The big question for the 500 or so magazine executives gathering at Boca Raton's cavernously posh resort and club this week for the 2007 American Magazine Conference is simply this: What the hell is a "magabrand"? And is it really a revolution? The conference's thematic title-"Magabrand Revolution"-seems to be both a nod to magazine publishers leveraging their brands across multiple platforms (Web, TV, radio, rock club et al) and the personal journey of the Men's Health editor and AMC chairman Dave Zinczenko from self-described fat kid to editor to Today show TV personality to tabloid-fodder to a multi-platform brand himself. (Zinczenko could be overheard saying as much at the resort's hotel bar late Saturday, going as far as calling ex-White House press secretary Tony Snow, the conference's odd choice of opening keynote speaker, as a "megabrand"-albeit a retired one.)
As Zinczenko explains in his chairman's letter, the so-called revolution is the "art and science of combining a strong magazine voice with the power of digital media to reach downloaders, listeners and viewers in ways that were unavailable, or even unimaginable, five years ago."
But is the magazine as brand a "revolutionary" idea, or even new? No, but believe it or not, there are magazine publishers out there that have yet to grasp the concept of "beyond print"-last year's AMC theme-and plenty more who've done little else than talk about it. Besides, magazine conference's need themes, and at this point, anything without the word "digital" in it is probably a good idea.
As we were sifting through the stacks of magazines we have collected here at Folio:, we came across the October and November issues of Shape. Placing them side-by-side we couldn't help but notice how strangely similar the covers are.Both bathing suit-clad subjects (singer Sheryl Crow, October; actor Heather Graham, November) appear standing in water with the sun setting behind them. The color schemes are nearly the same. The cover lines look similar. The list goes on.A Shape spokesperson says Crow and Graham were photographed in different locations, although at practically the same time of day. Shape creative director Dimity Jones declined to comment other than to call the similarities a "coincidence."Jones and her team didn't realize the similarities before sending these issues to print? A coincidence? You be the judge.
As I have been known to criticize magazine publishers who do little more than lip service to being "green" (see: â€˜Green' Issues Fail to Convert Magazines to Recycled Paper) it's nice to see a major magazine going beyond the "green issue" rhetoric and actually committing to something that will have an immediate impact. Starting next month, Everyday with Rachael Ray, whose ad revenue skyrocketed some 500 percent this year, will print its issues on 85 percent recycled paper. Additionally, the Reader's Digest-owned magazine is switching mills to one closer to its printer. The explanation from RD:
"The new mill (outside of Chicago) is 160 miles from the printer (Quad, in Lomira, Wisconsin) compared with the old mill that was 1,060 miles awayâ€”that's a savings of 900 miles one way. So that reduces emissions. Contrast that with some magazine papers that are trucked across the country or imported from Europe. Also, the mill is working with the printer on a closed loop system, so when they deliver the "Rachael Ray" paper the same truck would then be loaded up with the printed waste and shipped back to the mill. The press waste from the printing of Rachael Ray will go back into the actual paper being produced for a future issue. Makes sense, but understand that this is not the typical process in the industry."
Make no mistake: swapping paper mills is not cheap. But I'd bet the goodwill associated with this moveâ€”if Ms. Ray follows through on her promiseâ€”will generate additional long-term revenue to offset the upfront costs.(Or, at the very least, offset the damage done by those Dunkin Donuts commercials.)
High-profile editors are spouting off about the glossy relevancy of print, and that can mean only one thing: the American Magazine Conference is almost here. Like most magazine discussions these days, digital and its threat to print will undoubtedly be a major theme at next week's pow-wow of consumer magazine editors and publishers in Boca Raton (the conference has been given the unfortunate "Mag-a-brand' tagline) and, like politicians before a convention, editors seem to be sharpening their stump speeches.
Yesterday, three surfaced. Here's Glamour editor and ASME president Cindi Leive:
Readers enjoy the ads-that's a strong story for advertisers to be in magazines, and a strong reason for editors not to get pushed into product placement.
