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Russian Interference In Presidential Elections Circa 1952… A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past…

June 17, 2019

You may have noticed lately that I am not as active on the blog as usual.  Two reasons for that, first, the summer break and second, working on two books, the first on how to launch a magazine and the second on the magazines of the 1950s.

In my research I came across this article from Focus magazine, October 1952 about “The Russians Look At U.S. Elections.”

The similarities between now and then were more striking to me than any other article I have read from the 1950s so far.  Yes, the media platforms are different today, but the message is still the same.  And for those who believe there is anything new under the sun, read this article and let me know what you think….

Enjoy this blast from the past (Focus magazine, October 1952, Vol. 2, No. 10)…

The Russians Look At U.S. Elections

Moscow takes a crack at our every 4-year voting habits, comes up with a sizzling 2 Roubles’ worth on the candidates

On November 4, 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower (“the ruthless, heartless militarizer of Columbia University”) and Adlai Stevenson (“a big business candidate in spite of pious declarations”) will come to grips for the office of President of the United States. But practically nobody will bother to be at the polls “since the majority of voters, long disappointed in American democracy, refuses to go to the ballot… the really intelligent masses of people prefer to stay away.”

Thus speaks Pravda and Izvestia on our electoral habits.  And though Americans may laugh heartily, the average Russian citizen, clutching his newspaper as he rides the Moscow Metro home from work, knows that this is the “truth” about decadent, capitalistic U.S.A.

If you’re at all confused as to how General Eisenhower managed to snare the Republican nomination, Russia’s Tass News Agency has the exclusive story: “The convention was a battle between Eastern financial interests headed by the duPonts, Morgans, and Rockefellers supporting General Eisenhower, and Midwestern fiscal and industrial giants backing Senator Taft.” (The Russian account goes on to mention Andrew Mellon, dead since 1937, as a leading Taft backer.) “One of the strongest Eisenhower backers was Henry Ford II who directed the campaign in behalf of his candidate from abroad a yacht anchored off Michigan Boulevard.” (Ford was undoubtedly the first truly floating delegate in U.S. history.)

The Democrats, however, got the full treatment, with non-candidate Truman bearing brunt. Pleased to hear Truman was not up for re-election, the Russian Literary Gazette commented: “As is well known, Truman has never been distinguished by any originality of ideas. He was always a copy-cat.  It was from Hitler he borrowed his delirious ideas of establishing a Fascist empire… from the Japanese Emperor he bought the patent to use the black plague fleas in Korea.”

As for the actual candidate Stevenson, however, Communists can’t help whip up much enthusiasm because they have known since May that “Eisenhower is not a Republican at all.  He is a Trojan horse, skillfully smuggled by the Democrats into the opposing camp.” (Liberation, pro-Communist Paris paper.)

Russian Press attention included pre-convention closeups: Taft: “Die-hard companion of Dulles and company.” Kefauver: “He always tried to palm himself off as the personification of honesty, but he did not show any real zeal to uproot crime in America.” Pre-election propaganda focused on Ike, as “spiritual father of the 6-legged European monster, the NATO Army” and “an ignoramus who has not read a book in the last 9 years.”

On May 4 this year, Pravda told whom we’d vote for if not terrorized by capitalist bullies: Red-dominated Progressive Party and its candidate Vincent Hallinan.

But terrorized and bullied, caught between the Devil (“militarizer” Ike) and the deep blue see (“lackey” Adlai) close to 50 million unhappy Americans will turn out to vote.  And whatever happens, the Russians barrage of written and cartooned propaganda will continue, for, Republicans and Democrats, we’re a decadent lot. Consolation is: We are free, and our elections have more than one man from whom to choose.

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What’s Wrong With The Post Office? A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past…

June 14, 2019

You may have noticed lately that I am not as active on the blog as usual.  Two reasons for that, first, the summer break and second, working on two books, the first on how to launch a magazine and the second on the magazines of the 1950s.

In my research I came across this article from Quick magazine, Feb. 16, 1953 about “What Wrong with the Mail?”

