An e-mail from an "industry observer" on yesterday's purchase of Publishing Group of America by Bain Capital Partners and Shamrock Capital Growth Fund: "I think this is potentially a fabulous buy for these two investor groups. PGA is a group that has successfully launched two huge winners. Controlled circ so the inserts are force fed. Originally designed as the "Parade Magazine" for the weekly and small daily newspaper industry. Good editorial products. And with their circ base, a strong buy for national advertisers-especially those who want to penetrate the rural and semi-suburban markets. This is not an Internet play and probably never will be. Makes me wonder why folks like Meredith have not tried to duplicate this by teaming up with the major newspaper companies, like Gannett, MediaNews, Gatehouse, etc. to produce special interest magazine inserts. These vehicles do not lend themselves to selling local ads but they do enhance the editorial quality of the local newspaper and do provide a higher level content than most local papers can afford to produce. I have not read what they paid. I would guess a pretty penny."
BusinessWeek editor Stephen Adler's memo to staff yesterday regarding an extensive editorial reorganization at the magazine:
Colleagues:For the past three years, weāve been moving progressively toward integrating our print and digital operations ā by increasing reportersā contributions to Businessweek.com, combining our overseas bureaus and copy-desk teams, and seating together everyone within a given coverage area. Today we complete this vital transformation by creating a single editorial organization for BusinessWeek. The new structure will enable us to collaborate more effectively, take greater advantage of everyoneās abilities, learn new skills, and serve our readers and Web users better. Under this new structure, one chief editor will supervise all work in print and online in a particular coverage area. Each chief will report jointly to Executive Editors John Byrne and Ellen Pollock, both of whom will continue to report to me. Hereās the lineup: News Chief: Brian Bremner Finance/Personal Finance Chief: Frank Comes Small Business Chief: Jim Ellis Tech Chief: Peter Elstrom Science Chief: Neil Gross Corporations/Workplace Chief: Mary Kuntz Innovation Chief: Bruce Nussbaum Global and Policy Chief: Chris Power The chief editors will get in touch with everyone who will work within their groups later today or tomorrow. Weāll phase in the new structure between now and Jan. 1. Letās plan on a staff meeting for early January to discuss all this further. In other new assignments springing from this reorganization, Dan Beucke will become BusinessWeek.com News Director, reporting to Brian Bremner; and Suzanne Woolley will become Senior Editor for Personal Finance, reporting to Frank Comes. While weāll all be working together editorially regardless of delivery platform, weāll continue to sweat the production details that enable us to create both a topflight magazine and a first-rate Web site. Recognizing the special skills required to excel in these two very different media, I am appointing Ciro Scotti as managing editor of the magazine and Martin Keohan as managing editor of the Web site to ensure that we preserve the highest possible quality as we produce each product ā and that we meet our various deadlines. Ciro joined BusinessWeek in 1978, after reporting stints at daily newspapers. Since 2005, he has been an assistant managing editor, deftly overseeing production of the magazine, writing the very best cover headlines, and casting a sharp editorial eye over all our copy. Previously, he was a senior editor, responsible for the copy desk and for government and sports-business coverage. Ciro will continue to report to Ellen Pollock. Since 2003, Martin has served as director of editorial operations for BusinessWeek.com, skillfully ensuring collaboration and efficiency among the news and channel editors, copy desk, art department, production, and technology. Prior to his role with BusinessWeek.com, Martin served as editorial director for BusinessWeek Events, where he created the BW50 Forum and the CEO Summit Series. Martin will continue to report to John Byrne. Unfortunately, in connection with the reorganization, a small number of our editorial colleagues will be leaving BusinessWeek. Itās exceedingly difficult to part with valued co-workers, and decisions to eliminate positions arenāt made lightly. I want to thank those who are leaving for all their good work and wish them well in new endeavors. Despite the challenges of the past few years, our journalism has been extraordinarily strong, and both readers and online users clearly have taken notice. ā Our total magazine readership was up 3% in the last MRI tally, to over 4.9 million, more than at any time since 1998; ā Newsstand sales were up 25% in the latest report, while most of our competitors were down or flat; ā We achieved a new online usage record in November with 64.7 million page views.As our new organization takes shape over the next couple of weeks, Iām confident that it will build on these achievements and create exciting opportunities for the BusinessWeek team. Congratulations to all on their new assignments.
