As a guy who has made his career at the sort at publications that spend at least part of their time putting out articles on the arcane workings of government, I always take more of an interest than some would when wonks get jiggy with it. Politics, the rechristened Campaigns & Elections is on the stands this month. The magazine was, at one time, a data-driven publicationâvisually defined by stats and tables. But in the last few years C&E had moved in a more magazine-y direction. Unfortunately, the designâand especially the art directionâhadnât made the change along with the content, the result was just another anonymous and dreary trade book. Politics may be cutthroat but youâd never know from a magazine that looks like Insurance Today.
But staff changesâwhether editorial or art, can create opportunity, and in this case the arrival of an editor William Bearman led to good thingsâthe introduction of a real front section, a bit more air, and a more sophisticated and contemporary typographical treatment.
In truth, the new iteration isnât all the way thereâthe new design drifts off its grid too frequently, particularly in the back, the new look relies too much on ornamentation and type filters, and Helvetica seems crude and plodding when paired with their signature old style serif. They could also invest a bit more in artâthereâs a bit too many cases of stock used where visual content would be better. But compared to what they had, Iâll take it.
The new briefs:
A new feature, still too much text, but not as much too much:
The old version is below ...
The front had awkward edit/ad interactions, a problem that seems to have been fixed.An old feature:
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Buy Jandos' new book!]
Gerry Leeds, founder of CMP Publications, originally wanted to name his company Creative Media Publications, but when he went to register the name, it was already taken. âI have better things to do than think up a new name,â Gerry would say. âLetâs just call it CMP.â For the countless times over the years someone would ask what CMP stood for, they were simply told âit stands for nothing.âI confess to being somewhat saddened when I heard last week that United Business Mediaâs latest reorganization ("Major Restructuring at CMP Technology") included the note that CMP as a known corporate entity has now ceased to exist.I was one of the first 100 employees of CMP. I was always proud to point out the leaf with my name on it as it appeared in the framed âtreeâ behind the reception desk acknowledging CMPâs early employees. When I mentioned the passing of the CMP name to another âFirst Hundredâ friend, he responded with the more practical, âSeems they're positioning to package things up and sell them off, if they get the right price.â I suppose. Frankly, I couldnât even read the details of this latest incarnation of the company that, for better or worse, sucked me into this business.Nostalgia has a minor role in todayâs fast-moving publishing world. In fact, if you are still called a âpublishingâ company at all, thereâs some sentimentality right there. Unless you are a âmediaâ company in b-to-b, youâre already a bit behind the curve.My CMP experience occurred in the midst of radical technological change. Even though Time magazine named âThe Computerâ as its Man of the Year in 1983, it wasnât until years later that âInternetâ became official, replacing the Information Superhighway as a kind of promised road to somewhere.My first day at CMP, I worked until 11:00 p.m., then went out for dinner and drinks with my colleagues. Within weeks, I was working through the night, cutting out typewritten paragraphs, rearranging them on the floor, then pasting them together intoâfrom my perspectiveâthe next great American novel. The topic was probably Hewlett-Packardâs newest printer or something.What a team we had in those daysâso many of our âroleâ players turned out to be publishing stars. Today, AfterCMP is the social networking community through which many old faces from those early days reappear. Itâs good to see them. Sometimes itâs shocking to see themâthe pounds, the gray. Sometimes itâs heartwarming; sometimes itâs scaryâto open dialogue with the faces, with the memories, is not easy.On the site, each person is asked their fondest memory from CMP. Mine likely would have to do with pacing the outside grounds aimlessly one 5 or 6:00 a.m., trying to recover from an all-nighter closing one of the first issues of Computer Systems News, my day-old clothes and unshaven face a sort of Red Badge of Courage awaiting the others as they arrived with their papers and morning coffee.At my age, I wonât apologize for throwing a sprinkle of sentimentality into a simple business story. I did a lot of growing up in and around CMP. It was a time of discovery, a time of opportunity. Many lessons learned. Thanks to the company whose letters stand for nothingâbut whose name represents so much for so many of us.
Hillary Clinton, behind in delegates and the polls for the Democratic Presidential nomination, is taking the offensive. Shown here taking to task a Barack Obama campaign brochure she claims spreads misinformation about her health care program. How will voters react?
Voters will react as they always do; ignoring criticism about people they like and embracing it against people they don't.