AMC chairman, Men's Health editor and Today show staple Dave Zinczenko:
One of the strange conventions of science fiction film and television shows has been the idea that in the future, we will all dress alike. From "Twilight Zone" reruns to movies like The Matrix, Aeon Flux, and I, Robot, citizens of the distant future seem, for no obvious reason, to have given up the idea of dressing themselves as individuals. In the future, fashion is apparently doomed. Whenever I hear someone say that print is doomed, I think about those old "Twilight Zone" episodes. And I think that when it comes to fashion - and media - the futurists get it all wrong.
From the London Independent, Wallpaper* founder and Monocle editor Tyler BrÃ»lÃ©:
Print media might be faced with some serious challenges but it's time to stop calling its relevance into question - that goes for newspapers too. In many markets the humble daily has never looked so good, in others there's a bit of work to be done. If it was our money and we were going to launch the Monocle Daily, we'd be taking our cues from our favourite Italian broadsheet.
Look for FOLIO:'s comprehensive coverage of the 2007 American Magazine Conference beginning Sunday, October 26-live from Boca-on Foliomag.com.
WATCH RELATED VIDEO:Â Is Print Dead?
The finalists for the American Society of Magazine Editors' (ASME) second annual Best Cover Contest were announced today. The judges apparently have a thing for The Colbert Report's Stephen Colbert-his image is on three of the finalists.
L-R: Best Celebrity Cover, Best Concept Cover, Best CoverlineAnd they like babes on buildings, too.
-R: Best Celebrity Cover, Best Fashion CoverThere are seven categories and 21 finalists. See the full gallery here.
Six months after Time executed a historic redesign-and seemingly told anyone (read: Charlie Rose) who would listen-Newsweek has unveiled a redesign of its own, albeit ushered in with considerably less fanfare. Here's editor Jon Meacham's note:
We have two pieces of news close to home: a redesign of the magazine and of Newsweek.com. Our renovations come at an interesting time for journalism. As the number of news outlets expands, it is said, attention spans shrink; only the fast and the pithy will survive. Some people in our business believe print should emulate the Internet, filling pages with short, Weblike bites of information.
We disagree. There is a simple idea behind the changes in the issue of newsweek you are holding: we are betting that you want to read more, not less. Other media outlets believe you just want things quick and easy. We think you will make the time to read pieces that repay the effort.
Led by Amid Capeci (the legendary Roger Black consulted with us, and Dan Revitte and Bonnie Scranton were instrumental), the redesign is more about refinement than revolution; many changes are subtle. The most important shift is a cleaner visual presentation that gives our writers more words and creates a better showcase for photography. We have also added pages to periscope, expanded the conventional wisdom watch and given voices like Jonathan Alter, Sharon Begley, Ellis Cose, Howard Fineman, Daniel Gross, Steven Levy, Lisa Miller, Anna Quindlen, Robert Samuelson, George Will and Fareed Zakaria a bit more space in which to make their points.
You will notice other things, too. At the end of tip sheet we now have a weekly column alternating among Kathleen Deveny on "Modern Family," Julia Reed on "Food & Drink," N'Gai Croal on geek culture, and Jane Bryant Quinn on personal finance.
For editors talking about redesigns or changings of the guard, it is very tempting to make grand declarations, but I am going to try to resist. Hyperbole does not get us very far, and you would hardly expect someone in my job to say anything other than greatness is either at, or already in, hand.What matters is what you think of the magazine week in and week out. We do not do focus groups or market research; we simply report, write and edit using our best judgment and our sense of what will challenge, engage and (pleasantly) surprise you. How do we arrive at this "sense"? This way: guided by our constant, organic conversation with readers through e-mails, letters and online comments, we publish the magazine we would want to get every week on the ground that if we find something interesting, you probably will, too.
For much of our history--we turn 75 in January, and Newsweek.com celebrates its 10th anniversary next year--we were consumed, naturally, with the content of the pages of the magazine. For the last decade and for the foreseeable decades to come, however, we have not one but two jobs: to produce a print magazine you are eager to read, and a Web site with daily original content that you find compelling. What links them is our commitment to bringing you reporting, voices and analyses you cannot get elsewhere.
