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Dylan Stableford

Maer Roshan’s Anna Wintour Fetish

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 02/11/2008-13:01 PM

Radar editor Maer Roshan has a thing for Anna Wintour. The Vogue editrix—and FOLIO: 40 veteran—appears in a photo illustration on Radar’s current March issue cover.

It’s not the first time she has appeared on magazine cover (weird to say, but I asked a number of magazine veterans who couldn’t recall Wintour on another national magazine cover ever—if you can recall one, let us know in the comments section). In September 1999, she was profiled in a New York magazine cover story.

New York’s editor at the time? Maer Roshan.

Perhaps Luke Hayman, the hot shot designer responsible for New York’s award-winning look and Time magazine’s historic redesign, will be able to reign in Roshan’s Wintour fetishism. This week, Hayman was hired by Radar as a design consultant.

Dylan Stableford

The Wal-Mart List

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 02/06/2008-16:00 PM

Magazines love lists, don’t they?

Well, we've got the motherlode: the mysterious list of magazines Wal-Mart decided to remove from its shelves.

Wal-Mart has thus far refused to release anything official; however, the list surfaced last week on the New York Post’s Web site—buried in a link at the bottom of one of Keith Kelly’s columns—but was quickly taken down.

We’ve reprinted it, in full, here.

NOTE: Click here for the full list.


Dylan Stableford

Vice Asks Readers to Pay for Subscription to Free Magazine

Dylan Stableford Audience Development - 02/05/2008-14:23 PM

Vice, the brutally irreverent New York-based magazine (which now boasts a slew of international editions, a critically-acclaimed online television site and a record label), has long employed free distribution at downtown boutiques to deliver its influential brand of hipster content to readers. And whatever your feelings are on Vice's acidic tone, there’s no arguing that it’s one of the prettiest, heaviest free magazines around—a fact the magazine itself touts on its covers.

Which is why it was bit of a shock to see the subscription card in a recent issue asking people to pay for subscriptions.

Why now? Vice says the magazine is so pretty, readers take stacks of free copies from these boutiques, subverting the key part of their distribution model.

Could this be first sign of trouble at Vice, a multiplatform, success story that has had as much to do with image as business acumen? Or is this a sly way to tack on revenue at a company whose founders have successfully positioned themselves as professional tastemakers, inking a development deal with MTV?

One of those founders, Gavin McInnes, left the company last month, citing “creative differences.”

His exit memo was, of course, brutally irreverent.

Dylan Stableford

The Ethics of Covering Heath Ledger

Dylan Stableford Design and Production - 01/25/2008-17:26 PM

Evaluating the winners (the New York Times, Gawker—yes, Gawker) and losers (Bonnie Fuller).

Heath Ledger’s death this week rocked New York, Hollywood (most of which seemed to be at Sundance) and the rest of the country, as well as Australia, where the actor was born. It rocked the celebrity magazine world too, working editors and production staffs into a deadline frenzy to beat the rush at the newsstand. People magazine was able to close with a Ledger cover while most of its newsstand competitors, which close Monday, did not; Entertainment Weekly, which closes on Tuesdays, managed to produce a Heath Ledger cover, too.

As Ad Age's Nat Ives pointed out, the later close is going to benefit People in “the relentless checkout-lane war against Us Weekly, Star, OK, In Touch and Life & Style.” Undoubtedly true, but is checkout domination all these magazine publishers care about?

Maybe it’s because I identify more with Heath Ledger than other celebrities (he was 28, liked to party and altered his facial hair frequently). Maybe it’s because I’ve never bought a copy of People. But talk of a checkout-lane war in the wake of a death like this feels a bit tacky.

Particularly when the news of Ledger’s death was exhaustively—thoroughly and well, by the way—reported in real-time on the Web, more so than cable news coverage. (Don’t get me started about this guy. I mean, please.) Radar appeared to be the first to post the news; the New York Times' City Room blog delivered continuous updates; and Gawker—which has the reputation of being tad insensitive in times like these—posted perhaps the most eerily poignant video of the scene, replete with natural audio (you ever hear a crowded New York street this quiet?) of the removal of the body.

And what does this say about magazine Web sites? Bonnie Fuller, editor-in-chief of Star magazine, chose to blog about Ledger’s death. Not for Star magazine, mind you—for the Huffington Post. And a wildly speculative post at that:

None of his gifts, neither talent nor family, appears to have been enough to combat the demons that apparently led Heath to take the pills that could have ended his young life.

Heath, perhaps if you had just re-watched your old film you would have been inspired to stay with us and to have "changed your stars."

For more coverage of Heath's life and tragic death, go to

Bonnie, perhaps you should've considered if anyone cared what your Netflix queue looks like. Or waited, like everyone else, for an autopsy. And maybe a fact or two, while you're at it.

