Date of Award

1-1-2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Lelia Green

Abstract

This thesis examines the evolution of magazine publishing in the face of significant technological change in print-based industries. It takes as its focus the techno-lifestyle magazine Wired, and to a lesser degree its online derivative, Hot Wired because both these media magazines exemplify the changes in publishing examined. In the magazine's initial editorial statement Louis Rossetto, the publisher and editor of Wired, claimed to ''reinvent the magazine .. ,going beyond paper by making our hard copy edition a gateway to our interactive services" {Rossetto, 1993, p. 12). This claim demands an explanation as it suggests that changes in media are revolutionary rather than evolutionary. Specifically, it suggests a reinvention (rather than evolution) of magazine publishing, magazine form, the media environment and rending and consumption practices. The thesis takes this claim as a basis for exploring the evolution of the magazine as a cultural and material form in the context of late 20th century, hypermediated capitalism. In order to achieve a detailed yet nuanced analysis of Wired's claim of reinvention, the thesis has been organised into areas which analyse Wired's material and textual characteristics, the construction and promotion of techno-lifestyle in relation to Wired's readership, and an examination of Wired's online derivative - Hot Wired. To achieve this level of analysis the thesis draws upon three theoretical approaches. It analyses the history and characteristics of the magazine form by drawing upon medium theory as articulated by Harold Innis and his successors Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, and Ronald Deibert. This approach is combined, secondly, with a historical comparative analysis of the American specialist lifestyle magazine as refracted through the work of Harold Abrahamson. Finally, to analyse the relationship between magazines, technological convergence and the construction and promotion of techno-lifestyle, the thesis uses contemporary, critical textual analysis as articulated by theorists such as Ellen McCracken and Andrew Wernick. Medium theory suggests that there is, increasingly, convergence at the level of production. Here media, telecommunications and computers/IT intersect to create a new kind of publishing environment. Such changes in textual production reflect an emerging techno-lifestyle that promotes interconnectivity between consumers and producers and an intensification of hybridity and intertextuality in material forms such as Wired. This thesis will demonstrate that some material characteristics of the print magazine have evolved more gradually in the past century than other aspects connected with the magazine form and magazine publishing. These other aspects include, digital and online technologies, which are currently informing change in modes of production, distribution, content, design, authorship, readership and consumption. Relationships between media form and media environment, reading practices, reader and text, however need to be examined further before the claim that magazines have been 'reinvented' can be critically assessed. This research is part of that project. It contributes to the nascent body of new media research by providing an innovative theoretical framework that challenges and dispels the claim of media reinvention by interrogating the technological and commercial processes of media evolution in relation to the mid-l990s print magazine and emergent new media technologies.

Included in

Communication Commons

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