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Dylan Stableford

Did Shaq Find Out He Got Traded via Twitter?

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 06/25/2009-15:33 PM

Shaquille O’Neal, the 7-foot-1, 325-pound, 37-year-old Phoenix Suns center, was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers late yesterday, uniting him with Lebron James, the NBA’s reigning MVP.

O’Neal, one of the most followed celebrities on Twitter (current follower count: 1.4 million), responded via tweets early this morning that he was unaware of the trade, which promptly send Twitterville and those who monitor it into a (sorry) twizzy.

Here’s a recap via TechCrunch:

Look at Shaq’s last few tweets. Several minutes ago he tweeted out  “I didn’t hear dat yet” in response to this tweet , “is it true u a CLEVELAND CAVALIER.” A few minutes later someone sent Shaq the following tweet, “U CLEVELAND BOUND…shaq found out he was traded thru twitter! lmao….hahahaaaaaa” Shaq’s response? “I kno right.”

Sure, this makes for a funny anecdote to add to Twitter’s growing lore, but let’s take a Shaq-sized (foot size=23) step back here.

Do you really think the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers did not discuss the finalizing of this trade—rumored for over a week—with O’Neal? After all, Cleveland is giving up two players, a second round draft choice and $500,000 in cash for a year’s worth O’Neal’s services (his contract is up after next season)—not to mention they’re paying his $21,000,000 annual salary. You really think Shaq wasn’t consulted on this deal?

This brings to mind a prescient coverline I saw recently (via PC Mag’s digital edition): Will Celebrities Kill Twitter?

It’s a question worth asking. While Twitter’s surge is no doubt more than in part due to celebrities embracing the social medium, they can also accelerate the rate of Twitter fatigue.

I will say this. Shaq is one of the few Twitter celebrities I follow who consistently responds to his followers, and embraces the quasi-personal connection that makes Twitter cool.

If celebrities do kill Twitter, Shaq won’t be the one holding the smoking gun.

Check Ashton and Oprah for that.

Dylan Stableford

GQ Censored by Hudson News—Again

Dylan Stableford Design and Production - 06/23/2009-14:55 PM

Hudson News is at it again.

The company, which operates more than 500 newsstands in major cities, airports and train stations—including New York’s Grand Central Terminal—is treating GQ’s July issue, which features a nude Sacha Baron Cohen (as his flamboyantly gay Brüno character) on its cover “like pornography,” according to the New York Times’ Media Decoder blog.

The newsstand took the liberty of covering up the bottom half of the July cover with a black “blinder.”

While it might seem somewhat surprising, given the influx of nudity on covers recently (see Samir Husni’s helpful roundup), it really shouldn’t be. Hudson News, a notoriously conservative chain, has done this sort of thing before—and often.

Last December, GQ’s much talked-about January 2009 cover—featuring Jennifer Aniston wearing nothing more than a tie and a smile—was covered up by Hudson News in Grand Central. (The newsstand placed a piece of paper across the issue in its window display, but copies inside remained uncovered.)

In June 2006, Hudson News censored the first of five consecutive issues of FHM, including a cover featuring Brooke Hogan—Hulk Hogan’s then underage daughter—which prompted liquor advertisers to pull out of the magazine.

If the retailer was hoping to draw attention away from magazines baring all on covers (and putting it in the window isn't exactly a sign they want to), censoring them, as one might expect, tends to have the opposite effect. The first FHM cover covered up by Hudson News sold over 400,000 copies on newsstands, well above its 350,000 average. And GQ's Aniston cover sold some 370,000 copies—up 90 percent over its January 2008 cover, making it the single best-selling GQ issue in over 10 years.

Dylan Stableford

If Obama Won Presidency Without Building Own Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Why Should You?

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 06/23/2009-11:41 AM

A couple years ago, when YouTube and Facebook were leading the buzz-y social media charge (not Twitter), plenty of magazine publishers, envious of their size, traffic and influence, would talk at length during publishing conferences about their plans to create Facebooks and YouTubes for their own verticals.  (For some background, see this FOLIO: 40 profile.)

