Archive for December, 2014

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From Lebanon With Love: Preserving A Cultural History & Capturing The Joys Of Arabic Childhood Through Comic Books – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Henry Matthews, Collector & Comic Book Historian…

December 30, 2014

“I want to publish books and histories, which is really most important to me. And I do hope eventually, if I get funding, to start a center to preserve all children’s books and comic books in the Arab world.” Henry Matthews

At Martyrs' Square in Downtown Beirut... Mr. Magazine™ Reporting...

At Martyrs’ Square in Downtown Beirut… Mr. Magazine™ Reporting…

Imagine a man who collects tens of thousands of comic books – can you envision such a person? And then can you imagine that person NOT being related to me? No, I couldn’t either.

Henry Matthews is a historian and collector of a multitude of Arab, French and American comic titles and also my cousin. A few years younger than Mr. Magazine™, Henry is the first person in my family that I’ve had the pleasure of “magazine-infecting.” His passion is palpable when he talks about preserving the Arab world’s culture through comic books.

On a recent trip back home to Lebanon, I visited with Henry and we talked about his ardor for comics and children’s books in general. The zeal for anything in magazine or book form certainly runs in the blood. Henry’s vision is to document each one of the comics and books in his collection and ultimately see the day when documentation centers for other countries and their cultures are erected so that children’s publications can be preserved for future generations. It’s a noble cause and certainly within the realm of possibility.

Our discussion was tightly focused around that possibility and the history of comics in the Arab world. I hope you enjoy our family conversation.

And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Henry Matthews, Collector & Comic Book Historian…

But first the sound-bites:


Henry Matthews

Henry Matthews

On how he began collecting comic books: My mother got me issue no. 7 of an Arabic comic book called Bissat El-Reeh, which is flying carpet in English. This magazine turned my life upside down. It was so beautiful that it was painfully beautiful.

On the progression his comic passion took him from day one until now: Eventually, with the comics, I decided that I wanted to keep them and ultimately preserve every single book for children, written books too that weren’t necessarily comic books. I think this was really a natural progression for me.

On the comic market in Lebanon and whether it is mainly a children’s genre there: It’s changing, but of course, it’s not as quick as in the Western world. But nowadays here, adults are reading comic books. But it is still, generally speaking, a genre for children.

On the most influential type of comic book in Lebanon:
If you want to look at what the reader wants, the young reader of comic books in the Arab world wants to be thrilled, to enjoy what they’re reading. This is what made Superman and Little Lulu in Arabic such great successes.

On Lebanon and whether it’s the center of comic publishing in the Arab world: Lebanon and Egypt were always neck-in-neck in the comics publishing competition. The beginning was with Egypt in the early 50s, well, even before that.

On how large his collection is: I have around 20,000 or 30,000 American comics and a similar number of Lebanese comics and I also have French comics and a limited number of other languages, like German and Japanese.

On what his plans are for his collection after he documents them:
I want to publish books and histories, which is really most important to me. And I do hope eventually, if I get funding, to start a center to preserve all children’s books and comic books in the Arab world, because there are no other kinds like we have.

On his thoughts for the future of comics and children’s publications in the Arab world:
I’m more optimistic than I was last year or the year before about comics. Of course, it will not be a widespread phenomenon like in the past, say the 60s or 70s, but we will have at least a small but solid contingent of comics’ readership and publications in the Arab world.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Henry Matthews, Collector & Comic Book Historian…

Samir Husni: Tell me a little bit about your beginnings. How did you start in the business of collecting comics?

Henry Matthews: My mother got me issue no. 7 of an Arabic comic book called Bissat El-Reeh, which is flying carpet in English. This magazine turned my life upside down. It was so beautiful that it was painfully beautiful. On the cover it had Aladdin riding high in the sky on a flying horse. I still remember the blue sky in the background and the stars; it was a beautiful cover. And it made me love comics in a passionate way. I started collecting then.

Samir Husni: The similarities between you and I are incredible. I fell in love with Superman at an early age, but I fell more in love with ink on paper than with the actual comics. You took the comic route and became an historian of Arabic comics in Lebanon and the rest of the Arab world. Describe that progression from day one when you fell in love with comics until today.

