You need to learn about both the “gatekeeper” audience (the editor to whom you want to pitch your story) and the magazine’s target audience (the main concern of the editor.) Answering these questions will help clarify the orientation of the article you will pitch.
Questions to clarify audience:
Which editor would actually read the pitch and decide? What can I learn about them?
Sometimes it is hard to know when the submission just goes to a general “pitch” box. But you can find the names by going to the magazine website. Find on the homepage where the key personnel are listed (hint: in this case it is referred to as the Masthead.) Links are provided to the editors’ pages; in some cases they have a little biographical information. If they don’t, it is worth checking on LinkedIn or Facebook to get a sense of their interests through posting (and it’s a good strategy to “like” or “connect” with them – people like to help out people who like them.)
Who is the audience for the magazine? What would they be interested in? Are they highly educated?
A magazine’s media kit is compiled to provide advertisers and media buyer information about the audience it would reach if they placed an ad in that magazine. Every magazine site will have a button called “media kit” or “advertise” that will give valuable demographic and psychographic information about the audience for that publication. Here is The Atlantic’s media kit.