First, the obvious: Magazines set out to tell a story.
Then: But the words you see printed on the page are only part of the tale. Those of us trained as writers and editors (and many in the general population) usually think that a “story” is told with written or spoken words.
But just think how a verbally told story is enhanced by these factors:

  • The speaker – His or her history and association with the story
  • The setting – The difference between a sterile conference room and an outdoor amphitheater
  • Emotion in the voice
  • The speaker’s motions, or lack thereof

Similarly, your sense of a magazine article is also enhanced by its setting — the page layout.
I talked to our design team recently about the importance of white space in magazine design. I’ve marked up a spread with their comments on Flickr.