Connect with FOLIO:


FOLIO: Personalities -- The Blog People Page

Dylan Stableford Editor Shows Up at Magazine Day Anyway

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 04/18/2008-12:23 PM

Interesting moment at New York Magazine Day—I mean, aside from the VP of Toyota Motors telling the Magazine Publishers of America chairman that magazine readers don't care about editorial ethics anymore: Deidre Depke,'s assistant managing editor who recently took a company buyout offer (one of many longtime editorial staffers to do so), showed up for a panel called "All Things Digital" (she was honoring her commitment, she said later). Refreshingly, Depke—perhaps because she's no longer at the company—spoke openly about the challenges at Newsweek.

Among them:

Flexibility with talent. Depke said that a chief political correspondent announced he would be taking a vacation during the recent Iowa Caucuses. "His girlfriend was on vacation, so he was, too," she said, noting that publishers should not view it as a lack of dedication. "They're dedicated to the company when they're at the company."

Poaching. Ad agencies and Web companies are "coming in" and picking off's design talent "because they can pay very well."

Product "integration" and customized editorial requests from ad agencies. "It's the single biggest point of contention within our company ... The only editorial asset our magazine has is its content-for us to abandon that, and let advertisers do what they want with it, would be a big mistake." When a fellow panelist suggested ASME is working on new guidelines to help navigate the increasingly murky ad-edit line, Depke quipped, "I have been hearing that for eight years."

Finding advertising support for video. Despite a relatively small but "deeply engaged" audience for its live online video offerings, Depke said getting advertisers to commit to the medium—when pre-rolls and interstitials are limited by Newsweek—is a major challenge. (She told FOLIO: as much recently.)

Print stories vs. online stories. Newsweek has 4 million print readers and 14 million readers online, leading Newsweek to rethink their silo-driven editorial strategy. "Stories are not print stories, they're not online stories-they're stories." Newsweek, like most magazines, constantly monitor how well Web stories are doing, trafficwise, and use that as a justification for putting them in the print magazine. "If a story that got rejected for the magazine goes online and zooms to no. 1, it's almost certain to make it into the magazine."

Dylan Stableford

Business 2.0's Quittner Returns to Time

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 04/17/2008-11:39 AM

When we last heard from Josh Quittner, he was facing down the demise of his Time Inc. title, Business 2.0, while a fervent group of his Facebook friends were trying to save it. (After Time Inc. refused to sell the magazine to rival Mansueto Ventures—home to Inc. and Fast Company—the company folded it into Fortune.)

Now, Quittner's been poached—cross-company style—from Fortune by Time editor Rick Stengel. Here's Stengel's memo:

April 16, 2008

To: TIME Staff
From: Rick Stengel

I'm delighted to announce that Josh Quittner is coming back to TIME to cover consumer technology with a regular column in the magazine and a daily blog on In his new role as editor-at-large, Josh will apply his singular voice to technology, writing both reviews of new products and features that explain what's most important to consumers in Techland.

Most recently, Josh was the managing editor of Business 2.0 and a writer for FORTUNE. He first had a byline in TIME in 1994 as a staff writer covering technology, back at the very beginning of the Internet. He went on to launch "The Netly News," first as a website on Pathfinder and later as a column in the magazine. He subsequently served as editor of well as tech editor of TIME before moving to San Francisco in 2002 to work for Business 2.0. Prior to coming to Time Inc., Josh worked at Newsday in the early 90s, where he wrote a pioneering column called "Life in Cyberspace."

Josh will continue to work from San Francisco where he lives with his wife, journalist Michelle Slatalla (with whom he has co-written five books) and their three daughters, but I expect he'll be in the New York offices regularly. Josh is a great mind and a great brand to have back at TIME.

We're fortunate to have him.


Dylan Stableford

Gawker Media Trims Three Blogs from Portfolio

Dylan Stableford M and A and Finance - 04/14/2008-13:51 PM

Gawker Media founder Nick Denton (and FOLIO: 40 alum) has always thought of his snarky blog network as something of a Condé Nast of the blogosphere. Now, after months of speculation, Denton has trimmed three titles from his portfolio—selling his music blog, Idolator, to Buzznet (which recently purchased Idolator's chief rival, Stereogum), travel blog Gridskipper to Curbed (the real estate blog network—helmed by former Gawker managing editor Lockhart Steele—in which Gawker Media is an investor) and Washington, D.C.-based Wonkette to managing editor Ken Layne.

