Magazine article The New Yorker

Dial-a-Mag

Magazine article The New Yorker

Dial-a-Mag

Article excerpt

When it comes to reading material, the thinking these days seems to be that smaller is better: Rolling Stone, the Wall Street Journal, the Post, and the Times have all determined that the only way to survive is to shrink. Michael Merriam, an ex-anthropologist and a former editor of Time Out Istanbul, was contemplating this the other day, after putting together the debut issue of PMc, the world's first iPhone magazine. Since he started working as editor-in-chief of PMc--the name stands for the society photographer Patrick McMullan, its founder and muse--Merriam has spent thousands of hours reading, writing, and editing on his iPhone's three-by-two-inch screen.

"It's a little different, because you're more conscious of the fact that you have to turn the page a lot," he said. "So if I've turned the page six times"--a page of PMc has about a hundred and fifty words of text--"I start to feel like, O.K., something has to have happened already." This hasn't been much trouble for the writers who have contributed so far--Nicola Kraus ("The Nanny Diaries") wrote "The Electric Porcupine," a tone poem about New York, and Molly Jong-Fast ("The Sex Doctors in the Basement") wrote a piece about the five worst Manhattan trends. Merriam, who is twenty-nine and has messy strawberry-blond hair, believes that you can publish perfectly good articles on a phone. "There just have to be fewer adjectives and adverbs," he said. "Just nouns followed by verbs. I think a Joan Didion sentence--a lot of short sentences--can do that. Joan Didion's sentences don't rely on subordinate clauses." Another plus: when you're reading a restaurant review in a paper magazine, you have to make mental notes--Oh, I should probably call tomorrow and make a reservation. But, when you're reading on your phone, Merriam said, "you just press a button and you're calling."

Recently, during fashion week, Merriam led the way into the tents in Bryant Park, where McMullan, dressed in a loose pin-striped suit, was backstage at the Betsey Johnson show, taking pictures. He had just bagged a shot of Kelly Osbourne. "This is where a photographer is really a photographer," he said, wiping some sweat from his chin. "You don't have time to change the lighting. You have to get it, and then you edit." He zoomed in on a dress with white ruffles. "Now, that is beautiful!" he said. …

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