It is easy to forget that few American Presidents were more widely criticized than Ronald Reagan, but it all just slid off the likable "Teflon President" without a scratch. The minimally-funded Swift Boat attacks of the 2004 Presidential election stuck to John Kerry like glue who many demonized having criticized American Vietnam policy, and seemingly to many, the troops as well.
Hilary's case will stick not on merit, but on how likable voters perceive her Vs. Obama to be. Judging by how well her campaign's "plagiarism" criticism stuck last week I would guess not well.
On your next sales call, you may think that being likable is not so important. After all, we now sell in the measurable world of digital media. Aren't results more important than everything?
Think again. On the surface your clients are rational business people, but when criticism flys people are more likely to evaluate on the emotional side. They will ask, "Do I like them? Do I trust them?" The next time something goes wrong (and something always does), how much sticks to you will depend on how well-liked you and your organization are.
There's been a lot of buzz (relatively speaking) about Meredith president Jack Griffin's comments about editors ("We don't hire editors anymoreâwe hire content strategists") since his keynote last week at the FOLIO: Publishing Summit in Miami.But, as one astute commenter points out, there's not a single "content strategist" position listed on Meredith's careers pageâbut plenty of editors.Was Griffin blowing smoke for the sake of an industry keynote?
Check out the keynote report here, and our video Q+A with Grffin here.
FOLIO: reported today United Business Media's decision to split CMP Technology into four âintegrated media companiesâ in order to âbetter align CMPâs products with its customers.â In addition, UBM named four CEOs for the respective companies, and dropped the name CMP altogether.
Some FOLIO: commenters have called the restructuring a ânon-announcement,â claiming that nothing has really changed.
What do you think?
Here's the press release in its entirety:
United Business Media Transforms CMP into Four Independent Media and Information Services Businesses
News Release Issued: February 29, 2008 3:00 AM EST
United Business Media Transforms CMP into Four Independent Media andInformation Services Businesses
New market-focused agile businesses to leverage UBM global resources and infrastructure
LONDON, Feb. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- United Business Media plc (UBM) today announced that it will restructure CMP Technology (CMP) into four new, market-focused businesses. As agile, independent organizations, each new business will be well positioned to meet the changing needs of the professional communities and technology markets it serves. The creation of these market-focused businesses is the next step in CMP's strategic transformation into a next generation media company.
In the last three years, CMP has significantly rebalanced its businesses, investing in the development of new products and services (including bMighty, Designlines, eXalt, InternetEvolution, MTC, myGDC, Teardown TV and TechWeb Performance Marketing) and its expansion in international markets. UBM has supported CMP's evolution with the investment of over $225 million in eighteen acquisitions, particularly events and business information products.
UBM's 2007 results, released today, demonstrate the development of CMP's businesses from largely print publishers (75% of revenues in 2004) into integrated media businesses that offer their customers a full suite of marketing solutions, including events, online and print products, as well as data-based workflow tools and services. In 2007, CMP generated 34.2% of its revenues from events, 20.2% from online products, 7.3% from workflow tools and business information services, and 38.3% from print products. The proportion of revenues contributed by events and services will rise in 2008 as result of the recent acquisition of Semiconductor Insights, Think Service Inc. and Vision Events. In 2007, CMP profits rose 30% to $50.1 million, with margins reaching 15.6%, the company's highest margins for five years.
The four new businesses and their respective Chief Executive Officers are noted below; each CEO will report to UBM Chief Executive, David Levin:
TechWeb, formerly CMP's Business Technology Group, will be led by Chief Executive Officer, Tony Uphoff. TechWeb, the global leader in business technology media, is an innovative new business focused on serving the needs of technology decision-makers and marketers worldwide. TechWeb produces the most respected and consumed media brands in the business technology market.
Today, more than 10 million business technology professionals actively engage with and rely on its global face-to-face events: Interop, Web 2.0, Black Hat and VoiceCon; online resources: The TechWeb Network, Light Reading, Intelligent Enterprise, InformationWeek.com, bMighty.com and The Financial Technology Network; and the market leading, award-winning InformationWeek, TechNet and MSDN Magazines. TechWeb also provides end-to-end services ranging from next-generation performance marketing, custom media, research and analyst services. 2007 proforma revenues for TechWeb were $148 million. For more information, visit http://www.techweb.com/aboutus.