Denton's e-mail to staffers:

I'm amazed we've managed to keep a lid on this news; that, given your naturally gossipy natures, must be a first! We're spinning off three sites: Idolator, Gridskipper and-this one may be a surprise-Wonkette. There were indeed some rumors about Maura Johnston's music blog late last year; they were true of course. For reasons that I'll explain below, both it and our travel and politics sites have better commercial futures outside Gawker than within. (Excuse the corporate lingo: some of it is unavoidable.) But, first, the facts, which will be hitting the wires later this morning, or as soon as you leak this email. Go ahead!

* IDOLATOR is going to Buzznet, a music-focused web and social network. Buzznet recently acquired Idolator's chief rival, Stereogum, and received a big investment from Universal Music Group.

* GRIDSKIPPER isn't going far: it's being taken over by Curbed, the network founded by Lockhart Steele, in which Gawker Media is a shareholder.

* WONKETTE is being spun off to the managing editor, Ken Layne, former founder of one of the web's very first news sites, The title will become part of the Blogads network of political sites, which includes Daily Kos, among others.

Why these three sites? To be blunt: they each had their editorial successes; but someone else will have better luck selling the advertising than we did.

Music audiences are fragmented across genres; Maura's Idolator gave Stereogum a good run, but a group with a whole array of music sites will command more attention from record labels than we could. In the case of Gridskipper, our urban travel guide, we could never match Curbed in attention to city-specific content and advertising. As for Wonkette: political advertisers are a strange breed; they don't come through the same agencies our sales people deal with.

I'm relieved we've found pretty decent homes for the three sites, and most of their writers, but we're gutted to lose them. Idolator's Pop Critic's Poll was a tremendous coup-and Patric's bleeding-heart logo for the site was one of my favorites. Gridskipper is so far the most sophisticated travel blog: it entirely deserved its inclusion in Time's list of the 50 coolest websites.

And Wonkette is one of the brands with which the company is most associated; people will be shocked that we would ever part with it. The political site has won an array of Bloggies and other awards; it introduced the word ass-fucking into the dictionary of political abuse; the founding editor's slippers are even on display in the new media museum in Washington, DC. And Ken and his team have brought a new liveliness to the site this election season—validated by the record traffic of the last three months.

So why not wait, at least till the election? Well, since the end of last year, we've been expecting a downturn. Scratch that: since the middle of 2006, when we sold off Screenhead, shuttered Sploid and declared we were "hunkering down", we've been waiting for the internet bubble to burst. No, really, this time. And, even if not, better safe than sorry; and better too early than too late.

Everybody says that the internet is special; that advertising is still moving away from print and TV; and Gawker sites are still growing in traffic by about 90% a year, way faster than the web as a whole. But it would be naive to think that we can merely power through an advertising recession. We need to concentrate our energies, and the time of Chris Batty's sales group, on the sites with the greatest potential for audience and advertising.

The dozen sites that remain represent some 97% or our 228m pageviews per month, and an even higher proportion of our growth and advertising revenue. (Key facts are below, in case anyone asks.) We'll be able to devote more attention to breakouts such as Jezebel and io9, as well as established titles such as Gizmodo and Kotaku, which are becoming utterly dominant in their domains. And, then, once this recession is done with, and we come up from the bunker to survey the internet wasteland around us, we can decide on what new territories we want to colonize.

Both Noah and I are around to answer any questions. On email, IM, or phone. I'm [redacted] and Noah is on [redacted].




* A dozen sites, Gizmodo first launched in August 2002, most recent, io9, in January 2008
* Gawker, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, Jalopnik, Deadspin, Defamer, Jezebel, Valleywag, io9, Consumerist, Fleshbot
* A record 18 "Bloggie" nominations in 2008, way more than any other blog collective (one of those was for Idolator)
* Audience of 29.7m unique visitors a month for the whole network, up 82% at annualized rate (
* Each individual site has at least 1m uniques or, in the case of io9, soon will
* Pageviews of 227m in March — 219m if you take out the three sites being spun out — up 89% on a year earlier (Sitemeter)
* For those who measure these things, Gawker is the web's leading independent blog group

