The Fifth Estate: Alienating readers

In the current issue of Philadelphia magazine, Vicki Glembocki appeals to stay-at-home moms – and almost no one else.

Philadelphia magazine has covered great stories in its time. Its yearly “Best Of” awards have always been a local favorite, and continual coverage of dining and arts has kept the city connected to its culture.Time and time again, native Philadelphians return to their faithful publication to learn about the issues and events that shape the city.

This month, Philadelphia magazine alienated readers. No longer will they see superior investigative pieces written by seasoned freelancers. If you’ve been a longtime reader, you might have perused one such article by Gregory Gilderman. His “The Dead of Night,” which ran in the November 2006 issue, addressed the increasing amount of violence in Philadelphia and caught the attention of local officials.

When Gilderman’s article went to press, the response from community members and area leaders was tremendous. Gilderman’s piece brought readers back to Philadelphia magazine and reiterated the publication’s long-standing tradition to speak to residents from all walks of life – regardless of their backgrounds. This is what has kept the magazine relevant and popular among its reliable fan base.

A careful look at the magazine’s demographics shows that 62.4 percent of its readers possess an advanced degree and their median age is 48. Philadelphia magazine’s recent content has especially reflected an older demographic – to a dangerous degree. It used to be the type of magazine that could sit on the coffee table of any Philadelphian, regardless of how much money they had in the bank or where they lived.

Now, readers who expect a magazine that addresses stories for the average Philadelphian will be highly disappointed.

An example of such an insular story is Vicki Glembocki’s piece, “The Existential Crisis of the Wait-at-Home Mom,” which ran in this month’s issue. It details the stories of rich stay-at-home moms who are staging a comeback to the workforce. Sure, it’s hard to find fault with Glembocki’s writing skills. She crafts her story well, telling the sad tale of middle-aged women struggling to get back into work. It would be a perfect piece, if only Glembocki attempted to look at women from all types of backgrounds – not just the super rich.

She attempts to treat her feature piece as if the stay-at-home mom wanting to return to work is breaking news. However, with phrases like “they used to be career women, with big degrees and big-paying jobs . . . but when kids came along, they decided to give it all up to stay home and raise their families,” it’s hard to be entirely sympathetic to the women who Glembocki said “sported ginormous diamond rings, and outfits by the high-end line Beyond Yoga.”

Glembocki’s piece is nothing exceptional, in that it speaks to the common stay-at-home mom with a big pocketbook and a large amount of time on her hands.

With this in mind, the blame falls fully on the publication for once again lacking in substance. Take back your pride, Philadelphia magazine, and write the investigative articles that put Philadelphia on the map for excellent journalism. They’re missed.

Stacy Lipson can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. “Time and time again, native Philadelphians return to their faithful publication to learn about the issues and events that shape the city.”

    Did I miss that issue?

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