Henry Matthews: When I was a kid, I was always hearing about you. This very, for lack of a better word, eccentric guy who was my cousin, and collected all sorts of papers and magazines. (Laughs) I was becoming like you and everyone was telling me that I was the new Samir of the family. And of course, I loved it.

Indeed, I started only with comics, but I always wanted to collect other magazines, but it wasn’t possible because they were always getting thrown away. I had to just concentrate on comics because the other magazines were for grownups that my family received every week. My father was a good reader and loved his magazines. I always wanted to keep them, but they never let me. So, I was not very different from you.

Eventually, with the comics, I decided that I wanted to keep them and ultimately preserve every single book for children, written books too that weren’t necessarily comic books. I think this was really a natural progression for me.

With Henry Matthews and his collection of comics.

With Henry Matthews and his collection of comics.

Samir Husni: You’ve published a few books and histories of specific magazines; how and what impact do you think preserving the comics in Lebanese and in the Arabic world, how does it reflect the culture and the changing atmosphere for children’s magazines since as far back as your collections go, which is the 1940s? How do you see this progression going and in the United States and Europe, a lot of the comics are read by adults; in Lebanon is the genre still mainly a children’s market or do you see a change in that market?

Henry Matthews: It’s changing, but of course, it’s not as quick as in the Western world. But nowadays here, adults are reading comic books. But it is still, generally speaking, a genre for children.

But you see new experiments, new publications of comic books that are just for adults. These are being published all around. But it is still a very limited change; it’s going to take some time to establish itself.

Samir Husni: What do you think, throughout history, say, the last century; what do you think has been the most influential comic books started? Because we have two types of comic books in the Middle East: we have those that were translated from the West, from France, Belgium or the States, and we have those that were founded in this region.

Henry Matthews: This has really been a continuing dilemma for every publisher because in the beginning, especially in the 50s and 60s, they always wanted to boast that their comics were homegrown. But the homegrown comics were not always of good quality or very well drawn.

If you want to look at what the reader wants, the young reader of comic books in the Arab world wants to be thrilled, to enjoy what they’re reading. This is what made Superman and Little Lulu in Arabic such great successes.

So it depends. If you’re trying to sell your comic books and you’re not funded by any party or government, you’ll have to find a way to interest young readers in your magazine. And the most interesting have always been the ones translated from the West, made in the U.S., Superman, Batman etc. the Superheroes.

Samir Husni: As you know, the magazine that ignited my passion and love for all magazines was Superman. But in your case, you concentrated more on the homegrown magazines…

Henry Matthews: Well, not really. When my passion started it was a mixture of homegrown comics and the translated comics from Belgium.

All through the history of comics in the Arab world, the homegrown comics were not really the issue. Typically, you had a lot of competition between translated comics that were started in the U.S. and French comics. Basically, this is where the real competition lay, because readers wanted something really enjoyable to read. And at the time the locally-made comics were not really made to the standards. So it was really a duel between the American comics on one side and the French and European comics on the other side. And the Americans won. (Laughs)

The first issue of Samir, the Egyptian comic magazine...

The first issue of Samir, the Egyptian comic magazine…

Samir Husni: What about the homegrown Egyptian comics? When I was growing up there was one called “Samir,” definitely named after me. (Laughs) And one called “Mickey” which was a Disney licensee. What was the first comic book that you can recall being published in the Arab world?

Henry Matthews: There was “Sinbad” which started even before “Samir.” And there were other experiments that didn’t last long. For example, there was “Ali Baba” and even comics which tried, in Egypt, to use stories from the movies. They would take a cowboy movie, run a summary of it and put pictures of the movie along with the comics they were including. These comics could have been “The Phantom” or war comics, for example. So this happened even before “Samir” started publishing. I’m talking about around the 1940s or early 1950s.

When I saw the first comic book in the Arab world, “Samir” was the first one to have great success and that was a great advantage for it. And it continues to this day.

“Samir” and the period we’re talking about included a mixture of locally-made comics and translated American comics. “Flash Gordon” for example. And there was one guy who drew comics in “Samir” that were superbly beautiful “Flash Gordon” comic strips and you would have thought they came straight from the States. But he was a local artist who did them. And in “Samir” you had guys drawing comic strips from Western and American heroes, but they were locally-made. This is one of the interesting points of history.