Dylan Stableford

Penton Memo to Employees: Hiring, Salary Freeze

Dylan Stableford - 04/14/2008-11:14 AM

SEE RELATED STORY: Penton Media Announces Hiring, Salary Freeze, Company-Wide Revenue Reforecasting

This memo, obtained by FOLIO:, was sent Friday by CEO John French to Penton staffers:

To All Penton Employees:

Recently, we've enjoyed success in certain areas of the company. Specifically, Penton's Exhibitions Group is off to a strong start to the year highlighted by the success of the Expo West event (one of New Hope's tradeshows covering the healthy products industry) in Anaheim, CA that drew record crowds and posted record financial results.

Registered Rep, in the Financial Services Group had a record first quarter. Many of our information data products are off to a strong start to the year as well. However, we are experiencing financial challenges in many other areas of the company. I'm writing today to discuss the challenges we will be facing together in the months ahead and the steps we will be taking as a company to address them.

Over the last several weeks, I have been meeting with our senior managers to review their revenue projections for the remainder of the year. Based on our forecasts, we project considerable revenue challenges for the balance of the year.

We are by no means alone in this situation. Many media companies, and many of our customers across a wide variety of sectors, have been affected by the recessionary economy. Virtually every one of our peers in the media industry has taken action to reduce their operating costs.

Penton is a strong company and we will be taking aggressive steps to address this revenue shortfall and protect our market positions. I have asked for a complete reforecast from all of our product managers, including a restated revenue forecast and a projected expense forecast for the remainder of 2008. We expect to complete this process by the end of April. Once we have completed our companywide review, I'll report back to you on our findings.

While the decline in revenue is problematic, it is only part of the story. This year we are facing significant increases in some of our largest, fixed operating expenses including the cost of postage and the cost of paper. The increases in these expenses coupled with the revenue decline have forced us to closely examine all of our operating costs.

As a result, we will be instituting the following company-wide policies:

• Hiring Freeze: Effective immediately, we are putting a hold on all hiring activity at Penton. This applies to all hires (full time and part time), regardless of where they are in the hiring process. The only exceptions to this will be key hires including those in the New Media Group, as these activities are critical to our revenue growth plans for both the near and long-term future; hiring in the Buyer's Guide Group in Overland Park, as we are relocating this function from Cleveland; hiring for the Helpdesk to replace the Unysis contract; which represents a significant cost savings to the organization; and hiring a new Chief Financial Officer, as this position is critical to the financial leadership of the organization.

• Salary Freeze: We will maintain salaries at their current levels at Penton. I know many of you were anticipating a salary increase in April. Our priority at this point, however, is to take every action we can now to minimize staff reductions in the future. Until we see indications of bottom-line improvement, we will freeze salaries for all employees.

• Cost Savings Initiative: In conjunction with the analysis conducted by the product managers on their respective businesses, I'm also asking each of you for your ideas on ways we can reduce our expenses.

Our greatest resource remains our people and I?m confident that many of you have insights into making our business more cost-effective.

Please direct your ideas to Eric Jacobson, SVP of Administration. Eric will consolidate this list and present it to me and other members of the Executive team for discussion. Eric may be reached at or XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Like many of you, I have personally experienced the difficulties of working through previous economic downturns. During times like these, we all need to focus on those issues we can control: finding new ways to work more effectively and efficiently; becoming even more creative in our thinking; and staying even closer to our industries and our customers.

I realize measures like the ones mentioned above are not popular and that many employees will be disappointed. However, you should know that I do not take these decisions lightly. My objective is to proactively take the steps necessary now to address our growing expenses in an effort to curtail the need to make more drastic moves in the future.

Thank you for your continued contributions to our company. Clearly, we will be going through some difficult times in the weeks and months ahead. However, Penton is a strong organization, and on balance, our future looks bright. As we move along in the process, I will send around periodic updates of our progress.

Please find posted to the Pulse a short video and a set of frequently asked questions regarding these issues.