Everything Channel, formerly CMP Channel, will be led by Chief Executive Officer, Robert Faletra. Everything Channel is the global leader in Channel execution and the one stop shop for the indirect sales channel that drives 75 percent of technology sales throughout the world. High-tech suppliers and Solution Providers turn to Everything Channel to manage and accelerate their business, using its comprehensive portfolio of channel solutions which include the ChannelWeb online network, magazines (CRN and VARBusiness), events (XChange and Vision), workflow tools (MTC and eXalt), tele-recruiting, sales support, marketing services, research and education (IPED). 2007 proforma revenues for Everything Channel were $73 million. For more information, visit http://www.everythingchannel.com/ and http://www.channelweb.com/.
TechInsights, formerly CMP's Electronics Group, will be led by Chief Executive Officer, Paul Miller. TechInsights is the daily source of essential business and technical information for the electronics industry's decision makers -- the Creators of Technology -- who define, develop, and bring to market the electronic products that improve our lives. TechInsights uses that unique and privileged access to connect its customers to these decision makers at the right time and at the best ROI. With global market leading brands such as EE Times, Semiconductor Insights, TechOnline, Embedded Systems Conferences and Portelligent, TechInsights is the leading dedicated information and services business serving the global electronics market. 2007 proforma revenues for TechInsights were $83 million. For more information, visit http://www.techinsights.com/.
Think Services, formerly CMP's Game, Dr. Dobb's and International Customer Management Group, will be led by Chief Executive Officer, Philip Chapnick. Think Services connects specialized communities via interactive media, educational events, consulting, training and certification. The business' flagship products include the Game Developers Conference, the Webby Award- winning Gamasutra.com, the International Customer Management Institute, the Help Desk Institute and Dr. Dobb's Journal. 2007 proforma revenues for Think Services were $61 million. For more information, visit http://www.think-services.com/.
Each business will have the freedom to develop business models, audience development initiatives and international programs that best fit its specific marketplace while also taking advantage of UBM's global footprint to support its international expansion.
The new businesses will share support functions and infrastructure, including finance, IT services, legal and global account and sales management. The central functions will become part of UBM's US infrastructure with Scott Mozarsky, currently CMP's Chief Financial Officer, taking the role of Chief Operating Officer. Scott will also serve on the Board of each business.
David Levin said:
"This is the next step in the strategic evolution of how we serve our technology market customers -- and we're doing it from a position of strength.
"As our strong and improving results for 2007 show, each of the operations within CMP has been successfully serving its specific markets, but going forward, as independent and focused businesses, they will be able to get even closer to their audiences and customers, developing products and services for these communities faster and with focus.
"At the same time, each business can take advantage of being part of UBM, a $2.5 billion corporation with a global infrastructure to support international expansion of their leading brands and content and a demonstrated track record of acquisitions and investment in new products."
About United Business Media Plc
United Business Media Plc is a leading global business media company. We inform markets and bring the world's buyers and sellers together at events, online, in print, and with the information they need to do business successfully. We focus on serving professional commercial communities, from doctors to game developers, from journalists to jewellery traders, from farmers to pharmacists around the world. Our 5,000 staff in more than 30 countries are organised into specialist teams that serve these communities, helping them to do business and their markets to work effectively and efficiently.
For more information, go to http://www.unitedbusinessmedia.com/.
Those of us who have kicked around publications for a while know that the letters page ainât what it used to be.
And, Iâm not just talking about what appears in the magazineâthough most glossies are printing fewer inches of reader reaction than in years past. Readers (and more importantly readers who write) no longer have the same notion of what a letters page is in the first place.
In the old days, a mail page was one of a very few accessible forums. If you were the gatekeeper of one, you could count on all kinds of unpublishable entertainmentâlong paranoid screeds hand printed in tiny, careful letters on three (or 12) over-stuffed pages; amateur press packages from home entrepreneurs with uh, âwhimsicalâ schemes; requests for pen pals from prisoners with hard luck storiesâand other miscellany from folks desperate to gain access to an audienceâany audience.
It really didnât matter if you were at a college literary magazine or Newsweekâyou could count on a steady stream of at once horrifying and amusing correspondence. And, as much as the crazier letters were passed around the newsroom and snickered at, it was also hard to be completely untouched by them. They spoke of lives much harder and more isolated than the ones we were living.
