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Dylan Stableford

Time Inc. Staffer Complains About SI Swimsuit Issue: ‘My Company Made Me Look at Porn’

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 02/13/2008-23:02 PM

Every year around this time, when Sports Illustrated unveils its annual swimsuit issue, columns criticizing the issue for its titillating content seem to wash up on shore. (Recall, if you will, the thongs, er, throngs of subscribers opting out of having their swimsuit issues delivered to their homes for fear of impressionable youngsters getting ahold of them.)

However, they’re usually not written by employees of SI’s parent company. And they’re certainly not published on one of the parent company’s blogs, like this one on

The [swimsuit] issues are considered so valuable that they're not even distributed in the bins downstairs; they're doled out, copy by copy, to each employee, like glossy, perfect-bound bonuses. So when I came in this morning, what do I find under my door but a beautifully laid out publication of porn. Who decided I wanted to look at 100-some pages of barely dressed girls with abs made of slate and boobs that defy reason? SI boasts that women cherish the swimsuit issue because it offers us fashion ideas for the bathing season. Seriously? I'm going to don this bikini made of dental floss this summer after I've just popped out Baby #2?

Look. I'm no prude. And it's not the same thing as working in an office whose walls are plastered with pin-ups, like the women workers at Halliburton/KBR had to endure. Still, I'd rather be offered the option of picking up a copy, rather than have it stuffed under my door like some urgent memo. What I want when I step into my office is a cup of tea. Not NFL cheerleaders in thongs.

Some interesting things to note here:

1. According to a commenter, some issues were delivered “face down.”
2. The blogger, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, is a Time staff writer. She has her own Web site.
3. That wasn’t dental floss, Lisa. That was the chord to a pair of iPod earbuds.
4. Again, this was on Time Inc.-owned blog. Which I think is very refreshing—a corporate environment where having opinions, even those critical of your boss' products, are not only encouraged—they’re published.

Still, you have to wonder where the consistency was here.

Bill Mickey

Penton Begins Search for New CFO

Bill Mickey B2B - 02/13/2008-15:38 PM

Earlier this week, Eric Lundberg, Penton's CFO of a year, announced that he was returning to ALM. On Tuesday, Penton head John French passed along this note:

-----Original Message-----
From: French, John
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:07 AM
To: DL-Penton Global; DL-Prism Global
Subject: Eric Lundberg's Departure
Importance: High

Hello Everyone,

Today, I am announcing that Eric Lundberg, Chief Financial Officer, has decided to leave the company. Eric will be returning to ALM as Chief Financial Officer and senior vice president.

Eric joined Penton a little more than a year ago and his contributions have been significant. He led the company through a very challenging integration effort and much of our present and future success is due primarily to his leadership. Bringing two large organizations together was a complex undertaking and very few people would have been able to accomplish this with such tremendous success.

On a personal note, I have enjoyed working with Eric throughout this past year and greatly appreciate his hard work and dedication. We are working together during a brief transition period. We have already begun the search for a new Chief Financial Officer and will inform you when we have completed that process.

Please join me in wishing Eric well in all his future endeavors.



Jason Fell

How SI’s Swimsuit Issue Sells

Jason Fell Audience Development - 02/12/2008-17:48 PM

It’s that time of year again—for sports fans, the dark and gloomy vortex between the Super Bowl and March Madness. For Sports Illustrated, it’s Christmas: the swimsuit issue, the magazine’s annual predictably overhyped—and just as predictably, controversial—run through the media machinery.

In terms of advertising, marketing and newsstand sales, the swimsuit issue is the Super Bowl for Sports Illustrated. This year’s issue, with Marisa Miller on the cover, hit store shelves today, and—eschewing some level of corporate synergy—will get its official debut tonight on the David Letterman show. Why not, say, CNN’s American Morning? “It was logistical,” an SI spokesperson says, noting that SI’s ad party is taking place tonight in New York City, and that the guest list is over 1,000 strong.

Here’s a quick look at how SI’s Swimsuit Issue has fared on newsstands over the last five years:

2007 Feb. 16 1,060,000 87,043* 109.95 Beyoncé
2006 Feb. 17 1,152,275 86,173 111.00 "All-Star" Cover
2005 Feb. 18 1,083,827 85,548 106.87 Carolyn Murphy
2004 Feb. 13 1,563,694 100,941 112.50 Veronica Varekova
2003 Feb. 25 1,216,495 100,626 113.00 Petra Nemcova

* First half average.


Steve Bernstein

‘The Music Business Sucks—So Does the Magazine Business’

Steve Bernstein Consumer - 02/11/2008-17:25 PM

The music business sucks. At least that’s what everyone tells me. You hear the same thing about the magazine business. “That’s a tough business,” people say.

