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Ones to Watch...

People and trends to keep an eye on in 2009.

By FOLIO: Staff

Sharon Rowlands, CEO, Penton
While news of layoffs and shutterings have trickled out of the big b-to-b publisher, Rowlands, Penton Media’s new chief executive has been mum on many of the underlying strategic changes at the company since it announced in January that it was reorganizing into 13 market-focused groups. With Penton on Moody’s list of companies with the greatest risk of defaulting on its debt, all eyes will be on Rowlands to see if she can turn the company around.

Scott Crystal, president, TV Guide
A year after the magazine was sold to by new owners Macrovision to OpenGate Capital for the astonishing price of $1.00 (and the assumption of millions in debt), there are whispers that TV Guide is turning itself around. If it does, Crystal would deserve serious consideration for the 2009 Folio: 40.

Anne Ichikawa and Melissa Walker, founders, I Heart Daily
Ichikawa and Walker, a pair of former ElleGirl editors, didn’t exactly have a business plan on their minds when they launched I Heart Daily, an e-mail newsletter targeted at teenage girls, the same audience they used to edit for. But if it works, they will have filled a niche on the Web Hachette could not.

Pete May, president, Greener World Media
Longtime publishing vet Pete May relaunched Greener World in 2007 as a for-profit, digital-only publisher. Greener World generated revenue of under $2 million in 2008 but is becoming a force both within the green movement and as a model of a digital-publisher doing it the right way.

Greg Sullivan and Joe Diaz, founders, Afar
Launching a magazine is difficult; launching a magazine in the current economic climate, some would argue, is downright crazy. But Afar, a new travel magazine and Web site devoted entirely to experiential travel, is launching with a twist: it’s partnering with Dwell, sharing sales and marketing resources, as well as office space in both New York and San Francisco.

Scott Donaton, publisher, Entertainment Weekly
Donaton, who began his career as an entertainment reporter for AdAge two decades ago, was named publisher of Entertainment Weekly in late 2007. He made the main Folio: 40 list last year, and now, with a year under his belt—and seemingly daily rumors of EW’s all-but-certain demise surrounding him—the job of turning around what was once a core Time Inc. brand has been an enormous challenge. If EW can survive, it would be truly be a Hollywood ending deserving of recognition on the Folio: 40.

Brian Kelly. editor, U.S. News & World Report
In January, U.S. News & World Report—having lost its status as a newsweekly in print—has launched a weekly digital magazine called U.S. News Weekly. “I don’t think the newsweekly concept’s outdated,” editor Brian Kelly said at the time. “I think it’s the delivery method that’s outdated.” It’s a big gamble, but one that might be U.S. News best—or only—shot at survival.

Jason Binn, CEO, Niche Media
Niche Media has had a busy couple of years. After acquiring Ocean Drive Media Group and Philadelphia Style, the Greenspun Media-owned luxury lifestyle magazine publisher underwent a restructuring last fall, including some layoffs, to help it reduce redundancies under the new umbrella operation. It folded Atlanta Peach in December but—despite a difficult advertising climate for the category—had plans to increase frequency this year from six to eight issues per year at Boston Common, Capitol File and Philadelphia Style, which relaunched. Los Angeles Confidential was to increase frequency from eight to 10 issues per year.

Paid Content Online
Long thought to be a foregone conclusion, the argument for a paid content model on the Web flared up again in early 2009, as publishers from Time Inc. to Rodale considered putting some or part of their Web sites behind a pay wall. If a magazine publisher can actually do it without killing their online presence, they’ll be deserving not only of a Folio: 40 mention, but of media industry sainthood.

Publishing acquisitions ground to a halt in 2008, as world economies toppled and the credit crunch paralyzed any company—much less those in publishing—trying to get a deal done. Some M&A players are hinting that there will be a flurry of sales (some at firesale prices) as investors try to do what they failed to do before the crash: exit the print business entirely.

By FOLIO: Staff


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