Beliefnet editor Steve Waldman, whose spiritual Ellie-award winning site just got sold to News Corp., posted a note and YouTube message to his faithful readers this morning:"We've been getting interest from would-be acquirers for a few years. We were in no rush to sell but I've always believed that Beliefnet would fully blossom with the help of a major media partner. In assessing acquirers, what did we look for? Though we wanted to obtain a fair price, as big a factor in our deliberations was whether, by selling, we could better meet our mission. We created Beliefnet primarily to make a difference, not a killing. As I explored the possibilities with News Corp., it became clear that, with their help, Beliefnet would be able to take quantum leap in what we can do. The best spiritual and religious teachers â from Rick Warren to the Dalai Lama -- pass through News Corp doors (through Harper Collins, Zondervan, Harper One and others). News Corp's reach is enormous. Its proficiency in the areas of video, social networking and media in general is unsurpassed."More of Waldman's memo here ...
Read the Beliefnet press release here ...
Over at Media Life, Rachel, the chatty career advice columnist, gives her best advice for migrating to new media to those "Stuck in Traditional Media."
It seems that for people on the selling side, migrating to new media is less stressful. No need to change jobs as for we sellers the media comes to us! Most often it is just handed to us to be integrated into our product mix.
But when you read Rachel's column it is clear that some view interactive media buying as a fundamentally different skill set from buying traditional media:
"'Some interactive agencies will value your 10 years of (traditional) media experience and will consider you for an online media supervisor position,' says Marlene Kruelle, associate online media planner for Atlantaâs Definition 6.
But then again, maybe not.
'Other interactive agencies will see that you have no online media experience and will tell you to look for an online media planner position,' says Kruelle."
If many view interactive media buying as a fundamentally different skill set, should we sellers view the sales side the same?
Both Yahoo and Google have released their answers to magazine editors' fun-yet-ultimately-meaningless year-end lists: the Top 10 Search Terms of 2007. And, in what qualifies as a non-shocker, no magazine-specific terms apply. (Although celebrity magazine publishers are no doubt thrilled to learn that "TMZ" was the #3 most Googled of 2007, ahead of YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.)The lists:
1. Britney Spears2. WWE3. Paris Hilton4. Naruto5. Beyonce6. Lindsay Lohan7. Rune Scape8. Fantasy Football9. Fergie10. Jessica Alba
1. iphone2. webkinz3. tmz4. transformers5. youtube6. club penguin7. myspace8. heroes9. facebook10. anna nicole smith
I looked at NYTimes.com briefly this morning before leaving for work. Nothing interesting. Some bishops. Then I got to the Cold Spring Harbor Deli and glanced at the physical print edition of the Times and was surprised to see the headlines on Iranâs nuclear program screaming out at me. READ ME, it said. This is IMPORTANT!
And I did read it. And it was important. If I only read the Times online, it would have just flown right by. Print is really good at providing context. The Internet is not.If you are selling print, you need to pay attention to these examples as they come up and use them to hammer home the unique benefits of print.Iâm not against onlineâwe sell tons of online products. I just feel the jump to online marketing has gone overboard and there are few voices reminding us why and how print still works.
We've all gotten used to the idea of the e-mail interview, the interview via instant messenger (the "IMterview"), even cover story interview conducted via Blackberry (see: Lindsay Lohan, GQ et al). But what about using the Blackberry logs to back up investigative reporting? Definitely never thought I'd type this sentence, but here goes: It appears as though In Touch magazine has become the first major magazine to reprint photo evidence of a Blackberry text message exchange to back up claims in a reported story-specifically, that Britney Spears is pregnant:
Contrary to the statement J.R. Rotem released on November 28, In Touch has documented proof that on Monday, November 26, the music producer did indeed confirm in these text messages that Britney is pregnant and that he is the father. When asked about rumors about Britney's pregnancy and whether he is the father, J.R. texted, "It's true." And when questioned about Britney's intentions regarding her unborn baby, he responded, "No clue on what she will do. She is unpredictable."
Ahh, the intersection of technology and celebrity journalism.
More here ...
You don't often see the admittedly arcane subjects of postal rates and magazine circulation strategies debated in the mainstream media, but the U.S. Postal Service's recent rate hikes are back in the spotlight.
