Searching the Archives of People

Launched on March 4, 1974, People Magazine is based on the premise that “names make news.” The magazine’s focus is people, and it is filled with celebrity and human interest stories. The premiere issue was a 72-page magazine featuring Mia Farrow on the cover, who was starring in The Great Gatsby. Stories in the initial magazine featured: Queen Elizabeth, Sam Ervin, 1300 Americans missing in Vietnam and Maria Oswald. “Out of the Pages” featured an excerpt from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel, The First Circle. Nearly every story was accompanied by a black and white or a monochrome picture. The upper limit for most stories, with the exception of biographical, was 1500 words. People Magazine is owned by Time Inc. (a Time Warner Company), which is one of the largest content companies in the world.

In the spring of 1973, a test issue of People was marketed in 11 cities. With an initial press run of 1.4 million copies, 85% of those distributed were sold. The test was an important determining factor in the decision to produce People regularly. The cover price was only 35 cents . Mail subscriptions were not promoted in the beginning because of increasing 2nd class postage costs. As of 2011, People sells in grocery stores for $3.99 per copy. A subscription in 2011 on for 26 issues (with four free issues totaling 30) sells for $1.96 plus $.23 per issue, which equals $56.94.

According to Time Inc, People is the most successful and popular magazine. In 2010 People won the top spot for Adweek’s “Hot List of Top 10 Magazines.” As of 2011, more than 43 million consumers read its pages. Currently, People magazine consists of the following weekly features: Mailbag,, Star Tracks, Scoop, Reviews, Great Ideas, Puzzler, Second Look, Passages, Style Watch, Beauty Watch, Chatter, and personal interviews. There is also a “Heroes Among Us” section which features real-life, ordinary people who do heroic things. In 1998, a spin-off of People called Teen People was launched, and it was a pioneer in the teen category. The focus of the magazine was the same, but it was directed at teenagers. Essentially, it was People for a younger audience. Unfortunately, competition increased over the years in the teen category and advertising became difficult to sell. Teen People’s last issue was in September 2006. However, People did not lose its audience because the “main magazine” attracts teen readers as well as older consumers. Teen People’s website eventually became part of as well.

Two other spin-off magazines from People are People StyleWatch and People en Espanol. People StyleWatch began as a special newsstand issue in 2002. It is currently published 11 times per year and has a guaranteed circulation of 775,000 readers per month. The focus of the magazine is accessible and affordable fashion and beauty trends. It has its own website:, which, like the magazine, focuses on hot trends, new beauty looks, celebrity styles, and discounts on must-have products. People StyleWatch was also placed number six on Adweek’s Hot List for 2011 and is said to be one of the fastest growing magazines in the industry. People en Espanol was also launched as a special issue in 1996. It is the top selling Hispanic magazine in the United States. It is published 11 times per year with a guaranteed circulation of 540,000 consumers. People en Espanol focuses on the values, contributions and impact of the Hispanics. Similar to People, the magazine features popular entertainment, fashion, beauty trends, and human interest stories. There is a website for the magazine as well:

A variety of special, annual issues capture everyone’s attention when they are published. The “Sexiest Man Alive” issues have been a “hot” item every year since their introduction in 1985. The very first recipient of the award was Mel Gibson. Several men over the years have won the title twice including: Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Richard Gere (who was part of the one-time “sexiest couple alive” award) and Hugh Jackman. The current reigning “title-holder” as of November 2010 is Ryan Reynolds. Another special annual issue for People is the “Most Beautiful” list. In 2010, Julia Roberts graced the cover, while in 2011, Jennifer Lopez was featured. The 50 chosen “beautiful people” tend to be attractive, frequently in the news during the given year, and consumers can’t wait to see who has been selected. "The 25 Most Intriguing People of the Year" are also selected each year at People. The annual issue is another “can’t miss” read. In 2009, Taylor Swift made the list, and in 2010 Sandra Bullock was on the cover. Also in 2009, People created a special New Moon Collector’s Edition of the magazine for fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. The magazine featured articles about the stars of the hit movies. The magazine repeated the idea in 2010 when the Eclipse film was released. In 2006 People launched the first ever Country Music Special issue. Like the launch issue of StyleWatch, it was only available at newsstands. The Golden Globes and the Oscars are very important events for People magazine and its website. In February 2007, within one day after the Golden Globe Awards aired on television, drew 39.6 million page views. After the Oscars, it drew 51.7 million page views. Currently in 2011, Omniture (a service used by magazines to measure their traffic), stated that People magazine had 1 billion page views in January. The number is a first for People and probably for all magazines. The Best and Worst Dressed list following the Oscars is always a hit with readers of both the website and the magazine. People has also become popular with Facebook fans. According to Adweek, in February 2011 People had more than 1 million Facebook fans. People claims to have one of the largest magazine fanbases on the Facebook social media site. 

Some controversy has occurred throughout the years regarding certain issues and stories in People. In 1990 People rejected a full-page, $50,000 ad from NBC’s new cable TV channel. The ad featured a woman in a bikini and People felt it was “inappropriate.” NBC’s Consumer News and Business Channel was angry because the rejection came too late for them to submit another ad. Another controversy in People's history was in 2007 when the magazine named Matt Damon the “Sexiest Man Alive” and two columnists for the Washington Post strongly disagreed with the selection. The authors claim to have called People and demanded an audit. People responded by explaining that they choose the winners from all the men who are “creating a buzz” that year. In 2008, controversy struck once more when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie welcomed twins and People reportedly paid $14 million for the rights to the pictures of the babies. The photos were the first pictures of the twins to ever be released to the public. Controversy developed because critics felt that the coverage of "Brangelina" (a portmanteau of Brad and Angelina) and their new twins was “too positive.” They felt it was an unrealistic portrayal of the family and that the couple was specifically seeking only positive publicity.

People Magazine tries to provide unbiased, honest interviews for the public. People is not just about celebrities and the entertainment world. In 1998, Hilary Rodham Clinton (then First Lady) hosted a luncheon campaign with People to prevent teen pregnancy. The following year when OJ Simpson and Tanya Harding were in the news, People chose to have a cover featuring teen pregnancy and stories inside from real teen moms. Though it has experienced its fair share of criticism, People is a magazine tends to be trustworthy.

Some other useful sites about People Magazine:

The website features discounted prices for magazine subscriptions.

Businesswire is a commercial news distribution site featuring an article on the “Sexiest Man Alive.”

Reasonpad is a news and entertainment website.

A news and entertainment site featuring the “Best and Worst Dressed of 2009.”

The article discusses the closing of Teen People.

The site is for entertainment news. They once featured an article on People.

The site is a direct link to

The focus of this site is celebrities and their babies.