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Dylan Stableford

EW Covers the Writer’s Strike

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 11/12/2007-03:00 AM

Spend last week wondering how Entertainment Weekly would treat the Writer's Guild strike? Neither did I. But it appears by putting the strike on the cover [above], the magazine took a bit of a gamble. The strike could've been over by the time the magazine hit newsstands (this morning), and could still be resolved before the next issue wraps, however unlikely. (This is the one time EW has to think like its Time Inc. brother Time.)

As the strike moves into its second week, though, the EW cover looks better and better.

Dylan Stableford

Do Publishers and Advertisers Really Want New Metrics?

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 11/01/2007-02:00 AM

When he took over as MPA chairman in 2005, Hachette Filipacchi CEO Jack Kliger's first movewas to call for the magazine industry and its advertisers to pursue a new way of measuring and evaluating magazines. "Circulation-based metrics are irrelevant to proving advertising effectiveness," Kliger said at the time. "There is too much focus on ratebase rather than distribution. Every other medium deals with audience, we deal with circulation. Why should a magazine advertiser care if a magazine is paid or non-paid?"

This week, at the end of his two-year tenure as MPA chairman, Kliger reiterated the call for new metrics. Not doing so, he said, "shortchanges the value proposition to the advertiser."

But while both publishers and advertisers nod their heads in adamant agreement that new metrics are needed, the lack of support for new metrics begs the question of whether they really want them. Advertisers and agencies for the most part seem more concerned with pushing publishers on price. Why support data that justifies a rate increase? In the recent Folio: Consumer CEO Survey , several respondents said advertisers focusing on low CPMs rather than the quality of integrated packages frustrated them. "There is a failure on the part of advertisers to accept solutions versus driving for low CPMs," said one consumer-publishing executive.

On the publisher side, many remain leery about methodologies that could show specific issues as poor performers. Some early efforts in new metrics have foundered. Last year, McPheters & Co. dropped, it's attempt at collecting issue-specific data, after it only took in about half of the $5 million it needed to support fielding the service. In June 2007, MRI released its first Issue Specific Readership Study, which offers syndicated research showing total audience estimates and demographics for individual issues of magazines. However, the study seems to have been greeted with little industry-wide fanfare.

Other efforts are underway. MRI and Nielsen Online have teamed on a service to track unduplicated audiences of publications and their Web sites. McPheters & Co. is conducting a study to gauge the effectiveness of public-place copies. But new metrics won't gain any support unless advertisers are able to accept that they may need to start giving magazines more credit than mass media whipping boy, and publishers will need to admit that not every issue is a slam dunk, and will have to start planning and pricing accordingly.

Dylan Stableford

Time Out New York Editor's Sex Issue Goal: Cancelled Subscriptions

Dylan Stableford City and Regionals - 10/29/2007-02:00 AM


Brian Farnham, speaking at the American Magazine Conference Monday, said he had one goal in mind when putting together the 2007 sex issue, his second as editor: Cancelled subscriptions.

"If you do a sex issue and no one cancels, you're probably not doing your job," Farnham said.

Farnham said after no one cancelled their subscriptions after publishing the first sex issue of 18-month tenure at TONY, he wanted five this time around.

"I'm happy to report we vastly exceeded my goal."

Dylan Stableford

Cookie Editor: 'We Totally Underestimated the Reader'

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 10/29/2007-02:00 AM

When Pilar Guzman, editor of year-old Cookie, first tested the magazine's cover prototypes-high-end photo shoots with model moms and model kids in model situations-she realized the magazine had "totally underestimated the reader."

"The focus groups could tell who the fake-y models and kids," Guzman says. "A mom knows, a mom knows that moment-a 22-year-old model who doesn't have a kid doesn't really know how to hold a child."

Despite burning a bridge with the shoot's equally high-end photographer (Guzman never used the cover) Guzman says the test forever changed the magazine launch's cover strategy. "We now use real moms and their kids."

