Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

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Killing Me Softly With Her “Talk”: Why Tina Brown’s 10 Excuses for Killing Newsweek Are ALL DEAD WRONG…

December 31, 2012

1356279090281.cached When I was interviewed last October by the Associated Press about Tina Brown’s decision to kill the print edition of Newsweek, I put the failure of Newsweek, to the surprise of very few, right on the shoulders of Ms. Brown. Only a former managing editor of TIME (who by the way was pushed up and out of the magazine that at least five years ago stopped counting Newsweek as a competitor) said about my remarks: “No one said anything stupider than Samir Husni.” That same editor, turned media columnist, amazingly appears in the last issue of Newsweek talking about a competition that ceased to exit years ago).

Heaven forbid that one ever criticize an editor for a magazine failure. It is always someone else’s fault… advertisers, circulation, the weather, anything or anyone but the editor. An editor’s choice of content, covers, or even writers, let alone, an editor’s knowledge of the audience of a magazine, never makes up a recipe for failure. Right? Well, that’s what you are lead to believe reading Tina Brown’s final editorial in the “#LastPrintIssue” of Newsweek.

The content of Newsweek for the last two years, from Princess Di at 50, to the First Gay President, to the famous sexy food cover, are three examples of how content (i.e. bad content, irrelevant content to a magazine’s audience, etc.) can and will lead to your demise. Remember Talk?

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Well, here are ten excuses I was able to discern from Ms. Brown’s own editorial about the demise of the print edition of Newsweek and my comments on each excuse:

10: To “see the full evolution of the spanking-new, all-digital Newsweek Global…” if it is going to be anything like the evolution of the spanking-new print edition of Newsweek two years ago, don’t brace yourself for any positive surprises. If you could not make it “national” are you kidding me about making it “global?”

9: “It’s been a turbulent two-year journey (since the marriage to the Daily Beast), culminating in our decision to leave print…” I guess the marriage was a blast that created a schizophrenic double personality entity that was neither Newsweek nor the Daily Beast. The decision not to merge the Daily Beast into Newsweek.com actually spelled this inevitable doom. In fact this greatly undermined the Newsweek brand because in effect it had no digital outlet — both editorially and in terms of advertising. This decision was totally as a result of Ms. Brown’s vanity about the Daily Beast.

8: “Most of the boldface bylines and star writers who defined the brand had flown the Newsweek coop…” I wonder why some of them went to TIME?

7: “There was no executive editor… no news editor, no managing editor, no features editor, no ….” And I thought that was the reason they brought on Tina Brown.

6: “Advertisers had peeled off…” and now they are going to come back with full force into the all-digital edition? By the way, is the Daily Beast making any money online?

5: The magazine was located in an office “reminiscent of the Stasi headquarters in East Berlin.” When everything else fails, blame it on the brick and mortar building. Newsweek logo on its own building is no longer “in the eye-line of its swaggering competitor in the Time-Life Building.”

4: Newsweek is “embracing a digital medium that all our competitors will one day need to embrace… we are ahead of the curve.” Have you heard of TIME, The Economist, The Week, Bloomberg Businessweek? And by the way how is it that Bloomberg Businessweek has survived, and is thriving–after it was sold for one dollar? By the way, just for the historical record: Newsweek came into being 10 years after TIME was born, and Newsweek’s circulation was always behind TIME in its entire 79 years of publishing. Talk about being ahead of the curve.

3: The re-born, all-digital Newsweek will take “its readers to territory that is new and uncharted.” Wow… I wonder if the majority of the Newsweek readers are avid digital readers who are leaving print by the droves and are willing or wanting to take the “uncharted” road? If the “chartered” road did not work, do you truly believe that the “uncharted” road will? And if it is such a “new-spanking” entity based on 80 years of history, why abandon Newsweek’s main audience in the heartland of America? Under Ms. Brown, Newsweek has become a magazine created for and about the coasts, and a “newsmagazine” like Newsweek is, and should be, about all of America.

2: “We say sayonara to print, we thank our 1.5 million loyal readers…” I guess Ms. Brown does not believe in readership studies that estimate how many readers a magazine has per issue, while the 1.5 million circulation is the rate base number given to advertisers. There is a big difference between readers and subscribers in the magazine business. well, of course, unless the magazine had only one reader per copy, since the readership numbers are absent from Newsweek’s media kit. And, by the way, Ms. Brown said “sayonara” for the loyal magazine readers when she brought in her 80s and 90s sensibility of what would shock and/or titillate. Those were the days my friends, and contrary to believe, they did end.

1: “…Wish us luck and join us… in our all-digital future.” Well, to paraphrase the other Tina, “What’s luck got to do with it?” Oops, sorry, that was “What’s love got to do with it.” But you get my point. As one of my friends once told me, “Ms. Brown doesn’t and never has understood America.” It is all about understanding and knowing your audience; not luck or love has anything to do with it.