Is there such a thing as an “easy” business? Being a pro athlete might seem easy, but try throwing a 20-yard pass with a 300-pound lineman ready to separate you from your shoes. No thanks, I was never good with pain. If I get a paper cut I call in sick.

So if I detest pain, why am in the music magazine business? (My company, Zenbu Media, publishes Relix, Metal Edge, Metal Maniacs and Global Rhythm.) It would seem to be a double whammy. Fortunately, it’s not. Music is not going away and neither is the printed page. Picture yourself on the beach trying cuddling up to a great article or novel on your PC. It doesn’t feel the same. It’s kind of like a Stepford wife. Sure the PC is a fantastic way to connect, socialize, learn and listen but it lacks one thing. Tangibility. People flock to concerts and music festivals in record numbers to see the artists, feel the vibe and experience something real. Tangible. It is easier (and cheaper) to sit at home and watch the Rolling Stones on YouTube, but you miss the energy, the camaraderie and the feeling of true artistry.

Music has never been more accessible (legally or not). Myspace and other social networks have made it easier for garage bands to be heard. Hundreds of thousands of them. From all over the world. How do you choose what to listen to? How do you cut through the crap and find the gem? Ask the people who live for music. Those who are out every night and are never without pods in their ears.

Fortunately they write about it, too.

Jandos Rothstein

Was Wig Wag as Influential as Spy?

Jandos Rothstein Design and Production - 02/11/2008-14:22 PM

Wig Wag's 1988 launch came within a month of Spy's, but the latter is better remembered. Spy is memorialized in books and on Web sites, it's editors have gone on to successful publishing careers, and you still hear its name mentioned in magazine and design circles. Wig Wag has (arguably been) nearly as influential, but it lives on (as far as I can tell) only as a brief Wikipedia entry and a few other scattered web references.

There are lots of reasons for this. Spy was the louder and brasher magazine—it cheerfully went about making enemies among New York's rich and powerful. Spy's editorial and design influences were more varied and harder to pin down than Wig Wag's (which was clearly directly influenced by the New Yorker where the editor and many of the staff had worked). And, Wig Wag's post-modern pages have not aged nearly so well as Spy's. The specific visual language Spy pioneered live on in dozens of magazines including New York, Vanity Fair and Radar. Wig Wag's impact is not seen in a few easily identified tropes such as Spy's disembodied floating heads.

But, Wig Wag was equally ahead of its time. It took the New Yorker's sophisticated news and and literary approach and used it to create a visual magazine in the contemporary sense-it used infographic conventions for literary storytelling, achieving an integration of imagery and text that was rare for its day, but has since become expected. Wig Wag's methods are now visible in most large newsstand magazines—Wired, New York (again) Maxim and lots more.

Editor Lex Kaplen and Art Director Paul Davis saw graphic possibilities for a literary magazine that are still unequaled by the graphically fumbling New Yorker—which has successfully updated its art direction and writing but now seems awkwardly stuck between its storied typographical tradition and current fashion—publishing a design that is neither classic nor engaging to a contemporary reader.

Check out images of the interior sections—including the T.O.C. and fiction layouts—here.

[Editor's note: For more intelligent design talk, buy Jandos' new book.]

Josh Gordon

Online Media Buyers are Different

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 02/11/2008-13:31 PM

As we struggle to understand the differences between selling online and print media it is important to know that ad agencies are struggling to understand the differences between buying online and print.

The career advice column from Media Life, "Ask Rachel," recently laid out the differences while offering advice to a media buyer considering a move from buying traditional media to online media:

Given that digital planners generally earn more at the same title and experience levels that their general market counterparts, there is room to give a traditional person a raise but still bring them in and save money.

Online is very demanding, for one. You'd likely be working with multiple clients, many of them with misconceptions about the medium. So you would be teaching them as you learned, always a challenging endeavor.

Also, online undergoes constant change, day by day. You'd spend huge amounts of time simply staying up with the changes and weeding through the endless hype that comes with them.

You'd likely be doing it all, too. It's the nature of online that job functions tend to blur. You'd be strategist, planner, buyer, manager, and analyst of how the campaign served or did not serve the client's objectives.

You'd have to excel when it comes to attention to details. You’d have to have an open mind that's not afraid to undertake digesting a lot of new information very quickly. You'd have to be real good at numbers. And you'd have to be a solid communicator, explaining it all to clients and your supervisors—without a lot of wasted verbiage. You'd have to be a great negotiator.

The next time you call on an online media buyer, consider the different pressures he or she is under compared with the print people you call on right down the hall.

Dylan Stableford

Maer Roshan’s Anna Wintour Fetish

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 02/11/2008-13:01 PM

Radar editor Maer Roshan has a thing for Anna Wintour. The Vogue editrix—and FOLIO: 40 veteran—appears in a photo illustration on Radar’s current March issue cover.

