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Matt Kinsman

Open Source Options For CMS

Matt Kinsman emedia and Technology - 01/23/2007-03:00 AM

The online software options can be dizzying for publishers who are just beginning to take their sites to the next level. Amanda Hickman, a media and nonprofit specialist, offers her advice on open source software.

* I love Drupal and WordPress but probably only because I know them better than some of their peers. I know folks who work with Joomla and Plone are just as content. WordPress is (or can be if you let it) dead simple, lightweight, blogging software. Joomla, Plone and Drupal are much more comprehensive content management systems.

* is a great resource for evaluating content management systems, proprietary and GPL alike.

* http// only rates free and open source content management software. They will let you test-drive a handful of PHP/MySQL driven content management systems but you’ll miss some really solid open source options if you use them as your only source, including Bricolage and Plone.

* Bricolage ( is great for periodicals, as are some of the tools from the Center for Advanced Media, Prague (

* The NGO-in-a-Box series includes an AV Box (, which has reviews and links for an extensive list of free and open source audio and video software

Bill Mickey

You Know You’Re Old When…

Bill Mickey emedia and Technology - 01/22/2007-03:00 AM

Interesting blog commentary and reporting out there recently involving Gawker Media and Weblogs, Inc. -- networks started by Nick Denton and Jason Calacanis that share a famous rivalry. The upshot? How both of these early movers in blog network business models are suffering old-media growing pains. It’s an art-imitating-life moment.

Valleywag, a Gawker Media blog, is reporting that AOL, which bought Calacanis’ Weblogs Inc. in 2005 as the first major blog M&A transaction for an estimated $25 million, is shutting down a collection of its smaller blog sites to focus attention on bigger revenue bread-winners like Engadget, Autoblog and Joystiq. Calacanis points out in a comment reply to the Valleywag post that “Niche blogs are great, but when you're running a scale business like AOL is you're better off focusing on your HUGE winners like Autoblog, Engadget, Joystiq, etc.” Sound familiar?

As for Denton’s Gawker Media, its namesake blog recently shuffled top editors as outgoing Chris Mohney will end his six-month tenure to be replaced by a returning Choire Sicha, who ran the site three years ago. In a Wall Street Journal Online story, Denton points out that, in some ways, his growing new media company is very much like an old media company. “Gawker Media is increasingly like a mainstream media company, where writers are reassigned, or leave the company, stay in the orbit and return, later.”


On Franchise Issues

Marrecca Fiore Audience Development - 01/19/2007-03:00 AM

An analysis of publishers’ statements filed with Audit Bureau of Circulations revealed that while some franchise issues, like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, are wildly popular with consumers, others are not.

But that shouldn’t de-value the importance of special magazine issues. There’s a great many people who each year look forward to People magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful People list, as well as Forbes annual Investment Guide. Instead, magazines should look for ways to tweak their formula to meet the needs of the consumer.

Or, even better, publishers should do what Forbes is doing, making its annual lists of Billionaires, Most Powerful Celebrities, Top Companies to Work For, etc., a true multimedia experience. Forbes realizes that there are a lot of people out there that just will not pay for news anymore. So rather than trying to beat them, they’ve joined them.

Whenever a special issue of Forbes comes out, it’s one of the top stories of the day highlighted by the search engine Yahoo. From the Yahoo story, readers can link to Forbes Web site where they can find even more articles and information on the special information contained in that franchise issue. And Forbes doesn’t just offer little teasers on its Web site of the articles featured in the print version of the franchise issue. Instead, it gives readers full magazine articles and original Web content that can either complement or be read in place of the magazine.

And the effort is working because even when the franchise issue doesn’t fly off the shelf, hits to Forbes’ Web site increase greatly during the week that the issue hits the stands. Using those metrics, Forbes can probably, if it hasn’t started to already, begin charging advertisers a premium to advertise on its site during peak traffic weeks such as those when its franchise issues come out.

Linda Zebian

Building Your Back-End Web Staff

Linda Zebian emedia and Technology - 01/17/2007-03:00 AM

I’m writing a story for the February issue on the division of online labor. I’ve chatted with some companies who are really taking care of back-end Web responsibilities the right way—Time Inc., New York Magazine, Advanstar. I have a feeling though, that most publishers, especially smaller ones, are doing it wrong.