And while some still are, many—particularly those overseeing general interest titles—have given up that dream of building their own platforms from scratch.

I recently spoke with Rex Hammock—Hammock Publishing CEO, noted blogger and something of a serially early adopter of social media tools—for an upcoming FOLIO: case study on custom publishing, and the subject came up once again.

Hammock helped create a “pre-conference” community for the Society of National Association Publications (“SNAP”—now called Association Media & Publishing).

I asked him if there were any risks for an association publisher trying to pull off a social media initiative. His response was worth posting in its entirety:

As with doing anything, from holding a meeting to publishing a magazine, there are risks with a company or an association initiating a social media initiative. And I don't mean the kind of risks most marketers, publishers and editors fear regarding people saying negative things or acting in an inappropriate ways. Those are easily managed risks. The more serious risks are getting lost in the objectives of what you're trying to accomplish by focusing too much in the early stages on the technology or tactics of social media and not focusing on the strategy and business-specific goals you want from the initiative. I apologize to my friends in IT, but the easiest way to doom anything related to social media is to start off talking about technology and features and platforms. I tell clients, "If Obama won the presidency using Twitter, Flickr and YouTube, then why do you need to build a platform from scratch?" If an IT person is in the room, they always have a reason that has something to do with integration into a legacy CRM or something. If you start out with "integration with your legacy CRM" as a social media goal, there's a high degree of risk that you'll fail. And there's a 100 percent chance you'll not have anything to show for six months to a year.

Dylan Stableford

Reader's Digest Memo: Actually, We're Not Shifting in Conservative Direction

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 06/19/2009-14:43 PM

Earlier today, the New York Times published a story about the Reader's Digest Association, suggesting the publishers of its flagship magazine were "pushing it in a decidedly conservative direction."

Our story, also posted today, focused on the business decision by RDA to slash its rate base by 2.5 million copies and reduce its monthly frequency by two issues. We spoke with RDA Community president Eva Dillon, who told us "there is no big shift that we’ve done or plan to do editorially."

Executives at RDA insist that the Times' writer, Stephanie Clifford, got it wrong, so much so that Dillon sent an employee-wide e-mail today shooting down the Times' assertions.

Here's the memo, via ex-Portfolio writer Jeff Bercovici's Daily Finance blog:

June 19,2009
From: Eva Dillon,
President, Reader's Digest Community

In today's New York Times there is an article about Reader's Digest. The article in part suggests that the brand has decided to shift direction editorially. I want to assure you that that is not what is or has been planned, and that the strategy to embrace our core values can be misinterpreted.

To clarify, neither the magazine nor the company is going in any direction other than what we are doing now. Reader's Digest has always been about the values of home, family, community, optimism and country, and certainly our values today are more than ever in step with America, especially during these recessionary times as people focus on the "back to basics" of family and home. What we did with the relaunch and redesign of the magazine and websites was to go back to the roots that made this company great by embracing and catering to our specific and unique audience -- and do that very well, which resulted in an ASME Award for General Excellence, the first ASME in 20 years.

In a challenging time for our industry, we are excited about the plan we've developed (outlined in my earlier memo yesterday afternoon) to take a leadership role and transform our business model to respond to changed consumer media habits by leveraging our unique global assets and addressing this new generation of media.

Please let me, or any other Executive Committee member, know if you have any questions.

Eva Dillon

Dylan Stableford

Pop Sci Uses ‘Interactive’ 3D Technology to Place Cover Ad

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 06/18/2009-10:03 AM

Like the ShamWow guy, magazine publishers are looking to soak up as much revenue as physically possible these days. And, since many are increasingly OK with ads on covers (46 percent, according to our recent poll, think they’re a “legitimate business opportunity”), more are looking to that piece of once-virgin real estate. But, since there is still a majority (51 percent, according to the poll) of publishers not OK with ads on covers, some are doing it discreetly.

First there was Vice—which used glow in the dark ink to display an ad for BMW on its cover. Then there was Esquire, which used a cover window and perforations to crowbar marketing (for the Discovery and History Channels, respectively) onto its covers. (Well played, David Granger, well played.)

