Apples, Oranges, and Dead Trees

A few minutes ago on Facebook, a friend posted this picture:

Boys Life

Here was the caption:

A sad microcosm of what our society says being a girl vs being a boy means. With three girls to raise, this breaks my heart. I’ll fight like hell for my girls to not exist in this reality.

While I get the overall point, I think there’s also a category error going on. To wit, these are two very different kinds of magazines. Boys’ Life is published by and for the Boy Scouts of America. A subscription is one of the perks of joining the organization. This means that in magazine biz terms, it primarily relies on controlled circulation. While some Scout dues may subsidize the magazine, and some newsstand sales may do it as well, the magazine likely makes its nut by guaranteeing advertisers X number of “qualified” (read desired or targeted) readers.

Girls’ Life, on the other hand,  is a straight-up consumer mag, unaffiliated with a larger organization. To get advertisers, it has to move units, and without those advertisers, it goes away. Therefore, the folks at GL may have to consider the marketplace in a way that the BL guys don’t. Or put another way, the BL guys have a broader margin for the “public service/educational” content than the GL people do.

(On a side note, Wiki reports that the Girl Scouts had a magazine for decades, but that it passed from the scene in 1979. But if someone believes that’s a niche to be filled, I’m sure the GSA would be happy to discuss it.)

Complaining about this particular juxtaposition is like complaining that a network TV show doesn’t offer the same cultural experience that a museum with memberships does. They’re doing different things because they are different things. But that doesn’t make a nifty caption.



About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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2 Responses to Apples, Oranges, and Dead Trees

  1. Your spot-on explanation between the apparent irony is solid analysis. I will add that Boys Life magazine is not a perk of being a Scout: it costs $15 a year, completely separate from annual dues. Not surprisingly, I’d guess about 50% of Boy Scouts pass on the subscription.

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