Here's pundit Eric Alterman:
"Back in March, the Commission voted to approve a plan pushed by a coterie of major magazine publishers that will likely increase mailing costs for small periodicals everywhere by as much as 30 percentâa crushing burden for many small, editorial operations. Big magazines like Time and Vogue, however, may actually see their rates decrease, owing to the new bulk rates."
Here at 5280, we mail about 40,000 subscriber copies each month but have only seen a modest boost in our postage costs. Because so many of our copies go to a relatively few local zip codes, we can qualify for many of the sorting discounts enjoyed by the big boys. But I'm guessing it's a different story for regionals that serve a larger area, or national pubs that serve a niche audience. Alterman continues:
About 5,700 small-circulation publications will incur the large rate increases. In many cases, the increase might put the final nail in their proverbial coffins. True, The Nation can absorb its likely additional $500,000 in postal costs by firing staff and cutting back in other ways; ditto National Review and its $100,000 increase. But for many smaller, particularly minority publications, the postal rates are literally a matter of life or death. And the death of these publications is a death in the marketplace of ideas and a blow to the function of a healthy democracy.
More on the increases, as well as a way to make your voice heard on the issue, is available here and here.
This has been building up in me for a long time. All of this BS about publishers fearing the future, worried insanely about going out of business. They can't figure out what is happening and where their place in the future of information distribution is going to be. Damn it all, guys grow up. The future will take care of itself. It always has.
Ask the old parchment makers. Do you know that it took over three hundred sheepskins (parchment) to make one fair sized bible in the 1600s? You do the math. Publishers found a better way to distribute their information. It was called paper. They did it and they did well. Did the public love parchment? Most likely, but paper was better and cheaper. So, here we are and last week a major paper supplier stated that "the price of paper must double."
Does anyone else find it funny that in the very same week, Amazon launched Kindle, a WiFi connected e-paper device? It holds 200 books and weighs less than 10 ounces. How much will the publishers save by not using a printing, press, not using paper, not shipping those books anywhere but to the ether zone, ready for instant deployment anywhere on the planet?
This is just the beginning of a series of drastic and necessary changes in the publishing industry. The actual cost of paper, printing and distribution can and will only go up, the converse of a digital distribution where the costs can only go down. There will come a time soon when this is self-evident event to the most diehard of the tree hugging publishers. Ease of use and cost of manufacturing will determine the substrate of choice for the populous and the publisher.
Just for point of reference, what substrate are you reading this missive on?
"Destitute" may be a bit strong, but this little nugget from FOLIO:'s recap of a Fall MRI report came as a bit of a shock:
Surprisingly, readers of Esquire magazine-which distinguishes itself in its online media kit by touting "while other men's magazines are written for highly aspirational readers, Esquire is geared towards men who have arrived"-have the lowest median household income for adults ($53,783) among five of its top competitors. (To be fair, Esquire's readership has seen a marked increase in affluence since 2002, when it had a median income of $42,602). Men's Journal leads the pack with a median of $77,063, followed by Men's Health ($76,865), GQ ($68,746), Men's Fitness ($68,486) and Maxim ($65,614). Esquire's readers are also the oldest of the group, with a median age of 43.9 years. Maxim is on the low end, with a median age of 28.4 for adults.
What does it all mean? Do healthy men earn more? Do gentle men have less earning power?
Do Maxim readers really have more disposable income than Esquire readers?
Scientific American's recently redesigned Web site is sleek, choc-full of all the bells and whistles (blog posts, slide shows, videos, multimedia, podcasts et al) normally associated with Web site relaunches in 2007.
Probably the simplest feature, though, is the coolest: A cartoon dialogue bubble below nearly every story in which to leave your comments. Check it out at right.
Simple, juvenile even, but it works.
(Side note: I enjoyed the site so much that I'm considering a print subscription-and I hardly ever subscribe to magazines. Take from that what you will.)
The big news out of CondĂ© Nast this week wasn't about a controversial news story or some major acquisition. No, the buzz was about chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr.'s annual luncheon bash exclusively for his top editors, publishers and executives. And, if the New York Post's Keith Kelly is to be believed, everyone wanted to know who was sitting where and with whom-most especially who had the coveted seat next to Mr. Newhouse himself.I'm always a fan of a good party, but does anyone who didn't attend really care? Does it really require news coverage with the fervor of a high school prom?That said, the obvious "big news" was that Portfolio editor Joanne Lipman was seated at the big table (No. 4) at Newhouse's right side. (Portfolio super-publisher David Carey was assigned to table No. 7 which was apparently devoid of any heavy-hitting CondĂ© Nasters.) Is this really a sign that the often-criticized editor still has Newhouse's support, or was it a move to save face since all of us gossipy media spectators are watching?