Now comes Popular Science, which has published an “interactive 3D cover”—the industry’s “first-ever augmented-reality magazine cover,” PopSci said—that allows readers to log onto the magazine’s Web site and interact with an animated hologram.

The 3D hologram was provided by GE, which occupies three ad pages in the issue. Pop Sci told the New York Times recently that it didn’t charge GE for the hologram placement.

My only question: Why the hell not? If you’re going to go that far, why not go all the way? (What's more offensive? A publisher that sells an ad on its cover? Or a publisher who gives its cover away to an advertiser for free?)

As the technology gets better, recovery of the ad economy stalls and publishers—not to mention the public—get increasingly comfortable with cover clear-cutting, expect to see much more of this.

As Pop Sci says, the future is now.

Dylan Stableford

Memo from Ann Moore: Time Inc. CEO Gives EVP Squires 'Special Summer Assignment'

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 06/16/2009-14:26 PM

This note was circulated internally to Time Inc. employees today:


From: Moore, Ann
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 3:06 PM
Subject: How to Put the Genie Back Into the Bottle; Special Assignment for John Squires

June 16, 2009

To:       Time Inc. Employees
From:   Ann Moore
Re:       How to Put the Genie Back Into the Bottle; Special Assignment for John Squires

It won’t be a revelation to any of you that the publishing business is changing rapidly. While print magazines are not going away, and while we have built vibrant websites with over 26 million unique visitors and 750 million pages views each month, it’s increasingly clear that finding the right digital business model is crucial for the future of our business. We need to develop a strategy for the portable digital world and to refine our views on paid content.

Given the magnitude of the opportunity, I have asked John Squires to take on a new role and devote his full time efforts this summer to developing the best business plan for the future. John’s qualifications for this assignment are ideal. He has a strong background in consumer marketing and digital content and has stature in the publishing industry, as well as with digital software and hardware companies. It is likely we will be seeking partners and allies in our quest to ‘put the genie back into the bottle’.

As many of you know, we are currently pursuing four related initiatives:

1.    Evolving our current website businesses by identifying and developing consumer revenue streams.

2.    Accelerating the creation of applications for smartphone platforms.

3.    Developing new products and business models for portable digital readers.

4.    Exploring partnerships with other publishers to develop the optimal retail store for our digital products.

John will need the support of many, including Consumer Marketing, Legal, Strategy and Business Development, and the Time Inc. titles. Please pitch in with all your resources available when he calls.

During this assignment, similar to the role I’m playing at the Style and Entertainment Group, I will assume responsibility for the News Business Unit.


Dylan Stableford

Would You Hire Someone Who Wears a Nose Ring?

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 06/15/2009-16:52 PM

In college, I got my eyebrow pierced. (I know, I was just going to go with the ear or nose, but, of course, wanted to be on the leading edge of cool.) A week later I applied for a summer job at an EMS-style outdoor store in Burlington, Vermont.

Got hired. Showed up my first day. Store manager says, “Hey, what’s that? I must’ve missed it in your interview. You gotta take it out.”

Take it out? We’re in frickin’ Vermont!

I needed the job, so I did—even though my “pierce-ist” (right?) said it would close up and be very painful to put back in every night (it was—so much so that I eventually gave it up altogether).

Point is, to be gainfully employed means making concessions—some bigger than others, depending on how “corporate” your publishing company is.

Add to that the absurd amount of laid off magazine people angling in the market for a job right now, publishers can be as picky as they want to be. Conformity, at least at first, would be advisable.

Which makes this Q+A with Ellen Gordon Reeves, a noted job hunting expert—posted on, the increasingly indispensable Web site for young, aspiring magazine professionals—all the more bizarre:

Q: So can someone wear a nose ring to the interview?

A: Sure, wear your nose ring. Just understand that at least 50% of employers or more may not hire you. [Ed note: Know your magazine! A good rule of thumb: If the people in their pages habitually wear nose rings, they won’t hold it against you if you show up with one.] Know the culture of the workplace and the magazine to which you’re applying. If you’re a nose ring wearer, you need a nose ring-friendly environment.