It’s not the first time she has appeared on magazine cover (weird to say, but I asked a number of magazine veterans who couldn’t recall Wintour on another national magazine cover ever—if you can recall one, let us know in the comments section). In September 1999, she was profiled in a New York magazine cover story.

New York’s editor at the time? Maer Roshan.

Perhaps Luke Hayman, the hot shot designer responsible for New York’s award-winning look and Time magazine’s historic redesign, will be able to reign in Roshan’s Wintour fetishism. This week, Hayman was hired by Radar as a design consultant.

Timothy M. Gray | Michael Speier

How the Writers Guild Strike Changed Variety

Timothy M. Gray | Michael Speier Editorial - 02/07/2008-16:27 PM

Soon after the Nov. 5 start of the Writers Guild strike, one thing became quickly apparent at Variety: This event was going to require a lot of enterprise. It’s arguably Hollywood’s biggest story in 20 years and needs extensive coverage, but frankly, how many times can you say, “They’re still not talking and the whole town is anxious”?

Strike coverage became a mini-industry at the paper/Web site. Every day we have a news meeting to discuss the stories for the following day’s paper: What goes on page 1, what can hold, etc.

But the strike meant regular sub-meetings: What’s happening on the talk show circuit, what’s going on in primetime, how are film studios changing their schedules—and, of course, what’s the progress in negotiations.

For the first time, Variety commissioned surveys of readers. The overwhelming majority of readers were supportive but pessimistic, declaring that the strike was necessary—but doubtful that the writers would achieve their goals.

Our reporter Dave McNary covers the guilds, which usually involves elections, procedural stuff and awards. Now his beat became a 24/7 task and we reminded the other reporters that the strike wasn’t just Dave’s beat—it was everybody’s.

This was basically a TV strike, so the TV reporters and editors immediately rose to the challenge. Everybody talked to picketers, tapped into old sources while currying new ones, and then pooled information.

This was the first Hollywood strike fueled by—and negotiated on—the Web. Information was disseminated quickly by both sides. In turn, Variety was forced to address our Web initiatives more wholly than we ever had before. Stories would break online, we would update them constantly, we would be on high alert all the time and we would staff up for possible news. It became a Web story first. A print story second.

For the first few weeks, it was exhilarating. There was electricity in the air because we knew this was a Big Story, affecting the way the business works, changing lives and livelihoods.

Editorially, it meant long, hard days during the holiday season—when, like most other newspapers, we would have had smaller papers, end-of-year news and routine stories. But now we had difficult weeks with up to four strike stories each day. Our front pages took on new looks. We packaged things like never before. Stories about agencies firing staff, restaurants losing business, potential award show cancellations. What usually was a time for Oscar buzz quickly became a time to make our issues more centralized on developed strike coverage. It was a textbook study in how one story can produce many angles.

After a few weeks of those long workdays (and often no rest on weekends), the electricity in the air started to short-circuit, and the great fountain of ideas gave way to tedium. Stories were well-reported, but sometimes a little disorganized (editors took care of that). At one point, we forced McNary to take a 48-hour hiatus.

Occasionally we’d have to tell ourselves not to concentrate solely on repercussions, but to go back to the basics and remind people of the issues—and numbers—involved.

The strike dovetailed with awards season, creating a de facto timetable: Will the strike be settled before the Oscars? And details on awards-show negotiations provided a metaphor for the bigger picture, since they revealed both sides’ tactics, as well as the roles of other guilds—notably the Screen Actors Guild—and the ripple effect on other big-bucks aspects of the industry.

When the Golden Globes were in effect cancelled, we were able to see tangible effects of the strike. All of a sudden, everyone was affected, because parties, red carpets and fashion moments—each of which generates big bucks—were officially nixed.

In the 10 days leading up to the Globes, we were getting a new rumor every 15 minutes as Dick Clark Productions, the HFPA (which gives out the Globes), NBC and the WGA issued new info or negated rumors we’d heard.

As it looks like the strike is winding down, it’s good to think that everyone will be back to work again. Now all we have to do is deal with the fact that our adrenaline is totally out of whack.

Joanna Pettas

Dwell’s ‘Dwell’ Keeps on Growing ...

Joanna Pettas Design and Production - 02/07/2008-14:53 PM

Dwell's incredible expanding logo

When Dwell launched in October 2000, the magazine carried a modest lower-cased logo clinging sheepishly to the upper left-hand corner of its covers. Look at it now: Dwell's nameplate was upped again for its February issue redesign, sprawled out unabashedly across the top third of its cover.

Is this a case of overcompensating bravado in a time of turmoil for the shelter category-marked by the demise of Conde Nast's House and Garden and the print version of Martha Stewart's Blueprint? Or is Dwell merely acting on its rightful bragging rights?

