`Twentysomething' Magazine Refutes Image of Malaise

A NEW magazine aimed primarily at ``twentysomethings'' is sleek, savvy - and serious. Billed as ``a journal of service and action,'' and focused on community and national service, Who Cares ``is the magazine for people who do'' wrote the editors in last fall's premiere issue.

Seeking to counter the perception that ``Generation X'' is wholly apathetic, three recent graduates of Harvard University - Heather McLeod, Chloe Breyer, and Leslie Crutchfield - founded the Washington-based quarterly and launched it armed with statistics indicating that volunteerism is on the rise and with funding from the Echoing Green Foundation in New York.

Last October's debut issue of Who Cares packed a lot of information into its 48 glossy pages. Photographs by Annie Leibovitz, articles by and about volunteers from all over the United States, and an essay scrutinizing President Clintion's newly passed national service plan were just a few of the items sandwiched between ads from American Express and The Timberland Company.

The fledgling quarterly won a prized endorsement this week from the Library Journal, which named Who Cares one of the 10 best magazines of 1993. Competing against some 800 other new newsstand publications, Who Cares was judged ``an essential work for public and undergraduate libraries.''

Eric Bryant, Library Journal's assistant editor, said in a telephone interview that they chose publications they felt were truly novel and meeting a current need. He lists the look and popular writing of Who Cares as its biggest assets and says there is ``no other magazine out there'' with this type of coverage.

A dearth of community-service stories in the mainstream press, the editors say, is what prompted them to found Who Cares.

``We realized there are a lot of people out there doing something about the communities,'' Ms. McLeod says, ``it's just that nobody is talking about it, nobody is writing about it.''

Speaking recently in Boston, the three founders, described the nonprofit magazine as nonpartisan, but progressive-leaning. McLeod says they view Who Cares as ``the microphone through which other people can speak.''

The magazine's layout and content are designed to grab the attention of a generation raised on MTV, McLeod says. ``There's an information war out there,'' she says of the battle Who Cares must wage to be noticed.

In the second and latest issue, the editors dealt with a particularly poignant subject. ``In keeping with our mission to inform, challenge, and inspire a new generation of volunteers and activists,'' they write in a note to readers, ``we have focused ... on a timely topic - domestic violence.''

Elsewhere in the magazine is a profile of the head of a training program for the environmental movement (Green Corps), and regular features providing tips for nonprofit organizations, stories on the role of religion in communities, and a directory of service opportunities.

Readers who ``dare to take a critical look'' at the service movement - as a Who Cares subscription card encourages - can find the magazine at bookstores and newsstands for $4.95.

* Who Cares: 1511 K Street, NW, Suite 1042, Wash., D.C., 20005; (800) 628-1692.

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