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Joanna Pettas

Designing a 'Brave New World'

Joanna Pettas Design and Production - 02/29/2008-00:47 AM

This month’s featured Face Up cover, Architectural Record’s December issue, is unlike most that the title puts out. It displays a futuristic design—one of the winners of its annual Vanguard awards—rather than a finished project. One Face Up panelist said it looked like a Matrix parody. Another said it feels like a “brave new world.” Overall, panelists described the cover as “beautiful,” “sophisticated,” and “effective.” 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 “bold and causes you to look and question.”

What do you think? Take this month’s Face Up poll for a chance to win an iPod shuffle.

Dylan Stableford

The FOLIO: 40: A Call for Nominees

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 02/28/2008-16:33 PM

The FOLIO: 40, our prestigious annual list of magazine industry innovators, power players and under-the-radar influencers, is fast approaching. This year, we’re opening up the nomination process to all of our readers, both print and online. (We’ll ultimately award a slot via online vote, but more on that later.)

We’re looking for nominees in the following categories:

C-Level Visionaries
Director-Level Doers
Under the Radar
Ones to Watch

If you would like to nominate a colleague, competitor, or—as sometimes is the case—yourself, 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 they’ve succeeded in their market—or influenced the industry—with quantifiable metrics to back up your case. (Alas, low golf handicaps do not count).

Check out last year’s list here, and get nominating!

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Mark Newman

Editors vs. Art Directors

Mark Newman Design and Production - 02/27/2008-14:51 PM

I have been either lucky or blessed when it comes to art directors because none of mine have been what you would call a “diva.”

Freak, yes. Diva, no.

Let me first say that editors and their magazines would be nothing—nothing!—without 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 … and the art director is always the wife! (Yeah, I went there.)

If you didn’t know better you’d 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 ain’t gonna work. Stephen Sondheim once wrote that “work we do for others; art we do for ourselves.” 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 it’s 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. We’re 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 I’ll 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 magazine’s existence.

However, like any marriage, the art director/editor union needs constant work. I find that one of equal respect—of talent as well as boundaries—has worked best for me. But then again, never underestimate the power of busting chops.

Tony, the art director I’ve 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 relationship—while 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 ...

Jason Fell

CMP Said to Name CEO This Week

Jason Fell B2B - 02/26/2008-12:32 PM

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 one’s talking, a logical choice candidate would be Tony Uphoff, CMP’s 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 nod—or is the only hire—remains to be seen.

Oh, and don’t be surprised if a restructuring happens shortly after the announcement.


Jandos Rothstein

Esquire Cares, Part I

Jandos Rothstein Design and Production - 02/26/2008-12:18 PM

I wrote a while back that most magazines were not particularly concerned with that ambassador to the reader, the table of contents page. Still true—but Esquire is an exception to the rule. TOChinations at the magazine predate January’s redesign—the 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 cubes—it 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 magazine’s 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 “issue map” version [above, bottom] is a hum-drum take on old gimmick of previewing spreads—first done (I think) by Talk) but as a group they delightfully show the potential of the page.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Buy Jandos new book!]

Dylan Stableford

Do You Actually Have to Listen to an Album to Review It?

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 02/25/2008-17:34 PM

Maxim isn't exactly a bastion for journalistic integrity. Nor a bastion for music criticism. But according to the Black Crowes (you know, “Twice as Hard,” “Jealous Again,” Kate Hudson’s ex, beards) the magazine burned whatever credibility it had left by reviewing the band’s upcoming album without actually listening to it.

According to a post on the Black Crowes official site, the Maxim writer, who “has not heard the album since advance CDs were not made available—wrote what appears to be a disparaging assessment anyway, citing ‘it hasn’t left Chris Robinson and the gang much room for growth.’”

Peter Angelus, the band’s manager, said when confronted Maxim called the review an “educated guess”: “‘Of course, we always prefer hearing music, but sometimes there are big albums that we don’t want to ignore that aren’t available to hear, which is what happened with the Crowes. It’s either an educated guess preview or no coverage at all, so in this case we chose the former.’”

Angelos added: “What’s next—Maxim's concert reviews of shows they never attended, book reviews of books never read and film reviews of films never seen?”

I’m awaiting word from Maxim’s 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."

Jason Fell

Ex-Time Out Editor's Web Venture Unveiled

Jason Fell emedia and Technology - 02/25/2008-12:54 PM

Former Time Out New York editor Brian Farnham has been tight-lipped about the Internet start-up company he left the magazine late last month to help launch. Today, though, I received this e-mail from Farnham via LinkedIn. His company is an online news information site called Polar News. And apparently, they’re hiring.

The new position—a production manager—is an interesting one. It seems to combine editorial, marketing and circulation responsibilities.