The similarities between now and then were striking to me, so I decided to publish the entire article here.  Would love to hear your comments…

Enjoy this blast from the past…

 

What’s Wrong With the Mails?

The deficit-ridden U. S Post Office Dept. was in for an overhaul-perhaps its most sweeping since the 1930’s. Behind the effort was a mounting tide of complaints about:

  • Slow mail delivery.
  • Once-a-day home delivery.
  • Damaged and lost mail.

One of the Government’s biggest and most criticized-business operations, the postal service, has 500,000 employes, spends $3 billion a year. The world’s largest postal service, it claims it is the world’s best. That final point is where debate centers. Congress has criticized the agency for its millions of deficits each year; patrons rail every time service is cut and at every increase in rates.

Will the Postman Ring Twice?

The Republican platform last year recognized these complaints, included promises of “more frequent deliveries.” Congressional committees are studying proposals from both Democrats and Republicans to restore twice-a-day home delivery, curtailed in 1950 to save money. But restoring it, Post Office officials say, will cost $150 million a year. This would set the deficit climbing again-and it has dropped only in the last year.

Postmaster Gen. Arthur Summerfield has ordered a complete study of the department to see how it can improve its finances, facilities and employe relations. The powerful National Assn. of Letter Carriers is clamoring for revision of personnel policies.

Career postal officials blame the deficit on congress, say that if the department budget needs to be balanced, Congress can raise postal rates. They attribute $160 million of the deficit to handling of “franked” mail for Government agencies and Congress, free mail for the blind, and other mail not covered by postage. Second-class mail (Newspapers and magazines) and air mail are handled at a loss.

Slow-Down Factors

Congress’ economy drives also are blamed for curtailed deliveries and night collections. These factors slow deliveries to the extent that an air mail letter may require three days for delivery from the time it’s posted between Portland, Maine, and San Francisco-though it travels between the cities in13 hours. Employee negligence also may slow deliveries-as in the case of the Alabama postman who dumped bundles of mail into a culvert during the Christmas rush. The Post Office retorts it’s understaffed.

Mechanical devices to speed mail have been researched, but with mixed success. Mechanical sorting machines have not proved satisfactory-it’s hard for a machine to read addresses. Costs of helicopter mail delivery between officials within New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have been found high-helicopters don’t carry the load that big mail trucks do.

Grounds for Argument

The Post Office claims a generally good record on deliveries, but there are slipups. Examples: 1) A Providence, R.I., theater owner put out a two-week advance notice on a new show left town; 2) the N.Y World-Telegram and Sun claimed that some test letters mailed in the city took longer to reach its office than others sent from London and Paris.

Pneumatic tubes have been used to link postal offices in part of the New York area, but this also is a high-cost operation.

The research has, however, developed special baskets for handling parcel post-to curb loss from breakage caused when packages are thrown around sorting rooms; and motor scooters are helping postmen manage heavy mail packs.

Many of the post office built in the 1930’s have been outgrown as population boomed. Crowded buildings hamper mail handling. Since 1940, there’s been no regular Post Office building program, due to defense demands on materials and money.

One great factor slowing the mails has been the huge increase in mailing-now an average of 315 pieces a year for each person in the U.S., compared with 219 pieces in 1941. These mountains of mail clog railroad and truck postal centers and slow up the handling of shipments.

Adding to the problem is the public’s attitude. A year ago, the Post Office got Congress to cut the maximum size for parcels. But instead of a major part of the parcel post business going to the Railway Express, as expected, postal authorities claim “Proof” that many mails just divided big packages into two smaller ones-adding to the postal glut.

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A Blast From The Past: Gossip Magazines Reign Supreme… From The Vault of Mr. Magazine™

June 11, 2019

You may have noticed lately that I am not as active on the blog as usual.  Two reasons for that, first, the summer break and second, working on two books, the first on how to launch a magazine and the second on the magazines of the 1950s.