Dylan Stableford

Weitzner Explains Cuts, Restructuring Logic

Dylan Stableford B2B - 04/11/2008-12:51 PM

Yesterday, FOLIO: reported on the lastest restructuring at Ziff Davis Enterprise. For those ZDE "completists" out there, here's the full e-mail exchange I had with CEO Steve Weitzner:

From: Dylan Stableford
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 1:46 PM
To: Steve Weitzner
Subject: folio: inquiry

Hi Steve:

I’m told ZDE is beginning its restructuring. Can you confirm:

How many jobs were affected?
Who was promoted?
Are there more job cuts coming?
What is the next step?

I’m on a tight deadline, so please get back to me as soon as possible.



From: Steve Weitzner
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 1:53 PM
To: Dylan Stableford
Subject: RE: folio: inquiry

Dylan I will be back to you in just a few minutes. Was in the middle of something.

From: Steve Weitzner
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 2:09 PM
To: Dylan Stableford
Subject: RE: folio: inquiry

> How many jobs were affected?
We’re not commenting on the number of jobs affected but the changes we are making will be less extreme than some recent layoffs in the media industry. I am truly concerned with the loss of even one job and I wish this action were unnecessary. However, there are a number of changes to our structure that are fundamental to our continued success.

> Who was promoted?
Larry Walsh was promoted to VP and Group Publisher of our channel products. Kirk Laughlin was promoted to Managing Director of our Live Events Business. In addition, we announced that Mike Azzara has joined the company as SVP of product management for our online network and print brands. And Kevin Neary has joined as EVP and CFO.

> Are there more job cuts coming?
There are no additional cuts planned at this time.

>What is the next step?
We will have additional announcements coming up shortly regarding our expanded focus on online and user-driven content as well as improvements to our sales and client services operations.

From: Dylan Stableford
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 2:13 PM
To: Steve Weitzner
Subject: RE: folio: inquiry

Thanks Steve. Keep us in the loop regarding anything upcoming.

One more question – how many people are employed at ZDE?

From: Steve Weitzner
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 2:18 PM
To: Dylan Stableford
Subject: RE: folio: inquiry

Approximately 200.

From: Dylan Stableford
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 2:20 PM
To: Steve Weitzner
Subject: RE: folio: inquiry

Thanks. Last question, I promise – would you consider this the second round of the planned restructuring. Or first?

From: Steve Weitzner
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 2:39 PM
To: Dylan Stableford
Subject: RE: folio: inquiry

Dylan, I wouldn’t call it a planned restructuring. There aren’t any rounds. When I first joined we made a number of changes in roles and responsibilities to more seamlessly integrate our operations across product lines, but without changing the number of positions in the company. The changes this week are the result of greater insight into how we can streamline our operations and better align our resources to meet the needs of our audience and our customers.

Dylan Stableford

Cover Critique: Vogue’s Lebron and Gisele

Dylan Stableford Design and Production - 04/09/2008-13:10 PM

Vogue’s latest cover—featuring basketball star Lebron James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen—was notable for a number of reasons. For starters, it was just the third time a man had appeared on a Vogue cover (George Clooney and Richard Gere being the other two) and the first African-American male to do so. But the magazine quickly came under fire for what bloggers and other media critics saw as perpetuating the ugly stereotype of a black man as the “wild, savage, white-woman-obsessed beast,” as Gawker Media blog Jezebel put it. (One even suggested that those supporting the cover do a Google image search for “King Kong” for a comparison.)

Below, FOLIO:’s roving panel of designers weigh in on the controversial cover.

NAME: Stephanie Faucher
TITLE: Design director, Computerworld
CRITIQUE: My first reaction to this cover when I saw it at the grocery store was that the two images were so oddly paired. Giselle's exuberant face and posture is just so unnatural next to Lebron's manly roar. She almost looks like a cutout. I honestly didn't think "King Kong," I just thought "strange." But since having read the various reviews and looked at the comparison photos, the resemblance to King Kong is uncanny. I can't help but wonder if Vogue didn't intend to spark a controversy over the stereotypical nature of this image. After all, what better way to sell magazines than to run a controversial cover?

NAME: Kelly McMurray
TITLE: Creative director, 2communique
CRITIQUE: I heard there was controversy over this cover and went to the newsstand to check it out. I was looking for a controversial headline or a photo inspired by an iconic film still. What I see is an athlete in an aggressive stance. In my opinion this is a case of the people/media blowing something out of proportion and giving more attention to something than it merits.

