Thursday, September 28, 2006

Notes from NJCWG Lesson

How to Analyze a Publication
Notes from the 9-25-06
Meeting of the NJCWG

The Surface
What is the name of the magazine?
Who or what is on the cover?

The Basics
Explore the index – what topics do they cover?
Does the publication seem to have a theme for the issue?
Can you tell what their features are about from the titles in the index?
Do they have regular columns and what topics do the columns cover?
Are the columns written by staff or freelancers?
What are the article titles like (humorous, factual, one word, complex w/subheadings)?

The Visual (not ads)
Are there photos? Cartoons? Line drawings? Clip Art? Graphs?
Are the visuals in color or black & white?
Are the visuals modern? Classic? Simple? Crowded? People? Things? Calming? Action Oriented?
Are the visuals large (full page, across from the article)? Tiny (small graphic set in the body of the text)? Or a combination?
Is there a good use of “white-space” on each page?
Is the size of the font appropriate for the material?

The Words
What overall message does the publication bring their readers (what do the readers of this specific publication care about)?
How long are the feature articles?
How long are their regular columns?
What type of words do they use (jargon/slang, formal/professional, middle class/casual)?
How long are the sentences and how complex are the thoughts?
What tone is used (friendly, personal, distanced, humorous, serious)?
Do they use side bars?
Do they use subheadings?

The Sell (Ads)
What are they selling?
Who do you think buys these particular products?
How large are the ads (full page, half page, two column/two lines)?
How complex are the ads (multiple visuals, long text, etc)?
Do the ads use lots of words, lots of visuals, or both?
Where are the ads (all grouped together, spread throughout the publication, before the index, at the end)?
In relation to the copy, what percentage of the publication is devoted to ads (0%, 10%, 50%, 80% of the publication)?

Page 2 of Notes

Every article has two audiences – its REAL audience and its INTENDED audience.

Intended Audiencethe person you are writing this article for
Real Audienceanyone who actually reads the article

Questions to Ask Yourself When Analyzing a Publication

The Reader
What kind of job does my reader have?
How old are they?
How much money does this reader make each year (salary or hourly)?
Did they graduate from high school? College?
How many children are in the family?
What is their ethnic background?
Is the reader married, single or divorced?
What does this reader do for fun?
What political party do they belong to?
What kinds of magazines or books do they read?
Do they have a good sense of humor?
Do they read every word or do they skim articles?
Will the reader read the whole article at one time, or will they read some now and some later?
Does my reader “clip” articles or toss them?
What else do I need to know about my reader in order to provide good written material?

How much does the audience know about my subject?

How does the audience feel about my subject?

What new information can I provide to my reader?

What does my reader need?

What does the publisher need?

What is my relationship to my reader (equal, authority, subordinate)?

What are the demographics of my readership (age, sex, educational background, geographic location, etc)?

Why are they reading this piece (information, entertainment, etc.)?

Type of publication am I writing for and what does this mean to me, my reader, my publisher (web, print, magazine, newspaper, e-book)?

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