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Dylan Stableford

VIDEO: Vintage Martha

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 02/05/2009-09:29 AM

At her induction into the Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame last week, the MPA rolled a tasty video montage of some of vintage Martha Stewart footage (no footage—nor any mention for that matter—of her stint in the clink, or her triumphant release wearing that cool poncho).

Below, one of the more interesting clips in the video—Stewart on Charlie Rose, July 26, 1995 ...

Dylan Stableford

A Death Metal Memo

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 02/04/2009-13:58 PM

RELATED: Publisher Mulls Future of its Music Magazines

Shutting down a magazine sucks. As an editor, telling your staffers and freelancers, I'd imagine, sucks even harder.

But you'd be hard-pressed to find a sweeter final e-mail than this one, sent from Liz Ciavarella, editor of Zenbu Media's Metal Maniacs, to contributors (including one, judging by the timestamp, residing in Australia) announcing that the plug had been pulled on her magazine:

Subject: Urgent Metal Maniacs Update 2.3.09
Date: Wed, February 4, 2009 12:45 pm

Hi All,

This is probably the most difficult email I've had to write and though I wasn't planning on sending it until tomorrow when I could actually get my head together and dry my tears, the rumor mill has already started. This afternoon Metal Maniacs (as well as the remaining titles under Zenbu Media -- Metal Edge and Relix) officially closed its doors. The exact reasons are still a little hazy but it appears that no one is immune to the crashing economy. We've been told we are on "hiatus," which means the coffin hasn't been shut just yet. Our ad honcho Dov Teta and I are scrambling for a potential solution and with any luck, I hope to be sending a far less grim email in the not so distant future. For now though, the March/April 2009 edition (Kreator cover on sale 2/24) will be the last published issue (no goodbye issue unfortunately).

I feel like there's a death in the family and I have a lump in my chest I can't really explain right now. Metal Maniacs has become an extended metal household (this is our 20 year anniversary!) and I don't think I could have asked for a more sincere, craftier group of scribes. I thank you ALL for your amazing talents, your patience with my sometimes tardy email response time, my often terribly spelled quicktime phone messages and for generally being true in your metal warriordom.

And a very special metal e-hug to co-chief JJ Koczan who managed to deal with my perpetual overthinking of all things maniacal like a true champ. You have the patience of a saint.

This certainly won't be the last email from me and I'll have more news for you later this week or early the following (pretty much as I hear it really). There's still many questions I have myself. I'm the meantime I'll be working on clearing cost sheets for both the Absu issue that just went on sale as well as Kreator (which will likely be hitting your mailboxes shortly). I never used my official Maniacs email so [REDACTED] will continue to be active until the end of time (or the end of AOL -- whichever comes first).
In the meantime, I love you all. Thanks for sticking with us and making MM what it is. The emails that have been flooding in have been overwhelming and it just goes to show you, when you think no one is paying attention, they are and that certainly doesn't happen alone.

Eternal metal hugs - Liz
Metal Maniacs Magazine
Liz Ciavarella - [Former] Editress

Dylan Stableford

The Doubledown Memo

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 02/03/2009-08:38 AM

Doubledown Media, the once-rising publisher of magazines aimed at the Wall Street elite, has shut down.

“These are unprecedented times,” president Randall Lane wrote in an e-mail to staffers late Monday. “The combination of the media depression, the Wall Street implosion and the credit slowdown were collectively too much for our company—probably any company in our shoes—to overcome.”

Here's Lane’s full memo:

-----Original Message-----
From: Randall Lane
Sent: Mon 2/2/2009 10:35 PM
To: Randall Lane
Subject: Doubledown Media -- important update


Regretfully, we have some very bad news to share. The bank that's been supplying our credit line for the past year, an affiliate of HSBC, has ceased to provide working capital for Doubledown Media. Thus, this forces us to suspend operations effective immediately.