Speaking of tacky, look at the “tags” used by HuffPo for their Heath coverage:

That’s right. They’re tagging their stories with misspelled variations—and rumored causes of death—on purpose in order to boost their traffic with people who type “Keith Ledger” into search engines.


Dylan Stableford

At Least Magazines Don’t Have to Deal with Machine Theft

Dylan Stableford Audience Development - 01/22/2008-15:34 PM

Whatever your thoughts are on the state of the magazine industry—“It’s strong!” “It’s resurging!” “It’s receding!”—at least publishers, in general, don’t have to deal with this:

Thefts of newspaper machines in a pair of Colorado counties—Greeley and Weld—have reached high levels, with the 47th Tribune newspaper dispenser stolen this week.

The thieves are apparently taking the machines off of street corners, then taking them to remote areas where they use a power grinder and bolt cutters to get into the machine and take the change. They usually then dump the machine alongside a road. Most of the thefts have occurred between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

"It doesn't seem like it would be worth the effort," said Gary Doering, single copy manager for the newspaper. "They have to cut through everything to get the coin box, and it might have only a few quarters in it."

Dylan Stableford

Did Golfweek's 'Noose' Editor Deserve To Be Fired?

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 01/18/2008-18:05 PM

Golfweek fired its editor earlier today, less than a week after publishing a noose on its cover. The noose was an attempt to illustrate a story on the racially-insensitive remarks made by a Golf Channel announcer about Tiger Woods. The anchor, Kelly Tilghman, suggested on-air that Woods’ rivals "lynch him in a back alley." She was later suspended.

"We apologize for creating this graphic cover that received extreme negative reaction from consumers, subscribers and advertisers across the country," William P. Kupper Jr., president of Turnstile Publishing Co., the parent company of Golfweek, said in a statement. "We were trying to convey the controversial issue with a strong and provocative graphic image. It is now obvious that the overall reaction to our cover deeply offended many people. For that, we are deeply apologetic."

Representatives for Woods called it a "non-issue." The PGA Tour, which had threatened to pull their ads from the magazine, told me that "Golfweek’s decisions around its editorial leadership to be purely an internal Golfweek matter and we have no further comment."

Did he deserve to be fired for "trying to be provacative"? Leave your answers/rationale in the comments below.

Dylan Stableford

Introducing Fast Company's Latest Hire: Philip Scoble Hoffman

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 01/17/2008-12:09 PM

Left, Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman; right, influential tech blogger and new FastCompany.TV contributor Robert Scoble.

UPDATE: He apparently gets the Philip Seymour Hoffman thing all the time.

Dylan Stableford

Does Anyone Care About ASME Guidelines?

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 01/16/2008-17:17 PM

As FOLIO: first reported yesterday, Blender’s sponsored “Rock N’ Roll User’s Guide”—with a sponsor’s logo straddling an editorial section, making it look an awful lot like an advertorial—has drawn the ire of the American Society of Magazine Editors, who call it a “clear violation” of ASME guidelines. Blender declined to elaborate on the deal, only to say it is committed to following ASME guidelines at both Blender and Maxim, both titles owned by the Alpha Media Group.

Leaving the relative merits of the violation aside for a minute, the jab by ASME raises a legitimate question about the power—or lack thereof—ASME has in an industry that has been besieged by stuff like advertising dollars going to the Internet, rising paper and postage costs, and the volatile economy in general.

As one industry observer told me: “I mean, so Blender violated ASME rules. Who cares? They’re not winning any National Magazine Awards anytime soon, right?”

And remember, too, Kent Brownridge, Alpha’s top dog, has famously shunned membership in the Magazine Publishers of America. He’s not looking to impress anyone.

So, now the question is this:

Does anyone care about ASME rules?

NOTE: Drop your opinions in the comments section below ...

Dylan Stableford

Which Advertisers Have You Blacklisted Today?

Dylan Stableford Sales and Marketing - 01/16/2008-14:54 PM

Ms. Magazine’s refusal to run what appeared—at first glance—to be a benign advertisement touting female Israeli leaders, as FOLIO: first reported last week, has caused a bit of a stir in the American Jewish community, who are claiming the magazine is being anti-Israel. The magazine claims it is merely being anti-political:

"Ms. magazine’s policy ... is to only accept mission-driven advertisements from primarily non-profit, non-partisan organizations that promote women’s equality, social justice, sustainable environment, and non-violence. The ad submitted by AJCongress for consideration appeared to be a political ad, and as such, was inconsistent with this policy. With two of the women featured in the ad from one political party in Israel, Ms. concluded that in accepting the ad it could be viewed as though it was supporting one political party over another in the internal domestic politics of a country.”

It also begs an interesting question for all you freewheeling magazine publishers out there: What sorts of advertisers have you turned down? And why?

Publishers, we want your horror stories! And blacklists! Please leave them in the comments section below. Anonymity is guaranteed.