Dylan Stableford

Ad Age Editor: 'We Like It When You Pick a Place to Moor Our Yachts'

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 10/29/2007-02:00 AM


Best line from day one of the 2007 American Magazine Conference, taking place at the ridiculously posh Boca Raton Resort & Club, courtesy of Adverting Age editor Jonah Bloom:

"For the journalists in us, we like when you pick a place to moor our yachts ... I have the slip next to Keith Kelly this year."

Dylan Stableford

Ratherisms at AMC

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 10/29/2007-02:00 AM

While Dan Rather didn't address his $70 million lawsuit against CBS while moderating a discussion at the 2007 American Magazine Conference, the former newsman didn't disappoint those who wanted to hear his so-called Ratherisms (if anyone is truly a brand at AMC, it would be Rather) live and in-person. Some of his best:

"If you had to bet your trailer money, who wins the nominations?"
"I'd bet the ranch on the New Yorkers."
"Not a single vote has been cast anywhere-right now it is guesswork."
"If I was te-totally me-morally forced to choose ..."
"[Mitt Romney] is an undervalued stock."
"Tall, good-looking men sometimes do well in elections."
"My crystal ball is permanently in the shop."
"What you least expect often occurs."
"Overnight is a long time; a week is forever."
"February 5, unless there's a cataclysmic event-that's the ballgame."
"For all the double-doming, the coverage may not amount to much."

Dylan Stableford

AMC Kicks Off in Boca

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 10/28/2007-02:00 AM

The big question for the 500 or so magazine executives gathering at Boca Raton's cavernously posh resort and club this week for the 2007 American Magazine Conference is simply this: What the hell is a "magabrand"? And is it really a revolution? The conference's thematic title-"Magabrand Revolution"-seems to be both a nod to magazine publishers leveraging their brands across multiple platforms (Web, TV, radio, rock club et al) and the personal journey of the Men's Health editor and AMC chairman Dave Zinczenko from self-described fat kid to editor to Today show TV personality to tabloid-fodder to a multi-platform brand himself. (Zinczenko could be overheard saying as much at the resort's hotel bar late Saturday, going as far as calling ex-White House press secretary Tony Snow, the conference's odd choice of opening keynote speaker, as a "megabrand"-albeit a retired one.)

As Zinczenko explains in his chairman's letter, the so-called revolution is the "art and science of combining a strong magazine voice with the power of digital media to reach downloaders, listeners and viewers in ways that were unavailable, or even unimaginable, five years ago."

But is the magazine as brand a "revolutionary" idea, or even new? No, but believe it or not, there are magazine publishers out there that have yet to grasp the concept of "beyond print"-last year's AMC theme-and plenty more who've done little else than talk about it. Besides, magazine conference's need themes, and at this point, anything without the word "digital" in it is probably a good idea.

Dylan Stableford

Rachael Ray Goes (Dark) Green

Dylan Stableford Design and Production - 10/23/2007-02:00 AM

As I have been known to criticize magazine publishers who do little more than lip service to being "green" (see: ‘Green' Issues Fail to Convert Magazines to Recycled Paper) it's nice to see a major magazine going beyond the "green issue" rhetoric and actually committing to something that will have an immediate impact. Starting next month, Everyday with Rachael Ray, whose ad revenue skyrocketed some 500 percent this year, will print its issues on 85 percent recycled paper. Additionally, the Reader's Digest-owned magazine is switching mills to one closer to its printer. The explanation from RD:

"The new mill (outside of Chicago) is 160 miles from the printer (Quad, in Lomira, Wisconsin) compared with the old mill that was 1,060 miles away—that's a savings of 900 miles one way. So that reduces emissions. Contrast that with some magazine papers that are trucked across the country or imported from Europe. Also, the mill is working with the printer on a closed loop system, so when they deliver the "Rachael Ray" paper the same truck would then be loaded up with the printed waste and shipped back to the mill. The press waste from the printing of Rachael Ray will go back into the actual paper being produced for a future issue. Makes sense, but understand that this is not the typical process in the industry."

Make no mistake: swapping paper mills is not cheap. But I'd bet the goodwill associated with this move—if Ms. Ray follows through on her promise—will generate additional long-term revenue to offset the upfront costs.