Samir Husni: “Samir” was published in Egypt. Did Lebanon ever become the center for comic publishing?

Henry Matthews: Lebanon and Egypt were always neck-in-neck in the comics publishing competition. The beginning was with Egypt in the early 50s, well, even before that. They started “Sinbad” magazine in Egypt in 1952 and it was quite a successful experiment. It lasted for 9 years.

It was “Sinbad” I think that affected publishers in Lebanon. In 1955, you had publisher, Laurine Rihani in Lebanon, who started doing Dunia Al-Ahdath. It was the first Lebanese comic book and it was the same format as “Sinbad,” and a little bit like it.

Just like with “Sinbad”, it took a few issues to get things started with comic strips in Lebanon. Their main problem was, in Egypt and in Lebanon, they wanted to convince schools that these publications were good for the children, so they had to include something like grammar, dictation and curriculum material with the comic books to make them palatable for the schools’ administrations. And this is what happened with Al-Ahdath.

So, in the beginning you only had a few pages of actual comics and many pages of text.

Samir Husni: Tell me about your collection. I see boxes and boxes and boxes. (Laughs) It’s a scary reminder of my own office.

The first issue of Superman in Arabic, one of Henry Matthews prized possessions...

The first issue of Superman in Arabic, one of Henry Matthews prized possessions…

Henry Matthews: Let me put it this way, I’m determined and passionate and I’m also stubborn and this effort of classifying my collection has been going on for 7 or 8 years. I’ve been collecting for 50 years and no matter what I do, I have to do the classification myself. So, it takes a lot of time and effort. But it has to be done.

Basically, I concentrate on comics and children’s books, but I also have other collections of stories. For example, you know Arsène Lupin, a very famous French gentleman thief, was such a popular character in the Arabic publications that you have thousands and thousands of titles about Arsène Lupin in Arabic, much more than what was published about him in France.

In Egypt and then later in the Arabic world, every single publisher had to start a line for Arsène Lupin if they wanted to have some kind of success. And sometimes I think they even got stories that were not originally starring Arsène Lupin and they made him the hero anyway.

So, although we did not have Arsène Lupin in Arabic comic books, every week, even during WWII, we had Egyptian publishers producing at least 10 or 12 issues for Arsène Lupin. So, this is the history that I’m trying to preserve. Not just the comics, but also those imaginary heroes of stories which really were attractive to the Arab masses in the mid-twentieth century.

Samir Husni: How large is your collection?

Henry Matthews: It’s not as large as I want it to be. (Laughs) I want it to be as large as possible. I have around 20,000 or 30,000 American comics and a similar number of Lebanese comics and I also have French comics and a limited number of other languages, like German and Japanese.

Samir Husni: What’s your most prized possession among all of your comics?

Henry Matthews: I’m not thinking of monetary value. I don’t have any very rare American comic, that’s not what I’m thinking of, but what I am thinking of is how easy it is to find a comic. For example, if you have the right amount of money you can always find the American comics that you want to buy. You have to pay a lot, but you can get them.

The first issues of Superman and these are really my prized possessions, if you lose an issue of colors, you cannot find it anymore, because no one really bothered to preserve them. This is the main difference between the Arab world and the Western one, especially in the U.S. There they preserve the comics and have an industry based on buying old comics and collecting them. Here it’s a fairly new trend. So, a lot has been lost and I’m trying to document all this.

Samir Husni: And what’s your plan after you finish documenting all of them? What do you want to do with them then?

Henry Matthews: Well, I want to publish books and histories, which is really most important to me. And I do hope eventually, if I get funding, to start a center to preserve all children’s books and comic books in the Arab world, because there are no other kinds like we have. And what I really hope, of course this is fantasizing, I really think what should be done is every country and every culture should preserve its publications for children. And this should be adopted by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) so that in every country there will be a UNESCO documentation for children’s publications, from past to present.

You would end up around the world with many UNESCO centers for documenting children’s publications in their native languages.

Samir Husni: We live in a digital age; do you think the digital revolution is going to help that preservation or hurt it?

