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Jason Fell

Wired Debunks Santa

Jason Fell Consumer - 12/20/2007-12:42 PM

Leave it to Wired to ruin Christmas.

In the December issue the editors call out Santa Claus in a three-page infographic. They spoke with business process consultants, surveillance experts, shipping professionals and even a former Navy SEAL to find out how the jolly man from the North Pole would really operate, without invoking supernatural powers.

Some of the unofficial findings:

  • Santa's elves have names like Mattel and Hasbro. Santa apparently sources production to a number of companies to mask the scope of his operation.
  • Santa knows if you've been naughty or nice. He taps into National Security Agency spy satellites to track bullies, vandals and other mischievous youngsters.
  • Forget the reindeer. In the U.S. alone Santa must hire an army of 2.7 million people (elves?) to deliver 34 million gifts in one night.

It's a fun piece that should go nicely alongside the lump of coal nonbelievers will find under the tree next week.

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Jason Fell

Essence Scores Imus Coup

Jason Fell Editorial - 12/06/2007-16:12 PM

Don Imus returned to the airwaves this week—the first time since being dismissed in April over racially-charged on-air comments he made about the Rutgers woman's basketball team—with a pair of female comedians, both African American. Essence magazine news editor Tatsha Robertson scored a bit of a coup with one of them, 33-year-old Karith Foster, and posted the Q+A on the Essence Web site. In it, Foster responds to claims that she "sold out" by joining him on the air.

Kudos to Essence for staying on top of this, and kudos for not holding it for the print magazine.

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Jason Fell

Condé Nast’s Irrelevant Musical Chairs

Jason Fell Consumer - 11/30/2007-17:30 PM


The big news out of Condé Nast this week wasn't about a controversial news story or some major acquisition. No, the buzz was about chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr.'s annual luncheon bash exclusively for his top editors, publishers and executives. And, if the New York Post's Keith Kelly is to be believed, everyone wanted to know who was sitting where and with whom-most especially who had the coveted seat next to Mr. Newhouse himself.

I'm always a fan of a good party, but does anyone who didn't attend really care? Does it really require news coverage with the fervor of a high school prom?

That said, the obvious "big news" was that Portfolio editor Joanne Lipman was seated at the big table (No. 4) at Newhouse's right side. (Portfolio super-publisher David Carey was assigned to table No. 7 which was apparently devoid of any heavy-hitting Condé Nasters.) Is this really a sign that the often-criticized editor still has Newhouse's support, or was it a move to save face since all of us gossipy media spectators are watching?

PHOTO CREDIT: New York Post

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Jason Fell

Men’s Health, Taking Cues from Maxim?

Jason Fell Consumer - 11/19/2007-19:25 PM

There's nothing like a practically naked woman to grab a man's attention. That said, it struck as somewhat odd when we noticed this photo as part of the annual gift guide featured in the December issue of Men's Health, on newsstands Tuesday.

The editors used a number of photos from a shoot with Dania Ramirez-a star on the hit NBC television show "Heroes"-throughout the gift guide package. The best way, apparently, to display Fender's new VG Stratocaster guitar was to have Ramirez strip off her clothes and wear it.

"We love women and, of course, we're going to have photos of beautiful women on our pages," a Men's Health communications staffer told FOLIO:.

When asked if featuring a mostly nude woman was a sort of departure for the magazine, the staffer responded, "She wasn't completely nude. She was wearing a pair of heels."

What's your opinion?

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Jason Fell

Rodale's Branding By Biking

Jason Fell Sales and Marketing - 10/30/2007-02:00 AM
 

When Steve Madden, of Rodale's Cycling Group, asked the question, "Why don't more people think bicycling is great," he and his team did a little brainstorming and came up with the BikeTown project. Rodale handed out 50 bicycles free to residents of Portland, Maine for three months and told them to, well, ride them.


What were the results? Not surprisingly the participants lost weight-a combined 750 pounds to be exact. The BikeTown project has expanded over 48 states, handing out 3,000 bikes to about 15,000 riders. So far, the project has generated 154 million media impressions, Madden said, and $6.3 million.


"The results were nothing less than spectacular," Madden said. "People lost weight, families reconnected. And six million in revenue? That's not so bad either, right?"

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Jason Fell

Shape Running Out of Cover Design Ideas?

Jason Fell Design and Production - 10/24/2007-02:00 AM

As we were sifting through the stacks of magazines we have collected here at Folio:, we came across the October and November issues of Shape. Placing them side-by-side we couldn't help but notice how strangely similar the covers are.

Both bathing suit-clad subjects (singer Sheryl Crow, October; actor Heather Graham, November) appear standing in water with the sun setting behind them. The color schemes are nearly the same. The cover lines look similar. The list goes on.

A Shape spokesperson says Crow and Graham were photographed in different locations, although at practically the same time of day. Shape creative director Dimity Jones declined to comment other than to call the similarities a "coincidence."

Jones and her team didn't realize the similarities before sending these issues to print? A coincidence? You be the judge.