(Or, at the very least, offset the damage done by those Dunkin Donuts commercials.)

Dylan Stableford

High-Profile Editors: Print is Not Dead—That Includes Newspapers

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 10/23/2007-02:00 AM

High-profile editors are spouting off about the glossy relevancy of print, and that can mean only one thing: the American Magazine Conference is almost here. Like most magazine discussions these days, digital and its threat to print will undoubtedly be a major theme at next week's pow-wow of consumer magazine editors and publishers in Boca Raton (the conference has been given the unfortunate "Mag-a-brand' tagline) and, like politicians before a convention, editors seem to be sharpening their stump speeches.

Yesterday, three surfaced. Here's Glamour editor and ASME president Cindi Leive:

Readers enjoy the ads-that's a strong story for advertisers to be in magazines, and a strong reason for editors not to get pushed into product placement.

AMC chairman, Men's Health editor and Today show staple Dave Zinczenko:

One of the strange conventions of science fiction film and television shows has been the idea that in the future, we will all dress alike. From "Twilight Zone" reruns to movies like The Matrix, Aeon Flux, and I, Robot, citizens of the distant future seem, for no obvious reason, to have given up the idea of dressing themselves as individuals. In the future, fashion is apparently doomed. Whenever I hear someone say that print is doomed, I think about those old "Twilight Zone" episodes. And I think that when it comes to fashion - and media - the futurists get it all wrong.

One editor even expanded his "Print is Not Dead" defense to include the hemorrhaging newspaper industry.

From the London Independent, Wallpaper* founder and Monocle editor Tyler Brûlé:

Print media might be faced with some serious challenges but it's time to stop calling its relevance into question - that goes for newspapers too. In many markets the humble daily has never looked so good, in others there's a bit of work to be done. If it was our money and we were going to launch the Monocle Daily, we'd be taking our cues from our favourite Italian broadsheet.

Look for FOLIO:'s comprehensive coverage of the 2007 American Magazine Conference beginning Sunday, October 26-live from Boca-on


Dylan Stableford

Jon Meacham Bets You Want More Newsweek, Not Less

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 10/15/2007-02:00 AM


Six months after Time executed a historic redesign-and seemingly told anyone (read: Charlie Rose) who would listen-Newsweek has unveiled a redesign of its own, albeit ushered in with considerably less fanfare. Here's editor Jon Meacham's note:

We have two pieces of news close to home: a redesign of the magazine and of Our renovations come at an interesting time for journalism. As the number of news outlets expands, it is said, attention spans shrink; only the fast and the pithy will survive. Some people in our business believe print should emulate the Internet, filling pages with short, Weblike bites of information.

We disagree. There is a simple idea behind the changes in the issue of newsweek you are holding: we are betting that you want to read more, not less. Other media outlets believe you just want things quick and easy. We think you will make the time to read pieces that repay the effort.

Led by Amid Capeci (the legendary Roger Black consulted with us, and Dan Revitte and Bonnie Scranton were instrumental), the redesign is more about refinement than revolution; many changes are subtle. The most important shift is a cleaner visual presentation that gives our writers more words and creates a better showcase for photography. We have also added pages to periscope, expanded the conventional wisdom watch and given voices like Jonathan Alter, Sharon Begley, Ellis Cose, Howard Fineman, Daniel Gross, Steven Levy, Lisa Miller, Anna Quindlen, Robert Samuelson, George Will and Fareed Zakaria a bit more space in which to make their points.

You will notice other things, too. At the end of tip sheet we now have a weekly column alternating among Kathleen Deveny on "Modern Family," Julia Reed on "Food & Drink," N'Gai Croal on geek culture, and Jane Bryant Quinn on personal finance.

