Is it possible that 2020 produced something almost flawlessly beautiful? Could 2020 have been one of the best years in Martha Stewart Living's history as a magazine? I would submit to you that it was. Hear me out.
The reasons for its success this year are the same reasons it was always able to achieve success in its most celebrated years: consistency, reliability and positivity. You don't need me to tell you that the world faced one of its most-challenging chapters this year. The global pandemic took hundreds of thousands of lives and effectively shut down world economies. It halted all international travel and prevented us from seeing our extended family and friends for months at a time as we entered extended periods of complete lockdown. It was one of the most difficult periods in time I can recall. And it is still ongoing.
All of the covers this year were extremely beautiful. I've heard from other readers, too, who have mentioned how impressed they've been with the covers this year.
Through it all, readers of Martha Stewart Living magazine were given monthly doses of reassurance and inspiration, and ideas for creation during a rare moment when there was actually time to spare. The editors worked largely from their homes this year. Indeed, six issues of the magazine were put together from the home offices and dining room tables of the MSL crew. And yet, they were still able to find the outward perspective needed to inspire and delight their readers. For this, I say a heartfelt thank you! I, personally, read each issue of the magazine from cover to cover - as I always do - and this year I found the content to be more 'alive' than ever. What I mean by that is that through its succinct presentation of ideas and inspiration I found a vitality that was more meaningful to me.
An example would be the quotes featured each month on the splash page introducing the well of the magazine:
I found myself looking forward to these inspirational quotes each month, and each one informed me in some way, either emotionally or intellectually. I researched the people quoted and often wrote down the quote in my journal for posterity. That was a first for me in all my years of reading this magazine.
Another example of this vitality was the connection the editors made with its readers, not only acknowledging the pandemic (as any editor would) but also providing reassurance through its messaging. There was direct guidance, for instance, in suggesting to readers that they use the ideas for entertaining during a time when it was safe to gather again. There were fewer photos of groups of people gathered around a table or sharing a dessert - and if there were, there was a notable caption indicating that the depiction of the gathering was photographed last year. (In the world of magazine publishing, content is often produced a year in advance). This level of responsibility in guiding its readers, reassuring its readers, is what helped make the 2020 roster of issues some of the most poignant in its history.