Interested? See the e-mail below.

On Behalf Of Brian Farnham
Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 12:18 PM
To: Jason Fell
Subject: We're hiring!

If you have a moment, I'd appreciate your help. Please take a look and forward this job on to anyone you think would be interested in the position, or anyone else who could help me find a great candidate.

Thanks for your help!

Company: Polar News
Job Title: Product Manager
Description: If you...
-- Get Web 2.0
-- Want to work in a flexible entrepreneurial environment
-- Understand the term “hyperlocal” and its potential
-- Love building businesses from the ground up

…then this may be a job for you:

A well-funded startup backed by Internet Pioneers You’ve Heard Of is looking for a Product Manager.

This person will OWN a specific vertical in a new online news and information site—conception, development, execution, reporting, and measurement.

The PM will report to the Vice President and work closely with all other departments—content, engineering, marketing, etc.

Major Responsibilities:

-- Build and manage a product roadmap
-- Innovate, develop and execute strategies
-- Define user requirements for new features, incorporating cross-functional input, research, usability studies and competitive analyses.
-- Define and implement feedback and reporting requirements for all products to ensure that they can be optimized based on quantitative and qualitative data.
-- Work closely with the engineering team on technical implementations
-- Work cross functionally and take a hands-on role when needed (Editorial, Design, Marketing and Engineering.)
-- Identify business development opportunities and initiate meetings and potential deals
-- Drive projects from birth to adulthood

Experience / Skills / Profile:

* BA/BS required, ideally in a business, marketing, or computer science/engineering related field.
* At least one year of product management experience with strong social networking and Web 2.0 knowledge.
* Proficiency in HTML and Photoshop are a plus.
* Strong technical background (e.g., web standards, design and usability, and common web and application architectures).
* Excellent organizational skills including ability to build effective working relationships.
* Proven track record of setting aggressive goals and meeting them, with a style characterized by personal motivation, organizational skills and communications effectiveness.
* Knowledgeable across multiple functional areas – Product Management, Engineering, UI, Sales.
* Juggle multiple tasks and projects simultaneously in a deadline-oriented environment.
* Strong aptitude for determining the optimal way to position products in the market.
* Experience managing budgets and demonstrating ROI..
* Experience in online news, media, services preferred.

Competitive compensation package including base salary, full benefits, performance and start-up based incentives.

Henry Donahue

Getting Out of the Magazine Site Ghetto

Henry Donahue emedia and Technology - 02/25/2008-10:51 AM

Quote from a media reporter at lunch last week: "Every magazine tells me great things about their Web strategy, then I go back to check their Nielsen traffic and they're too small to be measured."

If you believe the trade magazine box scores, online traffic was a rare Q4 bright spot for magazines last week in a month of mostly bad industry news (newsstand and advertising are down, paper prices keep going up.)

The fact remains however that unless you have swimsuit models or Lindsay Lohan, your magazine site is still sitting below 100 million (and probably 10 million) monthly page views level.

Magazine sites have grown in the past few years by executing against the basics-unique online content updated multiple times per day, blogs, photo galleries, video, podcasts, user-generated content, etc. At this point, though, those features are just the price of admission. The challenge for publishers now is to take a step up out of the magazine site ghetto into competition with the real Internet players.

A typically brief and unscientific survey shows reveals two emerging trends and one time-tested winner among strategies for putting the M back into CPM:

Social Networking. Fast Company is making a notable attempt to supercharge its user profiles into a full-blown social networking site. Though not a consumer site, Variety is also trying its hand at being Facebook-ish.

Blogification. Several sites are jettisoning old-fashioned magazine navigation in favor of a stripped-down blog approach, a la Boing Boing or Gawker. The best example of this is the new I'll be damned if I'm going to link to those guys-so I give you ReadyMade magazine.

Recipes. Not as sexy as social networking or blogs, but a proven strategy built on the original user generated content play. Reader's Digest's gets 30 times the page views of is also above 100 million page views. Epicurious and are also in the topmost tier of magazine sites.

So there you have it. Social networks and blogs are sexy, but apparently not as sexy as a good ratatouille. Now if only I could think of some science-related menus for Discover.

Dylan Stableford

Overheard at FPS | Day Two

Dylan Stableford FPS 2008 - 02/22/2008-11:34 AM

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following quotes are from various sessions during Day Two of the 2008 FOLIO: Publishing Summit. We’ll add to this list throughout the day.]

"We have a society columnist who looks at the computer and says, 'Over my dead body.' And that may indeed be the situation."
—A city and regional publisher on the struggle to change the editorial culture at his magazine.

“They not only save you money, they bring young, fresh ideas into an organization. They’re not cynical. They don't know it can't be done.”
Michael T. Carr, president, Greenspun Media, on hiring interns.