NAME: C. Winslow Taft, Jr.
TITLE: Senior art director, mental_floss magazine
CRITIQUE: I don't feel qualified to comment on what many contend to be the controversial aspects of this cover. However, taking all of that out of the picture and simply looking at it as a cover, I don't think this is one of Vogue's most creative or enticing covers. I'm eagerly awaiting some amount of Brodovitch or Henry Wolf to show itself again on the cover of these magazines that show so much experimentation in their ideas for upcoming clothing trends.

NAME: Jennifer Perez
TITLE: Art director, Perez Dezign
CRITIQUE: Doesn't every cover perpetuate stereotypes? The weirdest thing about this cover is how bad Gisele looks.

NAME: Tim O'Brien
TITLE: Freelance illustrator, Rolling Stone
CRITIQUE: I'm critiquing this cover AFTER the media began speculation about whether or not it's a racially insensitive cover. I have to think that this is a case of a cover where all who had a hand in it getting published; photographer to designer to editor all thought only of this as a fun, dynamic image. Should designers carry around a special filter to question whether a cover or image is going to be interpreted as being viewed as inappropriate? I think so. Once the issue is raised, whether or not it is based on the designer's real intent, it's all that is remembered. Often cited as Time darkening a photo of O.J. Simpson, Matt Mahurin years ago did with an illustration what he does to ANYTHING he illustrates—he created a sense of depth and murkiness that make his illustrations so unique. The contrast from that image next to Newsweek running the same source image made it look like Time decided to darken O.J.—this is ludicrous of course and since that cover, I feel these kinds of blind spots are not so common. Vogue is always a type nightmare. I wonder if people actually choose to buy it based on any promised headline on the cover? I think people who buy this magazine would do so even if they had fewer headlines and allowed their cover image to have more impact. As for the image itself, I agree that the most remarkable thing here his how this isn't a good shot of Giselle and her neck is quite wide. I keep imagining that shoot and how they had to look 'fun' and make all kinds of runs at being active.

NAME: Dan Trombetto
TITLE: Art director, FOLIO:
CRITIQUE: The racial/stereotype issues aside, I simply do not like the shot here. It feels awkward to me—like Gisele is toppling over, almost as if she is tripping over Lebron's size 15 left sneaker. It also feels like the cover lines aren't playing so well with the image. Feels a little congested.

What do you think? Leave your own critiques in the comments section below ...

Dylan Stableford

Players Club Doubles as Free Real Estate Listing for Lenny Dykstra

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 04/08/2008-12:08 PM

The Players Club, the magazine for professional athletes founded by Lenny Dykstra and published by Doubledown Media, had its launch last week. I had an interview scheduled with Dykstra—apparently notorious for missing interviews with journalists but one helluva stock picker!—but he never called. (Naturally, I waited by the phone, sucking on a hunk of chaw for six hours, but no “Nails” for me.) I had plenty of questions, the first of which is why Dykstra—and, moreover, Doubledown—thinks a magazine like this will work when others, specifically Overtime, have failed.

Hopefully he’ll reschedule.

In the meantime, I thought it might be useful to take a peek inside the 170-page debut issue. The magazine itself is big and heavy—kind of like a W for the athlete set. And then, the ads. There are a lot of ‘em, mostly for private jet services. (Whether or not these ads are paid or barter or gratis is another story.)

The content is pretty standard fare—in other words, unmemorable listicles (“All-Money All-Stars”), grids (“What’s hot in your world?”), charts (“Fitness Drinks: the box score”) as-told-to columns by John McEnroe and Tim Brown, an awkward fashion spread featuring Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell and vapid profiles—including the laughable cover story on Yankees shortstop and noted nightclub connoisseur Derek Jeter, by otherwise respected sportswriter Bob Klapisch. (Sample Jeter quotes: “I’ve really toned it down away from the field” and “I watch movies.”)

One feature, though, did catch my eye: a six-page photo spread of a 12,000-square-foot mansion outside of Los Angeles, built by Wayne Gretzky—a member of the Players Club “board of directors”—that sold in 2007 but is “on the market again.”

The unmentioned current owner of that estate: Lenny Dykstra.

Nothing like a free, high-end glossy house ad in a down real estate market, right? Now that’s a true player.

