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Jason Fell

Paper Prices on the Rise Again

Jason Fell Design and Production - 05/04/2010-12:55 PM

Last week, the American Spectator sent a letter asking some 60,000 e-mail subscribers to cough up donations to help offset increased paper costs. “Please help us fill the $26,000 shortfall created by the perverse incentives of the liberal agenda,” the right-wing conservative magazine’s publisher wrote. “Our paper costs are rising for NEXT MONTH'S ISSUE.”

Partisan politics aside, the cost of paper is in fact creeping out of the darkness. For a couple of years, magazine publishers have enjoyed flat or even declining paper prices as the supply had largely outstripped demand. That trend is coming to an end.

Over the last few weeks, several paper makers have announced price hikes on their magazine-grade stocks, including coated freesheet (CFR), coated groundwood (CGW) and supercalendered (SC). Just when revenues are finally beginning to pick up (at least for some), most publishers of printed magazines will need to either make adjustments or be able to eat the added expense for paper.

Click on the chart below (then click on the pop-up chart to increase its size) to see the recently-announced rate increases, listed by paper maker and effective date (courtesy of Midland Paper):


For the full list of price hikes, including all paper grades, click here.

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Jason Fell

CEO Still Mum on Plans for e5 Media Brands

Jason Fell B2B - 04/27/2010-15:22 PM

UPDATE: Hollywood Reporter Becomes Glossy Weekly

What exactly is going on at e5 Global Media? That’s the question that’s been at the top of certain people’s minds since the private equity-backed media startup acquired Nielsen Business Media’s eight media/entertainment industry brands late last year.

The new group—formed by Pluribus Capital Management and financial services firm Guggenheim Partners—poached Condé Nast’s Fairchild Fashion Group CEO Richard Beckman [pictured] to lead the group as chief executive. When he took the new gig Beckman, who is known as “Mad Dog” among many of his colleagues, said it would be his job at e5 to build those acquired brands—including The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard—into “successful multiplatform properties with global footprints.”

A number of “smaller” media companies like e5 are picking up print magazine brands that have either been shut down or run into the ground financially by their former big conglomerate trade publishing owners. But how do they expect to succeed where the publishing behemoths failed? How will they compete with their online-only rivals?

Not much has been reported about what’s in store for the e5 brands, other than reports indicating plans to transition The Hollywood Reporter from a weekday paper into a glossy weekly. So, I attempted to interview Beckman for a story on this topic. I wanted to find out what changes/innovations he is making to help turn the brands around. How much of an additional investment will be required? How will those changes equal financial success?

Beckman politely declined to participate in my interviews, indicating that he’d have “plenty” of details in a couple months. To be fair, I'm not sure that many of these new owners have real concrete courses for growth—at least not yet.

Beckman however did recently do a Q+A with Daily Front Row executive editor and former Radar writer Chris Tennant. While he didn’t get into any business-side specifics, Beckman did offer some interesting sound bites on the future of THR. Here’s a sampling:

“If I’m setting the bar at where Variety is—and this is going to sound really caustic—I’m setting the bar too low.”

“The good part is you get to look around and see people who ­clearly aren’t doing their jobs so ­terrifically—that haven’t had good leadership, that are unimaginative, that have had a parent company that hasn’t invested or believed in the business…”

“But in terms of the Reporter, I sort of agree with you that it’s tough to be contemporary with a daily print product when you’re working on a five-minute-refresh cycle. It’s not the best way of serving media content, but you can’t have one without the other.”

“It’s about becoming B2I—business to influencer—as opposed to B2B. That’s where the real resonance will be created. B2I trades aren’t just for the industry; they’re for the people that shape behaviors, the tastemakers that set the trends in motion.”

Click here to read the entire interview.

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Jason Fell

Liveblogging/Tweeting the Ellies

Jason Fell Consumer - 04/22/2010-10:19 AM

Consumer magazine publishing’s elite, and a handful of nosey media news types like me, are gathering tonight at the Alice Tully Hall in New York City for what arguably is the industry’s biggest gala: the American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine Awards.

