I've written before about the propensity for satire at my old alt-weekly. But one ill-fated attempt at mirth at someone else's expense was a year-in-the-[not]-making spoof of the Washingtonian, a city magazine that, in my 11 years in D.C., has cycled through the same yearly schedule of lowest-common-denominator content over and over (and over) again. My old editor (whose name I won't mention) summed up the problem: "How do you satirize a magazine that satirizes itself every month?"
His words came back to haunt me as I tried to think of something to say about Baby Couture (the magazine that "puts the âcoo' in Couture") funnier than anything that appears in the first issue. At least I assume it's the first issue, there is no volume or issue number to be found. That, in itself, is proof of inexperience. They have not yet suffered the wrath of a thousand librarians, who summon up the hostility accumulated during a life enduring the twin frustrations of customer service and government bureaucracy for just such oversights. No one does poison-pen like a librarian, and little raises their dander like the omission of essential cataloging information. They don't ask for much, they ARE JUST TRYING TO DO THEIR JOB!
So, I'll try to review BabyCouture with a minimum of snarkiness.
The cover hits two of the William Randolph Hearst trifecta, pairing babe Christine Costner with baby Cayden. Cayden? Now there's a name not chosen with those painful grade school years in mind.
Apart for the photogenic models, the image is not particularly suited for cover use. It has too much background detail forcing the designer to drop teasers into little nooks and crannies here and there in defiance of a logical hierarchy. Despite the typographical gerrymandering, much of the text is hard to read, thanks to both the picture and the achromatic pallet. The goofy type choices don't help-who thought kiddie handwriting would work with that ghastly wedding script? The awkward competition between cute and sophisticated remains unresolved on the inside as well.
Sensitivity to typographical conventionsâfrom SIC-able smart-quote-driven errors in headlines such as âFlip ân Flopâ which appears on page 14, right after âWash ân Wearâ on 13âdoes not burden the staff of of BC. They do have the whole product placement thing down thoughâChristina gets a 32 pt pull quote to wax poetic about her favorite brands. âKnuckleheadsâ is the winner for her little darlings, but she also likes âDiesel Kids and Baby Gap.â
The fashion plates are the usual pictures of childrenâthough most are not babies. The oldest models, who are probably seven or eight, follow kiddie pic convention of imitating the jaunty poses of adult models, which sells, I suppose, the fantasy that if you dress your kids like little adults, they will quit acting so goddamn childish. In truth, it can go down like thatâbut only after the sort of parental behavior that can cast a pall over an entire 200,000 sq. foot suburban shopping mall, and possibly spark intervention from child protective servicesâpotentially embarrassing for parents who shops at PradaKids.
I recognize that there are parents willing to invest $300 in ensemble outfits that will look great until the kid grows out of it in 6 months, or throws up on himself, whichever comes first. (Though in the case of my daughter Emily at that age, the smart money was on reflux.) But are there enough of them who arenât already reading the Timesâ SundayStyle section to support a magazine? And arenât most of those Times readers there for yuks, not shopping advice? I guess time will, tell. Lets hope this title lasts until its Carters wear out ...
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Buy Jandos' new book!]
A couple quick notes on Michael Arringtonâthe sleep-deprived founder of Silicon Valley blog TechCrunch and member of the 2008 FOLIO: 40âwhich didnât make it into his 350-word profile.
As far as TechCrunch sale rumors, he says that while they can be expectedâgiven his 2007 hire of Heather Harde, the ex-Fox Interactive executive responsible for $1.3 billion in acquisitions including that little $500 million MySpace dealâa roll-up scenario, leveraging a small network of blogs, is much more likely. âI donât know if weâre a quarterback of something like that or a defensive back.â
Or, you know, owner. Just donât expect ValleyWag to be part of that team.
Read Arrington's full FOLIO: 40 profile here ...
