Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Power of Print: Navigating Nha Magazine

Nha magazine positions itself as “the premier Vietnamese-American lifestyle magazine.” Behind the magazine’s attractive covers, articles (mostly in English but some in Vietnamese) range from profiles of Vietnamese American such as Chloe Dao, political issues (Vietnam: economic tiger or cub?) and fashion. Beneath the title on every cover are three words that make the topics of the magazine clear: Lifestyle, Culture, Identity. Niche magazines are interesting mediators of identity sense they are from the community for the community. For example, in the July//August 2006 issue, the magazine had articles such as “The Plight of Vietnamese American Students at San Francisco State University”, a profile on artist Khanh Troung, and a short story tac gia Co Ngu. What, then, is the impact of this magazine on the Vietnamese community in the US? How does it shape the community? Are its claims of being the premier magazine for the community valid?

Though previously stated that beneath the title are always “Lifestyle, Culture, Identity” it begs the question of who is in charge of the definitions and to whom is it being sold? The magazine is presumably for an upper-middle class audience not only for its content (each magazine dedicates a section to a high fashion editorial shoot) but that on the website it lists the income of the community and describes it as “affluent”. Additionally, the magazine is geared more towards a younger audience (20s and 30s). The magazine also states a circulation of 25,000 and a readership of between 80,000-100,000 (a little less than 10% of the Vietnamese population in the US). Also, what are the implications of its emphasis on fashion? In its attempt to incorporate fashion into culture and politics, how does Nha compare to mainstream magazines like Vanity Fair, Details, and Vogue in its influence and being influence?

The magazine still provides insight into how the community views itself and how it positions itself into mainstream America. Furthermore, the magazine may still prove to have some influence on the community’s identity. For example, in the latest issue, the magazine focuses on where the Vietnamese culture is now in relation to where it’s come from. Also, Magazines, including Nha, provide clues to the mutual relationship of influence between the consumer and distributor of culture.


Christopher Huynh

1 comment:

Alex said...

You have to understand that Nha magazine is geared towards the 1.5 generation Vietnamese, which are white collar workers with affluent incomes. First generation Vietnamese media outlets focus more on politics and culture compare to lifestyle. The addition of the Fashion section shows the 1.5 generation's assimilation progress to mainstream culture. As for the 80,000 readership being only 10 percent of the Vietnamese comment. Name me another Vietnamese American lifestyle magazine with 80,000 Vietnamese leadership? BN magazine, Nha's closest competitor just closed down. Nha technically is the premier Vietnamese lifestyle magazine by numbers. Finally, you have to understand the business perspective of focusing on the affluent community. In an age where everything is moving online and advertisements are plummeting for print publications, the only magazines that are still brings in strong ad sales are the ones that target upper middle class communities.