Dylan Stableford Founder: We'll Talk to Anyone, But We're Not Looking to Sell—Yet

Dylan Stableford M and A and Finance - 01/10/2008-12:27 PM

Great FOLIO: cover story this month on and its pink-leaning founder, Samir Arora. The company is still somehow under the radar, despite its absurd traffic growth (25 million unique visitors a month across its network of 400 sites) and rank (ComScore places it among the top 25 Internet media companies).

One point that didn’t make it into the article but came out during a video shoot we did with Samir for this week: he’s not looking to flip the company. At least, not yet. From rough notes I took during the interview:

FOLIO: I’d imagine, given all the success you’ve had in a relatively short period of time, you get approached a lot by some of this traditional media companies you’re kind of competing with.

ARORA: Yes, we do get approached, every month ... nothing serious ... but that wasn’t the goal. We want to create a great brand ... one that will have tremendous value in the marketplace.

If traditional publishers continue to miss the site network strategy, as Arora says, I’d expect that line of “approachers” to start looking like the runway at JFK, probably sooner than later. And when it does, it’ll be a fun exercise in valuation.

Dylan Stableford

OK! Publisher Touts Jamie Lynn Pregnancy Coup to Advertisers—Again

Dylan Stableford Sales and Marketing - 01/08/2008-11:11 AM

When OK! publisher sent a note to advertisers reminding them that the story that had America in a tizzy—Britney Spears' 16-year-old sister Jamie Lynn's pregnancy—was theirs, I criticized him for a misguided, blatant attempt to cash in on a teenager's apparent troubles ("OK! Magazine Breaks 'Intimate,' 'Exclusive,' 'Major' Pregnancy Story"), and a desperate ploy to stave off the cannibalization of a global scoop at the newsstand.

Well, Morrissy is at it again—this time, though, he has a point. Sort of. It appears his evil plan is working:

From: Tom Morrissy
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 9:45 AM
Subject: You Heard It Here First!

Dear Advertiser,

Ask yourself this question: Over the holiday week, how many times did I see news coverage of the Jamie Lynn Spears story, which OK! Magazine broke exclusively? Did it come up in conversation with friends and family at least once? If so, you've experienced the buzz that OK! Magazine has been so successful at creating with our major news stories this year.

We're proud to announce that this buzz helped propel OK! Magazine sales to well over 1 million copies at newsstand for the first time! In fact, this issue sold so well, we literally had to go back to press to satisfy the demand. We project a newsstand sale of 1.3 million for a total delivery of close to 1.7 million for the week! This caps a 2nd half in which the magazine averaged 947,055 copies on our 850,000 rate base - a bonus delivery of 11%.

But OK! isn't only breaking news... we're making news! Our surge in growth and overall awareness is such a phenomenon that the New York Times featured OK! Magazine on the cover of its business section. Click here.

So, as we finish off an extraordinary year of news-breaking exclusives, we want to thank all of our advertisers for their support. We finished the year with a 46% increase in pages (+187 pages), which is the biggest increase in the weekly market and the 4th biggest increase in publishing overall.

Stay tuned for more OK! exclusives. Happy New Year to all!


Tom Morrissy
OK! Magazine

News. Access. Style.
475 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Office: [REDACTED]
Mobile: [REDACTED]

Dylan Stableford

Did Parade Handle Bhutto Coup Correctly?

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 01/07/2008-18:28 PM

When you’re a magazine like Parade, you don’t tend to scoop anybody. Unless the interview you did with former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in November, slated for a January cover, becomes chillingly prescient when she is assassinated in a suicide attack more than a week before the article is scheduled to be published.

As FOLIO: reported, the magazine’s decision to immediately post the interview on paid off in record-breaking traffic for the site. The writer, Gail Sheehy, appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Larry King Live, CNN's The Situation Room, the CBS Early Show and ABC Radio to talk about the interview.

The print version, which arrived on America’s doorsteps this weekend, made no mention of the assassination—referring to Bhutto as “America’s best hope against Al-Qaeda”—and has subsequently drawn criticism. One FOLIO: commenter wrote:

Any journalistic outlet that publishes in newspapers ONCE PER WEEK would have made every effort to change the story to reflect the assassination. To allow those copies into print was tasteless and lazy, regardless of whether it went to print or not.

I won’t pretend to know what any journalistic outlet that publishes in newspapers “ONCE PER WEEK” would do or not do. But I do know that if I were the publisher I would’ve demanded the production team either create a sticker to be placed on the issue explaining my decision to publish, or pull it out entirely.

And, call it the Jamie Lynn Spears rule, but I would’ve also done little in the way of publicizing the “coup”—who watches the Early Show anyway?—and certainly wouldn’t have put out a press release touting a “beyond the grave” interview.

UPDATE: Publisher Randy Siegel told the Associated Press that the only option other than to run the outdated article would have been asking newspapers not to distribute the magazine at all. "We decided that this was an important interview to share with the American people," he said.