I cannot begin to convey how heartbroken we are. These are unprecedented times: the combination of the media depression, the Wall Street implosion and the credit slowdown were collectively too much for our company -- probably any company in our shoes -- to overcome.

We are owed a substantial seven-figure sum by various advertisers and business partners, but as with everyone else in media, payments to us have slowed precipitously, which is turn has crippled our ability to pay our bills on time. This slowdown also led to the bank's decision not to continue to fund the working capital.

We have approximately a dozen organizations who have actively expressed interest in some or all of Doubledown's assets - we hope to both generate money for those who are owed, and also help us save as many jobs as we can. Our assets, of course, are more than brands and products and databases -- they are the talent behind them, and we will work to place as many people as possible with the brands as they move forward.

We will meet individually tomorrow with every employee that wishes to discuss their personal situation, including getting answers on health benefits . Again, on behalf of Jim, Magnus, Wilkie and myself, thank you for working so hard during such difficult times. You are an incredible bunch of people.

Dylan Stableford

Lauer on Martha: 'The Only Thing We Haven't Done is Have Sex'

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 01/30/2009-07:54 AM

Funny, if odd, moment at today's Magazine Lifetime Achievement Awards in New York. Matt Lauer, the Today show host, turned the induction of Martha Stewart into the Magazine Hall of Fame into something of a Friar's Club Roast. Lauer said of his friendship with the Doyenne of Domesticity:

“The only thing we haven’t done is have sex—and if you would’ve just put down the glue gun that might’ve happened, too.”

Lauer also spoke of Martha’s universal appeal among women, men “and, yes, even some straight men.”

“I commend [the MPA] for ignoring your persistent steroid use,” Lauer said. (There was no mention of the imClone stock scandal nor Stewart’s subsequent jail term.)

Lauer admitted he was exacting a bit of revenge for the skewering he received from Stewart at his own Friar's Club Roast in October.

Read FOLIO:'s coverage of the event here.

[PHOTO: Martha Stewart blog]

Dylan Stableford

Dunder Mifflin Alert! Nielsen to Disable Employees' 'Reply to All' E-mail Functionality

Dylan Stableford B2B - 01/27/2009-14:51 PM

There have been plenty of cutbacks across the magazine publishing industry, but, at least to this point, the various e-mail functions within Outlook have been spared. That is, until now.

The following memo, distributed to Nielsen employees today, sounds like it was taken straight from a script for NBC’s The Office.

Unfortunately, I’m told, it’s all-too-real.


A Message from Andrew Cawood

In December, the Nielsen Executive Council (NEC) held an Act Now! event to review suggestions from across the business that would eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency. Beginning Thursday, January 29, we will implement one of the approved recommendations: removing the “Reply to All” functionality from Microsoft Outlook.

We have noticed that the “Reply to All” functionality results in unnecessary inbox clutter. Beginning Thursday we will eliminate this function, allowing you to reply only to the sender. Responders who want to copy all can do so by selecting the names or using a distribution list.

Eliminating the “Reply to All” function will:

• Require us to copy only those who need to be involved in an e-mail conversation
• Reduce non-essential messages in mailboxes, freeing up our time as well as server space

This is one of the many changes being implemented as a result of the NEC Act Now! initiative. If you have any suggestions on how we can continue to improve the way we work, please send your comments to Nielsen Communications [mailto: REDACTED].

Andrew Cawood
Chief Information Officer


Dylan Stableford

Not Funny: Mad's Long, Steady Circ Decline

Dylan Stableford Audience Development - 01/27/2009-11:24 AM

Mad magazine announced yesterday that it is shifting from a monthly to a quarterly, and killing a pair of spinoffs. Editor John Ficarra explained that “the feedback we’ve gotten from readers is that only every third issue of Mad is funny—so we decided to just publish those.”

Funny. You know what’s not funny? Mad’s circulation decline.

A guy named Mike Slaubaugh has compiled Mad’s average circulation (total newsstand and subscriptions per issue) from 1961 to 2008.