Besides the usual cocktail-infused musings and spottings of sunglasses-clad Vogue editor Anna Wintour, there are some interesting stories among the nominees. This year, we have Aperture pitted against Architect and The Paris Review for a general excellence “Ellie” award in the under 100,000 category. In the 100,000 to 250,000 circ. group, we have Garden & Gun and Paste vying for a general excellence Ellie against Foreign Policy, Mother Jones and Martha Stewart Weddings. Wildlife and conservation association magazine Audubon is in the ring, sparring against some perennial winners in the 250,000 to 500,000 circ. category—namely New York, Texas Monthly, W and The Atlantic.

Who will win? Will New York and The New Yorker need a wheelbarrow to cart off a record number of Ellies?

The drama will be thick. Or, maybe not. Either way, FOLIO: will be there live tweeting, keeping you posted on the goings on, minute-by-minute. For those of your with Twitter aversions, we’ll be cross posting our tweets here, so keep refreshing this link as the evening progresses.

@foliomag: was nearly knocked down by a photog taking Anne Wintour's picture. Ah, the Ellies cocktail hour... 
@foliomag: National Magazine Awards ceremony getting under way now
@foliomag: nice. @MarthaStewart to present first three awards
@foliomag: Texas Monthly wins best Feature Writing Ellie for "Still Life"
@foliomag: WiFi here is spotty    sorry!
@foliomag: NYT Mag gets Best Reporting for "The Deadly Choices at Mmeorial"
@foliomag: San Francisco takes General Excellence Ellie in the "under 100,000 circ." category, beating out Aperture, Architect ...
@foliomag: now Brook Shields to present   she looks great in green
@foliomag: NatGeo wins for best photo journalism for "Shattered Somalia" Congrats!
@foliomag: heavyweights Esquire, Martha Stewart Living, GQ, wired and New York up for best print design. who will win?
@foliomag: Wired gets the Ellie. Chris Anderson: "Design is about science and technology now, big ideas ..."
@foliomag: Best print photography goes to Vanity Fair. Somebody get Graydon Carter some water!
@foliomag: showing recap of digital Ellies winners. wish they could have made both ceremonies work together. so many categories!
@foliomag: Mother Jones snags general excellence Ellie in the 100,000 to 250,000 circ. category, beating Garden & Gun, Paste, more ...
@foliomag: another gen. ex award coming up: 250,000 to 500,000 circ category. includes New York, The Atlantic, Audubon, W and Texas Monthly
@foliomag: New York handed the Ellie Adam Moss: "You guys are so nice to us."
@foliomag: Marlene Kahan hononred for 30 years w/ASME. standing O.
@foliomag: Kahan: "What's next for me? I'll spend more time to increase awareness for Parkinsons."
@foliomag: ha. New York takes best personal service Ellie for, yes, "For and Against Foreskin."
@foliomag: Tom Papa provides much-needed comic relief. (Thanks over-dramatic voice over guy)
@foliomag: GQ wins gen ex honor for 500,000 to 1 million circ. Ed Jim Nelson: "Means so much to us b/c we know how tough the competition is"
@foliomag: best columns & commentary Ellie goes to Newsweek
@foliomag: The New Yorker's  David Remnick presents Anna Wintour with Hall of Fame award
@foliomag: reviews & criticism Ellie handed to The New Yorker
@foliomag: final three categories coming up: two general excellences, then magazine of the year
@foliomag: Nina Garcia and Sean Avery presents gen ex Ellie, 1 million to 2 million circ.
@foliomag: Men's Health takes it
@foliomag: NatGeo nabs general excellence award for 2 million+ circ category
@foliomag: Magazine of the Year goes to ...
@foliomag: Glamour gets mag o' the year. congrats!
@foliomag: Glamour beats out The Atlantic, Fast Company, Men's Health and New York
@foliomag: 10:10 p.m. signing off from the Ellies. g'night

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Jason Fell

Publishing Powerhouses Show Some Positive Advertising Results

Jason Fell Consumer - 04/09/2010-13:29 PM

While consumer magazine publishers are still struggling against the dramatic pullback in traditional print advertising revenues, there were some signs of hope during the first quarter. Although their overall ad pages were down for the period, consumer powerhouses Hearst and Condé Nast—which publish a combined 32 print titles—were down significantly less than the industry average of 9.4 percent, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

Across Hearst’s 14 titles (not including Food Network Magazine, which wasn’t publishing during the first quarter 2009), the company reported a total of  2,856.01 advertising pages through the first three months this year. That represents a loss of roughly 4 percent compared to 2,977.8 during the same period last year. (These numbers include SmartMoney, which Hearst owned a 50 percent stake but sold it to Dow Jones in early March.)

