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Dylan Stableford

Follow FOLIO: on Twitter

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 03/13/2009-16:47 PM

It’s true. FOLIO: now has its own Twitter account.

Click here to follow FOLIO: on Twitter. We’ll be posting, er, “tweeting” breaking news, tips, updates, insights and more, 24 hours a day.

For those of you new to Twitter, signing up is very easy and free.

Here, via the Jimmy Fallon Show blog of all places, are steps to setting up an account:

How to join Twitter:
1. Go to twitter.com. Go ahead. Click it. It will open in a new window.
2. Click on the green "Get Started - Join!" button.
3. Type in your name, create your username, make a password, and enter your e-mail address.
4. Enter the security words.
5. Click "Create My Account".
6. You now have a Twitter account!

Still confused? This video might help:

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Dylan Stableford

If World’s Premiere Sports Media Company Can't Sustain a Tennis Magazine, Who Can?

Dylan Stableford Sales and Marketing - 03/13/2009-14:57 PM

The market for tennis magazines is pretty small. Now it’s even smaller.

Tennis Week announced yesterday that it is going on print hiatus, shifting focus to its Web site.

Not surprising, given the enormous challenges all magazine publishers are facing at the moment. That is, until you consider the magazine’s publisher: IMG.

To the uninitiated, IMG is “the world's premier and most diversified sports, entertainment and media company. We partner with the world's leading marketers and media networks to help them grow their businesses through our event properties, media production and distribution, talent brands, sponsorship consulting, brand licensing, sponsorship sales and other services.”

They’re also, like, the most powerful sports management firm in the world, with more than 60 offices in 30 countries representing more than 1,000 athletes and a client list that reads like a hall of fame.

Check out IMG's roster of tennis players alone: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, James Blake, Venus Williams.

If they can’t sustain a tennis magazine, who can?

Here’s the spin on Tennis Week from the top IMG executives:

Brandusa Niro, SVP of IMG Publishing: "This is a timely evolution of the Tennis Week brand and a shift in format based on reader and viewer demand. We certainly respect the heritage of the Tennis Week print edition, but covering the game these days requires immediacy and urgency, and we must address the new media habits of tennis fans. They want instant news, they want video, and they want content that moves as fast as the game itself."

Lee Rosenbaum, VP: "If your beat is seasonal gardens, a magazine printed 6-8 times a year can do the job.  But for the fast news cycle of sports, the digital space is the answer. Both the consumer and advertising tennis marketplace made this decision for us—and it's one we embrace as having considerable upside.  And as a company so committed to tennis, content and production, IMG is uniquely positioned to really grow tennisweek.com in scope, scale and quality."

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Dylan Stableford

Good's Incredible Shrinking Magazine

Dylan Stableford Design and Production - 03/12/2009-09:58 AM


Here’s one way to use the recession to your relative advantage.

Good—the for-profit magazine with a non-profit ethos—has published a “recession” issue that is 80 percent smaller than its other issues.

The 5-by-7 inch April issue (regular size: 8-3/8"x10-7/8") is just 8 pages, compared to its usual folio of 116 pages, and carries just one ad—a “coupon” created by Aveda just for the magazine.

This is a magazine that is known for doing things a little differently—like allowing subscribers to “name their own price” for a subscription to the magazine, and donates 100 percent of its subscription revenue to non-profits. Since launching two years ago, Good has donated more than $850,000.

Casey Caplowe, Good’s co-founder and creative director, said the magazine saved roughly 75 percent on production costs for the recession issue.

Good for them.

[image via Consumerist]

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Dylan Stableford

BusinessWeek Hosts Four-Hour Dinner for 10 Web Readers

Dylan Stableford Sales and Marketing - 03/11/2009-22:40 PM

Last night, on the 50th floor of the McGraw-Hill Building in New York, BusinessWeek.com’s editor (and tweeter-in-chief) John Byrne hosted a dinner for a small group of 10 readers who “made significant contributions to its Web site last year.”

“This is our first ever but it won't be our last,” Byrne said, via Twitter of course. "It was a terrific group of smart, engaged readers who had lots of good advice.”

He added: “Great meal, too, with chocolate mousse cake & apple tart with vanilla ice cream to finish it off.”

This type of “reader engagement” may be new to BusinessWeek, but is nothing new to magazines. Jane magazine used to host regular pizza parties for readers in its Manhattan offices. (They invited me to one once; I declined, figuring I’d have time to attend one eventually. Oops.)