At Newsweek.com you will find a new site that uses the latest technology to make our content more accessible. Under the leadership of Deidre Depke, a team that includes Rolf Ebeling, Cathy Fenlon and Kevin Stuart has reinvented the Web site. There are more features, more video, more blogs, a Daily Conventional Wisdom and expanded coverage channels (with a special commitment to health news). Turn to page 8 of this issue for more on what you can expect to see online.
In this week's issue, Christopher Dickey and Jessica Ramirez explore Iraq's war marriages. Lally Weymouth pulls double duty, interviewing Clarence Thomas and Lebanese leader Saad Hariri. Evan Thomas and Mark Hosenball profile Blackwater's Erik Prince, the reclusive head of the controversial private security firm.
Redesigns can be unsettling, and we will no doubt be making adjustments in the coming weeks and months, both here and online. But overall, we like what we see--and we think you will, too. You are, after all, our only focus group.
Quick open question: Does Roger Black have to be involved in every magazine redesign?
I've been scratching my head for some time over American Business Media's practice of charging speakers whom they invite to speak at their events. Working for a company that produces dozens of events a year, we recognize that speakers are taking time from their schedules to speak at our events. And we wouldn't be able to have high-caliber events without high-caliber speakers. We do not charge our speakers.
I've questioned people at ABM on this practice in the past and their attitude has been, hey, it is what it is. But I wondered, does anyone else think this is odd, especially for an organization that is supported by companies that pay very high dues (our company's annual dues to the ABM are in the five-figures, and larger companies may pay over $100k a year in ABM dues). At ABM's spring meeting, the organization reports its financials, and based on the last few reports, it's doing quite well financially.
ABM CEO Gordon Hughes says asking speakers to pay is about keeping the association on a sound financial footing. "We're a non-profit, whereas our members are for-profit," he told me. "We're just trying to cover our costs. What's more, he says, "Most people never question this. This is just the way we do it."
I think American Business Media events are worth paying for. I've attended them for years. But frankly, I bristle when I'm told I have to pay, even though I'm a speaker. So, is this just me being petty, or does anyone else think that charging speakers is odd? Well, we asked around and we got an earful from ABM members and non-members. Here's what they had to say:
We'd love to hear your take on this. Please post a comment below.
Despite a driving rain, nearly 500 people made it to mid-town Manhattan's Guastavino's Thursday night for BusinessWeek's "What's Next?" party, celebrating the magazine's first redesign in four years. The magazine's new, sharper look debuted in the October 22 issue which hit newsstands today.The evening began quietly with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, and those who attended brushed elbows with the likes of Nixon-era secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and CosmoGIRL! founding editor Atoosa Rubenstein.Vaulted company aside, the festivities got under way a little more than an hour in when a tap dancing, cell phone texting, laptop toting ensemble of 20-something age performers took the red BusinessWeek stage. The performance made obvious the coming together of young and old, a concept BusinessWeek hopes is just as clear in its redesign. The big surprise of the night was when BusinessWeek president Keith Fox and editor Steve Adler introduced record producer Clive Davis. In keeping with the evening's "What's Next" theme, Davis in turn introduced I Nine, a band he says is the "next big thing."Overall, the party was a classy, hipÂ way to formally announce the redesign BusinessWeek hopes will launch it into the 21st century.Â
... and it's not just the sounds of Ace of Base wafting from the cube of our online editor. In recent weeks, we've heard CMP describe a new Web site as "investigating the future of the Internet." Nielsen Business Media debuted an online resource center for small businesses that it claims "is like no other"-except it is kind of similar to a site attempted by Hammock Publishing several years ago, notes our own Dylan Stableford.
More and more, we're starting to hear the big proclamations that accompanied the early moves of Web 1.0. Part of it is the confidence publishers have gained as they learn from their online experiments and their mistakes. Part of it is that we also seem to be on the verge of a major shift, in which the business is prepared to start doing things different. After declaring unequivocally at the recent Folio: Show that it's social media, not video that we will all be talking about at this time next year, Fortune executive editor Josh Quittner followed up by saying "What's going on now is very similar to what we saw when Netscape came on the scene and the Web was being built out. We're at another one of those fundamental shifts."
