Archive for January, 2008


More Good Journalism: World Affairs is Back

January 31, 2008

What do Lawrence F. Kaplan, Andrew J. Bacevich, Helene Cooper, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Kagan, Michel Kazin, Joshua Muravchik, P.J. O’Rourke, Ronald Steel and Leon Wieseltier have in common? They are the editorial board of the newly relaunched World Affairs journal. The journal was first published in London in 1837. Lawrence F. Kaplan, the journal’s editor asks and answers the question regarding the mission of the new World Affairs. “So what one idea will World Affairs champion?” Kaplan asks. He is quick to answer, “There won’t be one, but many: Rather than adhering to some party line, this journal will celebrate and encourage heterodoxy and open debate.” Kaplan adds, “The biases of World Affairs may seem quaint, even parochial, by comparison. The journal will not wear its heart on its sleeve; its probably somewhere in the space between board members Kagan and Kazin, which, as it happens, is also the distance between two sides of the same creed.”
World Affairs’ tag line is “A journal of ideas and debate” and it is indeed a journal of ideas that deserve debate. Ideas that give journalism that matters yet another venue for readers looking for something to sink their teeth into. So, once more for those mourning the death of good journalism, please pick up a copy of the launch issue of World Journal at a newsstand near you. I promise you will not regret it. To learn more about World Affairs click here.


Yes, Virginia, there is Good Journalism…

January 30, 2008

The bloggers and their websites have been filled of late with the news of the demise of journalism…real journalism, investigative journalism, journalism that matters, journalism that is necessary to run a democracy. We are told journalists have been exiting newspapers and are being replaced by soccer-mom journalists or what some like to call citizen journalists. News about Britney and Lindsy passes as journalism in this day and age. Is good journalism dead? Far from it. There is plenty of good, necessary journalism out there. All what you have to do is look in the right places.
One “right place” this week is Rolling Stone’s Feb. 7 issue. Even if you do not care about the cover story on Radiohead, three articles of good journalism caught my attention and I have recommended them to my students and colleagues alike. The first is The Fear Factory by Guy Lawson, the second is The New Nixon by Matt Taibbi and the third Blame Pedro by Tim Dickinson. Three articles worth much more than the cover price of $4.95.
So, yes it is getting harder to find journalism that is necessary, journalism that will have an impact on people’s lives, but it is still there. I am reminded by the biblical “parable of the weeds” where a man sowed good seed in the field, but at night an enemy came and sowed weed among the wheat. No doubt there is a lot of weed out there, but we can’t afford to give up now. There is still a lot of wheat. Tough it out and continue searching and recommending the necessity of journalism and thus journalism that matters. The three aforementioned articles, whether you agree or disagree with their points of view, are a prime example of journalism that matters and journalism that still cares to give a damn…


When Alternative becomes Natural…

January 29, 2008

That is of course Alternative Medicine magazine changing its name to Natural Solutions and its tag line from The Art & Science of Healthy Living to Vibrant Health Balanced Living. Why the change? Well the editor-in-chief goes into great length trying to assure readers that nothing have changed except for the name and design. Linda Sparrowe writes in the first issue of Natural Solutions,”…you’ll be happy to discover most everything about the magazine is still here. It looks different, but all the departments you trust remain intact and all the topics continue to have that “AltMed” spin.” In the January issue (with the old name) Ms. Saprrowe writes about the change, “We’ve talked about this (the name change) for quite a while, and now it’s official. For our New Year’s resolution — one we know we can keep — we vow not to change the content you have come to trust month after month, year upon year.” If that is the case, why then bother and change the name of the magazine after 14 years of publishing it under the name Alternative Medicine. The newsstands are already crowded and some magazines will kill to have a 14-year brand to depend on and continue to promote. Change is the only constant in our business; that is a given. But to change for the sake of change is the worst thing than can happen in our business. Many have tried it before and many have failed. I just hope that the folks at Alternative Medicine, sorry Natural Solutions are not destroying a 14-year branded history in one swift change that they go to length to say it is not a change!