Yet another study supports the strength of magazines as an online traffic driver. BIGresearch's August 07 released "Simultaneous Media Survey" of 15,439 consumers shows magazines as the top offline media driving Web traffic. Here is the chart that tells the tale:
Top 10 Media that Trigger an Online Search (Adults 18+)-------------------------------------------------------51.6% Magazine47.7% Read an Article44.2% TV / Broadcast41.3% Newspaper35.6% Cable TV35.3% Face-to-Face Communication33.8% Coupons30.3% Email Advertising29.3% Direct Mail28.2% Radio
Use it on a call:
This study does NOT say that magazines generate more Web traffic than online media, such as web banners etc. This study compares offline media (with the odd exception of "e-mail advertising"). The argument you have to first make, on a call, is that people still spend most of their lives OFF line. Then present the case for magazines as the top offline Web traffic builder for when those offline people get back online.
The FOLIO: 40âour annual list of industry innovators and influencersâwas officially unveiled today. We call it the oldest, most comprehensive and most distinguished compilation of its kind. Because it is. Obviously, itâs not an all-inclusive affair; rather, itâs roughly the result of two months of meetings, scouring notes, archives, old issues of FOLIO:, Wiki-researching, more meetings, spirited reply-all emails, paring down, another meeting, some brushing up on profile writing, then the actual profile writing, editing, copyediting. And, then, at some point, we get to this.
And, unlike other industry listsâperhaps unfairlyâours is Adam Moss free! (Though Iâd admit that not including someone from New York magazine or its nymag.com juggernaut was one of our biggest oversights this year).
But, as every magazine editor knows, thatâs the beauty of lists. Theyâre a jumping off point for a nuanced and overarching reflection on a particular slice of an industry. Or something.
So, let the commentingâand requisite arguingâbegin!
This year, the editors here at FOLIO: selected ESPN senior vice president of content development and enterprises Keith Clinkscales to our annual FOLIO: 40 listâand for good reason. The brand, and the magazine, have undoubtedly stepped out of the shadow of competitor Sports Illustrated.Clinkscales has steered ESPN's business strategy and is responsible for operations associated with the magazine and the company's publishing-related business initiatives. The magazine has hired top talent, and saw a nearly 20-percent spike in ad revenues last year. In February, the magazine finally launched its own Web site, ESPNthemag.com, separate from ESPN.com.But, already, it seems like SI might have a leg up for 2009. Late last month, SI.com launched the SI Vault, a digital archive of more than 150,000 stories, 2,600 covers and a half-million photos spanning 54 years.In a little more than two weeks since its launch, the Vault has already racked up 17.36 million page views and 1.17 million unique visitors.I'd say that's a home run.
Price wars between celebrity magazines are nothing newâwe all remember the move by American Media Inc.'s Celebrity Living to drop its newsstand cover price to 25 cents a couple of years ago. (Celebrity Living, of course, is dead.) But rarely if ever do you see a magazine call out the competition by name as OK! has done this week, touting that its $2.99 cover price is â$1 cheaper than Us Weekly & People!â (OK!âit's worth notingâis going for the trifecta with this one: Britney, Jamie Lynn and Suri).
The cover, however, has another problem, this time related to its Britney Spearsâ âscoopâ (see how the Spears Family made our just-announced FOLIO: 40 list): the cover shot it is using to illustrate Ms. Spearsâ 15 lb., four-week weight loss is actually from a Glamour photo shoot three years ago.
We already know magazines will do anything to justify a Britney cover. This one, though, seems to be an attempt to appease the Spears family publicist(s) for its next scoop feeding.
The Celebrity Newsstand | Second-Half 2007 Circulation
SOURCE: ABC Fas-Fax
The editor vs. art director battle on FOLIOMag.com started with this Mark Newman
blog post, continued with
a follow-up and has been seeping
into unrelated blog posts ever since.
Here's one of the more diplomatic
comments, posted by a "Mr. McGuinness":
A magazine that has a staff
that sees âeditorial' and âart' as separate, opposing forces is a poor, poor
magazine indeed. To be a great magazine the art director and editor must have
equal power-but only of course, if they are completely on the same page. If
not, the solution is a âCreative Director,' who is equally qualified in the
visual and narrative, who has the best interests of the editorial whole in mind
and who can reign the disjointed impulses of the art director/designer and the
With that said, let's take a little break from all the
tension and focus on an art/edit team that works togetherâor at least one that appears
Since September 2006, Esquire has been defying the
principles of Coverlines 101 with its type-heavy and largely illegible copy
barraging almost every cover. Design director David Curcurito says the concept,
the "Vietnam Memorial" approach, was editor David Granger's, but
Curcurito is the one who has been executing the design and refining the style
month after month-a clear signal that it's working. According to Esquire, the
magazine is consistently seeing stronger newsstand sales since implementing the
new cover design.