Hey, here’s an idea: take it out!

It might hurt to put back in, but it’s small price to pay for being employed in the publishing industry in 2009.

After all, having a job, particularly in this economy, is the coolest look you can have.

Dylan Stableford

National Geographic Rolls Out $19.99 Custom Cover Initiative

Dylan Stableford Sales and Marketing - 06/12/2009-15:49 PM

MyShot, National Geographic’s popular social hub that allows users to submit and vote on photos, and YourShot, the related submission site—have been two of the magazine industry’s few unmitigated successes on the Web.

Now, the magazine is offering readers an opportunity to customize the cover of a special print issue—National Geographic’s Your Shot—that will feature “101 of the best readers' photographs submitted to National Geographic magazine over the past three years.”

Wired, you might recall, was one of (if not the) first national magazine to allow readers to customize a cover.

The July 2007 project—funded by Xerox—netted Wired great press, but pulling together the issue, as one former staffer told me, was a “logistical nightmare.”

National Geographic, though, might be looking for some incremental revenue, too. Via the press release:

Looking for a unique Father's Day gift? One that fulfills the fantasy of having a favorite photograph featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine? This month, National Geographic is publishing a special collector's edition, National Geographic Your Shot, featuring 101 of the best readers' photographs submitted to National Geographic magazine over the past three years. Starting Monday, June 15, readers can create and order a unique, customized cover of this special issue, using a photograph of their choice, by going to The customized version makes a perfect gift to memorialize a special family snapshot.

The custom cover option for National Geographic Your Shot will be available to order, online only, for $19.99 plus shipping. The issue goes on newsstands with a standard cover on Tuesday, June 30, for $10.99.

The 144-page issue, with a trim size of 7"x7", also will also contain advertising—from HP, Fuji and Energizer, among others.

Dylan Stableford Accepts Economist Ad

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 06/11/2009-14:33 PM

An interior page on today

When FOLIO: first published the story that Newsweek was mulling a dramatic drop in circulation along with an equally dramatic overhaul, we noted that the magazine was loosely modeling its relaunch after the Economist—which occupies a “thought-leader” position editor Jon Meacham (and Time editor Richard Stengel, for that matter) not-so-secretly covets. Now that both the magazine and Web site have relaunched, it appears Newsweek isn’t so shy about wearing its inspiration on its sleeve.

Dylan Stableford

Arianna Huffington: ‘We Pay Our Journalists, Editors, Reporters—Our Bloggers Come and Go’

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 06/10/2009-10:12 AM

Huffington, with (presumably) one of her unpaid bloggers (Herbie Hancock), in 2007

NEW YORK—When Syracuse University’s Newhouse School announced that it would be giving a lifetime achievement award at the Mirror Awards to Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, for her contribution as a journalist to the profession of media, there was immediate criticism. Huffington, after all, has been widely criticized for not paying bloggers.  Via Romenesko:

Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications should know better than to honor a woman—Arianna Huffington—who thinks journalists should work for free, writes Simon Dumenco. It's one thing for a j-school to draw attention to itself by creating a self-referential journalism-about-journalism award, he says, referring to the Mirror Awards. "But it's quite another thing to give recognition to people who damage the very profession of journalism."

Yesterday at a luncheon packed with an impressive list of journalists (most of whom, presumably, are paid), Huffington fired back, answering her critics and offering some criticism of her own—aimed at the newspaper industry.

“We pay journalists, we pay our editors, we pay our reporters,” Huffington said. “Most of our bloggers, they come and go.” Bloggers, she said, often “have other jobs.”

Huffington’s distinction between “journalists” and “bloggers”—in the case of HuffPo, often celebrities and personal friends of Arianna—while odd, made sense.

“Arthur Schlesinger faxed me his blogs,” she said. “It didn’t matter how we got them—the goal was to get those voices online. “That was my dream, to give voices to many people.”

Huffington then turned her attention to newspapers.

“The other criticism is that I’ve killed newspapers,” Huffington said. “I’ve had a lot of help from Craigslist … the recession, this disruptive technology known as the Internet.”