I was recently wading through the innards of Times
business section when I came across this item:
"Video sites need to draw a minimum of 50,000 views a month
before getting serious interest from advertisers, Dina Kaplan, a founder of the
video-sharing site Blip.tv, told Daisy Whitney of TVWeek."
Inspired, I took a brief, unscientific
survey of magazine Web sites and YouTube channels to try to figure out which
monthly magazines are gaining online video traction.
Here are some leaders:
And some laggards:
Digital magazines have all of the advantages of print magazines except they are online. Right?In addition, readers have instant random access to content. Everyone wins. Right?Wrong. Advertisers can lose. If a reader takes a random access skip over their ad, that ad is not seen.Although digital magazines may look more like a print magazine than a Web site, the random access issue asks us to sell ads more like website advertising.You will do better to sell positions in a digital magazine that offer adjacency to content that a reader may take a "random access" skip to visit. It is helpful to offer stats on which pages or sections get the most traffic. In short, use some of the same approaches you would use to sell positions on a Web site.More here ā¦
[Above, right: a slide from a PennWell presentation during the CM show.]
Customers who become conditioned to fast-moving, customizable, immediate digital experiences, eschewing human interaction. Advertisers who want to reach them. Magazines struggling connect both. Sound familiar?
Except itās a story that, for once, has little to do with the Web. This week, Newport Communications announced that Roadstar, a magazine that serves the trucking industry, is folding. Among the reasons: truckersālike the rest of Hyundai-driving Americaāare paying at the pump with credit cards, bypassing the truckstop sales clerks and thereby the kiosks where Roadstar is freely distributed.
Instead, Marty McClellan, Newport VP and Roadstarās publisher, says the company is putting its resources behind something called āPump Topper,ā a āfuel island advertising program" that carries messages to truckers āas they are fueling,ā as well as its other trucking title, Heavy Duty Trucking. And, of course, the company is developing a trucking search engine for the Web.
More here ...
The latest round of media layoffs has even the New York Times worrying that "Muckraking Pays, Just Not in Profit":
Investigative reporting can expose corruption, create accountability and occasionally save lives, but it will never be a business unto itself. Reporters frequently spend months on various lines of inquiry, some of which do not pan out, and even when one does, it is not the kind of coverage that draws advertisers.
With all due respect to David Carr, and at the risk of seeming like a broken record, I've got to disagree. Four years ago, I made a commitment that 5280 would do more, not less, long-form investigative journalism. Since then, we've done work that, in my humble opinion, rivals the kinds of investigations that Carr praises in his Times essay:
All of this hasn't come cheap. To do this kind of work, we've had to more than triple our staff and increase our editorial budget by nearly $1 million per year. We've had to fight off a subpoena from the Defense Department and, in another case, sue the federal government when we discovered evidence that an order had gone out to destroy records we were seeking under a Freedom of Information Act inquiry.
But we've seen a tremendous return on our investment. And not just in the form of some very nice awards. In the last four years, 5280's paid subscriptions have grown by more than 50 percent, while our newsstand sales have grown by a similar amount. In that same time period we've more than doubled our ad revenue.
Now, I'll readily admit that our improved editorial product isn't the only reason for our growth. The magazine was already doing well, as is Denver itself, and we're blessed with a great sales and marketing team. But those very same sales reps would be the first to tell you that a great editorial product has made their jobs easier.
To be sure, 5280 is a small magazine in a relatively small city. But there's nothing about our business model that shouldn't be valid elsewhere. To sell ads, you've got to attract a worthwhile audience. To attract an audience, you've got to give them compelling content. All of which convinces me that good journalism can be good business.
Print designers are particular about quality. Paper type, color profiles, kerning, etc.; every detail counts in creating a polished final product. But there's one detail that doesn't make the difference it should.