“I have 85 people in open revolt at any given time.”
—Carr on getting his 1,200 employees to buy into a new business idea.

“We spend $4,000-$5,000 per issue. But we have to do it to create an environment for these high end advertisers.”
Lynne Groth, publisher, Gulfshore Life, on producing fashion pages for her magazine.

"We threw a $200,000 over-the-top party, and it cost us $10,000."
Dana Spain-Smith, COO, DLG Media Holdings, on selling event sponsorships.

"You need to put fire in the belly of your writers."
Don Tenant, vice president and editorial director, Infoworld and Coputerworld, on getting reporters to write daily breaking news.

"We look for the money shot. It may be only five seconds, but its something that just can't be told in a textual form."
Evan Hansen, editor-in-chief, Wired News

"Tremendous spikes [in Web traffic] can come through and then be gone. What does that mean?"
Hank Boye, publisher, Harvard Business Review.

"People are reading in completely different ways. I have a lot of designers who get it, a lot of sales people who really want to get it, and then I have a whole bunch of editors who are in total denial."
Craig Waller, chief marketing director, Pace Communications.

Dylan Stableford

Reed CEO Tad Smith: Sale 'Neither Surprises Nor Worries Me'

Dylan Stableford B2B - 02/22/2008-10:03 AM

The following memos were sent by Reed Business' U.S. CEO Tad Smith and global chief Gerard van de Aast, regarding yesterday's sale announcement:

From: Smith, Tad (RBI-US)
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 11:11 PM
To: RBI-US All Employees; RBI-US RCD - Canadian Employees

As many of you now know, our parent company Reed Elsevier announced this morning that it was putting Reed Business’ worldwide publishing business up for sale. Reed Elsevier no longer views advertising-dependent businesses as aligned with its growth strategy.

The announcement this morning neither surprises nor worries me. We have a vibrant and exciting business that is successfully making the transition from print to online across dozens of market sectors in countries all around the world. There will be a healthy appetite for our business and your many contributions as staff members.

The sale process will commence immediately, but it is unclear how long it will take to complete. For my part, I am committed to leading our business as your CEO during the sale process and thereafter. In the meantime, business will continue as usual and everyone’s jobs, benefits and pay will be unaffected.

Reed Elsevier also announced a restructuring program this morning. RBI-US has a 7-year history of diligent cost and headcount management actions, including some taken earlier this year. At this time, RBI-US has no plans for a large scale layoff or other special headcount reduction program beyond the extreme care we continue to exercise on headcount additions.

Tad Smith, CEO, RBI-US

Please read the attached communication from Reed Business CEO Gerard van de Aast for more information.

February 2008
Dear Reed Business colleagues,

Let me first address the question why Reed Elsevier has decided to divest Reed Business Information (RBI). RBI is a well managed, high quality business. However its strategic fit with Reed Elsevier is less clear since Reed Elsevier has decided to move away from advertising driven revenue models and focus on subscription based models. It is important to note that this says nothing about the quality and attractiveness of our business and the markets we serve. On the contrary we are a strong, well run business and our markets offer many opportunities, particularly in the online space. RBI is well positioned and I would like to share with you my view on our business and my confidence that we will continue to do well under new ownership. Let’s start by summarizing our key assets and attributes.

Attractive markets
The B2B markets that we operate in show solid, sustainable, long term growth of around 5-6% per year. Our advertising customers need to promote their brands, generate leads, create awareness and support their products and services and our readers keep themselves up to date through our print and online content. Although marketing spend and reader behaviour is shifting, in particular to online, the value proposition that we offer is as strong as ever.

Leading brands
We own many of the leading brands in our markets. The list is long and impressive with franchises like Variety, Interior Design, EDN, New Scientist, Estate Gazette, Totaljobs, Elsevier, Boerderij, Stratégies, Australian Doctor and so on. All our brands have a rich heritage going back in many cases over decades, but even more importantly have an exciting future as well through our online developments which are starting to have a real impact in our markets and enrich our long established brands.

Financial stability
Our business has size, scale and financial stability. RBI’s revenue in 2007 was $1,709m with adjusted operating profits of $253m, cash conversion was 109% providing a stable and attractive cash flow. Size and scale also matter allowing us to effectively manage our business and fund new developments derived from continued scale benefits and savings. RBI employs 8,164 people.

Clear strategy
Our strategy has been very clear and effective. It is built around protecting our core print business, driving online growth and making sure we have the best people in the business. We have complemented this with targeted acquisitions. Our strategy is very effective given our results in 2007 and prior years. We now have over $500m of online revenue which grew by 30% versus prior year. We will continue with this successful strategy going forward.