I recently had the opportunity to
visit a number of universities and to attend two conventions for
college journalists. This is the conclusion of a four-part series on my
experiences. You can see part one here. You can read part two here. Check out part three here.
For a long time I was hopeful that journalism teachers would learn to embrace the future. I had this idea that the ability of the Web to reach people around the globe would enchant teachers. I believed that interactivity, feedback functions, user-generated content and all the other forms of conversational and democratic storytelling would appeal to people who dedicated their lives to telling stories and spreading information.But I was wrong.New media has brought out the worst in many teachers, turning them defensive, bitter, cowardly and curmudgeonly. The rise of new media, in other words, has had the same effect on many teachers that it has had on many legacy editors.But there is a difference between editors and teachers. And it's silly for us not to acknowledge it: We can fire editors.Many journalism programs are burdened with teachers who are poorly suited to teach a subject that changes as rapidly as does the media world.But we're stuck with them. The rules of tenure and the traditions of academia mean that these folks ain't going anywhere.So it's time for a "work around."
Read the entire post here ...Â
Remember your magazine's first Web site?
For most publications it was a simple copy and paste job. We copied content from the magazine and pasted it right onto the the new Web site. The big question of the day was, "Should we hold off posting the Web content, as it might hurt readership of the identical print content?" Then something unexpected happened that changed everything:
That's right, nothing happened. Because we discovered that no new Web content meant no new Web visitors, and as result, no new ad dollars. The dialog abruptly shifted to how we could develop fresh content for the magazine's Web site and how to monetize it.
That was 10 years ago. So why are so many publishers having the same discussion, right now, about digital magazines?
I've heard it all over the magazine industry, "We tried publishing a digital magazine, but nothing happened." How soon we forget ... no new content equals no incremental new readership and no incremental new revenue.
But what if you put new content into digital magazines? What if they were not just a duplication of your magazine but an extension into niche areas unprofitable to service with print? What if they were utilized as a new content platform, not just a means of digital distribution? What if they were created to function as graphical, upscale newsletters in industries or categories where graphical appeal counts?
The trend has already started. Winding Road is a digital only car magazine that gets over 180,000 unique readers viewing an average of 22 pages every month. Click on the link and take a look. It could be your future.
P.S.: Why no industry association has taken the time to research the basics of how digital magazines work as an advertising platform is a mystery to me. I'd like to help start that discussion with anyone willing.
New titles are emerging daily with the shift to digital, such as "community editor," "multimedia asset manager" and "metrics analyst." Add to that list "online media optimization manager," a new position Hanley Wood developed to salvage underperforming campaigns and save thousands of dollars in potential digital makegoods.Hanley Wood vet Martha Luchsinger, who has held positions including production operations manager and sales and data manager was tapped for the position late last year for her ability to analyze data complex data. She now oversees all aspects of Hanley Wood's online reporting and as it relates to performance and uses that data to identify issues and come up with solutions before a campaign runs off the rails. For Hanley Wood Luchsinger has cut the online revenue loss due to under-delivery by 30 percent, saving thousands of dollars. For us, she warrants a place on the 2008 FOLIO: 40. And for the rest of the industry, she could be the model for the next MVP in your online department.
The Four Seasons team: John Hamilton, contributor; Mark Caskie, editor, World of Four Seasons; Susan Weissman, executive editor; Jaimey Easler, design director; and Duncan Christy, editorial director.
Who says weâre in a recession? Probably not Four Seasons magazine.
The magazine held a cocktail party last night in the Cosmopolitan Room of New Yorkâs Four Seasons to celebrate its relaunch under Pace. One hot topic of conversation among the 100 or so guests was the number of ad pages it managed to secure.