Generally speaking, designers use TIFFs (containers for high resolution image files) when designing with photographs because the TIFF file format maintains the full quality of the image. JPEG is a file format that was created to compress images into significantly smaller file sizes in order to make them more flexible for things like use on the Internet. The difference in file size is substantial. For example, exporting a raw file taken on my digital camera as a TIFF created a 18 MB file; as a maximum size JPEG it was 2.6 MB.
The relationship between TIFF and JPEG is similar to that of a CD and an MP3. They're both reproductions and the quality difference is so slight that it's indiscernible. I would argue that unless you are making a poster-sized enlargement, a JPEG file is perfectly suitable for offset printing, provided that you follow a few guidelines:
1. Start with a high quality image. If the image you receive from the photographer isn't high enough resolution or quality, no file type can help you.
2. Be careful with your saving. JPEGs use lossy compression, and each time it's saved with the "save as" function in Photoshop, you lose quality. A good thing to watch for is the "JPEG Options" screen which asks you which quality level you want to save at. You should minimize the occurrences of this screen, and if it does occur, save at the maximum resolution. It can be helpful to maintain the original version of the file from the photographer in case something happens to your working copy.
3. If you have added text or vector objects to an image in Photoshop, donāt use the JPEG format. TIFF and PSD files retain these objects sharply. JPEGs donāt.
4. Don't expect transparency. If you have an image with a transparent cutout, a JPEG will not work for you. Try using a PSD file (which integrates well with InDesign) or an EPS.
Following these guidelines and using JPEGs instead of TIFFs where possible can make your layout files much less cumbersome to work with on an everyday basis, and much easier to export and share as well.
Read more JPEG myths and facts here ...
Paper price increases are painful. What do they mean for environmental publishing considerations? The good news is that being fiscally conservative with paper expenses can also be environmentally responsible with thoughtful planning.The simple explanation for the increases is that supply has constricted due to mill closings, mergers and acquisitions while manufacturing costs have gone up primarily due to increases in oil prices. Experts in the industry predict that the prices will stabilizing anytime in the next six to 18 monthsālikely 18 months. The high paper prices provide an opportunity to assess paper use efficiency and find ways to reduce relative costs. These savings will last beyond the current market fluctuations and continue to be good for the environment.Let this be an evolution, not a revolution, by making changes strategically over time that add financial and environmental value to the magazine. Here is how mitigating current increases also helps protect the environment:
1. Reduce the basis weight. Lighter basis weight means more paper per hundred-weight, less fiber needed from forests, less fuel required for transportation, and less postage costs for mailing.2. Change from freesheet to groundwood or recycled paper.It takes 4.4 tons of wood to make one-ton of freesheet paper, and 2.2 tons of wood for groundwood paper. A switch to groundwood paper with recycled content doubles the paper yield and keeps more trees in the forest. (It takes 1.2 tons of recovered paper to make one-ton of recycled paper.)3. Reduce the trim size.A reduction of one-quarter or one-half inch in trim size can result in a four- to eight-percent cost savings while also reducing the amount of fiber need from forests.4. Rethink all paper options.Going down in paper grade in addition to basis weight and trim-size reductions will save on production costs in addition to reducing chemical use.5. Think geographically.Where does the virgin fiber and recovered paper come from for the magazine paper? Is the printer a few hundred miles or less from the paper mill? Strategize how to reduce the distance between these points in order to reduce costs and environmental impacts? Use the Chain of Custody document on the Magazine PAPER Project Web site to determine where all the fiber and pulp for the paper comes from. This can also help identify if fiber is sourced from areas of high conservation value. Then work with the magazineās supply chain to identify ways to reduce transportation.6. Partner with the supply chain and build new relationships.Mills are working to do their best to ensure that their valued customers are able to get the paper that they need and weather these price increases. Magazines that worked with suppliers without trying to unreasonably squeeze lower prices from them when the market was down may reap some āpreferredā status. Look at negotiating flatter price increases over several quarters, such as a flat five-percent increase on Jan 1 and another on June 1. If you have a good relationship with the mill and the prices donāt increase that much they will sometimes give you a rebate on the difference. Even if they donāt, knowing what price increases to expect is critical for creating and staying on budget.In paper market conditions such as these a thoughtful and strategic approach will assist magazines production departments in weathering the storm while also being able to maintain and even increase their practices that protect the environment.
