As Robert Rector observes, Readers Digest once traded on a caricature of the upright, white, suburban middle-class family and, in doing so, gained a broad audience in an America that strove to be a being part of that world. The Internet has punctuated and amplified the cracks in this worldview, and now Readers Digest must become a caricature of itself. It will strip away the veneer of mainstream appeal and follow the cultural guideposts of the sect called American conservative.
...the Digest, after years of trying to broaden its appeal, is being pushed in a decidedly conservative direction.
It is cutting down on celebrity profiles and ramping up on inspiring spiritual stories. Out are generic how-to magazine features; in are articles about military life. ...
Indeed, the Digest plans to introduce a new multifaceted effort produced with Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor, called the Purpose Driven Connection. For about $30, subscribers get a quarterly magazine with religious workbooks, along with DVDs featuring Warren, and membership in a social-networking Web site, including tips on what to pray for each week. It is available through churches and at Wal-Marts.