous, the one exception being a 1985 flirtation with "new wave" design (with narrower columns, constantly shifting type styles, and increased white space) that was gradually abandoned over the next few years.

Advertisements in High Fidelity are almost exclusively for audio equipment; oddly enough in a magazine so concerned with recorded music, record ads are rare. Cigarette, liquor, and automobile ads, ubiquitous in many other upscale magazines, are blissfully absent. A typical issue contains about forty-four pages of advertisements, as opposed to about fifty-six pages of editorial material; currently a full-page black-and-white ad costs $12,930.

With the 1987 departure of Musical America, the High Fidelity of today immediately appears less music-oriented than it once did. Feature-length record reviews are less frequent, and articles on musical subjects not specifically related to recorded music are rare. Backbeat still continues, though in a diminished form. The development of video as a true high-fidelity medium has resulted in correspondingly greater coverage in High Fidelity; high-fidelity videocassette recorders and videodisc players are now reviewed alongside audio components. In short, the High Fidelity of the late 1980s is primarily a home audio/video technology magazine, with secondary attention given to music. 8 However, fans of the old High Fidelity cannot claim that they have been abandoned; the now separate Musical America contains record reviews, as well as an "Art and Technology" column. High Fidelity ceased publication with its July 1989 issue, after being purchased from ABC Consumer Magazines by Diamandis Communications Inc. (the publisher of Stereo Review).


Notes
1.
Robert Long. "The Story of an Idea," High Fidelity, April 1971, pp. 46-48.
3.
ABC acquired the Schwann Record and Tape Guides, the leading trade discography, in 1976.
4.
High Fidelity published Records in Review, an annual compilation in book form of its reviews, from 1955 to 1981.
5.
Leonard Marcus, "Hello, Backbeat--Farewell, Lighter Side," High Fidelity, February 1977, p. 4.
6.
High Fidelity also manifests its interest in equipment evaluation through numerous spin-off publications, both annual and one-time; the most prominent has been Stereo, an annual that began in 1980.
7.
Robert Long, as quoted in Edward J. Foster. "High Fidelity Gurus," Village Voice, 9 October 1978, p. 79.
8
. High Fidelity's chief rival, Stereo Review, has as yet shown little interest in video.

-160-

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