For editors talking about redesigns or changings of the guard, it is very tempting to make grand declarations, but I am going to try to resist. Hyperbole does not get us very far, and you would hardly expect someone in my job to say anything other than greatness is either at, or already in, hand.
What matters is what you think of the magazine week in and week out. We do not do focus groups or market research; we simply report, write and edit using our best judgment and our sense of what will challenge, engage and (pleasantly) surprise you. How do we arrive at this "sense"? This way: guided by our constant, organic conversation with readers through e-mails, letters and online comments, we publish the magazine we would want to get every week on the ground that if we find something interesting, you probably will, too.

For much of our history--we turn 75 in January, and celebrates its 10th anniversary next year--we were consumed, naturally, with the content of the pages of the magazine. For the last decade and for the foreseeable decades to come, however, we have not one but two jobs: to produce a print magazine you are eager to read, and a Web site with daily original content that you find compelling. What links them is our commitment to bringing you reporting, voices and analyses you cannot get elsewhere.

At you will find a new site that uses the latest technology to make our content more accessible. Under the leadership of Deidre Depke, a team that includes Rolf Ebeling, Cathy Fenlon and Kevin Stuart has reinvented the Web site. There are more features, more video, more blogs, a Daily Conventional Wisdom and expanded coverage channels (with a special commitment to health news). Turn to page 8 of this issue for more on what you can expect to see online.

In this week's issue, Christopher Dickey and Jessica Ramirez explore Iraq's war marriages. Lally Weymouth pulls double duty, interviewing Clarence Thomas and Lebanese leader Saad Hariri. Evan Thomas and Mark Hosenball profile Blackwater's Erik Prince, the reclusive head of the controversial private security firm.

Redesigns can be unsettling, and we will no doubt be making adjustments in the coming weeks and months, both here and online. But overall, we like what we see--and we think you will, too. You are, after all, our only focus group.

--Jon Meacham

Quick open question: Does Roger Black have to be involved in every magazine redesign?

Dylan Stableford

What Happened to the Write-Around? Ask New York Mag

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 10/09/2007-02:00 AM

Slate magazine columnist Ron Rosenbaum recently ripped into an Esquire cover profile of Angelina Jolie, calling it the "worst celebrity profile ever written." Rosenbaum devoted 2,300-words to thrashing its author, Tom Junod, without actually naming him, it should be noted, directly. ("Sure, it uses the death of thousands on 9/11 as a rationale for running a picture of a half-naked Angelina Jolie. But look, if we can't exploit 9/11 when we need to add a little gravitas to that silver sheet between Angelina's thighs, the terrorists win, right?").

Rosenbaum has now written the epilogue-ripping into GQ for killing a Hillary Clinton profile after the Clinton camp threatened to revoke access to Bill-arguing that magazines have abandoned a practice that could save the celebrity profile: the writearound. Rosenbaum suggests that the write-around-a "story done about a person without that person's cooperation, and thus, in contemporary terms, without the usual perks one gets in exchange for the fawning profile"-is looked at as a cop-out.

One magazine editor who clearly doesn't see it as a cop-out: Adam Moss. New York magazine has made it a habit of running at least one investigative write-around per issue, usually more.

Check the recent "Bill Clinton, First Lady," cover story by Jennifer Senior focused on "how a Clinton II White House might work." Operative word there: might. The piece sources former Clinton administration officials and current staffers, public speeches and appearances on Oprah. Speculative, investigative and totally engaging, moreso than the usual "fawning" that comes along with access. Another recent issue included a piece by Will Leitch about Alex Rodriguez's future in New York. The Yankees declined to talk to New York, as did Scott Boras, Rodriguez's agent. But New York ran the piece anyway, and-given the Yankees' early exit from the American League playoffs-is as timely a "profile" as any. Another, "Watching Matt Drudge" about the famously reclusive founder by Phillip Weiss, stirred the blog-o-dome like a chainsaw.

Dylan Stableford

Goodenough: Three Deals ‘In the Works’

Dylan Stableford M and A and Finance - 10/09/2007-02:00 AM

Magazine mergers and acquisitions may be slowing down, but not for Andy Goodenough. The newly-installed president of Summit Business Media, told us recently that he has at least three deals in the works and expects to complete at least one by the end of the year.

NOTE: Look for our exclusive video interview with Goodenough in November.