And “meet-ups,” of course, are common for technology sites like TechCrunch and the D.I.Y. nerds who read Make. But I was slightly surprised to hear about BusinessWeek’s soiree. Who knew magazines did this sort of thing anymore? I thought curated dinners would’ve surely been cut from publishers’ 2009 budgets long ago.

Nice to see.

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Dylan Stableford

Twitter's Anonymous Media Death Chronicler Outed

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 03/10/2009-16:16 PM

The mysterious founder of “themediaisdying” Twitter feed—a running compendium of layoffs and shutterings in the media industry—has been outed.  His name is Paul Armstrong, a part-time journalist and a former communications manager at MySpace. He currently lives in Britain.

He wrote a column for BusinessWeek about the demise of the newspaper business:

If we're looking to affix blame, we should look no farther than to ourselves. At the most basic, we stopped "buying" it. Newer generations never grew up depending on newspapers—they'd consider it anachronistic to write the local paper a check for a subscription. At the same time, the "old media" still do not grasp the technological and sociological changes associated with this generational independence. There is a huge miscommunication between creator and consumer in terms of value propositions. Nothing has gone "wrong," per se, it is simply a changed balance of power. Creator and consumer are no longer tied to the other.

Read the full column here …

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Dylan Stableford

Reader's Digest Scoffs at Bankruptcy 'Speculation'

Dylan Stableford M and A and Finance - 03/10/2009-08:29 AM

Following a report last week that the Reader's Digest Association had hired law firm Kirkland & Ellis to explore restructuring options, including a possible bankruptcy filing, RDA CEO Mary Berner fired off a memo to clarify why the firm was hired. Here, via Masthead Online, is the full memo:

As you may have seen, Bloomberg News Service has widely distributed an article reporting that RDA hired Kirkland & Ellis, a law firm that advises in bankruptcy cases and other forms of restructuring. Additional news outlets picked up the story and, unable to confirm it, added their own speculation. From this, starting with one unattributed source supposedly "familiar" with the situation, some news articles jumped to conclusions that RDA is filing for bankruptcy.

I want to assure you that this is not true.

Here is what really has happened. RDA has proactively hired respected law firm Kirkland & Ellis, which advises companies on a vast array of corporate matters, as well as a top financial advisor, Miller Buckfire, to advise us on a wide range of restructuring and financing issues. We want to have the best advisors as we navigate this incredibly difficult economy, and retaining companies like these ensures that we will be well prepared and well advised. They will assist the company in staying ahead of the problems in the market by exploring strategic initiatives, including (but not limited to) raising additional capital and easing our debt burden.

In short, what it means is that we're making sure we're prepared, and that we have the best plans and the best advice so we can be proactive in this fast-changing environment and not find ourselves at a later date with diminished options.

Our 2nd quarter Fiscal 2009 earnings report, filed last month, showed that, while results were down versus last year, we continue to meet our debt covenants and in no way are we in default under our financing arrangements. Also, CFO Tom Williams explained on our lenders call last week that the company expects to achieve $50 million in additional second-half Fiscal 2009 EBITDA from the cost savings associated with the Recession Plan and IT outsourcing initiative. In many ways, our businesses are outperforming competitors and we believe are better positioned than most to appeal to customers during a steep recession. As an illustration, we continue to move forward aggressively with growth initiatives even as we tightly control cash and implement the Recession Plan.

For sure, this is a difficult time for us and will continue to be so in the short term as we navigate through the recession headwinds and the resulting revenue decreases across the globe. That said, we remain confident in our business plan for the company, our relationships with customers, our products, and, of course, the talent and resourcefulness of our management and employees.

Mary Berner
President and CEO
The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

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Dylan Stableford

Do Magazine Publishers Have an Irrational Fear of Digital?

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 03/09/2009-10:15 AM

In a recent blog post, Bob Sacks argued that print publishers have a misplaced, irrational fear of digital publishing. The general reticence of old-guard magazine executives to adapt to the wild world of the Web has been discussed at length on this blog. But the fear part hasn't.

Specifically:

The very same executives that sit in meetings, on trains, and at home reading hundreds of text messages on their BlackBerrys for hours will deny there is a comfort zone for long-form reading in a digital format.

I couldn't agree more here. This was precisely the scene at the MPA's digital conference last week in New York. Publishing executives firing off e-mail messages from their Blackberrys and iPhones, some tweeting, many complaining about the lack of WiFi in the Marriot Marquis ballroom. Yet, they were having far too long a debate on how launching too many digital products like blogs (really?) and aggregation sites and widgets risks dilution of a magazine brand.

No it doesn't.

The only valid argument for having this fear and it's a shaky one is that digital revenue, while growing, is still, for the most part, miniscule compared to print.