âI couldnât even find the editorâs letter,â someone said to me. Why? Because it was preceded by 46 pages of ads for Gucci, Versace, Prada, Sothebyâs and other brands I could never afford. (By my count, the ad page total is 81 out of 176.)
Apparently, I canât afford the magazine either: âItâs free as long as you can pay for the room,â said a woman introduced as âmarketing guruâ for Four Seasons, âwhich probably makes it the worldâs most expensive magazine.â
On a side note, the editorâs letter offers an interesting reflectionâthat magazines should resemble a great dinner party, with the âliveliest assemblage of guests drawn from all quarters of life,â whose voices âshould be neither chorus nor babel, but an interesting, even fascinating, series of soloists to whom we listen with pleasure.â I wonder if they need to be able to afford the magazine too...
This week, another small, fiercely-independent magazine folded (âAnother Small Music Magazine Bites the Dustâ). The publisher, as they often do, wrote an apologetic, heartfelt, 1,000-word note to subscribers detailing the constant struggle that is being an independent magazine publisher in 2008.
Itâs also one of the best âexitâ memos Iâve read in awhile (sadly, there have been enough of these lately to compare), touching not only on the âharsh and sudden shockâ of having to fold, but also on the blood, sweatâthe love, reallyâthat went into launching a magazine like this (âResonance began in a bedroom, moved to a living room, then, for the second half of the magazine's existence, persisted in the two-room atticâ) in the first place.
Here it is, in full:
To our dear friends and supporters: In January 2008, immediately before going to press with our 55th issue, we were forced to stop printing Resonance. The financial challenge of publishing an independent magazine finally overwhelmed us. Fueled by the tireless support of many people (readers, subscribers, staff, freelancers, advertisers, publicists, as well as long-suffering spouses and significant others), we stubbornly survived on a shoestring budget and volunteer staff for 14 years. Such a business model isn't sustainable forever. Independent publishing has always been a challenge; the recent couple of years, however, have been a much greater struggle due a number of factors, not the least of which include: downturns in the magazine and music industries; rising paper, production and postage costs; the list goes on. We've always been a small-budget business, but we nonetheless made additional spending cuts wherever possible, many of them painful (being unable to pay staff for the previous year, for one). In the past we had survived the lean times by borrowing on credit to cover shortfalls, but these gaps have been steadily increasing to an unmanageable degree. I believed we would manage financially, like usual, by the skin of our teeth. Our debt finally reached its limitâimmediately before going to press with issue 55. This was a harsh and sudden shock. We had worked tirelessly and in good faith these past several months to produce the best issue possible in terms of editorial, design and integrity. So although not in hardcopy, we hope you will read our final issue, Resonance 55. With the help of contributors from around the globe, we pour hundreds, maybe thousands, of work hours into assembling each edition. This issueâeven if only in digital formâshines as one of our best ever and will be permanently available on this site as a free, high-resolution download. Resonance 54, the first issue of 2007's bold redesign, is also posted here. Please download, enjoy, and share the link with others, too.To our subscribers: You believed in our vision and are the most valued supporters of Resonance. Only one subscriber ever requested a refund since we began publishing. For this faithful support, accept my deepest gratitude. What may be harder to accept is my apology. We will take care of you, and are negotiating to ensure that all subscriptions will be fulfilled by another music title. I know this is not at all ideal. I am sorry. Please understand that this is our only option. For the near term at least, Resonance as a media vehicle is on indefinite hiatus, and continuing a print version at a future date is highly unlikely. A more viable route may be to phoenix ourselves online with a site devoted to the same vision (and with a massively diminished carbon footprint). We shall see.