According to ABC FAS-FAX numbers released this time last year, Dwell was one of the top 10 gainers in copies sold in 2006, with increase of 13.3 percent increase over the year before. Maybe the 2007 numbers, slated to be released next week, will shed some light.

Dylan Stableford

The Wal-Mart List

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 02/06/2008-16:00 PM

Magazines love lists, don’t they?

Well, we've got the motherlode: the mysterious list of magazines Wal-Mart decided to remove from its shelves.

Wal-Mart has thus far refused to release anything official; however, the list surfaced last week on the New York Post’s Web site—buried in a link at the bottom of one of Keith Kelly’s columns—but was quickly taken down.

We’ve reprinted it, in full, here.

NOTE: Click here for the full list.


Mark Newman

What Type of Editor Are You?

Mark Newman Editorial - 02/06/2008-13:03 PM

You can divide any given population into two distinct groups: cat people or dog people; Republicans or Democrats; Neil Diamond fans or Neil Diamond haters.

For editors, it's no different—there are Writers Who Edit, and Editors Who Write.

Whichever one you are is irrelevant for the most part, except when it comes to dealing with writers. For fun, I sent out a mass email to colleagues past and present asking them which type of editor they prefer and why. They had some pretty interesting opinions … as writers often do.

Most writers want an editor who will improve—rather than overhaul—what they’ve submitted. Inversely, most editors want writers who are also mind readers. It ain’t gonna happen!

“I prefer an editor who just tightens up and polishes what I've given,” says June Dollar, who wrote a story for Southern Breeze about boiled peanuts, a Southern delicacy. “Don't take away from the flavor. The editor's job is not to rewrite the story the way he or she would have written it.”

According to Mississippi-based writer and author Marlo Kirkpatrick, if the writer has done a good job to begin with, suggestions should relate to how a good article could be improved—“adding a sidebar, getting an extra quotation from a source with a differing opinion, etc.”—rather than suggestions or rewrites needed to correct sloppy work.”

“A good editor knows how to present his ideas, not rewrite the piece or even present his/her solution,” wrote Deb Burst, an award-winning, Louisiana-based writer. “Plain and simple, an editor’s job is to edit--guide the writer to crank out the best possible copy in the writer's own voice.”

Deb also made an interesting parallel between writing and parenting that I thought was especially relevant. Like both parenting and editing, the challenge is knowing how much is enough. “Too much [parenting] and you have a child with no self-confidence or sense of accomplishment, constantly told that their work is never good enough. Too little parenting offers no real direction and a child that craves knowledge and guidelines.”

Kathie Farnell, a former lawyer who left those legal briefs behind to pursue freelance writing, says that vague instructions (“Add more flavor”) don’t do anyone any favors while yet another editor’s oddly specific instructions (“Take out that comma”) didn’t really provide much guidance.

As for me, I consider myself one of those “editors who writes.” I’ve worked with the other type of editor and—like my colleagues have alluded to above—the result was a good article that had my byline but I didn’t really recognize it upon publication. It’s not a good feeling; it’s like you’ve been scolded in print.

If the writer understands the assignment from get-go then there should be very little work on the editor’s part. I’ve queried writers about the usual things like “What does that mean?” or “Who said this?” or “needs a conclusion” or “take out that comma.” But in the end, while it is your publication, it IS the writer’s voice that should be heard. Otherwise, why would you hire them in the first place? Editing every story the way one person would write it will eventually result in a magazine more akin to a colorful textbook.

Deb concluded her e-mail with the following: “Editing, writing, and parenting is a lifetime of learning; we never really finish the gig, we just keep getting better. With a little luck we'll run into a handful of good editors/writers in this wordy kingdom and leave a legacy of brilliant copy.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself—and I only edited it for punctuation!

Dylan Stableford

Vice Asks Readers to Pay for Subscription to Free Magazine

Dylan Stableford Audience Development - 02/05/2008-14:23 PM

Vice, the brutally irreverent New York-based magazine (which now boasts a slew of international editions, a critically-acclaimed online television site and a record label), has long employed free distribution at downtown boutiques to deliver its influential brand of hipster content to readers. And whatever your feelings are on Vice's acidic tone, there’s no arguing that it’s one of the prettiest, heaviest free magazines around—a fact the magazine itself touts on its covers.

Which is why it was bit of a shock to see the subscription card in a recent issue asking people to pay for subscriptions.

Why now? Vice says the magazine is so pretty, readers take stacks of free copies from these boutiques, subverting the key part of their distribution model.

Could this be first sign of trouble at Vice, a multiplatform, success story that has had as much to do with image as business acumen? Or is this a sly way to tack on revenue at a company whose founders have successfully positioned themselves as professional tastemakers, inking a development deal with MTV?

One of those founders, Gavin McInnes, left the company last month, citing “creative differences.”

His exit memo was, of course, brutally irreverent.