Whatever your feelings are on Martha Stewart and her brand-happy offerings, it's clear that this morning's shuttering of Blueprint after just eight issues continues the recent trend of publishing companies having a short-leash on launches, and a decidedly low tolerance for failure.
If true, this unattributed quote, as reported by mediabistro.com's FishbowlNY, is also telling:
"The magazine was billed as a 'fresh, fun guide to personal style'... but staffers were told that MSLO had 'misjudged the market.'"
4c is a new English-language annual from Belgium dedicated to the proposition that whatās important in life is only skin-deep. This is appropriate I supposeāthe glossy, a new foray into publishing from Techni-Coat International, a manufacturer of plastic coatings knows the value of the superficial. If there is no there there in 4cāthe magazine bounces from travel to fashion to industrial design to self-promotion (The first featureāand thereās no FOB to speak ofāprofiles the companyās vice president), at least itās all done quite stylishly. 4c fits into the class of new magazines doggedly determined to prove the value of print by doing things with varnishes, coatings, foldouts and die cuts that cannot be simulated on the (as it happens, really incredibly filthy) screen of my computer.If 4c knows color, and all those expensive printing techniques that I, for one, am really jealous of (though for the life of me, I canāt think how they would benefit readers of the political magazine I call home) their type handling is another matter. body copy is in Gill Sans and headlines are in various weights of Helvetica Neue, creating a bit of a clash of cultures on the page. The humanist sans, basically Garamond without the tips and ticks, and the grand old Swiss Miss just do not play well together. Beyond the joy in surface, gloss, and the tactile (and thereās pleasure to be found here, little of which translate to jpeg), there seems little glue holding the publication together, as it flips from topic to topic, except possibly really grandiose text. (Sample: Since forever it seems, beauty has been spoken of as being skin deep, a shallow conceit, a facade. The surface, while meaningful, is hardly of importance. If anything, it remains a superficial trait. Not so to the plastic surgeons among us, the building resurfacers; ditto to those in the business of plastic coatings...) But, as with many new glossies, 4c is meant to be seen (and touched) and not heard. And it gratifies those senses a bit more pleasurably than Antenna and some of the other empty shells launched recently.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: For more intelligent talk on magazine design, check out Jandos' brand-new book, Designing Magazines]
A change has been made at the top of Ascend Media. CEO Cam Bishop is out, Vicki Masseria, former group president of CMP Medica, is in.
The internal memo:
Roger DusingSent: Monday, December 10, 2007 11:06 AMTo: All Ascend TeamSubject: Important Company AnnouncementImportance: High
All Ascend Team,
This morning, the company is announcing that effective immediately, Vicki Masseria is assuming the role of CEO of Ascend Media. As has been previously discussed, the company continues to refine its focus in the healthcare sector. This, coupled with the increasing complexity of healthcare markets and government regulation, has defined the need for a seasoned healthcare industry media professional. Vicki brings 25 years of experience in B2B, including 23 years in the healthcare field. Most recently, Vicki served as Group President of CMPMedica USA where she was in charge of the U.S.'s fifth largest portfolio of healthcare publications as well as a large medical education business. As head of CMPMedica USA (formerly Miller Freeman), she and her team were active in both organic and acquisition growth, and completed five acquisitions and integrations since 1990. Vicki received her bachelor's degree from Ohio University, has attended graduate publishing programs at Northwestern's Kellogg School and Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management, and has also served as Vice-Chair of American Business Media's (ABM) Healthcare Council. Vicki will be visiting each of Ascend's offices during the next two weeks, starting with Overland Park on Monday, December 10th. In addition, as part of this process, Cam Bishop will continue as Chairman of the company where he will work with Vicki as well as the board of directors on strategic matters through a transition period.
Roger Dusing, SPHR VP Human ResourcesAscend Media7015 College Blvd. Ste.600 Overland Park, KS 66211
Do the ad programs you propose promote interaction with customers? No matter what media you sell, you are now in the business of advancing your client's dialog with their customers ... unlike the couple in this clip.
More here ...