In my research I came across this article from Show magazine, July 1955 about Gossip magazines (what we now call Celebrity magazines…)

The similarities between now and then was striking to me, so I decided to publish the entire article here.  Would love to hear your comments…

Enjoy this blast from the past…

GOSSIP…

America’s Newest Parlor Game

“ WHO WOULD have believed two years ago that gossip magazines would be sweeping the country,” remarked a Pulitzer prize winning author at a recent interview. He’s not the only one who has been shaking his head at the new trend in American reading habits.

Unlike anything in the history of the publishing business, gossip magazines have captured the fancy of readers of all ages. What’s behind this reading revolution? Why does the average American delight in seeing other people’s dirty linen washed in public?  Is it a new vogue?

In the first place, it’s the reader, not the magazines, who creates the demand for the gossip publications. The publishers just supply the demand. To date this demand has resulted in over two dozen such publications- all of them following the lead of confidential magazine. Confidential, the first publication to realize the unlimited potential of this market, today outsells on the newsstand any other single magazine- including such giants as Life, Ladies’ Home Journal or TV Guide. Its actual printing is an excess of 4 million copies.

Like any other controversial medium, scandal mags have come under their share of fire- and praise. Al this being done in public arouses public curiosity- and, of course, more sales.

Scandal, which includes anything from the love affairs of top movie stars to the café society set, was certainly not discovered by magazines. Gossip columnist have attracted to their newspapers millions of readers with scandal tidbits. Such items as “ Who is Renovating”- and why, has earned a fortune for Walter Winchell. Other columnists who try to jump into the gossip gravy train, are just imitating the master, Winchell.

DON’T BE SHOCKED

This may be a surprise to you, but in many instances the person whose life or romances is being exposed often gets early proofs of the story for corrections.

The reason? Some playboys and stars feel that publicity either flattering or damaging is good publicity. The publisher of one of the top scandal mags was thanked recently by an entertainer for revealing his “affair” with a movie star. Why? Well, as the entertainer put it, “You sure put me in the big leagues- now a dozen girls in Hollywood want me.”

Another Hollywood star who was a juvenile delinquent with a long record was fully aware he was getting the “treatment” in a gossip mag. It was his one way of getting attention- and did he get it! Readers revealed in the juicy gossip. There’ll be a lot of blushing faces when they read here that this movie star had read and okayed the story for publication. Result? Besides prestige, he now is in greater demand than ever and he’s boosted his movie price per picture by $50,000.

Scandal mags are based on the principle that people forget what they read in the newspapers.

The second gimmick is to research the past of famous people because mistakes and misdeeds of a dozen years ago makes juicy reading to new audiences today. Thus, someone in his or her twenties would be titillated by the Mary Astor Diaries and George Kaufman, the Fatty Arbuckle case, and the Simone Simon Affair- all of which appeared in the papers in sordid detail a number of years ago.

Such people as ex-Madame Polly Adler and Jelke and his V-girls are also fair game for the scandal magazines. The mags seldom, however, present anything that is new to the gullible public.

For any reader who isn’t aware of the pasts of famous stars, members of café society and the what’s what of the who’s who in the social register, the gossip mags provide rather entertaining reading.

SHOW magazine, curious as to why people revel in other people’s inglorious pats, checked with several psychiatrists. For the most part of the doctors agreed that: “Scandal magazines serve a need and are quite comparable to the Charlie Chaplin movies of old. People all over the world enjoyed watching the down-and-out tramp, for no matter how badly off the viewer was, there was someone (Chaplin) who was worse off than he. With the scandal magazines, the same principle holds true. Many people have skeletons in their closets- Kinsey’s report proved that. Yet people are eager to read the exposes of famous men and women whose skeletons are rattled in public- so they can gnaw at the bones. It boils down to the fact that gossip magazines appeal to the snobbishness in all of us.” P.S Several of the psychiatrists admitted that they read the scandal magazines themselves.

It is not mysterious, therefore, to figure out why people stand in line to buy Confidential or Uncensored, the second-best seller in that field. The magazines all follow the same, newsy format of three or four pictures on the cover with splashes of gaudy color all geared to invite the gossip reader to shell out that quarter.