Making the Newsstand magazine a Limited Edition Magazine…

January 23, 2008

Here is a fact: In the UK more magazines are sold via single copy sales than subscriptions. Here is another fact: In the US of A more magazines are sold via subscriptions than single copy sales. Here is also one more fact: More magazines are now using split covers, dual covers, and even multiple covers of 3, 4 and in some cases 11 (Flaunt magazine)… So the question becomes when is a magazine cover a collector’s edition. Well the simple answer is never, especially if it says on the cover Collector’s Cover. Well, in the UK, Wallpaper magazine may have found a solution for the problem. Why not call the subscriber’s cover a limited edition cover: A cover that is designed specifically for the subscribers (above right). They are telling the truth because only a limited number of the issues are sold by subscriptions. As for the US of A, well our collector’s limited type covers are also aimed at the subscribers who represent the majority of the audience and not just a limited number. The Harper’s Bazaar cover below with limited typography is that of the subscribers (below left). The cover that is filled with cover lines is for the single copy sales. So, I wonder whether the newsstands’ copies of the American magazines should carry the limited edition cover phrase, since the newsstands’ sales are getting more and more limited by the day if not the minute. Let us give the Wal-Marts of this world a reason to sell more magazines on their newsstands. It is only logical that the American magazines’ single copy editions should be labeled limited editions, not only because they carry a different design, but also because they are priced 90% more than their siblings the subscribers’ copies of the same magazine.


Dead Magazines Walking…

January 18, 2008

It seems that no one knew that Wal-Mart was magazine heaven…when a magazine dies it continues to live on the books at Wal-Mart. Well the news today of Wal-Mart giving the boot to some 1,000 titles from its shelves has a lot of irony to it. Several magazines booted have been resting in peace for some time (no respect for the dead anymore) and several other magazines are big name titles that Wal-Mart uses the brand to sell other stuff under the brand’s name (think Better Homes & Gardens). Keith Kelly in today’s New York Post reported the story of the ousting of the magazines. Read Kelly’s entire column here. On the bright side of things an industry colleague from Penthouse magazine e-mailed me, “Well, PENTHOUSE wasn’t thrown out because it was never there in the first place, but this is not a good sign. It looks like a massive cut in rack space and cross merchandising is under way. Wait for the ripple effect!!!” Indeed.


When bad things happen to good magazines…

January 16, 2008

Earlier today I received an e-mail from the folks at Need magazine, one of the magazines selected by me for min magazine as one of the 15 hottest launches of last year. The Need offices have been robbed and all their stuff has been stolen. Stephanie Kinnunen, Need’s CEO and C0-founder ends her mail on a positive note: spread hope. Here is her entire e-mail:

I have some unfortunate news to share with you. Over the weekend NEED magazine’s office was burglarized. All of our equipment was stolen, including multiple computers, printers, phones and even the power strips and desk lamps. The damage also includes a destroyed alarm system, cabinets broken and the phone lines cut. The incident has left us with scarce office resources until the claim goes through our insurance company. This will delay communications and production, although we will work to get things back on schedule as soon as possible. The loss of equipment has hurt us, but we will bounce back from this. I would like to thank you in advance for your patience, understanding and continued support.
Spread Hope,
Stephanie Kinnunen


“Service for my at-home readers” Redbook’s EIC Stacy Morrison Responds

January 14, 2008

Those of you who have been following my blog may remember that I have written more than once about Redbook magazine and the way it changes the word SEX to LOVE on the subscribers’ editions. Click here to read that blog.

Well, today Stacy Morrison, Redbook’s editor-in-chief responded to my blog with the following:

Hey there, Mr. Magazine. I wish I had seen this when you first posted it. I must have not read my Bloglines very closely that week.