Dylan Stableford

TechCrunch Founder Hints at Eventual Roll-Up

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 04/08/2008-10:01 AM

A couple quick notes on Michael Arrington—the sleep-deprived founder of Silicon Valley blog TechCrunch and member of the 2008 FOLIO: 40—which didn’t make it into his 350-word profile.

  • When I called him a couple weeks ago (12:00 p.m. EST, 9:00 a.m. his time) he said he was working on a post (something about a brothel—seriously) and had yet to go to sleep. He echoed then what he told the New York Times over the weekend—that tech blogging is a fiercely competitive, ultimately unhealthy thing.
  • Arrington said that this sort of competitive hustling means no downtime. He says he hasn’t taken any time off in three years. “Not even a day.”
  • He’s also not entirely comfortable with his bloggy celebrity. “When it gets personal,” Arrington said. He didn’t mention the site by name, Arrington was clearly talking about Gawker Media’s ValleyWag, which has taken to covering him with a Julia Allison-like frequency and fervor.

As far as TechCrunch sale rumors, he says that while they can be expected—given his 2007 hire of Heather Harde, the ex-Fox Interactive executive responsible for $1.3 billion in acquisitions including that little $500 million MySpace deal—a roll-up scenario, leveraging a small network of blogs, is much more likely. “I don’t know if we’re a quarterback of something like that or a defensive back.”

Or, you know, owner. Just don’t expect ValleyWag to be part of that team.

Read Arrington's full FOLIO: 40 profile here ...

Dylan Stableford

The 2008 FOLIO: 40 Unveiled!

Dylan Stableford Association and Non-Profit - 04/07/2008-17:31 PM

The FOLIO: 40—our annual list of industry innovators and influencers—was officially unveiled today. We call it the oldest, most comprehensive and most distinguished compilation of its kind. Because it is. Obviously, it’s not an all-inclusive affair; rather, it’s roughly the result of two months of meetings, scouring notes, archives, old issues of FOLIO:, Wiki-researching, more meetings, spirited reply-all emails, paring down, another meeting, some brushing up on profile writing, then the actual profile writing, editing, copyediting. And, then, at some point, we get to this.

And, unlike other industry lists—perhaps unfairly—ours is Adam Moss free! (Though I’d admit that not including someone from New York magazine or its juggernaut was one of our biggest oversights this year).

But, as every magazine editor knows, that’s the beauty of lists. They’re a jumping off point for a nuanced and overarching reflection on a particular slice of an industry. Or something.

So, let the commenting—and requisite arguing—begin!

Dylan Stableford

OK! Calls Out Us Weekly, People on Cover

Dylan Stableford Sales and Marketing - 04/07/2008-13:12 PM

Price wars between celebrity magazines are nothing new—we all remember the move by American Media Inc.'s Celebrity Living to drop its newsstand cover price to 25 cents a couple of years ago. (Celebrity Living, of course, is dead.) But rarely if ever do you see a magazine call out the competition by name as OK! has done this week, touting that its $2.99 cover price is “$1 cheaper than Us Weekly & People!” (OK!—it's worth noting—is going for the trifecta with this one: Britney, Jamie Lynn and Suri).

The cover, however, has another problem, this time related to its Britney Spears’ “scoop” (see how the Spears Family made our just-announced FOLIO: 40 list): the cover shot it is using to illustrate Ms. Spears’ 15 lb., four-week weight loss is actually from a Glamour photo shoot three years ago.

We already know magazines will do anything to justify a Britney cover. This one, though, seems to be an attempt to appease the Spears family publicist(s) for its next scoop feeding.

The Celebrity Newsstand | Second-Half 2007 Circulation

In Touch 1,228,056 0.10% 1,271,354 0.20%
Life & Style 672,463 -9.70% 681,723 -9.50%
OK 550,100 7.10% 935,375 23.50%
People 1,428,760 -8.50% 3,618,718 -3.50%
Us Weekly 1,005,086 2.70% 1,928,852 10.10


Dylan Stableford

An Indie Publisher’s Emotional Final Letter to Subscribers

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 04/02/2008-13:52 PM

This week, another small, fiercely-independent magazine folded (“Another Small Music Magazine Bites the Dust”). The publisher, as they often do, wrote an apologetic, heartfelt, 1,000-word note to subscribers detailing the constant struggle that is being an independent magazine publisher in 2008.