Some of Hearst’s big ad page gainers during the period include Marie Claire (+19.4 percent to 257.11 pages) and Popular Mechanics (+17.4 percent to 133.97 pages). The biggest losses came from Veranda (-45.3 percent to 70.24 pages), Country Living (-30.9 percent to 119.58 pages) and House Beautiful (-19.6 percent to 86.64 pages).

Food Network Magazine, which launched in November 2008, reported 115.52 ad pages through the first quarter 2010.

Meanwhile, Condé Nast’s 17 magazines (not including the four it closed late last year) racked up a total of 4,379.53 ad pages during the first three months this year, down approximately 6 percent from 4,662.52 pages last year. Some big wins this year so far come from Teen Vogue (+24.2 percent to 149.20 pages), Lucky (+16.9 percent to 238.03 pages) and Wired (+11.2 percent to 125.77 pages).

Conde Nast’s fashion title W—which recently reorganized and has new top editor—reported a 22.6 percent decline to 250.98 pages during the first quarter. It was followed by Golf World (-19.2 percent to 228.64 pages) and Brides (-15.8 percent to 819.74 ad pages).

Maybe it’s naive to say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if overall consumer ad pages do even better over the next three months.

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Jason Fell

Lawsuit Alleges Darker Side of Regional Lifestyle Publisher

Jason Fell City and Regionals - 04/08/2010-12:04 PM

Sometimes even the fastest-growing media companies hit a financial wall. Arizona-based magazine publisher 944 Media, which just last year said it was the largest and fastest growing lifestyle media conglomerate in the industry, has filed for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy code.

In the statement announcing the bankruptcy, 944 said the filing was precipitated by “several potentially burdensome lawsuits,” but didn’t offer any specifics. I spoke with a 944 spokesperson who told me the lawsuits involve the buyout of a former 944 partner/investor and the terms of a partnership surrounding 944's 2008 "944 Super Village" Super Bowl event. She said the event was not “financially profitable” but said its co-owner is “trying to monetize” the publicity 944 received for producing it.

I managed to dig up the documents for that particular case against 944, which was filed in March 2009 by California-based Explosive Productions LLC. The complaint alleges that the "Super Village" event was a financial disaster, in part because 944 kept sponsorship money for itself and “secretly” gave away thousands of tickets (including more than $1 million in VIP tickets to “potential magazine models”), actually selling fewer than 1,000 tickets. It also alleges that 944 investor Eric Crown (also co-founder and former CEO of Insight.com parent Insight Enterprises) took $180,000 worth of tickets and cabanas for his own “personal, social purposes.”

Meanwhile, Explosive claims that 944 branded the event for itself and bragged in press releases about the 740 million media impressions it received about the event. “944 Media intended from the beginning to use the Super Bowl event as a massive publicity campaign for its 944 magazine, regardless of whether the event was profitable, to be paid for through Explosive Productions’ financial support…,” the complaint reads.

It gets worse. Most “insidiously,” the claim continues, 944 Media’s “racial bias” led to its refusal to allow marketing of the event to Hispanic markets. “944 media was, above all, concerned with its image with the white and affluent audience it covered,” says the complaint. “That bias caused 944 Media to insist that no advertising would be purchased if that advertising was directed, even partially, at Mexicans or Latinos.”

Explosive contends in the suit that it wanted to produce a series of boxing matches to take place at the event featuring fighter Hector Camacho Jr. But 944 Media execs shot down the idea of promoting the event or the fights on Spanish language radio in Phoenix, Arizona, the suit claims. Here are portions of two e-mails from 944’s business development manager about the fights, via the lawsuit documents:

Guys. No running commercial on the mexican radio stations please. What are u guys thinking! Please call to discuss immediately! I am not destroying this party for the sake of saving this boxing match.

We can’t promote on Spanish radio unless you want to kill this event entirely on Sat night. We will have a bunch of gang bangers and get shut down.

I understand the concept of and value in marketing to your audience, but—whoa. At the very least, this is a perfect example of how two very different ideas can clash with disastrous results. I’m sure it happens, even in publishing, more than I’d like to admit. Although, hopefully not to this degree.

