This Esquire page from a few years back exemplifies the trend towards layering information. It's appealing, but as it was probably designed over a period of months, has at least two assigned photos and only a half-ounce of text, it's beyond the capabilities of most small magazines.
When small magazines go for the "layered look" they often end up somewhere like herea couple of handout photos in a sea of text, redundant signage (like the section title (The Business) on the right, superfluous rules, and ads....
....Or here. In this case standing art duplicates text signage (if the stack of books effectively communicated that the column was a book review, the words wouldn't be necessary.) Also, the art overwhelms the text. The most colorful and interesting thing on the page is standing art.
Simplification--removal of the fancy signage and the addition of a little air focuses attention on the articles. This spread was typographically sound if not stellar, taking away distractions allows the content--what is unique to this specific issue--to sing.
This page from CSO--one of the most effectively designed small b-to-b publications demonstrates how to do it on a budget. The Segway photo is a handout, but it's used large enough to add a little oomph to the page. The signage is attractive but doesn't overwhelm contents, and a little white space, along with airy leading, helps the page feel open.
A nice F.O.B. (front of book) spread from On Earth. This pair of pages has too much text, but the design makes the best of it with a dominant photo and elegant typography. NEXT