All in all, total sales for the twenty-odd magazines in this scandal category reach close to 10 million per month. This fabulous impact has reacted on other top, general magazines who now seek to compete by placing at least one “scandal-type” expose story between the covers of every issue. The magazines reached the height of something or other recently when Jackie Gleason’s program plugged Confidential, and Time magazine interviewed the publisher of said magazine.

HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

As long as the gossip holds out that’s how long the magazines will continue their run of popularity. Naturally, this could go on indefinitely- or as long as the public taste for gossip holds out. This could be tomorrow – or 50 years from now.

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Welcome To The Newsstands: April & May Usher In 20 New Titles…

June 4, 2019

April & May continue the magazine excitement as 20 new titles are born on the nation’s newsstands.It’s been a wonderful Spring for the world of ink on paper! Check out the titles below…

From the Outdoor Sportsman Group, one of the largest media companies solely devoted to bringing the best in content and entertainment to America’s 80-million+ outdoor sports enthusiasts, comes a new title called Backcountry Hunter. The magazine focuses more on the adventure of hunting, rather than a set of impressive antlers. Backcountry Hunter covers all aspects of wilderness hunting in the western U.S., Alaska and Canada, with a particular emphasis on DIY adventures for the hardcore sportsman. While Mr. Magazine™ himself may not be an avid hunter, I am an avid magazine lover and this one is amazing!

The latest digital brand to expand into ink on paper, Bumble, the dating app, now has its own lifestyle magazine produced in partnership with Hearst Magazines titled Bumble Mag. The dating app has really grown into a social platform and may have felt the need to present a more tangible way for the digital site’s users to engage with the brand, but whatever the reason behind the print extension, Mr. Magazine™ says welcome to yet another cyberspace resident who has seen the light and realized the value of ink on paper!

A niche magazine delivering articles and photographs related to sports history, this new title, Sports History Magazine, focuses on the history of sports, not today’s live streaming or the graphic replays of gridiron heroes in real time, but an actual ink on paper magazine that captures the essence of some of the best (and worst) times in the history of sports. Founder and Editor in Chief, Gill Schor, is the entrepreneur whose own passion for sports history motivated him to fill a void in this very niche market. In fact, Mr. Magazine™ interviewed Gill in early May and we talked about this great new magazine. Check out the conversation here.

The long, hot summer awaits us and rest assured there will be a great collection of new titles to both fan the flames of the season and cool us off! But until then…

I’ll see you at the newsstands…

And now our great covers for April & May:

 

******And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new, first-seen on Mr. Magazine’s™ radar, or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time.

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BoSacks Speaks Of Peril And Opportunity In ACT 9’s Capstone Speech. The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 16

May 12, 2019

Bo Sacks wound up the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 9 on Thursday with a much-anticipated capstone speech, where he sounded some very strong warnings and spoke of great opportunities. Sacks, we remember, spent a decade debating the future of journalism with Dr. Samir Husni, Mr. Magazine™; and Sacks reminded us that Husni actually created the Ph.D. in magazine journalism that did not exist. Mr. Magazine™ has been recognized for his significant influence in shaping this business and popular perception of it.

Sacks referenced the highlights of the conference: Linda Brooks identifying magazines as invited guests; Jeff Joseph mentioning the history of vinyl as a comparison to print; Lori Oglesbee saying that without a free press, democracy dies; James Hewes warning of the risk of depending on a single revenue stream.

Tying it together, Sacks spoke of the incredible acceleration of growth of technology into the present. Soon nothing will be mobile because everything will be mobile. It came too fast, and it led to some chilling consequences. Today, the digital giants are exploring every part of our lives. Facebook, Amazon, and Google, are intruding into every part of everyone’s existence, learning where we are going, what we are doing, what we are saying, what we are thinking, and using it to sell to us.