It’s also one of the best “exit” memos I’ve read in awhile (sadly, there have been enough of these lately to compare), touching not only on the “harsh and sudden shock” of having to fold, but also on the blood, sweat—the love, really—that went into launching a magazine like this (“Resonance began in a bedroom, moved to a living room, then, for the second half of the magazine's existence, persisted in the two-room attic”) in the first place.

Here it is, in full:

To our dear friends and supporters:

In January 2008, immediately before going to press with our 55th issue, we were forced to stop printing Resonance. The financial challenge of publishing an independent magazine finally overwhelmed us. Fueled by the tireless support of many people (readers, subscribers, staff, freelancers, advertisers, publicists, as well as long-suffering spouses and significant others), we stubbornly survived on a shoestring budget and volunteer staff for 14 years. Such a business model isn't sustainable forever.

Independent publishing has always been a challenge; the recent couple of years, however, have been a much greater struggle due a number of factors, not the least of which include: downturns in the magazine and music industries; rising paper, production and postage costs; the list goes on. We've always been a small-budget business, but we nonetheless made additional spending cuts wherever possible, many of them painful (being unable to pay staff for the previous year, for one). In the past we had survived the lean times by borrowing on credit to cover shortfalls, but these gaps have been steadily increasing to an unmanageable degree. I believed we would manage financially, like usual, by the skin of our teeth. Our debt finally reached its limit—immediately before going to press with issue 55.

This was a harsh and sudden shock. We had worked tirelessly and in good faith these past several months to produce the best issue possible in terms of editorial, design and integrity. So although not in hardcopy, we hope you will read our final issue, Resonance 55. With the help of contributors from around the globe, we pour hundreds, maybe thousands, of work hours into assembling each edition. This issue—even if only in digital form—shines as one of our best ever and will be permanently available on this site as a free, high-resolution download. Resonance 54, the first issue of 2007's bold redesign, is also posted here. Please download, enjoy, and share the link with others, too.

To our subscribers: You believed in our vision and are the most valued supporters of Resonance. Only one subscriber ever requested a refund since we began publishing. For this faithful support, accept my deepest gratitude. What may be harder to accept is my apology. We will take care of you, and are negotiating to ensure that all subscriptions will be fulfilled by another music title. I know this is not at all ideal. I am sorry. Please understand that this is our only option.

For the near term at least, Resonance as a media vehicle is on indefinite hiatus, and continuing a print version at a future date is highly unlikely. A more viable route may be to phoenix ourselves online with a site devoted to the same vision (and with a massively diminished carbon footprint). We shall see.


Resonance launched in 1994 and consistently published quarterly editions for 14 years. The initial focus of Resonance was electronic music, but within the first year the mission evolved to focus on emerging artistic innovation itself, first across music genres, then encompassing other media such as books, film and the visual arts. The goal was to promote imagination in music and art, beyond the constraints of a single genre or medium. Creativity rarely stays in a vacuum, it explodes and interacts and influences everything around it. In the mid-'90s, the internet was making this synergy among media all the easier. We wanted a magazine that reflected this same kind of open-minded interconnectivity. Then, eschewing a narrow niche was considered ill-conceived marketing—we took the risk anyway. Now, such a kaleidoscope approach is common. We like to think we played a role in expanding the old, rigid view of what a magazine could be.

Eclectic content became one of the defining traits of the magazine. We wanted Resonance to cover media readers could actually talk about. So we launched a film department, featured visual art, and strongly developed our literature content. In fact, our feature interviews with book and graphic-novel authors count among some of our proudest pieces: e.g. David Sedaris, Miranda July, Eric Schlosser, Douglas Coupland, Chuck Palahniuk, Tony Millionaire, Irving Welsh, to name a very few ... and we put Eightball and Ghostworld creator Dan Clowes on the cover of issue 47. Resonance even received an Independent Press Award nomination for its arts and literature coverage from the Utne Reader.