Of course, in addition to the crank stuff, the average magazine also received a lot more thoughtful submissions than they currently do. Why the drop off? One editor I talked to blames blogs. Everyone with something to say already has a blog or can find one on which they can comment. Audiences and communities are now found on Facebook, not the letters page. But, whatever the cause, the effect has snowballed. At my old newspaper, the letters page (not to mention the free ads in the back) used to generate conversations among readers that would go on for weeks. Mail no longer runs in every issue.
That sense of reader community that you found in print is all but gone at most publications.
So, one of the most interesting features of the recent Esquire redesign is the increased love and attention given to the letters page. And, they are honoring (if thatâs the right word) both kinds of letter writersâengaged readers and whack jobsâwith lots of inches for letters and a short feature that quotes âhighlights from a letter we wonât be publishing this monthââa few words that hint at those not-ready-for primetime letters we all used to get, and apparently Esquire still does. âThe Sound and the Furyâ (possibly the best name for a letters page everâthough the new design downplays it) becomes visual through informational graphics reflecting quantity of mail on various topics (and reader reactions to various pieces) and mini featurelets that expand upon the previous monthâs content. Instead of rehashing art from the previous month (though thereâs a little of that) the visuals emerge from content. Itâs all at least as engaging as the magazineâs newsbrief section a few pages later.
Itâs all so well done, in fact, that it raised some question in my mind as to whether I was reading real reader-provided material or not. If not, Esquire certainly wouldnât be the first magazine to âenhanceâ its letters page, but Iâd like to believe that itâs possible to take the best of a magazineâs mailbag (and web forums) and turn it into something that would work this well in print.
This monthâs featured Face Up cover, Architectural Recordâs December issue, is unlike most that the title puts out. It displays a futuristic designâone of the winners of its annual Vanguard awardsârather than a finished project. One Face Up panelist said it looked like a Matrix parody. Another said it feels like a âbrave new world.â Overall, panelists described the cover as âbeautiful,â âsophisticated,â and âeffective.â The main criticism was that the cover lines were too hard to read, but that may have been somewhat intentional. Editor-in-chief Robert Ivy says the cover is âbold and causes you to look and question.â What do you think? Take this monthâs Face Up poll for a chance to win an iPod shuffle.
The FOLIO: 40, our prestigious annual list of magazine industry innovators, power players and under-the-radar influencers, is fast approaching. This year, weâre opening up the nomination process to all of our readers, both print and online. (Weâll ultimately award a slot via online vote, but more on that later.)
Weâre looking for nominees in the following categories:
C-Level VisionariesDirector-Level DoersIndustry-InfluencersUnder the RadarOnes to Watch
If you would like to nominate a colleague, competitor, orâas sometimes is the caseâyourself, please fill out the form below.
Remember, nominations are one thing, but to ultimately be included among our list of 40, nominees must be able to demonstrate how theyâve succeeded in their marketâor influenced the industryâwith quantifiable metrics to back up your case. (Alas, low golf handicaps do not count).
Check out last yearâs list here, and get nominating!
I have been either lucky or blessed when it comes to art directors because none of mine have been what you would call a âdiva.â
Freak, yes. Diva, no.Let me first say that editors and their magazines would be nothingânothing!âwithout their art directors. Every time my art director Catherine delivers me a new layout for Southern Breeze, it feels like unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning. And the same is true for my past art directors: Ellie, Tony, Jonathan, Myra, John, Bob, Carrie et al. All of them artistic geniuses, all of them lifesavers, and all of them know one truth to be self-evident: the editor is always right. Some describe the editor-A.D. relationship like a partnership. I agree, but the editor is the SENIOR partner. Others describe it as a marriage. That, too, is accurate âŠ and the art director is always the wife! (Yeah, I went there.)If you didnât know better youâd think that I had nothing but disdain for art directors. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the editor has final say. Period. The editor knows the audience or the industry the magazine caters to. And while the A.D. may want to create a counterbalanced, flowing, multi-spread amalgamation for the article on crescent wrenches, it just ainât gonna work. Stephen Sondheim once wrote that âwork we do for others; art we do for ourselves.â Make it pretty, art directors, but make it realistic. Granted, there are difficult editors who might ask for 12 designs of the same sidebar or make a font cursive. Editors can be unreasonable, demanding, and itâs not unusual to find an editor who simply has terrible taste. One editor-type I know loved graphics on the covers of his b-to-b, but not good graphics. Weâre talking flow charts! Yuk! And the poor art director had to comply even though he knew it looked lousy. (And it did; I saw it!)But like any good relationship, the one editors have with art directors should make life easier, not a daily battle of wills. If your art director is causing your hair to fall out or keeping you up at night, you can easily remedy the situation by showing him the door. Nobody is that artistically gifted.On the other hand, you show me an art director with too much power and Iâll show you a weak, ineffectual editor who has no business being at the top of the masthead. Powerful art directors are intrinsically responsible for redesign after elaborate redesign that typically signals the last throes of a magazineâs existence. However, like any marriage, the art director/editor union needs constant work. I find that one of equal respectâof talent as well as boundariesâhas worked best for me. But then again, never underestimate the power of busting chops.Tony, the art director Iâve worked with the longest, would always consider my ideas on, say, cover line font colors to complement a cover image. But I would always defer to him when it came time to pick appropriate art, mapping out the magazine, and pretty much everything else. We also had a mutually antagonizing working relationshipâwhile I insisted on imitating him with a Marlon Brando impression, he would find the most flowery verbiage in one of my pieces, print it out in 40-point type, and hang it up in the art department as if it were a warning for me to not get too carried away. It was a nice serving of humble pie, which is something all editors need now and then.My next post will feature feedback from some art director types. This oughta be interesting ...