Staffing your technology department can be pricey. Computer guys don’t get paid peanuts. For example, an XML coder can charge $45 to $65 an hour to code content for various digital uses. But it’s important for publishing company owners to face the reality that they are going to have to spend the money on hiring the right people to run their Web sites and e-media properties. That means building a department that is devoted entirely to creating digital products, that works directly with editorial, sales, marketing and circ.

Don’t misconstrue the concept, either: IT and e-media are not one in the same. You don’t want the guy that sets up your voicemail to design your Web site, it’s just not a smart business move. At the bare minimum, publishers should invest in at least one strong e-media manager. That person may cost a pretty penny, but they will be well worth it. From there he or she can train college grads and give them the skills they need to drive your Web properties to their maximum capacity.

Matt Kinsman

The New Edit Formula: “Volume And Velocity”

Matt Kinsman Editorial - 01/16/2007-03:00 AM

OK, so maybe it’s not so new, but have you noticed in the last year or so how the pace has changed? I don’t care if you write for a monthly or even a quarterly magazine—online all the deadlines are daily.

My first job was as an editor of a bi-weekly print newsletter (a nearly defunct business model these days). Most of the editors were recent colleges graduates, working on their own weekly or bi-weekly newsletters. However, the company did offer a daily e-mail newsletter—cutting edge back then—called “Media Daily” written by two editors who were there well before 9 and long after 5. We soft print editors would shake our heads in awe at the pace.

That seems almost laughable today, when putting out a daily newsletter is just part of the package and a 10-hour workday seems like early dismissal. Last January, the site redesigned to incorporate exclusive online content from Fortune, Money, Business 2.0 and Fortune Small Business. A team of 35 journalists focuses solely on creating content and today the site publishes nearly 100 stories per day, more than triple the number it posted a year ago, according to executive editor and vice president Chris Peacock. “The formula is volume and velocity,” says Peacock. “This is obviously a challenge for smaller publishers but it’s not insurmountable.” Peacock cites Business 2.0 which has a “small staff” [small at least by Fortune standards] in which every staffer, including editor Josh Quittner, writes a blog and posts at least two items per day.

The push for “community content” is also changing the editor’s role. IDG Entertainment’s re-launched last spring with an emphasis on community—and user submissions have swelled from an average of 155 user submissions per day to 2,650 per day, according to marketing director Simon Tonner. “You have to be in touch with these users all the time,” says Tonner. “You may come in the morning and think you have four stories to write but you might open up the forums and see if there’s a topic being discussed that completely changes your focus. You have to have that flexibility, and that might be a completely different work environment than what you’re used to do.”

But ultimately, volume doesn’t necessarily equal quality. The role of the editor online isn’t just to keep the content assembly line moving but maintaining quality control. “With the volume of content going online and the rush to publish, an online editor needs to be fluent with the software skills but needs to be a good copy editor as well,” says Wyatt Kash, editorial director at Government Computer News.

How are you managing the editorial workflow online?

Bill Mickey

The Many Lives Of Content

Bill Mickey Editorial - 01/15/2007-03:00 AM

I’m writing a story for the February issue on writer’s contracts and how magazine editors are setting them up in light of online’s growing influence. Contracts, and how the magazine’s – or Web site’s – use of content plays out are an interesting reflection of where the industry is pursuing their product opportunities – or should be. The models are varied – some publishers have retained separate online content producers, while others combine print and online editorial production teams. Consider MacWorld, which test-drives some if its content online before it makes it into the print title. (Kind of like what I’m doing here, to a lesser degree, for a story that’s scheduled for February.)

But it’s more than that. ”You can’t even say online,” says Erik Sherman, freelance writer and chair, American Society of Journalists and Authors contracts committee. “How about television? How about radio? What happens if your story gets turned into a movie, which gets turned into a Broadway musical? How about book rights?”

The New York Times on Sunday pointed out how magazines are serializing their office life as reality TV fodder, and content is regularly being turned into Webcast material. How this is all represented in a contract is getting increasingly complicated. But as publishers navigate the rights issues, the progressive ones are thinking beyond first publication and all electronic to what they think the content will ultimately be used for and representing that in their agreements with the content creator.


Teen Vogue Finds Success With Readers And Advertisers

Marrecca Fiore Consumer - 01/12/2007-03:00 AM

Whatever the right formula is for attracting and keeping a fickle teenage audience, Teen Vogue seems to have found it. At a time when teenagers are turning to the Web for most of their news and information, Teen Vogue continues to find success with both readers and advertisers.

