Learning From The Past When It Comes To Launching A New Magazine – Sometimes The Vintage Ways Work The Best. Plus Time Inc. Multi Media Ventures Circ. 1930s…

June 16, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

I often hear the question: how do you launch a magazine in today’s digital age? And what role does digital play in today’s magazine media market place? Now, those are loaded queries if I’ve ever heard one, simply because there is no definitive answer. You need passion, innovation, a really good idea, stick-to-itiveness, which is a non-word that will become your mantra, and of course, financial backing. So what better answers to get from searching our past as we chart the present and the future.

A new launch and the role of digital in today’s magazine world can always use a leg-up as well; an edge, if you will. That’s why this Mr. Magazine™ Musing was written, because I discovered a golden nugget from the past that still rings very true today. Going that extra mile or offering that little oomph that maybe some other magazine isn’t, could quite possible be someone’s “leg-up” or “edge” when it comes to launching a new magazine today. There really is nothing new under the sun; if you thought of it, so has someone else. Even Time Inc. in the 1930s opted to go beyond print to spread its content. So here are some pearls of wisdom from the past that people fail to look for; just because the oyster’s shell is old, doesn’t mean there isn’t a treasure inside.

I was perusing the treasures inside the Mr. Magazine™ Classic Vault recently, (my own personal oyster shell pile) when I stumbled upon an amazing find. Beneath the bounty of exquisite classic titles, in a corner all its own, lay the oversized (14 x 17 inches) preview issue of Cinema Arts magazine, launched in September, 1936 . The cover showcases the striking features of the inimitable actress Jean Arthur, who in 1936, with the release of the Frank Capra film, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” was celebrating her first featured role.

Now, what is so significant and important to note with this preview issue, not that the beautiful Jean Arthur was anything to sneeze at, is that this particular sneak peek at the magazine was meant entirely for private circulation and not for public sale.

The magazine has an announcement at the very front of the book which proclaims that, “it should be stated that none of these advertisements were paid for and advertisers in no way endorse Cinema Arts. Our purpose in publishing this preview issue is to acquaint national advertisers, agencies and motion picture executives with the type of publication they may expect.” The announcement goes on to list the advertisers, agencies, and they also thank people in the motion picture industry.

However, what really grabbed my attention and impressed me was the magazine, in this private issue, introduced itself to the public, the industry and the advertisers. It didn’t just show up in someone’s mailbox or on their doorstep. The publisher actually took the time to explain the magazine’s mission statement and its goal to each of the publication’s three different customers that it would be serving.

There is an introduction for each one in the beginning of the book and this is a fantastic lesson for new magazines today to learn from. You have to cater to your customers who count, instead of trying to count all of John Q. Public as your customers. And in the case of Cinema Arts those customers were the film industry, as a whole, the public and the advertisers. So, in the Cinema Arts Presents introduction, each individual consumer is addressed singularly.

Another amazing thing about the magazine is the quality of the printing and the size of the preview issue. It’s an experience unto itself, before you even start to read it. Just touching the paper that they used for some of the pages gives you such a sensory perception of the passionate offering the magazine put out there.

Time Inc. Multi Media Ventures

In addition to the way the magazine was introduced, there were unbelievably interesting and informative articles within its pages. One that really caught my attention was written by Ralph Rolan, who was vice president of radio’s, “MARCH OF TIME,” and was also circulation manager of TIME before he became the producer of “MARCH OF TIME.”

In the article he talks about how in 1931, Henry Luce, “After establishing two great magazines in the publishing field, “TIME” and “FORTUNE,” turned to radio and introduced on Friday nights, the “MARCH OF TIME,” presenting the significant news of the week dramatized by able actors and pointed with TIME’s own style of editorial writing. For five years the “MARCH OF TIME” on the air has won most of the polls and awards offered for dramatic programs.”

The article continues with more enlightening content: “Most talked of factor of TIME, FORTUNE and the MARCH OF TIME on the air has been the frankness and keenness with which its editors have discussed the world’s news. So it was with considerable trepidation on the part of motion picture theater operators that they learned the MARCH OF TIME was to be made into a motion picture. They wondered, under the censorship regulations of almost every state, if such a strong fare could get by and, if passed, how the audiences, who were used to the happy endings of fictional romances and drama, would receive the strong, stark happenings of real events.”

“The MARCH OF TIME on the screen made its appearance February 1st, 1935 in 417 theaters scattered throughout the United States. Today it shows in more than 6,000 theaters in the United States, has spread over a thousand in the British Empire, hundreds in the Spanish speaking nations and some 300 more theaters scattered throughout the United States possessions and miscellaneous English speaking colonies throughout the world – an excellent answer to all skeptics.”

So, this magazine, Cinema Arts, had the vision of reaching its three audiences, and producing some very informative articles, such as the one that caught my attention about Time Inc. and its role in multimedia from the company’s inception. The importance of what Rolan was talking about in his article shows the depth and value of good content. Something that still holds true today.

For those of us willing to open our minds and see the possibilities that history presents us and the very real publishing lessons that we can learn, there’s no telling what “new” information we might reintroduce to the world of magazines.

Until next time…

See you at the newsstands…

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