Explosive’s claims against 944 also got personal. The lawsuit alleges that the only reason Crown invested in 944 Media was “the access it gave him to young, attractive models and other women, whom he hoped to date.”

Lawsuit or not, that’s a tough complaint to swallow.

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Jason Fell

‘I Don’t Know What You Mean by Social Media’

Jason Fell B2B - 04/05/2010-15:03 PM

After releasing some preliminary results in February, the American Society of Business Publication Editors Monday made available the complete results from “Survey on Digital Skills & Strategies,” a project it conducted late last year with the Medill School/Media Management Center at Northwestern University.

So, what did the survey turn up? B-to-b editors say they want more digital and business journalism help. “Even as their titles plunge into the digital space, B2B editors have been left largely to their own devices to gain the skills necessary to do their jobs across platforms,” the survey reads. Surveys were sent to nearly 5,000 editors on ASBPE’s members and non-members list late last year—273 b-to-b editors responded.

According to the survey, four out of five indicated that they participated in one day or less of corporate-sponsored digital training last year. More than a third of respondents said they never received any digital training at all. (One important fact to note, however, is that 73.1 percent of respondents indicated that 50 percent or less of their work is devoted to digital.)

I don’t doubt it. Before joining FOLIO:, I was a writer/editor at a consumer print magazine. What I’ve learned about producing e-newsletters and managing a magazine’s Web site I’ve picked up on the fly, or from colleagues. Just this morning, I was chatting with our parent company’s Web manager about where/how I can expand my working knowledge of HTML.

Beyond the survey’s facts and figures, which of course are all stark and telling, the complete report includes the questions ASBPE asked its members as well as several pages of verbatim responses from the editors who participated. The entire survey is worth reading, when you have time. Below are some of the survey questions and responses they elicited. What respondents said about their own skills, and about their ignorance of online platforms, are both enlightening and scary.


In general, is your individual digital skill level running behind, equal to, or ahead of your brand’s transition to digital?

■ I feel untrained and flying by the seat of my pants. But then, my publication’s management is way worse than me.
■ I post Web news. That’s about it. I don’t post or edit online video or audio. I don’t blog but I am aware of these online strategies and comfortable with them—so I don’t feel that “I’m way behind.”
■ I know nothing about Twitter, tweet, videos, etc. I see things on other publication’s Web sites that I have no idea how to do.
■ Our tools suck; our software platform sucks; we are ruled, not fueled, by our IT department. Meanwhile, we’re so lean, that doing anything out of the ordinary takes so much time, we don’t bother.
■ Being the editor-in-chief and almost 60 years old, I find myself in the middle of the pack, trying to convince my older colleagues (and some younger ones) of the need to add digital skills and constantly learning from the digitally savvy younger ones. Having everyone watch some sessions of the FOLIO: Show this year helped.

At your title/brand, is focus on digital issues affecting the quality of your print editorial content positively or negatively?

■ “Lead with the Web” is a stupid method of business journalism.
■ With the demand for up-to-the minute digital content, the time needed to get in-depth information for more quality print is usually compromised or it becomes a secondary priority.
■ We definitely have more interaction with readers because of digital.
■ Magazines are seen almost as an afterthought.
■ By adding links or mentioned of Web-related content to the print content, I feel we have enhanced the breadth of our content overall. Readers now are told how they can go to the Web to see related past articles special Web-only content, etc.

In your experience, is time spent engaging in social media helpful or a hindrance to producing quality print or digital content?

■ A waste of time. No money in it.
■ Both help and hindrance; it’s a giant time suck but you have to do it and occasionally get a real gem out of it.
■ I don’t have time on my job to spend it chatting online in Facebook or Twitter. My main job is to keep all our Web sites running, write my column and/or feature, write and edit multiple newsletters, as well as answer IT questions from staff and membership.
■ I have been able to leverage LinkedIn very effectively to make new contacts for stories and have built a business networking site for the industry I cover.
■ I don’t know what you mean by social media.

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Jason Fell

e5 Global CEO: Finke Not Offered Top Hollywood Reporter Editor Job

Jason Fell Editorial - 03/26/2010-16:29 PM

Here we go again.

