CSS. Programmers and writers often talk about it as being useful to split off the content from the presentation. It's a good idea. After all, sites like a list apart
look great. Then you see the escapist
. I understand that someone here might chime in to bitch about how it doesn't look right in their browser, but that's not the point here.
Someone could write the text by itself. It'd still look OK. It could look like a list apart. The design could make it actually readable. The Escapist, and print magazines in general, however, are about Synergy. You read stuff, and the backgrounds are there to bring out the atmosphere of the piece. It's like having music to video, wine with food. It's what pushes the article into the realm of easily connecting with the audience. Not saying that text by itself can't connect, but it's harder by itself. Pictures also give a good impression of what the article is about without actually having to read the whole thing. It makes it easy to skip some articles in a magazine that you may not find interesting.
Therefore, while content does not depend upon design, design does depend upon content. QED my friends... Q E D!