In any case, I wanted to assure you that the switch between sex and love is a service for my at-home readers, who are constantly requesting that we “soften” our sex coverage on our covers because many of our readers have teenagers and other such types at home whom they don’t want perusing our sex content. Of course, I personally think that teenagers *should* peruse our sex content, but as an editor and a journalist and a person, I definitely know that my job is working for my readers and channeling their lives and desires, not telling them what those lives and desires should look like. So yeah, I guess that’s a marketing ploy, doing what my customers request.

We are very honest with our lives at Redbook, which is why our recent updates to the magazine have driven three record-breaking years in a row for the title. You’re not quite our target audience—that’s young women who are reinventing what it looks like to be a grown-up, aged 27 to 47—but we are flattered just the same.

Stacy Morrison

Editor in Chief
Redbook and

Thank you Stacy for taking the time to respond and all the best. Samir


Wrong Again: The MPA and Readers

January 11, 2008

In an interview with the website ClickZ Howard Polskin, MPA’s (Magazine Publishers of America) senior vice president/communications & events told Matthew Nelson “[Magazines] are using whatever platform they can to touch their–and I’m not going to use the word readers–to touch their users 24-7,” he said. “The people that used to consume magazine content used to be readers and now there is the subtle shift that it’s more important to call them users.” Magazine users and not readers seem to be the new catch phrase of the MPA. Well, in my humble opinion, the MPA is once again dead wrong in its approach to the magazine industry that it serves. Magazine publishers should first and above all be magazine-centric, turning readers into customers. Magazines can never and should never be the 24/7 vehicle Mr. Polskin is advocating. They have a role to play and that role can never be like some other form of media. Magazines in the 60s tried to compete with television and we all know the rest of the story.

We ought to be proud of our magazine readers. We have to work with them to become magazine customers who will come back to the magazine because the content we offer is not available in any other place. Do not misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with extending our brands and being available on the net and on television. However, if we focus on the lifeboats and let the ship sink, I am sure you will agree that it is not such a good proposal.

Magazines ought to focus on offering their readers unique content that is relevant to today’s marketplace without having to go and imitate what others are doing in other media. Focus on the content that serves the readers and those readers will become customers. Will they become Users? Only if by Users we mean addicts to the great content of the magazine.


Late ’07 Arrivals Promise a Blooming ’08

January 10, 2008

I thought you would enjoy a fresh selection of new magazines to take your minds off of the fact that you have already broken your New Year’s resolutions (shame on you). And since a new year always brings fresh hope and opportunities, I decided to have a more eclectic mix of new consumer magazines reviewed in the first installment of what’s hot what’s new on the website. The three reviews are all for new magazines that were born in the midst of the holiday season and thus may have escaped your radar screen. But these late arriving titles make a good promising sign for things to come in 2008. The first reviews of this year are for Corporate Leader, Rounder and Science Illustrated. So, without further delay, click here for the 2008 premiere of What’s Hot, What’s New.


At the ripe age of 15, adds a print edition

January 8, 2008

What do you do when your web site reaches “2 million people coming to the site each month, over 250 columnists, 120 partner groups, a dozen talk radio shows, and more than 4,000 grassroots bloggers.” Very simple according to the folks at, the conservative website launched some 15 years ago by The Heritage Foundation. Distill all that information and put in one place: a magazine named Townhall. Chuck DeFeo, Co-Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine wrote in the first issue, “The media landscape of today has grown so wide and so fast paced that it is difficult to keep up with it all. As we looked to 2008 we saw an opportunity to provide something that captures the myriad of voices and distills it into one product.” That one product is called a monthly magazine. Wow, just think, if such a product was not invented hundreds of years ago, what would the pundits write about this new product that distills and captures all kind of voices floating through the wilderness called the internet! I guess we have a tendency to forget about all the great technological inventions from paper to the magazines themselves. I have said it before and I will say it again, our problem is not with medium, it is with the content. Let us work on the content and see what wonderful results print, both magazines and newspapers can still deliver in this day and age.

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