Nikki Finke, the tenacious and abrasive Hollywood industry editor who heads up Deadline.com, wrote in a blog post this week that she had in January been offered the top editor job at The Hollywood Reporter, the former Nielsen trade title that was bought in December along with seven other entertainment brands by newly-formed e5 Global Media. According to Finke, she was offered $450,000 in annual salary, a $1 million home in Malibu, California, and an estimated $650,000 for THR-related cable deals.

Finke [pictured] said that despite the generous offer, she declined, instead setting in motion a “dialogue” between e5 and Deadline.com parent Mail.com Media Corp. that is still ongoing. “At the time, I thought this a lucrative offer but also a ludicrous one, considering how many THR journalists are going to lose their jobs when e5 Global Media transitions the trade from a weekday paper to a monthly glossy magazine, and website operation filled with syndicated content, and cable TV programmer,” wrote Finke. “THR needs a miracle worker. But to justify this money, that person must walk on water.”

Early Friday, though, recently-installed e5 CEO Richard Beckman told THR that there is “no truth” to the report.

Whether Finke cooked up the story or not, the whole dust-up seems to have started when Sharon Waxman, head of TheWrap.com and Finke’s heated online rival, e-mailed Finke this week probing for more information about rumors she had heard about Finke entertaining offers for a new gig. Waxman, in her subsequent post, said she didn’t believe Finke was ever in fact offered the THR job. Finke, of course, posted an update, calling her original post a reaction to “some inaccurate showbiz website's rumor-mongering.”

Can’t the Hollywood trade publications, print and/or online, just play nice? Yeah, right. Like that’ll ever happen.

The bigger picture here is that Finke’s Deadline.com and Waxman’s TheWrap.com are eating up the audiences left behind by the struggling and increasingly less significant print luminaries THR and Variety. While I don’t hold much stock in many of the online site metric services, here’s a little color: According to Compete.com, Finke’s Deadline.com had roughly 1.3 million visits and 320,783 unique visitors in February, compared to 359,194 visits to TheWrap.com, which had 286,241 unique visitors for the month—a growth of 524.34 percent year-over-year. (Compete didn’t have yearly change metrics for Deadline.com, although Finke’s former URL, DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com, had 215,279 unique visitors in February 2009.)

In terms of online audience, that’s pretty significant for a pair of digital startups. Meanwhile, HollywoodReporter.com racked up 711,684 visits and 475,504 unique visitors for the month (an increase of 45.62 percent compared to the same time last year). Variety.com, meanwhile, which recently erected a pay wall on the site, saw 852,246 visits and 395,551 unique visits (a decline of 46.53 percent year-over-year).

UPDATE:
Since posting this, I've heard that THR television editor Nellie Andreeva is joining Finke's Deadline.com to manage Deadline|TV. In addition, Waxman reported over at TheWrap.com that THR publisher Eric Mika and several other sales people are expected to be shown the door this week.

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Jason Fell

Have the National Magazine Awards Become Boring?

Jason Fell Editorial - 03/15/2010-13:01 PM

“Y-a-w-n!” That’s how Wooden Horse Magazine opened its e-newsletter this weekend.

What could have had editor Meg Weaver and her crew in dire need of a caffeine jolt? Simple. The American Society of Magazine Editors unveiled the finalists for its annual National Magazine Awards—otherwise known in most industry circles as the Ellies. And, for yet another year, The New Yorker, New York and National Geographic lead in nominations (27 combined).

I must say, I had a similar reaction when I saw the news last week. Scrolling through our report, I noticed that out of 300 magazines participating in this year’s awards, the association said there are only eight titles that have never made the finalist list previously. Wait, only eight?

Looking back over the last three years, the Ellies have unquestionably been dominated by New York-centric publications. (It’s a point we’ve made before.) A quick count shows that since 2008 The New Yorker has racked up a whopping 32 Ellie nominations. New York, meanwhile, has collected 25.

The popularity contest doesn’t stop there. Here are the next titles on the list of finalist favorites, and the number of nominations they’ve received since 2008: GQ (19), National Geographic (17), Wired (13), Vanity Fair (13), Esquire (12), New York Times Magazine (11) and The Atlantic (9).