Well, my prediction, out of sight is indeed out of mind. Thanks, Newsweek, for the memories, may you rest in peace or pieces as you, that is, Ms. Brown, wishes. And if you ever think that the Daily Beast has a higher value as a brand than Newsweek, think not once, but twice and thrice for that matter.

For the rest of the printed magazines out there (all 10,000 print consumer magazines distributed on the nation’s newsstands), fear not, print is here to stay, alongside with digital and whatever new platforms that are yet to be invented. Bad content and irrelevant content on any platform will continue to die regardless of the device. Enough said.

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“Recoil” and “Highlights Hello” Top My List of Most Notable Launches of 2012: New Magazines Wrap-Up; Mr. Magazine™ Style

December 29, 2012

photoFrom American Frontiersman to the Zombie Nation (a magazine that was first published in May 2012 and re-issued its premier issue again in Dec. with a different on sale date), 2012 was the year for running the gamut on niche magazines. You could be a Modern Woman while admiring the Beautiful You, all with the flick of a page.

For those naysayers who are crying from the rooftops that print is dead, check out these facts:

There were a total of 870 new titles on the newsstands in 2012, with 242 of them publishing with a regular frequency. Not since 2007 have we seen numbers that impressive. In that illustrious year (2007) there were 715 total new magazines, with 248 publishing regularly.

The categories reflect the specificity that publishing today demands; from art to women’s interests, being a niche market was the bulls-eye to aim for. Success fairly oozed from the pointed hit almost each and every time. While the epicurean delights still ruled book-a-zine-land and special interests overall, lifestyles came in at a close second. To see new print titles exceed the numbers from 5 years ago only reinforces my mantra: You can’t keep good ink on paper down; at least, not for long.

My top 5 Most Notable Launches for 2012 could be described as eclectic and controversial as the year itself. But the criteria for a notable launch is based on so many different factors that have absolutely nothing to do with tragedy and horrific events from our world today, yet magazines can’t help being the mirror from which society’s reflections are made visual.

Take the year’s Most Notable Launch overall, there was a tie for 2012:
1. Recoil
2. Highlights Hello

These two magazines go from one end of the spectrum to the other. With Recoil, you have an artfully-done, gun-lifestyle magazine that is selling for as much as $125 an issue on e-bay. Unbelievable, you might say, nevertheless, very true. For the gun enthusiast, this magazine is the answer to a prayer and proudly promotes the Second Amendment without apology.

RecoilBlogControversy surrounds this publication today, in more ways than one, as Recoil’s editor, Jerry Tsai, resigned in Sept. 2012 after basically calling Recoil’s support for the Second Amendment rights into question. It was too late after Tsai said that MP7A1’s were unavailable to citizens and for good reason. No amount of retraction, or good intentions could fix it, so Tsai resigned.

Highlights Hello-Then you have the other end of the rainbow where bright colors and children’s laughter live: Highlights Hello magazine.
Highlights Hello received the Magazine Innovation Center’s inaugural award for Excellence at the 2012 ACT 3 Experience. Aimed at children aged 0-2, the magazine is filled with things very young children can grasp and grow with. It displays the hope we have for the future through our children.

3. Dujour
4. Howler
5. Cosmopolitan for Latinas

The last three are unique and engaging in their own right.

Dujour-716Dujour is a magazine that takes no prisoners and asks for no forgiveness. The upscale magazine targets an audience with a net worth of $5 million or more. That in and of itself, speaks volumes (no pun intended) and shows why it made the top five; for bravery alone, yes, but also because it’s a well put-together magazine that is a joy to read and to simply hold in your hand.

HOWLER-17Howler Magazine is a new magazine about soccer, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a completely independent project that promoted itself through social media and word-of-mouth and was publicly and crowd-funded. It’s an amazing endeavor that shows initiative and courage and is a pleasure to read. It’s built on the same principals as this country: if you can dream it and you work hard; you can do it.

COSMOPOLITAN FOR LATINAS-29Cosmopolitan for Latinas is a magazine which shows how important diversity and fragmentation are in our country today. We are a melting pot of ethnicities and this magazine takes one section of that pot and works it to good advantage. It is enlightening and ingenious and a welcomed addition to our industry.

So, as we reflect upon the year 2012, and on all its joys and excitements, let’s remember that magazines exist to provide our readers with an experience they’ll never forget. And I believe we can all agree 2012 has provided that and so much more.

To see every new magazine launched in 2012 please click here.

A copy of this post was published on CommPro.Biz on Dec. 28, 2012

Watch for the Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto 2013 in min: media industry newsletter Jan. 7, 2013 issue and later on this site.

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