+++++++++++++++++++Resonance launched in 1994 and consistently published quarterly editions for 14 years. The initial focus of Resonance was electronic music, but within the first year the mission evolved to focus on emerging artistic innovation itself, first across music genres, then encompassing other media such as books, film and the visual arts. The goal was to promote imagination in music and art, beyond the constraints of a single genre or medium. Creativity rarely stays in a vacuum, it explodes and interacts and influences everything around it. In the mid-'90s, the internet was making this synergy among media all the easier. We wanted a magazine that reflected this same kind of open-minded interconnectivity. Then, eschewing a narrow niche was considered ill-conceived marketingâwe took the risk anyway. Now, such a kaleidoscope approach is common. We like to think we played a role in expanding the old, rigid view of what a magazine could be. Eclectic content became one of the defining traits of the magazine. We wanted Resonance to cover media readers could actually talk about. So we launched a film department, featured visual art, and strongly developed our literature content. In fact, our feature interviews with book and graphic-novel authors count among some of our proudest pieces: e.g. David Sedaris, Miranda July, Eric Schlosser, Douglas Coupland, Chuck Palahniuk, Tony Millionaire, Irving Welsh, to name a very few ... and we put Eightball and Ghostworld creator Dan Clowes on the cover of issue 47. Resonance even received an Independent Press Award nomination for its arts and literature coverage from the Utne Reader. None of us got much monetary gain from Resonance. As publisher, I barely made a living wage. The editors and contributors worked for small stipends or simply volunteered. We never had a real office, eitherâResonance began in a bedroom, moved to a living room, then, for the second half of the magazine's existence, persisted in the two-room attic of a rented house in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood. But financial reward was never the point for anyone involved. It was to be a part of something sincere, a cause to believe in, a labor of love fiercely committed to editorial integrity and excellence. We wanted to create an oasis amid a sea of advertorial-riddled media churning out predictable coverage of the newest flavor of the month (indie or otherwise). So we filled most of every edition with little-known artists creating something more ... inventive. And we were never afraid to go as far as giving them their first U.S. magazine cover, either (Lali Puna, Goldfrapp, MIA, Bobby Conn, Dan Deacon, Octopus Project, to name a few). Whenever we had the opportunity, we tried to create content as unconventional as the artists Resonance championed. Perhaps our most unique achievement was orchestrating a dialogue between Thom Yorke and author Howard Zinn in issue 39âa worldwide-exclusive feature some readers thought was a fabrication. It wasn't. Even with interviews we looked for refreshing ways to engage artists, such as the single-topic Final Cut department, in which we shared candid, often hilarious, chats with diverse personalities such as David Byrne, Diamanda Galas, Afrika Bambaataa, Boy George, Britt Daniel, Vincent Gallo and many more. Our Toolkit page, for another example, showcased interviewees illustrating their answer to the question "What does your favorite song look like?" using only the limited (and masochistic) art supplies our staff provided. Yeah, we liked to play around, a lot. A content mix of erudite and silly kept Resonance from becoming a somber, geeky journal for pundits. It was a nice balance. Besides, who wants to work for peanuts without some good laughs? Our penchant for costumes, props and mischief kept the photography lively, for sure. Long-suffering artists became characters as cartoonish as wing-and-halo'ed angels (Mogwai), Soviet comrades (Mates of State), hotel-room trashers (the Flaming Lips), and silver-skinned visitors from the future (Le Savy Fav). Our most outrageous stunt was in 2000 when Yo la Tengo conspired with us to do a cover photo shoot, not of the band themselves, but with three unknown impersonators instead: a trio of attractive, young Latin models. The cover's headline read: "The sexy makeover of a hot Latin trio." Most readers got the joke, others believed the models were the band. Yo la Tengo's record label Matador responded with a cease-and-desist letter from their attorney that threatened legal action for misrepresenting their artists, citing "gross non-compliance of the fair-use agreement regarding Yo La Tengo imagery." We published the letter in the following issue. Many readers, Resonance staff, and Matador fans were alarmed that such a credible indie label would be so devoid of humor. Well ... they're not. The legal threat was also a joke, kept secret until now. Thanks to the label's then-publicist Ben Goldberg for help orchestrating it all, and for keeping mum for eight years. God, to this day I still chuckle about that.Since 1994, Resonance celebrated the forward regions of music, books, film and the visual arts. We've always aimed to create a friendly mosaicâa mix of what's next, innovative and inspiringâaccessible to everybody in one nicely designed package. That's what we ask readers to remember about Resonance. And if we reemerge online, the same spirit will continue. We've had a lot of fun along the wayâI hope you have, too. To all supporters of Resonance, thank you.With warmest regards, Andrew Monko, publisherResonance Magazine