According to the latest Publishers Information Bureau statistics, Teen Vogue increased ad revenues in 2006 by 31.1 percent to just under $101.83 million, up from $77.67 million in 2005. Pages-in-book for the teen title increased 22.3 percent to 1,223.44, from 1,000.36 in 2005.

The publication, which turns four in February, also increased its rate base in October of last year from 850,000 to 900,000 – its third rate base increase since its launch. And its total paid and verified circulation has climbed from 850,000 in 2005 to just under a million.

But other teen titles have struggled. Teen People and ElleGirl folded their print publications last year, but maintain a Web presence. Cosmogirl, which has a lower market share than Teen Vogue, enjoyed growth last year in its ad revenues, up 12.2 percent to just under $81.1 million, but its pages in book grew by just 3 percent to 794.33 from 771.36.

Seventeen, the oldest of the teen bunch, saw its pages in book dip 3.7 percent last year to 936.65 from 972.30 in 2005. Its revenues grew just 2.5 percent to $101.87 million from $99.3 million in 2005.

Whether Teen Vogue continues to be successful remains to be seen. One thing's for sure though. While other teen magazines focus a lot of attention on celebrities and/or sex, much to the disappointment of parents, Teen Vogue focuses almost entirely on fashion and that could be the key to its success. Maybe. More...

Linda Zebian

On The Magazine-Cable Network Partnership

Linda Zebian Consumer - 01/11/2007-03:00 AM

Being the reality-TV junkie I am, I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of cable TV programs that have partnerships with consumer magazines. Networks like Bravo, which teams up with Cooking Light and Conde Nast’s ELLE for hit reality shows “Top Chef” and “Project Runway,” generate unprecedented PR for the magazines that are featured on the programs.

“The Hills,” an MTV reality spin-off of the hugely popular “Laguna Beach,” follows the life of main “character” Lauren Conrad as she interns at Teen Vogue in Los Angeles. And the network’s latest reality installment, which debuted last Sunday, “I’m From Rolling Stone,” has Yann Wenner’s face on overdrive across numerous ads and promotions.

Using successful (though sometimes cheesy) reality TV as a branding outlet to reach consumers is genius. These cable networks allow the marketers at these publications to reach their demographic from an entirely different angle and there is no better way to build buzz and credibility around a brand. Bravo! More...

Tony Silber

Why The Consumer Electronics Show Has Meaning For Magazines

Tony Silber Sales and Marketing - 01/11/2007-03:00 AM

Just got back from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Normally, I’d say that the CES event is a bit far afield for Folio: Magazine, what with all the booths offering iPod aftermarket products and so on.

But Aspire Media’s Clay Hall, a magazine-industry CEO with vision, convened a group of enthusiast and b-to-b publishers to discuss exactly what the CES represents for our future as print publishers.

I have to tell you: The show itself was totally overwhelming. Both of two convention centers were packed with exhibits. It’s really several shows in one. Everything from geeky computer technology to plastic gadgets to camera gear was represented. There were toys, and ubiquitous cell-phone items. They offered TV on cell phones, TV on computers. Computers on cell phones. And on and on.

Vegas was, of course, Vegas. I like the place and I don’t even gamble.

But the real value was a rich two days of discussions of the future of magazine publishing in the face of the electronic tide. The participants were fabulous, starting with Ken Bronfin, president of Hearst Interactive Media. Ken offered an eye-opening overview of electronic paper, which Hearst has invested in heavily and which is already gaining commercial traction in books and newspapers. For Bronfin, it’s only a matter of a couple of years before e-paper is a significant force in magazines. Compare it to digital music—and how it revolutionized the music industry, he says.

Other participants were Terry Snow, CEO of World Publications, Michela O’Connor Abrams, president and publisher of Dwell, Mark Edmiston, Managing Director of AdMedia Partners, Don Nicholas, Managing Director of The Mequoda Group, Don Peschke, CEO of August Home Publishing, Dan Wiesner, CEO of Wiesner Publishing and Steve Lalibeerte, president of iProduction, a St. Paul, Minnesota, e-publishing solutions provider.

In an all-star cast, Peschke stood out. August Home Publishing, a largely reader-driven company, stands out for its success in generating reader revenue, for brand extensions, for moving into e-media and for how Peschke, who started the Des Moines, Iowa-based company in 1978, approaches management and leadership. “The role of a manager is not to supervise other people,” Peschke says on the company’s Web site. “It’s to help other people, including our customers, be successful.”

