Just came back from Helsinki. My first stop was (of course a newsstand) at the Detroit Airport. Two things stopped me, both National Geographic and Time magazine share the same cover story. I guess great editors think alike. Walked a little bit more towards my gate and received my first welcome back surprise. A different cover of National Geographic at another newsstand stopped me. Same story but different cover within a few feet. (It seems that more than one distributor serves the Detroit Airport). My second surprise was that the covers of the magazines were not the same as their European edition covers that I bought in Amsterdam. I perfectly understand that the technology makes it easier for us to deliver relevant content to relevant audiences in relevant locations. So the decision of Time to have a story on European Soccer was perfectly understandable. But when I look at the cover story of the National Geographic European edition on India, I have to ask myself the question, how is a cover story on India more relevant to Europe than the story of America’s birth. All three insides of National Geographic are the same. There were no major changes inside National Geographic like those inside Time magazine. One thing I give credit to the National Geographic folks: they managed to confuse me here and abroad with this cover strategy. Please explain the relevance of having two different covers here, and of using India as the European cover story instead of either of the American covers. On the other hand, I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the direction Time magazine has taken since its revamp, and I can completely understand and expect the different covers of their overseas editions with their different content. The story of split covers will continue…
Archive for April, 2007
Once a week, I highlight three new magazines on my web site www.mrmagazine.com. This week the three new magazines are American Bagger, Destination Fish and The Journal of Life Sciences. Read here about these new launches. To be considered for review on my web site, please send a copy of your first issue to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Department of Journalism, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677.
For more than 40 years, Cosmopolitan magazine has been introducing readers to all kinds of sex and sex positions, from the amazing to the shocking sex. Issue after issue the upper left hand corner under the name has been reserved to what many believe is the main reason the magazine sells almost two million copies every month on the nations newsstands. However, one type of sex never made it to the Cosmo cover: Astronaut Sex. Well, thanks to Texas Monthly magazine the new “amazing and shocking” sex lands on the cover of Texas Monthly and not Cosmo. Well, I am sure that in a month or two Cosmo will enhance the coverage of Astronaut Sex and will give us 31 new positions to enjoy Astronaut Sex. Well, as you prepare for that, make sure you will practice “safe sex” that will not land you in jail!
A joint venture between Hearst Magazines and Hoffman Media of Birmingham, AL is bringing Victoria magazine back to life and at the same time adding to the southern expansion of Hearst Magazines. Few years ago Hearst bought the Atlanta based magazine Veranda and yesterday they announced that they partnered with Hoffman Media, publisher of Cooking with Paula Deen, Southern Lady, and A Taste of the South magazines to bring Victoria magazine back to life. Victoria was founded in 1987 as a spin off of Good Housekeeping under the editorialship of “the father of new magazine launches” John Mack Carter and was the brainchild of her founding editor Nancy Lindemeyer. The magazine became an instant success with readers and in few years hit the million copies circulation mark. However, in 2003, and without any warning signs Hearst pulled the plug on the magazine citing lack of advertising pages and revenues. The magazine, according to my sources, had one of the highest subscription renewals at the time the magazine was folded. It was yet another sign from our industry leaders that they want to continue to use the same old model of subsidy by advertisers rather than readers paying the fair price of the magazine. It was like telling the millions of readers of Victoria, that we care more about the fifty advertising customers more than the two or three million readers. It is a sad but true fact in the thinking of most of our big “New York” based publishers. Well, now come Hoffman Media, the little engine that could, to bring Victoria back to life. Victoria will be entirely under the direction of Hoffman Media. The plan for the magazine is to launch in October and to hit the 250,000 circulation mark after only two issue. I am sure that both John Mack Carter and Nancy Lindemeyer are delighted to hear about their baby’s rebirth. Congratulations to both.
For almost five years now I have been preaching the need for newspapers to become daily magazines, both in content and shape, if they are going to survive the forces of change. Last month I wrote about this same matter (you can read it here). Now, my friend Sandy Woodcock, the director of the Newspaper Association of America Foundation e-mails me with the news that the founder of such a daily magazine is going to speak at the World Newspaper Congress, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa from June 3 -6. Here is the exact description of the session Gert Edlinger, the managing director of the Austrian paper Osterreich.
“IS THE DAILY MAGAZINE THE FUTURE FOR NEWSPAPERS?