Here’s what Slaubaugh found. Warning, the chart is not for the faint of heart:

Mad Circ

1961    1,209,918
1962    1,293,705
1963    1,429,080
1964    1,424,628
1965    1,532,926
1966    1,635,612
1967    1,780,555
1968    1,831,648
1969    1,884,502
1970    1,864,443
1971    1,845,325
1972    1,905,973
1973    2,059,236
1974    2,132,655
1975    1,928,139
1976    1,787,928
1977    1,721,515
1978    1,626,452
1979    1,561,327
1980    1,342,640
1981    1,094,085
1982    1,001,724
1983    879,075
1984    783,192
1985    744,817
1986    740,442
1987    742,743
1988    763,335
1989    784,206
1990    681,726
1991    584,684
1992    503,756
1993    478,385
1994    409,344
1995    359,936
1996    309,911
1997    309,660
1998    293,580
1999    293,721
2000    233,408
2001    208,645
2002    205,441
2003    207,293
2004    211,473
2005    212,696
2006    190,956
2007    205,890
2008    174,567

SOURCE: Mike Slaubaugh

Dylan Stableford

Brownridge: No More 'Dickering' on Ad Rates

Dylan Stableford Sales and Marketing - 01/26/2009-11:29 AM

For FOLIO:’s upcoming February issue, we’re talking with publishers about how they’re going to survive the U.S. economic crisis—call it Big Ideas for the Recession.

I talked to Kent Brownridge, general manager of OK! magazine, who announced in September that he was stepping down as CEO of Alpha Media to spend more time with his family—two weeks before turning around and taking the job at OK!.

Why Brownridge, a 68-year-old former Wenner Media executive would take a celebrity magazine job in the teeth of a recession after edging toward retirement was a bit puzzling. But he sees a big upside in OK!, which increased ad pages by 23 percent last year—one of a scant few magazines to show significant page growth in '08.

As far as ideas, there’s nothing terribly novel about Brownridge’s approach—just a renewed focus on “mass-market” categories (“luxury items are not useful in this economy,” he said) and an increased volume of sales calls—15 face-to-face calls per OK!’s 12 salespersons per week.

His comments, transcribed: “This is not some avant-garde idea,” Brownridge said. “This is power-selling.”

“Our theory is not to spend a lot of time dickering on rates. We offer our best rate from the get-go, we put our best rate out there. None of this timidly put a rate out there, have them come back, then we say we’ll split the difference. Not this back and forth. It’s a rather annoying and irritating process.”

Also, don’t expect any new product launches from OK! in 2009. Said Brownridge: “Anyone who is talking about Web launches has probably given up the ghost, and has a bit of a pipe dream to save their business.”

Dylan Stableford

Mygazines Founder: 'We Took Bad Advice, and Followed It'

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 01/23/2009-12:04 PM

Darren Andrew Budd, a.k.a the founder of Mygazines—you know, the controversial  magazine sharing site launched and quickly sacked last year by a copyright lawsuit, only to re-emerge with a new, “legit” (if, arguably, flawed) digital business model late last year—recently gave an interview to the Magtastic blog.

Budd has some interesting things to say about how Mygazines—now, essentially, a digital newsstand—differentiates itself all of the other digital vendors out there:

If you click on the table of contents in a digital magazine, you can jump straight to that page. So you can charge by article, or you can offer a subscription, some content will be free, some won’t. And then the key is the community around that. So let’s say you’ve got a community, and you’re going on there because you want to reference a recipe, type up a topic, I want to put 5 pages together and send it to my 5 groups of friends who are working in the same office. It’s not just how do you read, it’s how do you make it better for people.

I’m going to spend the same budget [on magazines] anyway, so maybe I’ll be a member of three different sites with that budget, but what I am now is part of that community, I’m getting information, I can reference it I can purchase it, use it as a daily tool. That also gives you advertising possibilities. Is the first page the most expensive? The middle, the end? You can offer advertisers to be where they want to be, on the most popular article or whatever.