“If you look at the stories and photographs that were chosen as finalists, each nomination was well-deserved,” ASME chief executive Sid Holt told me today. “Of course I wish there was a way to honor every magazine that published extraordinary work in 2009. But that would be a very long night indeed.”

I agree completely. All of these magazines produce amazing content year-after-year and are more than deserving of the accolades they receive.

But, as an industry observer, it’s hard not to notice how so many of the same magazines take all the glory, year-after-year. Dare I say the National Magazine Awards have become, well, boring?

I hope that ASME has taken notice of this. I wonder if the association should consider making adjustments to the competition (new categories, etc.) to open up the playing field to similarly well-deserving yet otherwise unheralded publications. I mean, editorial excellence can be found in so many other places besides New York City, right?

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Jason Fell

Where Should Aggregators Draw the Line?

Jason Fell Editorial - 03/11/2010-15:36 PM
News aggregators vs. content creators. When does linking and excerpting news stories by third parties cross the line?

It was the topic discussed in detail Wednesday during a session at Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s annual Media Summit in New York. As Barbara Wall, Gannett Co.’s senior associate general counsel, put it: “There is an array of impacts from aggregating stories, but I’m not sure anyone has an answer on how exactly it’s affecting our business.”

Aggregators—whether online or through e-newsletters, etc.—collect editorial produced by content creators and often sell ads around the aggregation “service.” While not technically doing any original reporting, aggregators claim they help drive traffic to the content creators’ Web sites.

But not always without legal consequences. In 2008, New York Times Co.-owned Boston.com launched a hyper-local site that featured links to news stories aggregated from other news organizations. That same month, the parent company
was sued by fellow publisher GateHouse Media which alleged copyright infringement based on the site’s use of GateHouse’s headlines and leads.

Session panelist Richard Samson, who serves as senior counsel for the New York Times, told attendees that the eventual solution was that GateHouse used technology to block Boston.com’s automated aggregator from accessing their content while Boston.com agreed not to circumvent that technology. “We thought it was a win-win for GateHouse to have so much traffic from a large news site, but that was not so,” Samson said. “It’s a complex issue. We have to figure out where to draw the line.”

One question considered during the session was whether aggregators are actually driving any significant traffic to publishers’ Web sites. Do users of sites like Google News actually click through to a publisher’s site when they could potentially get all the information they want/ need from the headline and excerpt?

“I think it depends on what the news is, but if written right, the headline and lead sentence should be a potent summary of the story,” said Wall. She said it's “dangerous” for content creators when aggregators use both because users, especially those on mobile devices, never actually click through.

Web sites like the Huffington Post have made serious money linking to and excerpting from publishers’ Web sites. I can think of at least one well-known media news aggregator who not only pulls publishers’ headlines and leads for his e-newsletters but posts full news stories, verbatim—and sells ads against them. Sure, he links back to the original story, but who is going to click back to the publisher’s Web site when they can read the whole piece directly from the newsletter?

In an age when publishers are struggling mightily to make nickels from their online endeavors, shouldn’t this aggregator offer some sort of revenue sharing program?

UPDATE: Anonymous blogger Dead Tree Edition wrote a follow-up to this post. Read it here.



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Jason Fell

Magazines Have an Advertising Perception Problem, Not a Consumer Problem

Jason Fell Consumer - 03/04/2010-12:41 PM

Some of the biggest players in consumer magazine publishing kicked up a lot of buzz earlier this week when they announced the launch of “Magazines, The Power of Print.” The seven-month campaign is expected to roll out with the May issues (April 5 for weeklies) of nearly 100 print magazines and their Web sites. The purpose? To remind readers, and especially advertisers, that the print magazine medium is still very much alive, and kicking.

Since posting our news story about the campaign, I’ve heard a number of valid questions asked about it. First off, why now? To some, this sounds like an attempt (a few say a desperate one) to cling to a shrinking medium.

That’s not so, says Hearst Corp. executive vice president and publishing director Michael Clinton. In addition to Hearst, the campagin was formed jointly by Time Inc., Condé Nast, Meredith Corp. and Wenner Media. “It is a misperception that print is a shrinking medium,” Clinton told me this morning. “It is a growing medium—audiences are growing, subscriptions are growing, etc. The magazine business, collectively, has said that we have this incredibly dynamic medium that consumers love and spend money on, and we need to tell that story in a bigger way.