What we can't afford is the blind optimism that helped doom Web 1.0. And fortunately, it appears as though most publishers realize that. The key for CMP's Internet Evolution for the site's architect Stephen Saunders is balancing what continues to work with a traditional journalistic format with Web 2.0. "I don't believe in pendulum publishing, where on one hand you say, â€˜We're a business-to-business publisher and everything has to be written by us' and then Web 2.0 comes along and now everyone goes in the other direction so they're not going to publish anything, the users will publish all the content," he says. "That's reminiscent of what happened in the 1990s."
And we all know what happened after that.
Spin magazine founder Robert Guccione, Jr. on stepping down from his post as Discover Media CEO and assuming instead the role of chairman: "I'm an entrepreneur, and sometimes we don't always move up, or down, or sideways-we just move."In a phone conversation with Folio:, Guccione dismissed what he called "rumors" that his stepping down as CEO was initiated by a philosophical fall-out between him and his investors. "There has been gossip, and it all has been exaggerated," he says. "Sure, there have been arguments. You don't work with people for years and not fight. But, this move was completely amicable."Discover Media CFO Henry Donahue replaces Guccione as CEO and will oversee the day-to-day operations of the company. Guccione-son of Penthouse founder and owner Bob Guccione, Sr.-initiated the purchase of Discover magazine from Disney Publishing Worldwide two years ago, having partnered with private equity firms Sandler Captial Management and WallerSutton 2000, LP. In 1985, Guccione founded alternative music magazine Spin. He sold it to the owners of Vibe magazine in 1997 for more than $40 million.So, why accept a position with less active responsibility? "I'd like to explore other projects," Guccione says. "I'm an entrepreneur. I get that itch."
Slate magazine columnist Ron Rosenbaum recently ripped into an Esquire cover profile of Angelina Jolie, calling it the "worst celebrity profile ever written." Rosenbaum devoted 2,300-words to thrashing its author, Tom Junod, without actually naming him, it should be noted, directly. ("Sure, it uses the death of thousands on 9/11 as a rationale for running a picture of a half-naked Angelina Jolie. But look, if we can't exploit 9/11 when we need to add a little gravitas to that silver sheet between Angelina's thighs, the terrorists win, right?").
Rosenbaum has now written the epilogue-ripping into GQ for killing a Hillary Clinton profile after the Clinton camp threatened to revoke access to Bill-arguing that magazines have abandoned a practice that could save the celebrity profile: the writearound. Rosenbaum suggests that the write-around-a "story done about a person without that person's cooperation, and thus, in contemporary terms, without the usual perks one gets in exchange for the fawning profile"-is looked at as a cop-out.
One magazine editor who clearly doesn't see it as a cop-out: Adam Moss. New York magazine has made it a habit of running at least one investigative write-around per issue, usually more.
Check the recent "Bill Clinton, First Lady," cover story by Jennifer Senior focused on "how a Clinton II White House might work." Operative word there: might. The piece sources former Clinton administration officials and current staffers, public speeches and appearances on Oprah. Speculative, investigative and totally engaging, moreso than the usual "fawning" that comes along with access. Another recent issue included a piece by Will Leitch about Alex Rodriguez's future in New York. The Yankees declined to talk to New York, as did Scott Boras, Rodriguez's agent. But New York ran the piece anyway, and-given the Yankees' early exit from the American League playoffs-is as timely a "profile" as any. Another, "Watching Matt Drudge" about the famously reclusive Drudgereport.com founder by Phillip Weiss, stirred the blog-o-dome like a chainsaw.
Magazine mergers and acquisitions may be slowing down, but not for Andy Goodenough. The newly-installed president of Summit Business Media, told us recently that he has at least three deals in the works and expects to complete at least one by the end of the year.
NOTE: Look for our exclusive video interview with Goodenough in November.