I had intended to do a quick summary of the contents of the latest issues of model railway magazines I have received recently. They include Australian Model Railway Magazine (AMRM), Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman, and NZ Model Railway Journal.
However, rather than just describe the contents of these magazines, I want to open up a discussion about model railway magazine content. Now I realise that content for model railway magazines mostly comes from the readers themselves, and that magazines can only publish content that they receive. Except in some cases where the staff of a magazine write their own articles, nearly all model railway magazines published around the world rely on contributed content from readers and railway modellers.
Nevertheless, I am interested to know what people want from their model railway magazines since the readers are in fact the consumers. What are the features of a model railway magazine that readers want from such publications? What do readers enjoy and dislike about model railway magazines in general?
For me, I have a few key preferences that cover what I like best in a model railway magazine. These features include:
1. Model railway industry news - I like to be able to go to one place in the magazine to read a summary of what the local model railway industry is up to, especially about new products and new manufacturers.
2. Model railway layout article - I like to read about other people's model railroad layouts. What I really like in these articles is not just reading a description about the layout, but to get some insights into the thinking behind the layout, the construction (including scenery and buildings), and operation. There should be at least one "method" or "detailed tip" for readers to learn about. The article doesn't have to include ALL of my pet wants, but simply describing a layout is not enough for me. Good photos really help too, as does a track plan.
3. A construction article - I like to know how people do things in the hobby, whether it is scratchbuilding an industry or designing a traverser for a layout. And I need some detail - I need to get enough information in the article to be able to build the item, or use the techniques for something else. A construction article to my mind is not just what someone has done, it's about giving the reader something to do as well.
4. Advertisements - Well, they largely pay for the magazine so that's important! But I also like to know what's going on and what's coming up (as in point 1).
5. Innovative thinking - I like to hear about innovation in the hobby and different ways of doing things or seeing things. Innovation is not something a person or a magazine can initiate; innovation is one of those rare and intangible occasions that just happen. I realise this, and I certainly don't expect innovation to be featured in a model railway magazine on a regular basis like an editorial! However, when I do read about innovative thinking in the hobby, I always like it and appreciate it.
That's it from me; anyone else with an opinion on what they like (or don't like) about model railway magazines?