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Teen People Magazine
preview issue of Teen People is available from the
1250 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10021, USA
Tel: +1 212 522 1212
Email: via the website
Teen People was launched in 1998 to fill a gap in the magazine
marketplace. While there were many existing magazines aimed at teens,
most of them dealt with superficial topics, such as beauty and dating,
and were addressed solely at girls.
Teen People is a for-profit, consumer magazine that is published
10 times per year. It currently reaches 10 million teenagers per
Aims and objectives
Teen People aims to give teenagers a sense of their role
and responsibilities in the world. It speaks to them like adults
and covers a wide range of topics including international affairs
and current events as well as serious topics relating to teens'
lives, such as alcohol and drug abuse, sexuality and health, and
peer and family relationships.
It aims to entertain as well as educate, something that is crucial
to attracting the celebrities. It also aims to help teenagers feel
good about themselves at a critical time in their lives.
It strives to present stories about the achievements of ordinary
as well as extraordinary teens in order to provide inspirational,
attainable role models for young readers. It also makes a point
of addressing the concerns of and giving voice to previously marginalized
groups, such as gay teens, bi-racial or minority teens and financially
Professional journalists and teenagers.
Boys and girls aged 12-21. Approximately 20 per cent of readers
are male and 80 per cent female. This is a significant number of
males since most teen magazines are written for, and read exclusively
by, girls. Teen People is the only magazine that attempts
to reach both sexes through choice of subject matter, tone and overall
The direct beneficiaries are young people.
Involvement of children
Teenagers are involved in many significant ways. The magazine has
a news team made up of high school and college journalists, who
report and write stories every month. The 35 members of the news
team are chosen every year from more than 1,000 applicants.
Teen People also has 10,000 'trendspotters' across the country.
These teenagers are self-designated, in-the-know and on top of trends
relating to fashion, music and social issues. They contribute their
ideas and comments to each issue as well as appearing regularly
in feature stories and photo features.
The magazine frequently surveys teenagers on current events and
publishes the results, making sure that they have a voice and a
presence in the cultural conversation.
Summary of project
The main activity is producing a monthly magazine and a website.
Annual budget: approximately US$8 million.
Strengths of project
The greatest strengths of Teen People is its ability to
reach millions of teenagers every month and make them feel like
important members of society. We're proud of the fact that we take
teenagers seriously, we don't shy away from difficult or serious
subjects, and we give them the tools they need to make important
decisions about their own lives. Because we involve teenagers directly,
the magazine is more reflective of their real lives than most other
publications for this age group, which are produced with little
or no input from teenagers themselves.
There have occasionally been difficulties relating to some of the
content. The magazine has at times been criticized by parents or
other adults, and even some teens, for addressing topics such as
teen sexuality, homosexuality or drug use. However, these complaints
represent a minute percentage of the reactions to the magazine.
The impact of the magazine has been significant, judging from the
mail and email received from readers. Many readers claim that the
magazine has 'changed their lives' through one of its articles.
Teen People was also one of the fastest growing new magazines
in publishing history, a sure indicator that it filled an important
need for its target audience.
The magazine has also received numerous awards for its content,
including its coverage of teen sexuality and health, teen homosexuality
and teen philanthropic efforts. In 2000 it received the National
Magazine Award for General Excellence, the magazine industry's highest
The most important lesson is that teenagers themselves are a vital,
important force and that the higher our expectations of them, the
more they will deliver. When we started Teen People there
were many naysayers who believed that teenagers wouldn't read about
serious subjects or that teenagers wouldn't be useful journalistic
collaborators or be able to meet deadlines. All of these doubts
proved wrong. In fact, the one thing we would do differently would
be to involve teenagers even more, from the very beginning of the
Our advice for similar projects would be to seek out teenagers
who are truly passionate about journalism and give them a very real,
significant role to play from the outset. Don't pay lip service
to the idea that teenagers are involved by inviting them to come
in once in a while for a pizza party. Give them meaningful responsibilities,
involve them in the day-to-day production of the project, and listen
to them closely. When teenagers feel their opinions are truly being
listened to and respected, they open up in surprising ways. If you
want to know what a teen thinks about something, just ask!
We hope very much that Teen People has not only helped teenagers
to see themselves differently, but that society at large will also
take a different view. So often the headlines are filled with negative
stories about teens, while the many wonderful achievements of this
age group go unrecognized. We wanted to call the world's attention
to the abilities of teenagers and to their contribution to society.
After all, they are our future leaders.
If you give teenagers positive examples to follow, it becomes easier
for them to cast themselves in similar roles.
We also hope that our coverage helps young people to be more tolerant
of their differences. Rather than being judgemental about someone's
sexuality or belief system, teenagers who have been exposed to such
differences through our articles may be more likely to express understanding
In one issue we published a story about a tragic rash of suicides
in a small, Midwestern American town. Included in the article were
tips for recognizing suicidal feelings in a friend and advice on
what to do about it. Shortly after the article ran, we received
a letter from a teenage girl who told us that she had followed our
advice and, as a result, had saved the life of a friend who was
Involve teenagers from the beginning by asking their advice
about design and content and incorporating it whenever possible.
Give them concrete ways to get involved and publicize the
results. For example, we invited teenagers to submit designs for
public service advertisements relating to teen pregnancy prevention.
The winning designs were produced and published in magazines nationwide.
Give them a voice, whether through surveys or writing articles
or just being quoted in the magazine. It makes them feel ownership
of the finished product.
Recognize teen achievements. We created a programme called
'The 20 Teenagers Who Will Change the World'. Each year we recognize
teenagers in a variety of endeavours, including sport, politics,
public service, community activism, entrepreneurship and creative
arts. We run their stories in the magazine and hold an awards luncheon
Give teenagers a road map. For instance, instead of just
telling them that drinking is bad for them and they should 'just
say no', give examples of other teenagers who have successfully
resisted the pressure to drink. Detail their strategies and ask
other teenagers for ideas. Teenagers often want to do the right
thing, but are not sure how to get there.
Resist the temptation to preach to teens. It's okay to have
a message, such as 'teenagers should not have unsafe sex'. The best
way to communicate such messages is through concrete examples of
the negative effects, rather than scare tactics or lectures.
Use the power of teen celebrities such as singers and athletes.
Their examples can help 'normalize' certain behaviours and make
them cool. We ran an article on a young pop star who had made a
pledge to remain a virgin until she married. The article received
more mail than any other that year. Readers were impressed that
a celebrity would have such strong feelings about a subject and
be willing to share them. The article empowered many female readers
to decide they weren't ready for sex, either.
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