None of us got much monetary gain from Resonance. As publisher, I barely made a living wage. The editors and contributors worked for small stipends or simply volunteered. We never had a real office, either—Resonance began in a bedroom, moved to a living room, then, for the second half of the magazine's existence, persisted in the two-room attic of a rented house in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood. But financial reward was never the point for anyone involved. It was to be a part of something sincere, a cause to believe in, a labor of love fiercely committed to editorial integrity and excellence. We wanted to create an oasis amid a sea of advertorial-riddled media churning out predictable coverage of the newest flavor of the month (indie or otherwise). So we filled most of every edition with little-known artists creating something more ... inventive. And we were never afraid to go as far as giving them their first U.S. magazine cover, either (Lali Puna, Goldfrapp, MIA, Bobby Conn, Dan Deacon, Octopus Project, to name a few).

Whenever we had the opportunity, we tried to create content as unconventional as the artists Resonance championed. Perhaps our most unique achievement was orchestrating a dialogue between Thom Yorke and author Howard Zinn in issue 39—a worldwide-exclusive feature some readers thought was a fabrication. It wasn't. Even with interviews we looked for refreshing ways to engage artists, such as the single-topic Final Cut department, in which we shared candid, often hilarious, chats with diverse personalities such as David Byrne, Diamanda Galas, Afrika Bambaataa, Boy George, Britt Daniel, Vincent Gallo and many more. Our Toolkit page, for another example, showcased interviewees illustrating their answer to the question "What does your favorite song look like?" using only the limited (and masochistic) art supplies our staff provided.

Yeah, we liked to play around, a lot. A content mix of erudite and silly kept Resonance from becoming a somber, geeky journal for pundits. It was a nice balance. Besides, who wants to work for peanuts without some good laughs? Our penchant for costumes, props and mischief kept the photography lively, for sure. Long-suffering artists became characters as cartoonish as wing-and-halo'ed angels (Mogwai), Soviet comrades (Mates of State), hotel-room trashers (the Flaming Lips), and silver-skinned visitors from the future (Le Savy Fav).

Our most outrageous stunt was in 2000 when Yo la Tengo conspired with us to do a cover photo shoot, not of the band themselves, but with three unknown impersonators instead: a trio of attractive, young Latin models. The cover's headline read: "The sexy makeover of a hot Latin trio." Most readers got the joke, others believed the models were the band. Yo la Tengo's record label Matador responded with a cease-and-desist letter from their attorney that threatened legal action for misrepresenting their artists, citing "gross non-compliance of the fair-use agreement regarding Yo La Tengo imagery." We published the letter in the following issue. Many readers, Resonance staff, and Matador fans were alarmed that such a credible indie label would be so devoid of humor. Well ... they're not. The legal threat was also a joke, kept secret until now. Thanks to the label's then-publicist Ben Goldberg for help orchestrating it all, and for keeping mum for eight years. God, to this day I still chuckle about that.

Since 1994, Resonance celebrated the forward regions of music, books, film and the visual arts. We've always aimed to create a friendly mosaic—a mix of what's next, innovative and inspiring—accessible to everybody in one nicely designed package. That's what we ask readers to remember about Resonance. And if we reemerge online, the same spirit will continue.

We've had a lot of fun along the way—I hope you have, too. To all supporters of Resonance, thank you.

With warmest regards,

Andrew Monko, publisher
Resonance Magazine

Dylan Stableford

Newsweek's Statement on Buyouts

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 03/31/2008-16:27 PM

I just got an e-mail from a spokeperson for Newsweek confirming that 111 of the 150 staffers offered buyouts are leaving the magazine. They're calling it a "voluntary retirement program."

Here's Newsweek's statement:

"Confronting the challenges in today’s media climate, we recently offered a voluntary retirement program to some of our employees. We were fortunate to be able to provide generous packages for eligible staffers who wanted to move on, while also saving on some of our existing expenses. A number of the familiar faces who accepted the offer, including David Ansen, David Gates, Cathleen McGuigan, Mark Starr and John Barry, will continue to contribute to the magazine and And, of course, Newsweek remains home to Jonathan Alter, Sharon Begley, Ellis Cose, Chris Dickey, Howard Fineman, Daniel Gross, Mark Hosenball, Mike Isikoff, Melinda Liu, Johnnie Roberts, Evan Thomas, Fareed Zakaria, Anna Quindlen , George Will and many other star journalists. New voices will be joining Newsweek too. We will continue to invest in Newsweek, and other new ventures, which collectively will strengthen our company’s long-term health and vibrancy. We are committed to producing the compelling, innovative and news-breaking journalism that has defined Newsweek for its 75-year history."