PHOTO CREDIT: New York Post
Felix Dennis has a little more work to do yet on his weekly news compilation The Week. He tells David Carr that he'll be expanding the magazine into more markets and has fended off some significant offers. "Cross my heart and hope to die, I have already been offered hundreds of millions of dollars for it."Even after selling off Maxim, Stuff and music magazine Blender to Quadrangle-backed Kent Brownridge in mid-2007, Dennis declined to sell his one remaining U.S. title, noting that he expects it to become a sizable franchise. "I will throw The Week onto no pile until it becomes a half a billion or billion-dollar franchise. The Week is my baby," he says. The North American version of the magazine has a circulation of about 500,000; the British version is the original; and Carr writes that an eastern version of the magazine will soon be released, supported by a five-person edit team in Australia and one-man bureaus in Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand. Just as The Week is Dennis' across-the-bow shot at the sagging newsweekly market, the magazine's lean staff structure is his answer to bulging mastheads. "The American magazine industry has been massively overstaffed for years and years. It is one of the most inefficient businesses in the history of the world. And you know what? The chickens are coming home to roost."
Web site relaunches, job boards, social networks, Webinars,
podcasts, videocasts, etc. Most magazine publishers are scrambling to
ramp up their online offerings as fast as they can. However, in the
rush to ramp up online, management and the major disciplines (sales,
editorial and circulation) often take for granted that whatâs being
built can be done quickly and easily, and overload the online and IT
staffs with âme firstâ requests. âPeople think online is easy, that
standards and guidelines can be gotten around, that things can be done
far quicker than they actually can with fewer people, none of which is
true,â says the online manager at one b-to-b publisher. âYes, you can
launch a Web site easier and more cost-effectively than a new magazine
but it still takes the same business practices behind the
scenesâcontent planning, business planning, budgeting. A lot of those
things tend to get ignored online."
Prioritize online projects
according to the return, not whatâs become someoneâs pet project. Dave
Newcorn, vice president of e-media at Summit Publishing, uses three
factors to organize his workload: 1) is there real ROI attached; 2)
Will it enable the editors to create multimedia content; and 3) Will it
attract more subscribers either to the print magazine or newsletters,
boosting audience development efforts? âIf the answer is yes to any of
those, it goes to the top of my list,â says Newcorn. âFor example, we
hired an editor recently who expressed an interest in editing her own
podcasts. I dropped everything and scheduled IT time to install the
software on her computer ASAP and arranged for training.â
prominence of open source software is partly responsible for the
misperceptions. "Everybody looks at open source and says âItâs free,
just take it and up it up.â No, nothing is free, you have to customize
it and find a place to put it. There is a lot of stuff that goes along
with it," says Rose Southard, IT director at Putman Media.
are a good example--blog software can be free and it can be put up
quickly but customizing the blog platform to look like part of your Web
site takes time. âOur sites consist of left-hand navigation, leader
board at top, branding at top, and advertising on the right hand side,â
says Southard. âWhen you go from reading an article to an editorâs
blog, we want to convey that feeling that youâre still with us. It took
several weeks to put that together. Once we did, it was easy and fast
to reproduce both steps. But getting it done in the first place took
quite a while. It was free softwareâ-Wordpress. If you just grab it and
install it, it looks like Wordpress, not Putman Media.â
caught up in a game of tit-for-tat (they launch a job board, you launch
a job board) with the competition. You should have mapped out your
online strategy so you know what will work for you at that stage of
your Web development.
If you start scrambling to add features
just because the other guy has one, youâll blow your budget and derail
your strategy quickly. âOne request that I really dislike is what I
call âthe sky is fallingâ request in reaction to what our competitor is
doing,â says Newcorn. âAs in, âDave, our competitors now have a
flam-shooter on their site! We need one on our site too!â While we need
to be aware of what our competition is doing, we also need to have a
little faith that the path weâve chosen months ago is the correct one
for our readers and advertisers. If itâs not, theyânot our
competitionâwill certainly be the first to let us know.â