The 32 Most Important Magazines to Matador

by David Miller Nov 8, 2010
American Whitewater

Little known outside the whitewater paddling community, but a cherished organization, community, and publication among paddlers, American Whitewater was first published in 1955. It was the first whitewater magazine in the United States and “full of stories written by AW members nationwide with safety information, equipment information, and tips for better paddling technique. The AW Journal today is very similar.” As an organization, AW has been fighting for river access, conservation, and helping to protect watersheds against pollution and damming for decades.


Afar was one of the more controversial picks by our crew. Compared with lifestyle, literary, or sports magazines, publications relevant to the ‘travel industry’ in general just seem several years behind in terms of branding / style, most still stuck in the old-school Orientalism-cum-service industry article format. Still, when a new travel magazine launches, we’re definitely watching.

Julie had this to say about Afar: “I want to like this magazine so much, but the editors’ persistent emphasis on ‘We’re travelers, not tourists’ just turns me off. Also sick of seeing the same old names over and over (and it’s pretty male-heavy on the Spin the Globe series- what’s up with that? Women represent, please). At the same time, I’m intrigued enough to want to keep my eye on them. They’re doing some interesting work online and through their foundation, and occasionally they publish a piece that’s really excellent.

Matador Nights co-editor Kristin Conard said “Afar started relatively recently and seems to be doing pretty well. On a superficial note, I really like the paper that AFAR is printed on. It just feels nicer than most other magazines. I also like that it’s less commercial seeming than things like Budget Travel. I think I like the FOB stuff in it the best – the photo sections especially.”


Saveur is a food mag with place-based emphasis and beautiful photos. One of very few magazines that actually increased ad revenue in 2009.

Ski Journal

Ski Journal, like The Surfer’s Journal, is a collectible, in coffee table format. It’s all about the culture and history of the sport, hometown heroes alongside pros, and in depth narratives.

Lapham’s Quarterly

LQ is all about printing the most important voices on particular themes, “with an aim to help readers find historical threads from Homer to Queen Elizabeth I to George Patton, from Aesop to Edith Wharton to Joan Didion.”


Matador editor at large Paul Sullivan is one of several of us who likes Huck Magazine, saying “these folks are kicking ass and doing good work over in the UK.” Huck has worldwide distribution and is published in English, German, and French.

NACLA Report on the Americas

NACLA Report is a print mag that’s pretty niche specific — Latin American politics / culture / social movements. Julie Schwietert noted, “I like it because it’s policy and academic oriented, but it remains practical rather than ivory tower irrelevant.”

Rock and Ice

mSports editor Adam Roy picked Rock and Ice: “It has been going pretty strong, and is one of the magazines kind of leading the charge into the future with a cheaper, digital-only subscription option.”

Honor Roll

We felt that the following magazines also deserved inclusion in this article for their continued influence in media and publishing, and/or for particularly strong writing, and/or relevance to travel + place.

The Believer
The New Yorker
Psychology Today
The Atlantic
The Sun
Vanity Fair
Oxford American
National Geographic

Community Connection

What magazines do you consider important?

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