Magazines and Learning

Why we still need magazines.

I love the internet. I’m pretty good at searching things out that I want to learn. But I still subscribe to a couple of magazines. Specifically the New Yorker and The Atlantic. I didn’t choose these. I was given gift subscriptions by someone (either my mom or dad – I’ve never been entirely sure since no one has told me – hey – I gave you a subscription – do you like it? – which makes me think it was my dad). 

Anyway – I love these magazines and as I was reading the New Yorker the other day I realized something important. Magazines help me learn about things I didn’t know I needed to know. The article in question had to do with the hunting of elephants for ivory and the possible extinction of the species and how this is tied to the funding of terrorist networks like Kony. (see:

And this is why I think magazines are still incredibly important. This is not an article I would have even thought to seek out or look for. I have blinders on. I’m doing research on specific subjects and that’s what I look for. I have a limited amount of time and I try to be efficient. But what this means is that I also am not exposed to issues and concerns outside my area of interests unless someone brings it to me to pay attention to.  And this is what a magazine – an actual paper magazine does for me. And yes, I do feel bad about the trees that died to help me have my magazines, but I hate reading long articles online – so whatever.

The same thing happens when I read the Atlantic. I’m exposed to reporting on things I had no idea were important, but clearly are.  I gain a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of the issues and problems I am concerned  about. I learn things about science in my area of concern that I didn’t even know I should be paying attention to.

To me, healthy learning is broad based. We live in an interconnected world. I knew about elephant poaching, but had no idea how it was connected to criminal networks or how the money was being used.

I strive to be a citizen of the world and while I love the ability to find information by hopping online, the value of having others curate knowledge for me to introduce me to ideas and concepts I hadn’t even thought about is immensely valuable. And to fill that gap in my knowledge, magazines do a wonderful job. 

To continue to learn new things we have to be exposed to new things. Subscribe to a magazine and see what you have been missing. Here are my 3 favorite magazine subscriptions.


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