Look for more from Peschke and the rest of the participants in a special roundtable in the March issue of Folio:.

Bill Mickey

Get 'Em While They're Hot

Bill Mickey M and A and Finance - 01/08/2007-03:00 AM

Private equity investors are chomping at the bit for more M&A action in 2007 after making headlines in 2006 as the new media M&A rainmakers. Indeed, private equity players are making a splash across many markets, not just magazines and media. Even as small to mid-sized companies are bought out and rolled up into operating platforms, large public companies are taking advantage of the active market to go private – to find relief from Sarbanes-Oxley, among other motivators.

But even as the reporting continues to examine private equity’s boom, there’s a building undercurrent of speculation on when the good times will end. At ABM’s Top Management Meeting in Chicago last November, bankers were marveling out one side of their mouths at private equity’s rise over the last 12 months while wondering out the other side when economic conditions would put the breaks on the whole thing. For now, no one is willing to get too specific. The stars have aligned: publishers have generally built up their event divisions, whether organically or via acquisition, and have moved aggressively into e-media with nary a glass of Kool-Aid in sight. And there’s a hungry pack of buyers ready to get going.

And e-media this year will be a critical dealmaking factor as all of 2006’s must-have features, services and products coalesce into practical (or not) business elements. As if to underscore buyer eagerness and, possibly, the sense that all good things will someday come to an end, the DeSilva + Phillips 2007 M&A Report puts it this way: “In 2006, media executives were still worried that getting it wrong would be more harmful than not acting at all. Yet if there was ever a case of pent-up demand – and a growing recognition that now is the time to act decisively – look at your watch. It’s time.”


Monetizing The Web In The New Year

Marrecca Fiore emedia and Technology - 01/05/2007-03:00 AM

A Folio: and Readex survey conducted last year showed that print remains the dominant revenue stream for publishers. That’s in spite of the fact that print advertising is declining and both readers and advertisers are flocking to the Web. Much of the problem stems not from a lack of investment in online media, but from a lack of understanding on the part of publishers on how to monetize their Web properties.

The issue is two-fold. For one, setting print advertising rates is second nature in the publishing industry and is often done using a rate base or by using paid or controlled circulation models. But setting advertising rates online is more difficult and publishers often find themselves with the quandary of whether to set rates according to Web traffic or impressions, or according demographics or how much time users actually spend on their sites.

The second issue is a lack of space and creativity in the online ad realm. Publishers need to move beyond the banner ad and the often-ineffective interstitial and find other, more creative ways to allow advertisers to market their products and services. This could be remedied as simply as adding more video, audio, sponsorship and social networking offerings to Web sites. But publishers must also think outside the box to offer advertisers more diverse ways to reach to consumers.

VNU Business Media this week launched a job portal that will combine the resources of its entertainment, advertising and media trade publications on a single Web site. The hope, said VNU eMedia group sales director Jeff Green, is that the portal will allow VNU to take a large bite out of the $50 million employers in the aforementioned three industries spend annually to advertise jobs on major and niche job sites. Because the three different industries often look for employees with similar skill sets, VNU believes they’ll have an advantage over their competition by offering a one-stop shop for people working in advertising, entertainment and/or media jobs. And who knows, they just might.

The time has come to not only put in place a quantifiable method for setting ad rates online, but to also look for new and creative ways to make money online. Two-thousand-seven should be the year to monetize the Web. More...

Linda Zebian

Seventeen Replaces Atoosa

Linda Zebian Consumer - 01/03/2007-03:00 AM

Seventeen has finally found someone to replace Atoosa Rubenstein, the former editor in chief of the Hearst teen mag who quit in November to launch her own teen-centered Web business, write a book and start a consultancy specializing in the youth market. After several months and plenty of gossip surrounding the search for a replacement, CosmoGirl executive editor Ann Shoket has been selected to assume the role of filling Rubenstein’s shoes.

Although Rubenstein received a lot of flack during her three years as editor for her Today Show-MTV-talking head-My Space enthusiast-Spice Girl image, I think Shoket should strive to be like her predecessor. As the editor of Seventeen magazine, it is Shoket’s job to be a role model for her readers, and get herself out there as much as possible to build the brand. Rubenstein became the face of the publication, putting herself on every media outlet to reach her target audience. Isn’t that what consumer magazine editor’s strive to do every day? More...

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