“The magazine world doesn’t have a consumer problem,” he added, “it has an advertising perception problem, among some advertisers.”

It’s hard to argue with that. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, advertising pages were down 25.6 percent in 2009, marking the 10th reported quarterly decline out of 11 since PIB began reporting on a quarterly basis in mid-2007. Shockingly, a mere 18 titles posted ad page gains in 2009.

Another problem some people I spoke with had about the “Power of Print” campaign was its seeming negative take on online/digital. In one ad, featuring Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, the page exclaims: “Magazines embrace you. The Internet is fleeting.” Clinton says the word “fleeting” is being misinterpreted. The campaign, he said, isn’t taking a shot at digital while propping up print.

“We’ll continue to spend millions of dollars on Web sites, and mobile and e-readers. It’s important that our magazine content be everywhere,” said Clinton. “The purpose of this campaign is to punctuate the vibrancy of our print products while we continue to expand on other platforms.”

For instance, he said, retailers “continue to invest millions in e-commerce and Web, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t opening new stores or that physical stores aren’t important to them anymore. It’s the same with magazines. Some people have said that the print product has lost its luster with consumers. The exact opposite is true.

“At the end of the day,” Clinton continued, “we want to listen to where the consumer is. Everyone says the consumer is online, and they are, but they are also fully engaged in print magazines."

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Jason Fell

Retailers Say No-Go to Music Magazine’s Racy Gaga Cover

Jason Fell Editorial - 02/26/2010-12:37 PM

Whoa, under boob!

OK, now that that’s out of the way … U.K. music and news title Q Magazine is facing some closed doors across the pond in the U.S. in terms of retail distribution. The “100 Most Shocking Moments in Music” issue, on newsstands this week, features current pop music sensation Lady Gaga on the cover. As we see to the right, there's some exposed lower breast and, yes, she's wearing some type of, ahem, attachment.

According to the magazine’s Web site, the racy cover has sparked some negative response from retailers in the U.S. It says Borders stores are refusing to carry the issue unless the “offending area is covered up, also expressing some concerns over ‘crotch grabbing.’” In addition, the magazine said New York State law prohibits retailers from carrying magazines “showing anything below the nipple.”

While other retailers haven’t said whether or not they’ll carry the issue, Q said some have requested it be sealed in a bag not only because of the cover but due to the “shocking” moments associated with the feature story (read: Murder! Beastiality! Kidnapping! Incest! Necrophilia! Rollerskating coke dealers!).

At first glance, this cover does look potentially offensive and honestly pretty ridiculous. But Lady Gaga is arguably the best music artist to have on the cover of a “most shocking” magazine issue. The magazine obviously exploited the 23-year-old’s eccentric personal style and well-reported sexual ambiguity for this cover.

Of course, this isn’t the first time recently that a magazine has been deemed too racy or controversial by retailers. Hudson News placed a piece of paper over the window display copies of GQ’s January 2009 issue, which featured actress and former John Mayer flame Jennifer Aniston on the cover wearing only a tie and a smile. Last March, Jo-Ann Fabrics banned an issue of, yes, Quilter’s Home for a feature called “Shocking Quilts,” which included images of “fabric falluses,” "gun-toting Jesuses” and a “newborn peering out from his mother’s lady parts.”

Who knew quilters were so naughty?

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Jason Fell

The FOLIO: 40: A Call for Nominees

Jason Fell Consumer - 02/25/2010-09:41 AM

The FOLIO: edit team has spent the last year, as we always do, intensely examining the magazine publishing industry as well as some of the markets that intersect it. Now, we’re working furiously to assemble a list of the 40 most innovative, creative-thinking individuals who have pushed the boundaries of our business in this ever-evolving and multifaceted media landscape.

And we need your help. FOLIO: is looking for nominations in the following categories:

C-Level Visionaries
Director-Level Doers
Industry Influencers
Under the Radar


If you, a colleague, your boss or even a competitor deserves to make this year’s list, please fill out the form below and let us know. Keep in mind, of course, that serious nominations require quantifiable stats to back up your pitch. The FOLIO: 40 is the real deal—it’s the oldest, most prestigious and comprehensive list of its kind.

The 2010 FOLIO: 40 will be unveiled in April. Submit your nomination(s) now!

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