Henry Matthews: Let me put it this way, in Lebanon there was a time when we felt that there was nobody reading anymore, but recently they had an Arab book fair in Beirut, it ended a few days ago, and I was amazed when I discovered that people were flocking to it and buying books, even more than before. I think now the trend is changing, people are buying books again.

Last year was different, the year before that it was absolutely zero almost. But now people are buying books and magazines and also buying a lot of comics. You would be amazed at how people sort of compete to buy what they want. This was unheard of in the past. Now people just want to buy beautiful magazines and books, especially children’s books. Everybody is printing in the best, most colorful way, with very attractive covers and artwork. I think it’s a booming business in Lebanon now.

Samir Husni: What do you think the future holds for children’s magazines and books?

Henry Matthews: I’m more optimistic than I was last year or the year before about comics. Of course, it will not be a widespread phenomenon like in the past, say the 60s or 70s, but we will have at least a small but solid contingent of comics’ readership and publications in the Arab world.

And my hope, for example, is to establish a comic’s documentation center. It will not just be to preserve the comic books, but to digitize them and that way someone could be sitting in their home, for example, and could go to the website of the center and access the old magazines, maybe 70 years old, that you want to look at and see it all on the website. This is what I hope to achieve.

Samir Husni: As they told me in Russia, the problem with digitizing material now is that every few years you have to update the whole computerized system. While you have books and magazines from hundreds of years ago that still exist and do not need to be updated.

Henry Matthews: Of course, it was much simpler then. If you think of the possibilities, a virus attack for example, you could end up losing all of your material. Even if you back everything up, it’s still a scary thought.

Samir Husni: What’s your current position; what’s your real job? (Laughs)

Henry Matthews: (Laughs too) I’m editor in the information office of the American University of Beirut (A.U.B.) and I’ve been there since 1985. And I love it. Even during the war, I’d risk my life to go there and I remember the shells falling and I’d still want to stay. I’d document all as a journalist and publish it in the University newsletter. And I’m still working there as an editor. It’s always been one of my passions.

I tried to convince them to start a history office, an office of A.U.B history, much like NASA History Office, for example. I wanted A.U.B to have a history office documenting just A.U.B.

My other passions are space exploration and aviation and I also paint. I’m a painter. And if I have anything left during the day, I use it to organize my collections.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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It Is The Season…

December 24, 2014

It is the season… for weekly magazines to offer double issues combining the last week of the current year with the first week of the coming year.

The European Christmas edition vs. The American Holiday edition

The European Christmas edition vs. The American Holiday edition


But, it seems that naming the season remains a “politically correct” issue. Whilst we’ve seen plenty of magazines in the United States returning to use the word “Christmas” on their covers rather than “Holiday,” the folks at The Economist would rather stay politically correct with their American readers.

The “Christmas Double Issue” arrived at our shores edited to read the “Holiday Double Issue.”

Well, here’s to all, a wish from Mr. Magazine™: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and the best of the New Year.

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Maria Rodale, Randall Lane and Some From the Vault Mr. Magazine’s™ Manifestos… All In This Week’s Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning…

December 22, 2014

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The new double issue of the Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning is out. Click here to read the issue.

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If Organic Were a Country, Maria Rodale Would Be Her Queen. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Maria Rodale, Chairman and CEO Rodale, Inc.

December 19, 2014

Maria_Rodale_0846a

“I’m a firm believer in print; I love print and my kids love print. My eight-year-old daughter asked for magazines on her Christmas list, which I think is a good sign. But I think every media finds its place in our lives.” Maria Rodale

CEO, Chairman, businesswoman, activist and mother; Maria Rodale is all of those things and a woman passionate about her family’s business, Rodale Inc. Devoting her life to her grandfather’s vision of an organic lifestyle, Maria believes strongly in the fundamental principles of bettering the planet for future generations and our own. She is a woman who definitely practices what she preaches, a rare trait these days.

Maria worked herself up in the ranks of her family business, learning it from the circulation aspect first, and then direct marketing, all the way up to her position today as Chairman and CEO. In 2013, she created and launched Rodale’s, an online shopping destination that offers healthy solutions for a happy life. Her tireless dedication to her legacy is honorable and was recognized recently by the 21st International Quality of Life Awards where she was one of the recipients of this year’s IQLA Laureate Award.

