The readability of People is incredibly important to, and evident within, its modern iteration. Though some articles are obviously centered on celebrities, a significant amount are human interest profiles, mildly journalistic ones. For example, in my Dec. 9 2013 issue, the cover story focusses on “The McStay Mystery,” a story on the murder of a suburban family, who’s remains were found in the desert. The first thing you see of the article is a massive spread photo, big letters, more photos, and captions everywhere. Less than a quarter of the two pages is actual text. The whole article, to an extent, can be skimmed by reading captions and looking at pictures. The whole thing does indeed seem “tailored for short attention spans,” you could read it in a minute just by glossing over the pictures; “A Trail of Clues” “I’m not going to give up on trying to solve this until the day I die” “It was love at first sight”. Those little snippits build a profile of the family and the story, and you barely have to read anything. The whole article could be packed into two written pages, but with pictures covers five; it is definitely “easy to read and heavy on photo content.” The whole form of the magazine still matches, with the exception that it is obviously now all in full color.
The most potent connection between old and modern people is its connection to individuals. The article I focus on is entirely dependent on creating an interpersonal connection with the subjects of the story. In the grand scheme of the world, the story of the McStay’s death isn’t that important, maybe it signals an increasing presence of violence in the “safe” corners of America, or maybe it is a realization that our lack of connection to our neighbors allows things like this to happen. The article doesn’t do that however. People gives us a personal connection to the McStays, painting a picture of a family who was “a snapshot of a normal, sometimes chaotic household.” That type of storytelling is key to human interest; “People Magazine manifested the notion that any story is actually made up of individuals – not societal issues, legislation or global strife.” The McStays’s story is made up from individuals, from the full of quotes from close friends, investigators, parents and siblings. Those quotes are the article, literally made up of the words of individuals, not the words of the author.