When the four staffers at the Chicago-based magazine Meatingplace put together an issue, they do so with a very specific reader in mind: a college-educated, probably Republican, white man in his early 40s who has spent his career in the meat industry.
That target audience may seem narrow and limiting, but specificity is the point. Meatingplace is a trade publication, meaning it is written for a group of industry specialists rather than a general audience. The trade that Meatingplace in particular covers is the business of turning live animals into portioned-out meat products.
It is an industry whose makeup in many ways resembles that of the American economy. A handful of very big companies do the majority of the country’s meat and poultry processing, but there are still a large number of small and midsize operators, many of them family-run. And while Meatingplace’s imagined reader is indeed reflective of much of the industry’s leadership, the work at many plants—especially the ones owned by larger companies—is done in large part by recent immigrants, particularly men and women from Mexico and Central America.
The people who oversee the plants are the ones Meatingplace is intended for. The ads in it are, to say the least, different than those in general-audience magazines. There is one for the PTL-2600 Corndog Machine, an apparatus that can put out 16,000 corndogs per hour (“Corndogs don’t grow on trees … they’re produced on the PTL-2600”). There’s one for something called the Vemag FM250 Patty Former. And there’s another for a piece of “complete pizza topping line equipment”—“complete,” that is, with a “slicer applicator,” a “sauce depositor,” and a “waterfall topping applicator.”