And he offered an apology to the industry, too:

Bottom line is, we didn’t handle it right. We had a great technical idea, we had a very good site that could be good for the industry, but we didn’t handle it properly, and the way we’re approaching it now, we’ve brought on people who are experts in their field, who know the industry a lot better than we do. And we can stick to what we’re good at, which is vision and technical, and not try to be PR people. At the end of the day, you can blame anybody you want. We took bad advice and followed it, and I will take responsibility for it.

Read the entire interview here …

Dylan Stableford

Paste’s Obama Site Surpasses Magazine’s Online Traffic in Less Than a Week

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 01/19/2009-13:44 PM

What started out as a fun traffic grab could turn into revenue.

Since Paste, the music and entertainment magazine, launched its Obamicon generator on January 13, the site has generated 1.5 million page views. That’s 300,000 more than what Paste’s Web site averages a month, or 1.2 million. “It's officially bigger than our magazine site,” Josh Jackson, Paste’s editor, told me. “At least for its 15-minute run.”

Now Paste has launched an online store where users can buy t-shirts, coffee mugs and "Hope" posters personalized with their own Obamicons.

Isn't capitalism, after all, what hope is all about?

Dylan Stableford

The Atlantic Responds to Times' Response to Atlantic

Dylan Stableford Audience Development - 01/15/2009-17:01 PM

Let's break the Atlantic-New York Times kerfuffle down in the simplest way possible, shall we?

First, in its January/February issue, the Atlantic's Michael Hirschorn was all, "What if the New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?"

Then Catherine Mathis, the Times' senior vice president of corporate communications, was all "Your article leaves a lot to be desired from the standpoint of ... well, journalism." (Media industry onlookers, of course, were all, "Oh, snap!")

Now, Hirschorn is all, "additional numbers released by the New York Times Company since the piece went to press do not inspire confidence in the paper’s long-term prospects" and "ongoing double-digit declines do not a viable long-term business make."

Double zing!

Dylan Stableford

Paste Launches Obama Mini-Site

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 01/12/2009-23:10 PM

Paste, the Decatur, Georgia-based music and entertainment magazine that's developed a penchant for innovative experimentation, has launched a Web site—Obamicon.Me—that allows users to create their own digital versions of the iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster.

The Shepard Fairey-designed poster became a cult phenomenon, and was one of the iconic images of the 2008 presidential campaign—one that inspired magazine covers from 5280 to Time.

Already, more than 10,000 “Obamaicons” have been created.

That a music and entertainment magazine would launch a Web site that has almost nothing to do with the music or entertainment industries is unusual, but sorta par for the course for Paste. In 2007, the magazine rolled out a pay-what-you-want subscription offer modeled after the rock band Radiohead, which allowed its fans to pay what they wanted to download an album.

Last year, the magazine began placing ads in the footers of editorial pages, alongside page numbers, launched a 'VIP' subscriber program and an online ad network.

The Obama site is also a traffic grab, as the URL redirects to Paste’s Web site, and a banner ad appears at the top.

Dylan Stableford

UPDATE: Oh, No: Mygazines 2.0

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 01/09/2009-11:11 AM

For all of you Mygazines completists out there, here’s an update. The site—launched last year as an illegal magazine firesharing site under the cover of darkness, only to settle with publishers and promptly fold—is once again live.

This time, however, Mygazines appears to be abandoning the community model, and repositioning itself as a “legitimate” digital publishing vendor (new tagline: “digital publishing made easy”), offering three levels of turn-key services for publishers.

As Martin Ferro-Thomsen notes on his blog, the site now is now registered to something other than a post office box on the island of Anguilla:

Flyp Technologies Inc.
10 Bellair St. #1604
Toronto, Ontario m5r3t8

Technical Contact:
Schwartz, Yoav

There are so many established players in this space—and ones that haven’t been sued up the wazzo—it’s hard to see how Yoav and Mygazines will compete, much less survive.

But stranger things have happened.