No one could have known the Gutenberg press would have had effects from fueling the reformation to changing the shape of our brain. Today, new technologies have started a new revolution. Living through this revolution makes it impossible to take a long view. We have combined digital technology with a mutant form of capitalism—surveillance capitalism. It takes our private experiences and turns them into revenue opportunities. It changes everything.

It’s impossible to overstate the peril of our times. Robber barons of yesterday have been replaced by e-robbers. We used to fear the totalitarian government who knew everything about us, followed us everywhere. Well it isn’t the government, but it’s happening.

Digital advertising has surpassed the other forms, including TV—yet the level of fraud in digital advertising is mind-boggling. It’s the largest crime in terms of money generated globally. Fake humans, click fraud, fake ad placement, fake websites, are all grabbing loot online. And technology companies are designing content with the sole intention of capturing as much attention as possible, creating a race to the bottom of the brain stem.

The online advertising ecosystem is impossible to understand or control, and there is no competent leadership. Why is it happening? Ad trade organizations and marketers are making too much money to change anything. The intrusion and fraud could be ended in a heartbeat—but there is no cure for greed. The lawmakers with the power to change it have absolutely no idea how it works.

Print should be a shining beacon in a sea of criminality. We have the trusted content. Everywhere on the planet, it’s as simple as this: Let’s have the readers pay for the content. Ad revenue should be the gravy on the meat, not the unreliable indigestible thing advertising has become. Give the readers what they want, when they want it, and have them pay for it—that’s the formula for success.

Diversification is opportunity. Your brand may be venerable, but it shouldn’t be static. Without alternative revenue streams you have zombie momentum. Create a better user experience. Add experiences, memberships, products. A relationship is a strong building block to revenue. Consider every option to keep readers engaged with personalized bundles. There are billions of dollars left to earn.

And try new things. Structure follows strategy. If you base your strategy on your existing structure, you limit your potential to what you’ve already done.

Addressing the students, Sacks finished: Now is the time to re-think the unthinkable. This is a unique and historic period where the unthinkable has never been more possible.

To watch Bo Sacks presentation click on the video below:

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Hola! Magazine, A 75-Year Old Success Story. The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 15

May 12, 2019

Jay Annis, VP of Hello Media, invited us to celebrate with him on day 3 of Mr. Magazine’s ACT 9 at the University of Mississippi. It’s the 75th anniversary of Hola! magazine, launched in Spain in 1944. Coming out of Spain’s bloody civil war, followed by the impact of World War 2 on the country, Hola’s mission was to offer good news and uplifting features. There is not and never will be anything dark or negative in this magazine.

Hola! is credited as the first magazine to create celebrity journalism. Hola! covered Elizabeth Taylor throughout her life; it covered the royal family of Monaco from childhood to old age. Its interest in the full range of celebrity lives creates continuity, so that generations of families read this publication. It covers tragedy—for example JFK’s assassination—but in a way that celebrates the victim’s life. Celebrities trust Hola, because they know there will be nothing negative in their coverage.

Hola! came to the UK thirty years ago as Hello magazine. Now there are 30 editions in 10 languages reaching 20 million readers per week. Every second around the world 15 people pick up their magazines. They do SIPs—cooking, homes, décor, parenting, travel, in packages ranging from 250 to 400 pages. Hola runs eight different websites with 27 million monthly uniques, tied together by design and voice. They have 18.5 million social media follows; a Spanish YouTube channel with influencers submitting content; the channel has over 16.5 million viewers and almost 200,000 subscribers.

With this global footprint, the US has been in the franchise’s sights, and they decided to launch in the US in 2016. The US hispanic community is 54 million, making the US the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. This big, broad, young, growing market is perfect for Hola magazine. They launched with print, Hola.com, social media, Hola TV. Now they have between one and two million on every digital platform; in print, their readership has grown to 400,000 in less than three years.

Hola! is published in both English and Spanish; subscribers can take their pick. Older readers want to read in Spanish; the younger readers prefer English. The magazine accommodates reader preferences, both online and in print. And because the readers are different, the online content is not necessarily the same.

