American Heritage tells the story of Life (magazine, that is):
In 1936 Luce was already a formidable magazine publisher, having started Time in 1923 and Fortune in 1930. He knew that a wider use of photographs was helping tabloids like the New York Daily News attract readers, and Time editors were themselves including plenty of pictures. Luce thought a magazine that gathered the best images of breaking news, along with visuals on the arts, show business, and the human experience, would be a hit. For $92,000 he bought a moribund humor magazine called Life in order to use its name.
Magazine editors, partial to the written word, had always seen photos and drawings as secondary to text. Life reversed the notion, relying on pictures buttressed only by explanatory captions.