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Jason Fell

Scenes From BusinessWeek's Relaunch Gala

Jason Fell Consumer - 10/12/2007-02:00 AM

Despite a driving rain, nearly 500 people made it to mid-town Manhattan's Guastavino's Thursday night for BusinessWeek's "What's Next?" party, celebrating the magazine's first redesign in four years. The magazine's new, sharper look debuted in the October 22 issue which hit newsstands today.

The evening began quietly with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, and those who attended brushed elbows with the likes of Nixon-era secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and CosmoGIRL! founding editor Atoosa Rubenstein.

Vaulted company aside, the festivities got under way a little more than an hour in when a tap dancing, cell phone texting, laptop toting ensemble of 20-something age performers took the red BusinessWeek stage. The performance made obvious the coming together of young and old, a concept BusinessWeek hopes is just as clear in its redesign.

The big surprise of the night was when BusinessWeek president Keith Fox and editor Steve Adler introduced record producer Clive Davis. In keeping with the evening's "What's Next" theme, Davis in turn introduced I Nine, a band he says is the "next big thing."

Overall, the party was a classy, hip way to formally announce the redesign BusinessWeek hopes will launch it into the 21st century. 

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Jason Fell

No ‘Philosophical Fall-Out' for Discover’s Guccione

Jason Fell Consumer - 10/10/2007-02:00 AM

 

Spin magazine founder Robert Guccione, Jr. on stepping down from his post as Discover Media CEO and assuming instead the role of chairman: "I'm an entrepreneur, and sometimes we don't always move up, or down, or sideways-we just move."

In a phone conversation with Folio:, Guccione dismissed what he called "rumors" that his stepping down as CEO was initiated by a philosophical fall-out between him and his investors. "There has been gossip, and it all has been exaggerated," he says. "Sure, there have been arguments. You don't work with people for years and not fight. But, this move was completely amicable."

Discover Media CFO Henry Donahue replaces Guccione as CEO and will oversee the day-to-day operations of the company.

Guccione-son of Penthouse founder and owner Bob Guccione, Sr.-initiated the purchase of Discover magazine from Disney Publishing Worldwide two years ago, having partnered with private equity firms Sandler Captial Management and WallerSutton 2000, LP. In 1985, Guccione founded alternative music magazine Spin. He sold it to the owners of Vibe magazine in 1997 for more than $40 million.

So, why accept a position with less active responsibility? "I'd like to explore other projects," Guccione says. "I'm an entrepreneur. I get that itch."

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Jason Fell

Pay Cut? No Thanks

Jason Fell B2B - 10/05/2007-02:00 AM

When the news broke late last week that Cygnus Business Media had announced to employees through an internal memo that their salaries will be cut by 7.5 percent, and that hourly workers will be put on a 37-hour workweek at least through the end of the year, one of our first thoughts was what the early- to mid-career staffers there would do: Grin and bear it, or quit?

It remains to be seen how things at Cygnus will shake out. In the meantime, we informally polled a small handful of assistant/associate-level magazine types throughout the industry to see how they'd react if faced with a mandatory salary reduction. Not surprisingly, every respondent indicated that they would find the situation offensive.

"I'm passionate about what I do and willingly work 12-hour days with no overtime, so I'm already sacrificing a lot," an associate editor at a national women's magazine tells Folio:. "I can definitely see something like this turning me into a disgruntled worker for sure."

Other respondents indicated that their confidence in their magazine/company would be shaken. "Unless guarantees were made to compensate for my pay cut, I would really question my future within the company as well as the direction and stability of the company itself," an editorial assistant at another national women's magazine says. Those guarantees could include compensation through work benefits such as extra vacation days. She'd also want access to her company's annual fiscal plan and to receive notice of when her salary would be restored, she says.

The Cygnus memo indicated also that senior company managers will see a pay cut. Although the memo didn't say exactly how much, the cut is reportedly 25 percent. So, would sharing the burden with senior management ease some of our respondents' worries? "I'd still have the same concerns about the health and stability of the company, but at least the execs also are taking the hit-and are showing commitment to get through the difficult time without laying off employees," an associate editor at a national sports magazine says.

Would taking a pay cut be enough to make employees start looking for a new job? "I'd consider a job change," a production coordinator for a magazine group in Connecticut says. "If the company is cutting my salary now, who says they won't cut it again?"

"I would definitely explore outside job opportunities," the editorial assistant says. "It would be difficult to continue feeling motivated. More importantly, I believe it's important to find an employer that assumes responsibility for its financial missteps and does not place that responsibility on the shoulders of its employees."

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Jason Fell

Industry Standard: The Return?

Jason Fell Consumer - 09/07/2007-02:00 AM

As we scoured the Internet this week for news about the unfortunate shuttering of Time Inc.'s Business 2.0, we came across a blog post recalling the similar demise of tech mag the Industry Standard six years ago.

In the post, Eric Savitz-a former Standard writer-indicates that the magazine for a time attempted to maintain an online presence after the print version died and points readers to the thestandard.com. All that's there is a dark grey logo on a black screen, and the words: "coming back..." (It's almost like when you go to your favorite restaurant for dinner and you find the doors are locked and the lights are out. In the window, there's a sign that says the restaurant is closed temporarily for renovations. It never reopens.)

But what if the Industry Standard were to relaunch solely online? And why not? Magazines are launching only online without an established brand. That'd be one leg up for the Standard.

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