Getting advertising is tough—but Hola had over 60 major advertisers in its first year. They work with their advertisers on branded content, video, cross platform.

Hola! is a global brand with local relevancy. Their global prestige allows for worldwide exclusives.

Hola! was recognized as one of the ten best magazine launches in 2016.

After 75 years, the magazine that celebrates the good, the happy and the uplifting has amply earned its own celebration. Happy birthday, Hola!

Click the video below to watch Jay Annis presentation:

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An Historic Meeting Of the Four Media Associations CEOs: Magazine Media Challenges Today. The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 14

May 9, 2019

The third morning of ACT 9 brings together for the first time the heads of the four major trade associations: Linda Thomas Brooks from the MPA, James Hewes from FIPP, Jerry Lynch from MBR, and Michael Marchesano from Connectiv.

Yes, the magazine industry is disrupted, says Brooks. So is every business I’ve every been in. There is no one answer, there are lots of answers. There is no silver bullet but there might be silver buckshot. I signed up for this business because it really, really matters.

Lynch adds that there are lots of industries (e.g. video rental) that are gone; magazines are still here and worth fighting for. This is a passionate business, and that passion is what brought me into this business.

In fact, says Hewes, this is the most exciting time to be in the business, with so many new ways to get our content to our audience. Most people would kill to have a job in media.

The biggest job this industry faces, says Hewes, is vocabulary. What do we call ourselves? We need to be more comfortable and confident as to how we describe ourselves.

From the distribution side, says Lynch, there is a disconnect between the understandings of the publisher and the retailer. It’s hard to bring the two parties together. The opportunity is in bringing the two parties together around the consumer. That relationship is so valuable, publishers need to show retailers that relationship can benefit the store.

On a B to B level, says Marchesano, the challenge is to make sure the audience, who has a buying influence, recognizes the value of the data provided. Making the investment, making the commitment, and looking for ROI.

From Brooks’ perspective, data can be a challenge. Data—and especially a single piece of data—does not equal truth. You can lead yourself to bad business decisions looking at individual bits of data. Algorithms do not get handed down from on high, they are written by people, and included the biases or limitations of those people. We need to use those algorithms and data in the right way. Understanding data bias, data perspective, is hugely important. Business fundamentals are math—never say you hate math when interviewing for jobs in journalism.

Putting together data, legacy and passion: computers are great for correlating data but not good at finding what the correlation means. You have to have a combination of understanding data and using your common sense to evaluate it, says Hewes. Consumers have no idea how much data is being collected about them. When they find out, there will be blood on the streets. Do the mattress test—put your phone on the kitchen table, talk about mattresses for an hour, then see how many ads you get served about mattresses.

This led to a flurry of comment:

Brooks: It’s like you’re sitting in a bar talking about mattresses, and a mattress salesperson interrupts to try to sell you one.

Hewes: This behavior might be getting normalized. It doesn’t mean it’s right.

Brooks: In China they’re collecting a social score. They’re assessing your worth based on it, and assigning consequences to it.

Hewes: And it’s a short step to assigning credit ratings in this country.

Brooks: Many industry bodies are working on privacy issues, but it’s going to take everyone in our industry working with our government to figure this out. MPA spends much time in Washington talking about it.

Marchesano: State level laws with strong consumer rights bias could have an impact on the national agenda.

Lynch: This kind of data is key to business. We need to get in early to help craft the right decision.

Hewes: Facebook will be broken up. They don’t know it yet; but the EU and other bodies will be creating regulations. This is the reason we need trade associations. There are issues to consider that these associations can address.

Lynch: These associations can craft a consistent message in a diverse category.

Brooks: The business isn’t changing as fast or dramatically as we’d like it, but we’re seeing some good indicators.

Ten years ago when I started the MIC, says Dr. Husni, my goal was to amplify the future of print, and everyone thought I had lost it. Last year Linda Brooks stood in front all the ACT Experience attendees and said, don’t ever say print is dead or print is not dead. It’s a vindication.

To watch the entire panel discussion please click on the video below:

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