A new Austrian daily blurs the lines between newspapers and magazines, and some say this is the future for newspapers in general. Gert Edlinger, the Managing Director of Osterreich, will discuss the innovative format and content strategy at the World Newspaper Congress, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 3 to 6 June next…
The compact, full-colour Osterreich, launched in September 2006 in one of the most concentrated newspaper markets in Europe, mixes magazine and newspaper styles in one package, with several sections printed on glossy paper and stapled on the spine. These are not typical magazine inserts: they are daily sections, with daily deadlines that are paginated and printed along with the other daily sections. To use both newspaper and magazine quality paper in the same publication, Osterreich and its printing partners had to develop an innovative printing and workflow system that allows for both cold and heat set processes during the same printing run. The newspaper claims to be the first to use this technology. The high-quality paper allows the newspaper to attract a new brand of luxury goods and other advertisers who insist on magazine quality for their ads. Mr Edlinger will present the case of Osterreich during a session on Shaping the Future of the Newspaper at the Congress, which will examine new print products, new digital revenue generation, the best advertising strategies and the reorganization of newspaper companies for the multi-platform newspaper.”
I just gave a keynote speech at the Finnish Periodical Publishers Association in Helsinki. The title of my speech was “Are magazines relevant in tomorrow’s marketplace?” The simple answer for the question was YES. The more detailed presentation followed this outline: 1. Journalists and reporters are not the readers. 2. Journalist should remain in charge in order to create Good Relevant Content to a Relevant Audience via the Relevant Medium. 3. Each and every member of your society may become your freelance informer, but he or she is NOT the trained expert or journalist. 4. The Smart One Shop Stop media company will be involved in all media, yet they have to provide different content in different departments (you do not want to buy your dress from the cafeteria in the store, although both items are in the store). 5. Good Content will remain King and Queen, based on four basic elements: good reporting, good writing, good editing and a good sense of news judgment, regardless of the medium. 6. Good design will help Good content, but Good design will NEVER help BAD content. In short, focus on the readers’ needs, wants and desires and not on your colleagues’ view of you or on the awards you may win for your work.
From Sweden comes this new quarterly “Bookazine” part book, part magazine. Yet, the whole is much larger than the sum of the two parts. The magazine is bilingual, Swedish and English, and is aimed at the cream of the crop of audiences worldwide. The price tag is a hefty one: 22 Euros in Europe and $28 in the USA. I picked up the first issue on the stands in Helsinki where I am keynoting today the Finnish Periodical Publishers Association conference. Loft’s founder Mikael Becker is a mutli-tasker. He writes in the first issue, “I created the Loft concept, which currently consists of Loft Bookazine, loftcard, the Loft television series and the Loft website. Right now I feel proud, happy and exhausted.” And can you blame him? It took him a year to get the whole concept of Loft refined “like polishing a diamond.” This boutique magazine continues in the latest trend of other boutique magazines from the Nordic countries using their own language and English as a second language in the magazine to create that instant international flavor and flair to the magazine. Loft has been able to do so ever so graciously. The picture above is from the loftcard web site. A very good example of what some like to call “publishing 360.”
The cover of the UK’s April issue of GQ carried a three page fold out “world exclusive” picture of model Naomi Campbell revealing a little too much… however, when the magazine traveled across the Atlantic the cover had undergone some significant changes and additions in very strategic areas as you can see from the two covers above. The one on the left is the UK original, the one on the right is the British import to our shores…Who said we did not learn any lessons from Ms. Jackson’s mishap at the Super Bowl!
Few weeks ago I wrote about the difference between the single copy edition of Redbook and that of the subscription edition. For some time now the magazine has been changing the word SEX on the newsstands to LOVE on the subscribers covers. The May issue goes one-step further. The subscribers, who Redbook assumes they are so stressed that they need to “stop your STRESS 21 smart strategies,” while the magazine asks their counterparts on the nation’s stands “get 10 minutes? say yes, oh yes! to sex.” I have given up trying to come up with explanations for this type of cover treatment, but the only thing I know for sure, it seems to me it is very misleading and very unethical to trick people in buying the magazine knowing that if they subscribe they will kiss SEX goodbye on the covers of REDBOOK. Mind you, it is only the cover that changes…all the say yes, oh yes! to sex is all inside of both editions.
Age maybe nothing but a number, but in the case of Rolling Stone it is a journey from “Vietnam to Iraq. From search and destroy to shock and awe.” The magazine’s first of three anniversary issues reaches the stands this week sporting a stunning cover design by no other than Chip Kidd who among his many works is the design of a complete issue of Francis Coppola’s Zeotrope magazine (see it below). When people ask me to name a magazine that stood the test of time and was able to grow with its audience, Rolling Stone always tops my list. Yet, this issue exceeds all my expectations on what a great magazine can do. If you never bought Rolling Stone in your life, now it is the time to grab this issue. It is worth every penny from the $6.95 cover price. To quote the editors “Rolling Stone will continue to do its part by standing for honest and hard reporting in the media and maintaining a dialogue with its readers that reflects our democracy and a belief in the wisdom of the people.” I say Amen to that.