Upon receiving the award, she gave a moving speech at the United Nations about her passionate beliefs and hopes for our planet and its people. Maria is a woman who truly cares with a deep sincerity that cannot be questioned. Rodale’s success is proof of that.

I spoke with Maria recently about her thoughts of the past year and her vision and the innovations planned for Rodale in 2015. It was a heart-to-heart with someone who presents herself both professionally and as a comfortable friend. I’m sure you will enjoy reading the interview as much as I did participating in it.

So, sit back, relax and read the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Maria Rodale – enjoy!

But first – the sound-bites:

PV0115_NEWS HI On her perceptions of 2014 and her vision for the New Year: This past year for all of us was very challenging, but I also feel it was a very pivotal year. We’re continuing to see our brands, and the healthy active living message, resonate overseas. We’re finishing really strong and are totally prepared for an awesome 2015.

On any unexpected surprises of this past year: Everybody in the industry was probably surprised by how the advertising industry’s year wasn’t their best when it came to magazines.

On her thoughts about print and print plus digital: Magazines used to serve the role that Google does now, but it was a more passive way of helping people find things and get answers. Now magazines are more of a relaxing enjoyable, inspirational and motivational experience.

On service journalism and its impact on Rodale’s success: The idea of service has changed. And it’s a lot more about things that you might not think you want to know, that we’re helping you discover.

On where she sees the majority of Rodale’s revenue coming from in five years: Print will always be a hugely significant revenue and contribution margin source for us, but the growth will be coming from digital, e-commerce and new products that we have not launched yet.

On what motivates and drives her, both professionally and personally: The mission of the business, my personal mission and the mission of the family are all so aligned. And I’m so passionate about that.

OL-TempLogo-BBlueOn her involvement with the relaunch of Organic Gardening as Rodale’s Organic Life.: I don’t have a formal, official role, other than Jim Oseland, who is the editor-in-chief, is coming to me with questions and I’m sort of trying to guide him, but I’m also trying to give him a lot of freedom.

On her expectations for 2015: I believe it’s going to be a good year; I just have this feeling that it is. I could be wrong, I don’t want to jinx it, but as I said, things seem to be stabilizing a bit and we have some great indicators of that.

On the biggest stumbling block she sees for the New Year: That’s a good question. I don’t tend to worry too much about the future and when you asked that question, the first thing that came to mind and the second and third thing, are those unexpected happenings that crop up, those are always the most challenging.

On her thoughts about magazine media’s future and the launching of new titles: I’m inspired by a lot of the really beautiful, high-priced magazines that people are doing today. It’s not the creativity or the spirit of a magazine that’s broken; it’s the whole industry around it.

On the Internet’s capability of satisfying a need with a click of the mouse and how magazine’s need to compete with that: What the Internet has done is made that commerce frictionless. I want something, I push a button and I have it. The magazine industry hasn’t done that yet.

On her preference at home, print or digital: If it’s before my kids go to bed, it will be a laptop, because we’re all together in the kitchen or on the couch. But after they go to bed and I get into bed, I’m a book reader, a real book reader. I do not read on devices unless for some reason I can’t find a book.

On what keeps her up at night: I’m a really good sleeper. (Laughs)

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Maria Rodale, Chairman & CEO, Rodale, Inc.

Samir Husni: First, let me congratulate you for receiving the International Quality of Life Laureate Award, you’re one chairman and CEO who actually practices what you preach.

Maria Rodale: Thank you. I’m constantly attempting to do that, yes.

Samir Husni: As we are approaching the end of 2014 and looking forward to the New Year; how would you evaluate the year that has passed, in terms of Rodale and your print and digital products?

Maria Rodale: This past year for all of us was very challenging, but I also feel it was a very pivotal year. We’ve been working to continue to strengthen our leadership in the health and wellness space by expanding our digital businesses and extending our global footprint – while continuing to cultivate our core publishing areas – and it is paying off.

Thug Kitchen Cover As we’ve worked to broaden its scope this year, Bicycling is a great example of how an enthusiast brand can thrive in a changing media, and it is now number one among monthly magazines in advertising growth. In the books space, we’ve been seeking some edgy titles and we were delighted to see Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook land on the New York Times bestseller list.