The best people
Most important of all we have great people that are very much connected with the markets we serve. Be it in editorial, sales or support functions we have great strengths and competence. We also have made great progress in understanding and executing online business models. Combined, this will continue to be the bedrock of our success.

Looking ahead
In the coming period, senior management together with Reed Elsevier will focus on finding the right new ownership for the business. We all can contribute to this by staying focussed on our business and deliver the results as before. Nothing changes in the short term and we should not be sidetracked by the divestment process.

Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions has pursued a very successful strategy in the last few years. This strategy, which focuses on organic growth enhanced by targeted acquisitions and development of our business in high growth economies (BRIC), has proven to deliver strong growth. In 2007 results again were good with revenue growth of 12%. Going forward we will continue with this strategy and add programs for online development which will become increasingly important. Reed Elsevier will continue to invest in the business and support the strategy. There is a Q&A specifically related to our exhibition business available to answer questions that might arise.

I would like to thank you for a good 2007. All businesses in Reed Business met or exceeded their targets and delivered good growth. In particular Reed Exhibitions performed strongly and in publishing we did see continued strong growth in online.

Although the publishing and exhibition businesses will go their separate ways, both are well positioned. I do understand that all this might raise questions including what it means for you personally. A list of frequently asked questions is available on your local intranet site and aREna today. I also encourage you to discuss concerns with your management. Communication will be straightforward and timely. When we have new information we will share it with you. Let me close by expressing my confidence in our future and give you my commitment that I will lead us through this process.

Kind regards,
Gerard van de Aast
CEO Reed Business

Dylan Stableford

Overheard at FPS

Dylan Stableford FPS 2008 - 02/21/2008-17:25 PM

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following quotes are from various sessions during Day One of the 2008 FOLIO: Publishing Summit. We’ll add to this list throughout the day.]

“No one’s reading the magazine on the Web.”
Dana Spain-Smith, COO, DLG Media Holdings, on the tired practice of replicating articles online.

“I’m trying to eradicate the word ‘hope.’”
Michael T. Carr, president, Niche Media, on motivating his sales team to succeed.

“The company was founded on the social construct of Dad at work, Mom at home, Chevy in the driveway—clearly, we needed to change.”
Jack Griffin, president, Meredith

"I'd tell people it was for hot young women and the men who can afford them. That was the mission statement."
Carr on the launch of Vegas magazine.

"Every single company we've bought [had] underperformed badly."
Frank Anton, CEO, Hanley Wood, on the state of the companies acquired by Hanley Wood before being acquired.

"To grow a business, you have to take risks, and you have to fail."
Anton on his business philosophy.

"Since 2000, the business-to-business media has not grown at all. Not at all."
Anton, setting up an inspiring luncheon keynote.

"This sounds like heresy, but I don't think there's going to be many magazines left. It's not going to happen in my business career time, but I think it will happen."
Gloria Adams, senior VP audience, development, Pennwell, on her opinion of print-magazine life expectancy.

"It's not about your Web site, it's about things going on around your Web site—people linking to it, talking about you badly ..."
Chrisitine Oldenbrook, director of marketing and emedia, Bobit Business Media

"I think at some point there will be people who don't make the cut. It's hard to make those cultural changes."
Oldenbrook on salespeople's ability to sell e-media.

"If you have a Web 1.0 site, you probably need to redesign it."
Janet Ludwig, president, Allured Publishing

"We talk to women the way they speak to themselves."
Tina Johnson, editor-in-chief, Women's Health, on the voice of the magazine.

"Oh, no. Not the p-word again."
Chris Peacock, editor and vice president of, on the overuse
of the word 'platform.'

"YouTube has lowered the standard for everyone."
Kaitlin Quistgaard, editor-in-chief, Yoga Journal, on the obstacles of
producing high-quality video content for the Web.

Bill Mickey

Meredith's Media-Neutral Selling

Bill Mickey FPS 2008 - 02/21/2008-17:20 PM

MIAMI—During his morning keynote, Meredith Publishing Group president Jack Griffin explained the company's approach to selling via its M360º group. "It's a group set up to be media neutral. We're not selling a particular asset, but creating solutions for our advertising customers."

It's an approach that focuses entirely on selling integrated packages, no longer simply selling customers on a single mediaprint display advertising, for example. It's also one that other publishers are adopting. CMP has realigned its marketing services team to be customer-facing by region, creating customized packages that rarely come straight off a menu. "We have teams focused in the customer client regions, in the sales regions if you will, working with different customers to do that integration across different platformsprint, online, events, or deeper into a specific platform," says Scott Vaughan, vice president of marketing and research.

"Customers don't necessarily say to you ‘I want to advertise,'" added Elliot Kass, managing director, client content services. "They just say, ‘This is what I'm faced with and if you can help me figure out a way to solve this problem then I'm very interested.'"