Posts Tagged ‘Forbes’

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Fortune (

Issue reviewed: September 27, 2010, Vol. 162, No. 5

  • Published in New York, N.Y., by Time Inc.
  • Circulation: 830,000
  • 142 pages, perfect-bound


  • median age: 46
  • median HHI: $108,440
  • 57% male
  • top managers and executives


Fortune is blessed with good writers and good story concepts. The writing is satisfying and the sidebars are relevant. Fortune dares to take on some of the big companies, even including an article on why you shouldn’t buy Apple stock.


The design of Fortune is a little clunky occasionally. In general, the color palette is simple, masculine and bold. The illustrations are good, and the sidebar/chart treatment is pleasing. The photography throughout is very strong. But the clunkiness of the headlines is distracting. That font wasn’t cool decades ago and it isn’t cool now.

What’s Best

  • Chunky nuggets: Fortune capitalizes on readers’ short amount of time to read by breaking the copy into bite-size morsels that still actually tell you something or mean something. The charts are attractively simple, the stats are interesting, and the information is concise.
  • Content: The storytelling in Fortune is very human. Even though the audience is businesspeople, the stories are relatable to a broader group of readers. The editorial ranges from interviewing skills to stock prices to leadership to answering questions like “Should I accept my employee’s friend request?”
  • Corrections: I love a good correction. We all jack stuff up sometimes, and it’s how we handle it when we do that matters. I enjoyed Allan Sloan’s correction: “In my last column I wrote that President Obama wants to increase taxes on dividends for the ‘rich’ to 39.6% from the current 15%. That’s wrong … Sorry for the mistake. But I stand by my original point that tax rates don’t drive the market.”

What’s Worst

  • Headline font: Many of the headlines are typed in a thick, black Italic font that reminds me of magazines from the ’70s. It’s heavy and hard to read.

Overall Opinion

This magazine is a good read and could hold my attention for a solid hour. Its online component adds even more value, with video and searchable content. But the business magazine market is saturated, and other contenders, like Forbes, BusinessWeek and Inc., are more visually breathtaking and have a better online presence. I give Fortune a B for its good content but lack of a wow factor.

I invite your comments! Check out the magazine or its website and tell me what you think of it.

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

Forbes recently unveiled a redesign, one that its leader called a “re-architecture” of the magazine and the website. One of the main changes Forbes points out is the addition of reader commentary in the margins of stories in order to add more voices to the magazine. What struck me the most of the new design was the use of white space and the stripping out of color. The redesign issue also happened to be the special Forbes 400 edition, so some, if any, of the changes may only be part of this current issue.

So, here goes! In all photos, the older issue (Sept. 27, 2010) is on the left, and the redesign issue (Oct. 11, 2010) is on the right. You can click on any photo to make it larger. Each section below is ruled a Fail, Pass or Win.


Forbes fills its cover with big personalities — both before and after the redesign. Forbes makes its readers feel important because they get to read intimate portraits of important people. Nothing on the cover indicates that this is a redesign issue, but that’s really problematic to say because the Forbes 400 issue is also a special issue and gets different treatment. We’ll have to wait until the next issue comes out to determine that. Regardless, I give it a pass because newsstand magazines like this one take great care to appeal to the newsstand crowd, so I’m sure the powers that be know what they’re doing here.

Cover Ruling: Pass


The contents pages are the first place the reader can start to see a shift in the design, to a more retro, almost newspaper look. The harsh reds and large photos from the previous contents are gone; subdued colors and an abundance of lines are introduced here. The new fonts are very pleasing; the titles stand out, and the designers use a lot of white space on the two pages of contents.

Contents Ruling: Win

Editor’s Note

The Editor’s Note, like the contents and like all the departments after it, showcase the new use of white space, margins and black-white-sepia tones. Steve Forbes goes from being the columnist (shoved up tightly in the corner) to being the main visual. No other photos appear on his two-page column, and the playfulness is removed from the second page on which restaurants to visit. The previous “playfulness” was color, which was stripped away by the designers. It’s almost like this new version is saying, “We don’t have time for silliness. We’re here to work.” If you don’t like the look that’s in the contents and editor’s note, you won’t like the rest of the magazine. It borders on plain, but it’s also more sophisticated, less busy.

Editor’s Note Ruling: Win


Entrepreneurs is another section in which the move away from color and toward white space is obvious. Some of the design elements are so subtle (for instance, the double lines above and below the section head, the dots coming from each side of the section head) that they make the pages feel elegant, even though stripping the color out seems like it would make the pages drab. Even the folios are simpler and more succinct.

Departments Ruling: Win

Back Page

On the pre-redesign Thoughts page, the quotes just flowed, one into another, with nothing driving the reader to each one. I imagine many readers scan just to see if there are any names they’re interested in. If not, they read the first item or the one just under the photo and then close the book. In the redesign, though, the page draws the reader in on each item because all the quotes have something distinct — type size, leading, color, length. Fewer quotes are on the page, but each is markedly more readable.

Back Page Ruling: Win

Feature from Before the Redesign


Forbes is made up of big personalities — untouchable by the masses, but brought to you, the reader, courtesy of the Forbes brand. In the previous design (see photo), President Barack Obama was the lead story. In the new design, it was Warren Buffett and Jay-Z. The subjects didn’t change with the redesign; only a bit of the presentation. The change was subtle but pleasant, retro but current, simple but sophisticated.

Overall Ruling: Win

Have you seen the new Forbes? What do you think? This redesign has gotten a lot of attention: You can read an interview with Lewis D’Vorkin, who led the redesign, with Talking Biz News, a preview of it in Business Insider, or the announcement about it on

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Image via Wikipedia

The Sidebar Review is in its infancy, and just like a little baby who can’t survive without its mother’s care, this little blog has the potential to wither away if I don’t make the time to update it.

But I won’t let it die.

Here’s why: The Sidebar Review wasn’t created because the world needs more blogs. Or more opinions. Or because magazine editors need some random person criticizing their work. The Sidebar Review was created because I wanted to learn what other magazines do. I’ve been working in publishing for 11 years, but for the same company the whole time. I’m curious what makes other magazines tick. And I realize there’s a ton of magazines I’ve never even looked in before because I’m not a part of their target audience.

That is ending. I’m rapidly picking up magazines I’ve never opened. Coming up for review are Fortune, Forbes, Playboy, Golf World, Baltimore Magazine, and Sailing World. And a new friend of mine that I met through blogging, FlyingGma, sent me several copies of her favorite magazine, Flight Training, to review. How cool is that?

Already I’ve learned different treatments of sidebars, editor’s notes, photography, illustrations, storytelling and cover blurbs. Some magazines’ web integration is incredible — others have lackluster websites. It makes me more conscious of what I do on my own magazine at work. It makes me more aware of what’s going on in the publishing world.

So I’m going to keep my “baby” nourished and healthy. I’ll teach her diversity. I’ll try to keep her clean and happy.

And I’ll hope she finds a few friends who don’t mind stopping by to visit.