Perhaps it's miniscule because they haven't fully embraced the digital innovations they should have, say, four years ago?

Maybe it's because they are desperately trying to validate their print-centric skillsets, watching pure-play innovators pass them by (see: Rodale EVP MaryAnn Bekkedahl's absurd comment about a phantom blogger from the digital conference).

The print business has been forever changed. It's not going back. To think that it will is irrational.

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Dylan Stableford

The Death of the Ed2010 Newsletter

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 03/05/2009-16:30 PM

Some sad news from my inbox today. Ed2010’s daily newsletter is no more. The e-mail, launched in 1998 by then aspiring magazine editor Chandra (Czape) Turner, began as a cocktail party alert for EAs and lowly interns who made it a goal of nabbing that dream magazine job by the year 2010. It grew to include a daily newsfeed and "whispered" rumors of job opening, and included regular meetups, panels, cocktail parties and, eventually, paid classes (kind of like a niche Mediabistro) and a robust Web site—which, I’ll admit, had never visited until today.

That’s because I got the newsletter, and read it religiously. So did a lot of people I know.

The Web site is staying put, as are the meetups and classes and parties. But the text-only newsletter, which was produced using a free e-mail service and written in the charming third person, is no more. Here’s the explanation, as posted on Ed2010’s site:

The free newsletter service that Ed used to send out your daily newsletter (Zinester.com) has officially bit the dust like so many other businesses lately. Even worse, the Big Z is holding hostage all the email addresses of the folks who subscribe to the daily Ed News. Deep sigh. Ed is trying not to cry about this any longer. Instead, he figures that you can check this site for all your Ed needs. Like the new book club book. Whisper Jobs will continue to be listed on the homepage, the jobs and internship pages. So don’t worry. Ed’s still here. He still loves you. He will always love you. Also, we’ll still be blasting out info on Ed’s Facebook fan page. So join it if you haven’t already!

I’ll join, perhaps. But I sure will miss that e-mail.

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Dylan Stableford

Quilter’s Home Magazine Deemed 'Too Hot' for Jo-Ann Fabrics' Shelves

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 03/05/2009-09:30 AM

The latest issue of Quilter’s Home magazine has been banned by Jo-Ann Fabrics for its “controversial” content.

The retailer refused to carry the March issue because of a feature—dubbed “Shocking Quilts”—that includes images of “fabric falluses,” gun-toting Jesuses” and a “newborn peering out from his mother’s lady parts.” (Jo-Ann Fabrics sells about 7,000 copies of Quilter’s Home per issue, according to the Washington Post.)

The magazine’s editor, Mark Lipinski, spent $2,500 to polybag 45,000 copies because he knew the issue might be considered “scandalous.”

None of the magazine’s 35,000 subscribers have complained about the lurid quilting content, Lipinski told the paper. One person, though, criticized him for the polybags. “She thought that I should be more concerned about the environment.”

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Dylan Stableford

24 Observations from the Magazines 24/7 Conference

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 03/03/2009-22:06 PM

The Magazine Publishers of America held its fifth annual digital magazine conference, Magazines 24/7, in New York today. Read our full report here. Below, some additional observations.

1. No Wi-Fi. At the Digital Magazine Conference. Wi-T-Fi?!?!

2. More than 250 attendees—a good sign for an association that was recently forced to cancel its signature event, the American Magazine Conference.

3. During his opening keynote, Avinash Kaushik, Google’s “analytics evangelist” (sweet job title), eviscerates Newsweek.com in a critique of the site. “I went on there, I did the poll—what the hell was that?”

4. Question: “What is the goal of a blog?” Google Evangelist’s answer: “To inspire irrational loyalty.”

5. The Knot’s Carley Roney, speaking on a panel called “Raising the Digital Bar in a Down Economy”: “We’ve moved beyond weddings—we’re a life stage media company.”

6. Corporate spin alert: Hearst EVP and general manager John Loughlin said the company has been outsourcing technical work on its Web site to Vietnam, India and Poland, for “cost and efficiency.” “We’re upscaling the jobs” in the U.S. If the economy turned around today, he said, “we’d still pursue this.”

7. Adweek editor Jim Cooper, moderator of a panel entitled “Are Paid Sites the New Black?” on his resistance to them: “I’m a conditioned traffic whore, and a cheapskate.”

8. Surprisingly not much mention of Twitter, although there were some attendees tweeting.

9. Perhaps more surprising, virtually no mention of digital magazines.

10. Lots of talk of mobile “apps,” particularly for the iPhone.

11. “There’s been a reticence among magazine publishers to trust the audience,” says Geoff Reiss, GM, Newsweek Digital.

12. Reiss: “We’ve successfully completed the first step in a 12 Step program: We’ve identified the problem.

13. Rodale executive vice president and group publisher MaryAnn Bekkedahl, on charging for online content: “People have been talking for a long time about how the consumer is in control—I think it’s time we should take back control, and set the policies.”

14. Bekkedahl adds: “The 23-year-old on an iMac in the café—people are beginning to realize that isn’t great content. He doesn’t have the experience.” I think 23-year-olds, even those at Rodale, might have a lot to say about that.

15. Not every advertising deal should be integrated, says Digitas SVP Jordan Bitterman. “There are so many signoffs, not everyone [at an agency] is going to be on board. Sometimes it’s not worth it.”

16. How would you monetize Facebook, if you were in charge? “Data—they are sitting on more data than MRI or anyone in the magazine business, and it’s updated weekly, daily, even hourly. That’s extremely valuable.”

17. Some refreshing honesty. Hank Boye, publisher, Harvard Business Review, on charging for premium content: “It may not work. We’re not sure where it’s gonna go.”

18. Eric Patterson on IDG’s Game Pro launching its own video game label: “We know we’re blurring the lines [between church and state].”

19. Three digital trends, according to Razorfish’s Domenic Venuto: aggregation, data, and social influence marketing. “Data is the new creative.”

20. Domain names are still important. Meredith digital VP Dan Hickey says the company paid $5,000 for Mixingbowl.com, and they view the branding return on that investment “priceless.”

21. Dumbest (perhaps unintentionally) quote of the day, courtesy of MySpace sales and marketing president Jeff Berman: “Social networking has existed since the beginning of society.”

22. Getting magazine publishers to put the Web first in terms of priority is not only a good idea, says Forbes editor Paul Maidment, it’s essential to their survival.

23. Playboy has created a slick trailer for a short called Playboy Interns, replete with product placement, specifically for mobile phones. Who has the time to watch this?

24. Back to the Google evangelist dude: “Advertising and subscriptions are not going to save your business. Customers will.”

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Dylan Stableford

Elusive Alain: Hachette's Lemarchand Speaks

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 03/02/2009-15:44 PM

Alain Lemarchand, president and CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media’s U.S. division, announced a restructuring of its women’s magazines brands today, each aligned with a “chief brand officer,” reporting back to him. FOLIO: had been trying to land an interview with Lemarchand since last summer, when he took over the chief executive role from longtime CEO Jack Kliger.

Alas, the Frenchman gave it to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal story is here, although it's behind a subscriber wall. But I’ll give you the money quote:

"We have to make sure every dollar we spend is unavoidable, is strictly critical to the business," Mr. Lemarchand said in his first interview since taking over Hachette's U.S. operation in September.

You can read FOLIO:’s story on today's restructuring here. Aside from a few colorful, inside baseball details (a 45th floor meeting in July, a two-day off-site in the fall, the sacking of receptionists on four of its six floors) there’s nothing behind Rupert Murdoch’s pay wall we don’t have.

Enjoy.

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Dylan Stableford

Why the Newspaper Industry Cancelled its Annual Convention

Dylan Stableford Association and Non-Profit - 03/02/2009-10:43 AM

With all the talk about magazine industry conferences being cancelled (or, in some cases, severely downsized, let’s say) it must give magazine publishers at least some perverted sense of justice that they are not alone.

On Friday, the American Society of Newspaper Editors cancelled its annual convention. Here’s the memo [via Reuters]:

ASNE’s leadership has decided to cancel our 2009 convention because of the challenging times we face. The text of the press release that is going out this morning follows this note.

The Convention Program Committee had put in place an innovative and relevant program, and I am very grateful to them.

But it became increasingly clear in recent weeks that our attendance would be low because editors need to be in their own newsrooms during this difficult time. The board of directors will meet soon to deal with the financial implications of canceling the convention and map strategy for the coming year.

In the meantime, we will increase reliance on the Web to help editors share what they are learning as they reshape their news organizations for multiple platforms and operate with fewer resources. We plan to have our new Web site up this spring and we will produce more webinars and ramp up our recently developed newsletter, Editors’ Exchange.

As you know, we had planned votes at the Chicago convention on bylaws changes to drop “paper” from our name and expand our membership to include editors of online-only news Web sites and leading journalism educators. That, and the annual election of new board members, will now occur electronically. We will be touch with you soon on the details.

We will also move ahead with plans for our scheduled 2010 convention in Washington.

I want to thank you for your support and guidance. If you have any questions about the convention or other matters, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Charlotte Hall
President

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