Nearly two months without a day-to-day CEO, CMP may be ready to announce a successor to Steve Weitzner, who was moved from CEO to chairman earlier this year and left the company for rival publisher Ziff Davis Enterprise shortly after. I have heard from multiple sources that the announcement could come before the end of the week.
Although no oneâs talking, a logical choice candidate would be Tony Uphoff, CMPâs Business Technology Group president. Uphoff is a 20-plus-year industry veteran and is no rookie to the CMP brand. In the 1990s he served as BTG president and group publisher, and was publisher of InformationWeek. Last year, he rejoined CMP from Nielsen Business Media, where he was publisher of The Hollywood Reporter and president of the Film & Performing Arts Group.
Whether or not Uphoff gets the nodâor is the only hireâremains to be seen.
Oh, and donât be surprised if a restructuring happens shortly after the announcement.
I wrote a while back that most magazines were not particularly concerned with that ambassador to the reader, the table of contents page. Still trueâbut Esquire is an exception to the rule. TOChinations at the magazine predate Januaryâs redesignâthe book has a history of putting collaged, structuralist, and sometimes even more whimsical arrangements on its contents page. One (from late last Fall) put content in the form of an array of cubesâit looked more like a recent NYT infographic than anything else. Stunning and inefficient, that version took four pages rather than the usual two.
None of the magazineâs recent contents pages are your parents TOC, into which text is unceremoniously poured and routinely formatted. As a whole the pages vary in interest (to my mind the âissue mapâ version [above, bottom] is a hum-drum take on old gimmick of previewing spreadsâfirst done (I think) by Talk) but as a group they delightfully show the potential of the page.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Buy Jandos new book!]
Maxim isn't exactly a bastion for journalistic integrity. Nor a bastion for music criticism. But according to the Black Crowes (you know, âTwice as Hard,â âJealous Again,â Kate Hudsonâs ex, beards) the magazine burned whatever credibility it had left by reviewing the bandâs upcoming album without actually listening to it.
According to a post on the Black Crowes official site, the Maxim writer, who âhas not heard the album since advance CDs were not made availableâwrote what appears to be a disparaging assessment anyway, citing âit hasnât left Chris Robinson and the gang much room for growth.ââ
Peter Angelus, the bandâs manager, said when confronted Maxim called the review an âeducated guessâ: ââOf course, we always prefer hearing music, but sometimes there are big albums that we donât want to ignore that arenât available to hear, which is what happened with the Crowes. Itâs either an educated guess preview or no coverage at all, so in this case we chose the former.ââ
Angelos added: âWhatâs nextâMaxim's concert reviews of shows they never attended, book reviews of books never read and film reviews of films never seen?â
Iâm awaiting word from Maximâs side of the story. But the incident does beg the question: Do you actually have to listen to an album (or read a book or watch a film) to review it?
UPDATE: An apology from Maxim editorial director Jim Kaminsky: "It is Maxim's editorial policy to assign star ratings only to those albums that have been heard in their entirety. Unfortunately, that policy was not followed in the March 2008 issue of our magazine and we apologize to our readers."