The industry must adapt, she said, “otherwise we can become like Detroit.”

“[This] conversation should shift from how to save newspapers to how to save journalism,” Huffington said. “There have been far too many autopsies, and not enough biopsies.”

But Huffington, who referred to herself as “a little Greek peasant girl,” said she still believes newspapers will be around for awhile.

“I don’t believe the obits,” she said. “We were on vacation, I didn’t want to pass our laptops around and get marmalade on them. As long as our generation is alive, there will be newspapers.”


Dylan Stableford

Newsweek Turns Over Magazine to Television Character

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 06/08/2009-15:27 PM

When I first heard that editor Jon Meacham got Stephen Colbert, the fake talk show host, to guest edit the New Newsweek, I thought, “Hey, that could be pretty funny.”

Then I thought about it a little more. “Wait, this is Newsweek—a real, non-fake news magazine.” Wouldn’t it be a little like getting Sacha Baron Cohen, in “Borat” character, to guest-edit Travel + Leisure? Colbert is, after all, a character, although the degree to which his character’s satire differs from his own can be debated.

Then I thought, “Oh, who cares? It’s just a magazine.”

Well, Meacham cared enough that he felt the need to explain the joke to readers: “Everything he did in character is signed, so there should be no confusion about what is NEWSWEEK and what is Colbert.”

Colbert, for his part, opens the issue with some sharp satire on Iraq, the state of the magazine business—and one bullet aimed directly at rival Time and its cover story this week on Twitter.

Via Colbert’s editor’s note:

When Jon Meacham asked me to guest-edit NEWSWEEK, I jumped at the chance, particularly because my guest editorship at Mature Honeys fell through. I guess my photo essay of sexy housewives reenacting the Battle of Fallujah was too "real" for them.

Of course, guest editing is more than just sitting around tanning myself by the gleam of Fareed Zakaria's teeth. I set the editorial agenda, assigned stories and yelled at Peter Parker to get me more photos of that web-slinging vigilante, Spider-Man. He's a menace!

I took advantage of my powerful new perch and published all my letters to the editor that NEWSWEEK had rejected, provided my Conventional Wisdom, took a red pencil to Meacham's editorial foofaraw and took the bias out of the columnist bios. Most important, I sent NEWSWEEK's reporters to find out whatever happened to Iraq. Unfortunately, this meant cutting the cover story they had planned: "Hey, Have You Heard About This Thing Called 'Twitter?'"

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Newsweek turning over its magazine to a character to report on the War in Iraq. I’m not totally against the idea, although I might feel differently if one of my loved ones was included among the 4,232 dead or 30,000-plus wounded there.

But Colbert is filming his Report in Baghdad this week. (As the New York Times notes, it’s the “first time in the history of the U.S.O. that a full-length nonnews show has been filmed, edited and broadcast from a combat zone.”) And he’s donating proceeds from iTunes downloads to for school supplies for soldiers’ children. And he’s putting a spotlight on a war that we (or I, regrettably, often) forget about.

Dylan Stableford

Magazine Starts Grassroots Campaign to Free Itself from Advertising

Dylan Stableford M and A and Finance - 06/05/2009-13:04 PM

Need, a small, Minneapolis, Minnesota-based “humanitarian” magazine, is struggling with the advertising downturn—just like the "inhumane" ones.

But after hearing about the initial success of the “Save Paste” campaign ('Save Paste' Campaign Raises $166,000) founder Kelly Kinnunen says the magazine decided to launch a campaign of its own—"ScrewTheMan, SaveTheWorld.”

“The concept was to not only save ourselves, but at the same time promote our end mission of inspiring humanitarian action,” Kinnunen says. “We know it's a bit risky and cheeky but as independent publishers in the current climate you need to be creative.”

Need wants 25,000 new subscribers—which would more than double its current circulation of 19,000.

If successful, the quarterly magazine says it “will eliminate all commercial advertising for one year (thus screwing the man) and replace the allocated advertising pages with stories of how readers are involved in saving the world.”

Whether or not it works remains to be seen. But at least they got a cool staff video out of it: