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Jason Fell

Vogue’s Wintour Gets ASME’s Hall of Fame Nod

Jason Fell Editorial - 02/23/2010-09:36 AM

Vogue’s high pharaoh of fashion, the prickly Anna Wintour, has received a high honor from the American Society of Magazine Editors. No, it’s not a new pair of her signature sunglasses. The group has elected the devilish editrix to its Magazine Editor’s Hall of Fame.

Wintour [pictured] officially will be honored at the annual National Magazine Awards ceremony scheduled for April 22 in New York City.

Her election to the Hall is no big shocker, really. She’s easily one of the most recognizable magazine editors—if not by name then by appearance—and has steered one of the industry’s biggest brands for more than two decades.

Wintour began her fashion career in London in 1970 and launched into magazines six years later at Harper’s Bazaar. She later served as a senior editor at New York before transitioning to Vogue in 1983 as creative director. After a stint as editor-in-chief at British Vogue and as editor at HG, Wintour returned to the U.S. brand of Vogue as editor-in-chief in July 1988, where she currently resides, serving as editorial director.

Sure, she’s been the target of some criticism and jokes and movies over the years, but that comes with the territory. It’s about time ASME recognized Wintour. She joins fellow Hall of Fame inductees including Hugh Hefner, Martha Stewart, Tina Brown and Jann Wenner.

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Jason Fell

A Look At Wired’s Tablet Application Project

Jason Fell emedia and Technology - 02/17/2010-12:11 PM

The stampede of iPad application unveilings has begun.

Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated was the first, that I recall, to roll out a video demo of the splashy app it’s been developing for Apple’s iPad device. Now comes Condé Nast’s Wired, which on Tuesday posted a video to its Web site promoting its new “Wired Reader” app. Back in November, Wired said it was working with Adobe to build a magazine application that will enable the publisher to deploy its magazines on a number of digital devices, including computers, smartphones and color e-readers—including the iPad. They were using Adobe’s Air free cross-platform runtime—a piece of foundation software that can run different programs on top of it.

See the Wired video below.

In the post yesterday, Wired editor Chris Anderson called the iPad tablet a “groundbreaking opportunity for magazines such as ours.” “The point here is that we are entering a new era of media, where we finally have a digital platform that allows us to retain all the rich visual features of high-gloss print, from lavish design to glorious photography, while augmenting it with video, animations, additional content and full interactivity.”

Anderson noted that although the Wired Reader starts as an Air app, Adobe has created tools that allow publishers to convert it for tablet and mobile platforms. The project was officially unveiled last week at the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference.

In Wired’s four-minute video, Anderson called the project an “opportunity to reset the economics. For the first time, people may value this experience so much that they’ll pay for it.” Presumably he’s talking not only about readers but advertisers, too.

From watching the video, it appears that Wired is doing a pretty impressive job of bringing the printed, glossy page to life in a digital platform with video, scrolling, zoom and other spiffy navigation features. The app also incorporates social media functionality like story sharing and Twitter/Facebook access.

Kudos to Wired. The video doesn’t explain away a lot of the issues publishers are grappling with—R&D costs, design, pricing, etc.—but I wouldn’t expect it to. As Condé Nast continues to develop iPad apps for GQ and Vanity Fair, this looks like a solid step in the right direction.

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Jason Fell

SI.com’s Swimsuit Package Draws Site’s Second-Biggest Traffic Day

Jason Fell Consumer - 02/10/2010-18:01 PM

For the third straight year, Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated unveiled its highly anticipated franchise powerhouse, the Swimsuit Issue, Monday night on CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman. For those of you living under rocks, this year’s sultry cover model is Brooklyn Decker, wife of tennis star Andy Roddick.

Wasting no time, SI posted the behemoth 2010 swimsuit package online, packed with more than 1,400 photos and 100 videos of all the scantily-clan models taken during their lush/exotic/(add suggestive adjective here) photo shoots. Sounds like a recipe for some server-testing traffic. And it was.

SI.com said the package drew 42.2 million page views, an increase of 14 percent over 37 million last year. Meanwhile, the number of unique visitors during the first day soared 85 percent to 2.3 million. Video views totaled 7.1 million, a 126 percent bump from 2009.

Overall, SI.com said Tuesday was the site’s second-highest trafficked day (behind the February 15, 2007 Swimsuit Issue unveiling), with 3.633 million unique visitors.

With all the attention SI’s Swimsuit Issue gets, the magazine’s online success isn't overly suprising. (What is surprising is that I still haven’t made it through the whole thing yet.) What’s important here is the continued success the issue has had monetarily. The overall franchise—which I assume generates a sizable chunk of the brand’s annual revenues—this year was up 15 percent in revenues over 2009. The magazine carried 67 ads, which was roughly flat over last year.

That’s pretty good considering how bad the ad market has been.

For now, we can only wait and see if Decker and her bikini-clad ladies can move issues off the newsstands and on mobile in record-setting numbers.

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Jason Fell

Busted! Media Gets Burned on iPad Unveiling Prank

Jason Fell Editorial - 02/02/2010-12:46 PM

The technology and publishing worlds held their collective breaths last Wednesday, awaiting Apple’s unveiling of its iPad tablet device. However, according to his Twitter feed, outspoken Weblogs Inc. founder and Mahalo.com CEO Jason Calacanis had beaten us all to the chase. On the eve of the unveiling, he informed his more than 90,000 followers that he already had the tablet device and had been beta testing it for 10 days.

“Yes, it’s true… I’ve been beta testing the Apple tablet for the past two weeks and it’s amazing” read one of Calacanis’ tweets. Here are two more:

@Jason: the apple tablet is running an iphone oc flavor with ability to have multiple apps running at same time (ie pandora, browser

@Jason: Ok, I’m going to bed (with apple tablet after reading nytimes + Vanity Fair on it!), steve jobs outdid himself, its greatest device ever!!!

He also claimed the device includes wireless charging, face recognition and an “insane” Farmville app.

Wait, what? First of all, I’m pretty sure Apple doesn’t hand out forthcoming devices to beta testers. And, as we found out when Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the device, a lot of the functions Calacanis tweeted about don’t in fact exist on the iPad.

It was all a prank. A joke. Calacanis squashed any speculation about the validity of his tweets the following day by linking to a YouTube video called “Jason Calacanis Destroys Tech ‘Journalism.’”

But, of course, not everyone in media got the joke. The Wall Street Journal, BusinessInsider—even TechCrunch—ran items the morning of the big unveiling about Calacanis’ claims.

“Mainstream media journalists are so on tilt because of bloggers scooping them that I think that at one in the morning, two in the morning, maybe they lost a little bit of common sense to get a jump on the story to get the pages, to get up on Techmeme, to get the tweet out first,” Calacanis [pictured] said in a recent video interview with All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher. “I think the people who made the mistakes should say they screwed up and that Jason was obviously joking.”

When Swisher asked Calacanis if he should have pulled the prank in the first place, he replied: “Well, it has been a pretty amusing 48 hours, and I did add 10,000 more Twitter followers. It will only make my reputation more controversial, which I love. And, there were 732 more inbound links to Mahalo.”

Clearly, this goes to show that journalists need to fact-check their stories before posting them (uh, duh). This also goes to show that as more and more journalists become dependent on social media for tips and background for stories, they should be far more skeptical of the information they find there if they don’t want to get burned.

[Image via All Things Digital]

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Jason Fell

Reaction to Apple’s iPad Unveiling

Jason Fell emedia and Technology - 01/27/2010-15:57 PM

The anticipation today ran thick. I almost passed out at my desk awaiting the news.

Wednesday afternoon, at an event in San Francisco, Apple co-founder/CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the company’s much hyped tablet device. Called the iPad, it enables users to browse the Web, read e-books, watch videos, listen to music and play games, among other things. The iPad has a multi-touch screen with a virtual keyboard and is available with 16, 32, or 64 GB of SSD storage. (The device will sell for $499 for 16GB of memory, $599 for 32GB and $699 for 64GB.)

At the event, Jobs said the Wi-Fi version will be available in 60 days, while the 3G version will be available in 90 days.

So far, the iPad has major book publishers on board and a version of the New York Times has been adapted for the device.

OK, so maybe I didn’t really almost pass out at my desk, but I did follow some live blogging about the unveiling. I thought it strange that as much talk as there had been about the device being a “game changer” for newspaper and magazine publishers that Jobs made no mention of magazine clients at the unveiling.

Sure, Apple got some things right, and some things wrong. But, either way, will consumers want it? Will it in fact change the way they consume magazines and newspapers?

I reached out over Twitter to get some initial feedback from our followers. Here’s a sampling of the responses we’ve received so far. Leave yours in the comment section below.

@mattrett: Worst name ever = 1st thought.

@pacificweddings: awesome! I want one.

@givingcity: Are they really calling it iPad? Seriously? Did they ask any women at all before they came up with this clever mark?

@breizh2008: Awesome !

@marcusgrimm: Priced to make an impact. Given the large format, though, publishers will need to think how an app is different than the website.

@mcnamdave: Surprised by the low price, lack of multitasking and camera etc... Underwhelmed on the whole.. Game changer? NO, Player, YES

@Ana_P_Rodrigues: I want an i-Pad! I want an i-Pad! I want an i-Pad! I want an i-Pad!

@henrydonahue: why no mags on #ipad? 1) limits of rich media on 3G 2) pubs want customer info 3) expense ($629 + $30/mo.?)= lack of ubiquity

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Jason Fell

What Happens If (When) Big Trade Publishers Stop Publishing Magazines?

Jason Fell B2B - 01/20/2010-16:44 PM

Some recent events have pointed to the acceleration of two trade publishing giants leaving the magazine publishing industry.

After a failed auction in 2008 and closing all but one of the magazines published under its Associated Construction Publications group last spring, Reed Business Information in July said it was putting its portfolio of U.S.-based titles back on the block. Last month, it sold Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and This Week in Consumer Electronics (TWICE) to Wicks Group-owned NewBay Media. And this month it ceased publication of Video Business, Manufacturing Business Technology and Industrial Distribution.

When it said it was putting its U.S.-based titles back on the block, RBI said it would retain its Reed Construction Data, RSMeans, Variety, MarketCast, LA411 and BuyerZone properties. Now, it seems even flagship Variety could be sold off.

Last month, Nielsen Business Media caused a stir when it agreed to sell eight of its media/entertainment brands—including Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter—to e5 Global Media, a new company formed by private equity firm Pluribus Capital Management and financial services firm Guggenheim Partners. The publisher then decided to shutter heralded newspaper industry magazine Editor & Publisher, along with sister publication Kirkus Reviews. (E&P has since been sold to a new owner.)

Now, president Greg Farrar is leaving the company and Nielsen said it does not have plans to name a replacement. After a "transition period," senior vice president Andy Bilbao will oversee Nielsen's magazines that are not associated with trade shows, while the company evaluates "strategic alternatives."

As of today, Nielsen still publishes 19 magazines.

Nielsen—whose parent company has been focused on its ratings business—for years has reportedly been looking for a buyer(s) for its trade magazines. It’s no wonder. Through the first nine months of 2009, Nielsen reported a $151 million operating loss for its business media segment, compared to an $85 million operating income during the same period in 2008. Revenues for the segment through the third quarter were $258 million, down more than 30 percent from $371 million during the same period last year.

Shortly before the New Year, FOLIO: spoke to a source with knowledge of Nielsen who said that insiders were saying the company was working on a deal to sell its three-magazine food group and said Nielsen’s travel group might also be on the block. The source said Nielsen most likely would use the proceeds from the e5 deal and any subsequent asset sale to either reposition or shut down its other magazine properties.

“When business was good, publishing was not strategic to the Nielsen Company. When business is bad, they want the hell out,” another knowledgeable source, who also wished to remain anonymous, told me this week. “If Nielsen sold its crown jewels, namely Billboard, THR, Adweek, etc., then why wouldn’t it sell off the remainder of its publishing assets?”

I asked Nielsen’s spokesperson Wednesday if the company was working on additional divestitures and if it is attempting to exit the trade magazine publishing business altogether. Her response, not surprisingly, was more of the same: “We are continuing to access the strategic fit of the remaining publications, but there are no immediate plans at this time.”

It’s no secret that trade magazine publishing is hurting right now and that revenues, especially from print, probably won’t rebound to levels seen before the economic fallout. Perhaps the bigger issue here is if major players like Nielsen and RBI are moving away from magazine publishing, then what, if anything, does that say about the sustainability and the future of the business for the rest of us?

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Jason Fell

New Owner: Editor & Publisher 'More Vital Than Ever'

Jason Fell M and A and Finance - 01/15/2010-15:28 PM

The fate of 126-year-old Editor & Publisher is no longer drifting in uncertain waters. The shuttered newspaper magazine was acquired Thursday evening by Duncan McIntosh Co. Inc., the Irvine, California-based publisher of Boating World, Sea Magazine and The Log newspaper.

Wait, what? Why in the world would the publisher of boating magazines want to buy a big-name property that covers the newspaper industry?

"I published newspapers when I first got into this business and have been reading Editor & Publisher on and off for more than 30 years," Duncan McIntosh told me over the phone today. "I heard about its closing and thought to myself, 'That can't be.' I started sending e-mails to Nielsen until someone would finally talk to us. And, now, here we are."

Nielsen closed E&P, along with sister publications Kirkus Reviews, last month after it announced the sale of eight media/entertainment brands—including Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter—to e5 Global Media, a new company formed by private equity firm Pluribus Capital Management and financial services firm Guggenheim Partners.

The newspaper industry's dramatic decline, Duncan said, is what made saving E&P so important. "When do you need a magazine like Editor & Publisher more? When everything is going great or in a tie of crisis,"he said. "It's more vital now than ever."

OK. But how is a newspaper magazine going to mesh with his stable of boating publications?  "Maybe I'm not cerebral enough to worry about things like that, but I don't think it will be a problem," said Duncan."The back end, in terms of production, IT and Web, is the same regardless of the publication. As long as I have separate ad staffs and separate editorial staffs, everything else is the same. We think we can supply all the support services for it, we can bring it into a structure with a much lower overhead, and make it viable."

In terms of editorial direction, Duncan said E&P is and has been right on course, producing best practice-type content for publishers. He said he has no immediate plans to change the magazine's monthly frequency or circulation.

"The magazine has a great staff and we were lucky enough to keep about 80 percent of them," he said. E&P's former editor-at-large, Mark Fitzgerald, will now serve as editor, replacing former editor Greg Mitchell, who is no longer with the magazine. Charles McKeown will continue as publisher.

This isn't the first time we've seen a big b-to-b player shutter a magazine, only to be contacted by a smaller publisher who wants to acquire it. Last April, Reed Business Information shuttered all but one of the magazines published under its Associated Construction Publications Group, which consisted of 14 regional construction titles. John White, the original co-owner of the ACP titles, then reaquired the licenses and relaunched them gradually before the end of the year.

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Jason Fell

Only 18 Consumer Magazines Grew Ad Pages in 2009

Jason Fell Consumer - 01/12/2010-17:02 PM

Magazine advertising revenue is down. Way down. We know this. Do we need any more reminders?

Needed or not, the Publishers Information Bureau Tuesday released its 2009 year-end magazine advertising report. It revealed that ad pages for 2009 were down 25.6 percent, while estimated revenues closed at $19.45 billion, a drop of 18.1 percent.

While anyone could have guessed that it would spell yet another quarterly decline (the 10th out of 11 since PIB began reporting on a quarterly basis in mid-2007, to be exact) I couldn’t have projected (or perhaps didn’t want to) that a mere 18 magazines would post ad page gains for the 12-month period.

That’s right. Only 18.

The biggest gainers among them were Time Inc.’s fashion product title People Style Watch (+24.4 percent), OK! (+20.7) and Bonnier’s Saveur (+12.6). Not far behind were Family Circle (+11.5 percent), Scholastic Parent & Child (+9.6), The Week (+9.5) and Fitness (+9.1). Kudos to all of them.

Then, unfortunately, come the year’s biggest decliners, many of which are from the boating sector. The reported losses are deeper than I can grasp while writing this: Boating Life (-65.8 percent), Power & Motoryacht (-53.2), Boating (-53.1) and Architectural Digest (-49.8). A TON of titles followed closely, losing well more than 40 percent of their ad pages last year compared to 2008.

But according to Magazine Publishers of America’s Ellen Oppenheim, magazine spending showed improvement during the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2008. Ad pages during the period slipped 21.6 percent compared to the prior year fourth quarter while revenues dropped only 12.4 percent. “Magazines experienced an uptick in food spending and relative improvement in other areas, especially in automotive.”

Hopefully this means the market has bottomed. Hopefully, this means that we’ll begin to see gains (or gradually less severe losses) in the quarters to come.

But let’s keep a perspective. The advertising pullback of 2009 was so severe that many of the surviving publishers have migrated away (in varying degrees) from dependence on advertising revenues. They’re charging more for content in print and online. They’re diversifying their product portfolio so much that print is arguably a second-tier player in the overall mix. Some are dropping print and/or print advertising altogether.

Moving forward, I wonder how accurate a barometer PIB’s quarterly reports will be about the health of the consumer magazine publishing business.

In the meantime, here’s a look at how a number of categories performed in terms of ad pages, title-by-title.

AUTO 2009 2008 % CHNG
Automobile 510.97
799.42
-36.1
Autoweek 793.03 1,157.26 -31.5
Car and Driver 805.98 1,031.03 -21.8
Hot Rod 532.50 638.16 -16.6
Motor Trend 722.32
1,096.40 -34.1
Road & Track 799.46
1,152.42 -26.4
BUSINESS/FINANCE
2009 2008 % CHNG
BusinessWeek 1,247.01
1,882.38 -33.8.
Entrepreneur 852.33 1,043.33
-18.3
Fast Company 426.08
616.24 -30.9
Forbes 1,937.14 2,774.34
-30.2
Fortune 1,523.98 2,382.71
-36.0
Harvard Business Review 343.82 468.67 -26.6
Inc. 619.80 817.93
-24.2
Kiplinger's 279.92 424.81 -34.1
Money 563.02 793.62 -29.1
SmartMoney 387.29 502.23 -22.9
NEWS MAGAZINES 2009 2008 % CHNG
Newsweek 1,116.73 1,506.06 -25.9
The Week 659.91 602.73 9.5
Time 1,447.05 1,752.19 -17.4
CELEBRITY
2009 2008 %CHNG
Entertainment Weekly 965.87 1,216.39 -20.6
In Touch Weekly 854.90 1,094.19 -21.9
Life & Style 383.82 510.97 -24.9
People 3,367.20 3,422.23 -1.6
Star 1,131.40 1,173.24 -3.6
Us Weekly 1,791.45 1,949.21 -8.1
OK! 903.82 748.74 +20.7

 

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Jason Fell

Multichannel-Bent Publishers Give Longtime Print Staffers the Cold Shoulder

Jason Fell emedia and Technology - 01/08/2010-14:24 PM

The irony here is thick.

F+W Media recently let go Emily Gordon as editor-in-chief of Print magazine. Now, the publisher is looking for a content director to replace her—someone it says will head content development strategy across media platforms, including digital, social media, e-commerce, books, events as well as the print magazine.

When I spoke with F+W president David Blansfield about the change, he declined to speak directly about Gordon’s departure but did have this to say: “A lot of publishers are facing the challenge of how to inspire legacy editors to think and act on building value across platforms beyond only print.”

So, was the editor of a magazine called Print ousted for being too print-focused? Gordon—who founded New Yorker fan/media/culture blog Emdashes.com—doesn’t seem to think so.

"Earlier this year, I got a raise and a bonus for my overall performance and positive attitude, and for keeping the magazine running with a scant five staffers," she told me. "We relaunched the Web site and launched full sail into social networking, extremely thrifty video production and viral marketing, which became some of the most enjoyable and rewarding new projects I've embarked on in a long time."

Pointed fingers aside, I don’t think anyone needs to explain F+W’s logic in wanting a content director (be it Gordon or someone else) to manage the brand across multiple channels. Print magazines no longer are the center of a publishing company’s universe, as F+W’s CEO recently reiterated during the 2009 FOLIO: Show. It’s one piece of the overall content distribution pie. In fact, one could argue that it’s a secondary piece to online, social media, etc.

We’re seeing lot of “legacy” magazine staffers being shown the door now. In this market, publishers are turning their backs on people who are unwilling or considered unable to adapt to selling/producing a brand beyond the printed page. It’s a cold fact.

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Jason Fell

Forecast: 2010

Jason Fell Consumer - 12/18/2009-13:50 PM

FOLIOmag.com recently posted its annual round up of magazine and media predictions for the coming year, collected from a wide cross section of industry professionals. All in all, we came up with roughly 115 predictions from more than 20 people.

Until we posted it, that is.

Since Thursday morning, I’ve received e-mails and phone calls from another small army of wanna-be fortune tellers—all wanting to add their illuminations about 2010. And, of course, I couldn’t resist. Below are the additional predictions I’ve collected so far.

Do you have a prediction(s) about what’s in store for 2010? Will print advertising evaporate completely? Will mobile applications take over? Will Jan Wenner ever tend bar at his Rolling Stone-themed restaurant?

Let me know. Send your predictions to jfell(at)red7media(dot)com, or leave them in the comments section below.


NAME: Kirk Cheyfitz
TITLE: CEO, Story Worldwide
PREDICTION(S): Late in the year, one major magazine—probably one of Meredith’s, since Meredith actually owns a digital marketing agency—will wake from the publishing industry’s self-induced coma and re-invent itself as a content marketing agency specializing in reaching the niche audience that reads the magazine. From then on, that lone magazine will make tons of money creating content for brand marketers—the kind of valuable entertaining, informative content that is taking the place of advertising.

NAME: Rob Haggart
TITLE: photo editor, formerly of Men's Journal, Outside
PREDICTION(S): We will see fire sale buyouts (à la BusinessWeek) of a few big titles rather than shuttering (à la Gourmet).

More photographers will get into the workshop, book writing and teaching side of the photography business. This is proving by all appearances to be super lucrative, but will get very crowded and competitive as people with an impressive oeuvre enter the market.

Photographers who market with ideas and innovation will be snapped up by marketers who need fresh ideas and innovation.

Product photography will heat up as companies realize products online need great photography to convert online shoppers into buyers.

Local markets will go red hot as local online markets get competitive and companies that normally needed no photos for a yellowpage ad now need lots of photography for a nice looking Web site.

Video goes nuclear, because nothing is commissioned anymore without video and hey, “doesn’t that camera shoot video too.”

NAME: Gordon T. Hughes
TITLE: president and CEO, American Business Media
PREDICTION(S): We’re calling print flat to down 3 percent in 2010 after a year (2009) that it was down 30 percent.

Digital, which was down probably 3 percent in 2009, we’re calling up between 3 and 6 percent next year.

Custom, which was up probably in the 6 percent range, we’re saying will be about the same, up another 3 to 6 percent off of that in 2010.

We believe that rich data has excellent potent for member to take their intellectual properties, their content and be able to monetize it without talking about ad revenues. We see that as a continuing growing sector for our members.

Finally, one area we believe will be disappointing will be face-to-face. 2010 will probably worse than 2009, so we’re saying it’ll be down about 20 percent.

NAME: Paul Conley
TITLE: owner, Paul Conley Consulting
PREDICTION(S): This will be the year of the tier—in which poor rates for online advertising will split the b-to-b publishing game into three distinct levels. (And since there’s very, very little room for ad-supported, mid to high quality models in this three-tier system, I expect more bankruptcies and closures in 2010.)

1. Content mills like Associated Content and Demand Media already dominate the lower tier in b-to-c—dumbing down the market and pushing costs so low that professional writers are fleeing and professional publishers are abandoning “evergreen” stories, how-to articles and similar search-driven, long-tail tactics.

In b-to-b, watch for a rise in such crappy-but-cheap competitors (an e-mail newsletter company approached me a few weeks ago looking for help finding b-to-b journalists who would write for $15 per 600-word story!)

2. The middle tier will be most notable for its absence of middle men! No aspect of publishing is better positioned for growth in 2010 than content marketing—as marketers continue to learn they can get better results if they produce their own content.

In b-to-b, look for content marketing to produce extraordinary levels of sophistication and quality (like IBM’s avian flu site or Boeing and GM’s early forays in this space a few years ago.) Watch also for a shift in staffing as the best journalists find they can make more money (and face fewer ethical pressures from unscrupulous bosses) by moving into content marketing.

3. The top tier, as always, will be reserved for high-end, paid-subscription products. And, as always, the top tier will be dominated by data, pricing, trading and credit products in b-to-b.

But in 2010, increasingly desperate publishers will talk loudly and often about forcing users to pay for additional forms of online content. Delusions will grow commonplace, as companies insist that the poor quality stuff they’ve always given away is actually high quality material that can now be sold.

NAME: Gordon Plutsky
TITLE: director of marketing, King Fish Media
PREDICTION(S): Here are four.

1. More and more pure play online companies will discover multi-channel media and marketing paired with content drives customer engagement. Look for more online retailers to create “magalogs” pairing content and offers in an appealing environment using both print and digital formats.

2. Broadcasters (network and cable) will create more integrated online custom and advertising programs for the so called “second screen.” According to Reuters, Nielsen’s research shows that “57 percent of TV viewers in the U.S. who have Internet access use both mediums at the same time at least once a month. That translates to more than 128 million U.S. consumers.”

This opens the door to endless ties in for deeper content, social media connections and games/contests to extend a marketing campaign.

3. Consumers will slowly begin to accept that they will have to pay for some premium content online. The decline of print advertising means that online content can no longer be subsidized. It will only be successful with unique, relevant content such as hyper local news or brands such as the New York Times or Variety. Garden variety news and opinion found in places such as Newsweek and BusinessWeek stand little chance of collecting a fee for content because there are so many other sources for that information.

4. Twitter is already leveling off as many people quit or abandon it after a short time. I see that trend continuing, though the idea if micro blogging is here to stay. It’s too effective a communications tools not to have a purpose. It makes more sense integrated into something else rather than a standalone since it is still a mystery how Twitter will make a profit. The whole “social media” frenzy will slow down considerably as it becomes just another marketing tactic and media channel for marketers. The cottage industry of social media experts, consultants and dedicated agencies will wane. It’s like when “e” was finally dropped from e-commerce and it just became another commerce channel.  We can now drop the “Social” and recognize it’s just another media channel.

NAME: Colin Crawford
TITLE: founder and CEO, Media7
PREDICTION(S): In 2010, successful publishers will:

Adapt to the world of "mobility"—the consumption and creation of content on smart mobile devices - smartphones, smartbooks, smartpads and smart e-readers.

Focus on the user experience each medium offers—online is not a print replica and mobile is not an online replica.

Show users that their brand delivers real value across media—they will appreciate mobile has the potential to reset the brand/audience relationship that has been put under pressure by the internet.

Develop a series of revenue streams rather than just expecting the CPM advertising model to work in the digital world.

Engage audiences—as defensible competitive barrier to entry—nurturing and developing audiences will be key to success.

Think of themselves as database/ data services and integrated marketing solutions companies and not just content creation companies.

Link together their three critical databases—content, audience and marketers.

NAME: Bob Sacks
TITLE: president/publisher, Precision Media Group
2009 PREDICTION(S): 2010 is the year of the great publishing realignment where our industry retrenches, rebuilds and looks forward to a bright and prosperous future.

2010 is the year that our senior management intellectually turns the corner and follows the money instead of waiting for its errant return.

This is the year that some print magazines realize that they can make plenty of money being just what they are—focused, idea driven, information cult clubs.  

This is also the year that some other print magazines realize that they can’t/don’t/won’t deliver the focused information narrow enough to pay for the product and move onwards.

2010 is the year that flat economics seems pretty damn good. This will be the year when the surviving franchises reach out past the traditional and seek the screenagers at their home base.

From a historical perspective, next year will be noted as the launching date of magazines designed for the new substrates, which translates into anything that connects to the Web. We will realize that size doesn’t matter, while performance and functionality does.

And finally, this is the year that Samir Husni calls BoSacks to say that he finally understands that publishing is not confined to just paper and that electronic communication is not such a bad thing. He does this from his Blackberry.

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Jason Fell

Twitterversy Over Publishers Weekly ‘Afro Picks’ Cover

Jason Fell Design and Production - 12/15/2009-12:26 PM

If attention is what it wanted, Publishers Weekly succeeded.

For its December 14 issue cover, the Reed Business Information title used a photo entitled “Pickin’,” shot by photographer Lauren Kelly for a new book by Deborah Willis called, "Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present." Willis, an African-American, is the head of New York University’s photography and imaging department.

The cover [pictured] caused a firestorm on Twitter. Publishers Weekly senior editor Calvin Reid, who is African-American, chimed in over the magazine’s feed, claiming he and the magazine’s creative director chose the cover photo and wrote the cover line. Here are some of Reid’s tweets:

@PublishersWkly: I admit that I love afro picks! In the 1970s I had many just like them also stuck in my massive afro. . .

@PublishersWkly: . . and it’s a story about ‘picking’ books. I love dumb jokes.

@PublishersWkly: While I respect everyone who may be offended, I think the photo is a delightful and wry expression of historical Afro Americana.

Even Felicia Pride, the cover story’s author, admitted via Twitter that the cover was, well, a bit shocking:

@feliciapride: I too saw PW cover yesterday. Mouth dropped. Still, I hope you can read my article

What do you think? Is the cover offensive? Funny? Outdated? Ignorant? Poorly executed?

Here’s a select sampling of the comments that have flooded Twitter. Feel free to leave your comment directly to this post.

@yasminhamidi: Ya, I'm not feelin this Publishers Weekly 'Afro Picks' cover. Agree that it's 'artful but out of context'

@Gripemaster: Why are we suprised? This is the same mag and editors who couldn't find 1 good novel from a female writer for Top 10 of 2009.

@ChristineTB: Calvin - I owned "Afro Picks" too. But your photo selection, given the current climate which marginalizes AA writers, was poor.

@ActsofFaithblog: Hipster Racism FTW @PublishersWkly #afropw --And when you go under like so many other publications you'll know why. Cheap shots = FAIL!!

@charabbott: Beyond PW's cover (which I found fresh & funny), what's disturbing is the ARTICLE: e.g. less serious black fiction is being pubbed.

@StrachanLit: I find the PW cover to be a clever play on words, but I'm not African American. It seems vaguely wrong--but why?

@MaggieHilliard: The more I look at/learn about the #afropw cover the more I think the image works, but the copy's too glib.

@angel_atee: At first it's like, what the hell? Then you look at all those little fists and you realize what it is-overkill. Art.

@baratunde: #afropw cover about "picking" black books featured actual picks. Coulda been worse. Coulda been cotton.

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Jason Fell

Reminder: Magazines Just One Element of the Overall Brand

Jason Fell B2B - 12/11/2009-09:12 AM

Crain Communications on Thursday announced that Jonah Bloom, longtime editor of trade publication Advertising Age, was leaving the company to serve as CEO and editor-in-chief of budding blogging network Breaking Media—home to Above the Law and Dealbreaker. Following Bloom is Ad Age senior editor Matt Creamer, who will take the executive editor post at Breaking Media.

When I heard the news, I shot Bloom an e-mail to get his take on his departure—what about the opportunity at Breaking Media lured him away from Ad Age. Another question I asked was: Looking back at your time at Ad Age, what are your thoughts about the magazine? The industry?

The first part of Bloom’s response was, well, somewhat snippy: Without meaning to sound defensive, Ad Age isn't a magazine. Sure, that's one way in which it delivers weekly analysis—a way that's still valued by many senior executives—but a huge proportion of what it does today it does digitally.

And of course, he’s right. Magazines and newspapers, once the center of our publishing universe, now are only one part of the bigger branded experience. This isn’t a new concept but it becomes a more solid reality every day.

Coming from an online editor, perhaps I should have rephrased the question, especially when asking the former top editor of a magazine for marketers. Duh, Jason.

Anyway, for those of you who actually were wondering what Bloom’s thoughts are on his Ad Age experience and on the industry, here’s what he wrote:

I feel proud to have been part of the team that took it from being a newspaper to a genuinely multi-faceted publication. As to the marketing and media business, there's almost too much to say to sum up my thoughts in a sentence or two, but we all know it's going through a massive transition. Marketers are going to keep shifting to more direct, engaging and measurable ways of conversing with their audience and they're going to need to deliver things audiences really want or even need—as I've said before the marketing is going to become a service, and in some ways even a product. The media owners and agencies who are going to succeed will be the ones that help them figure out how best to do that—and how to charge for all their work on that challenge.

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