And we’re continuing to see our brands, and the healthy active living message, resonate overseas. In addition to launches like Men’s Health Mongolia, Women’s Health Portugal and Runner’s World Turkey, we are seeing great success licensing our brands in Europe and with expansion of our events programs. Men’s Health Urbanathlon was held in 20 cities in 14 countries in 2014.

We have brought some great additional talent on board to help grow our business- Beth Buehler joined as our SVP of Digital Operations last winter, Bruce Kelley is the new Editor-in-Chief at Prevention, and we are excited to have Jim Oseland back at Rodale to help launch Rodale’s Organic Life in 2015.

We’re finishing really strong and are totally prepared for an awesome 2015.

Samir Husni: Did you experience any unexpected surprises during 2014?

Maria Rodale: Everybody in the industry was probably surprised by how the advertising industry’s year wasn’t their best when it came to magazines. And one thing that surprised me in a good way was that digital, especially digital books and digital magazine subscriptions seemed to be finding their place. I think people were sort of returning to magazines as a print product and everything has stabilized today.

Samir Husni: As an advocate for everything organic and as someone who is remaking Organic Gardening into Organic Life; how do you foresee the future of print and print plus digital? Are you more for one versus the other, or integration of the two?

Maria_Rodale_0189a Maria Rodale: I’m a firm believer in print; I love print and my kids love print. My eight-year-old daughter asked for magazines on her Christmas list, which I think is a good sign. But I think every media finds its place in our lives. Magazines used to serve the role that Google does now, but it was a more passive way of helping people find things and get answers. Now magazines are more of a relaxing enjoyable, inspirational and motivational experience.

We have to be in close touch with our readers; who they are, what they want and what inspires them. And also bring them in to help us create the product that they want.

Samir Husni: As a publisher of service-oriented magazines, because all of your products, without exception, are service-oriented magazines that require interactivity from the audience. You don’t sit down and read Men’s Health and say, “Oh wow, that’s a great way to lose weight.” You have to work on it. Do you think the service journalism aspect helped Rodale with its success of those titles and also with bringing in new titles?

BI010215_NEWS HI Maria Rodale: I think it was both a plus and a minus. We use the example of: if you want to learn how to change a tire on your bicycle, you’re not going to wait for a copy of the magazine to tell you, you’re going to go online and find out how to change a tire. You need to know at that moment.

So, the idea of service has changed. And it’s a lot more about things that you might not think you want to know, that we’re helping you discover. And it’s also making sure that they can find us when they do need to change their tire. And at bicycling.com we make that very easy. It’s kind of moving the service information around.

Samir Husni: You are expanding in both directions, print and digital. Where do you see Rodale’s major revenue coming from in five years, print or digital?

MH010215_NEWS HI Maria Rodale: Print will always be a hugely significant revenue and contribution margin source for us, but the growth will be coming from digital, e-commerce and new products that we have not launched yet, but are in the works.

Samir Husni: Such as?

Maria Rodale: I would put Rodale Organic Life in that category.

Samir Husni: When I told people I was interviewing Maria Rodale, they said what I said at the beginning of our talk: here is a woman who practices what she teaches. And the speech that you gave at the United Nations; there was a lot of merging of your business and personal life in that speech. What drives you, Maria? What makes you tick? What makes you say “Wow” when you wake up?

Maria Rodale: The mission of the business, my personal mission and the mission of the family are all so aligned. And I’m so passionate about that. It may sound funny to a lot of people in the industry, but it’s really love of doing what we do and love of seeing us make a difference in people’s lives and seeing the progress.

When my grandfather started the organic movement, people said he was crazy and now everyone wants organic. That kind of change that you see over the long-term, and the fact that we as a family are in it for the long-term, is what drives all of us to be passionate about what we do.

For me personally, there’s not that much of a distinction between work and family. I love my family and I love my work and I love our company and our brand. When you operate from a place of passion, it just makes everything more fun.

Samir Husni: Are we going to see more of that passion in the new magazine Organic Life? And how much will you be involved in that?

Maria Rodale: I don’t have a formal, official role, other than Jim Oseland, who is the editor-in-chief, is coming to me with questions and I’m sort of trying to guide him, but I’m also trying to give him a lot of freedom. I love to give people freedom to express their own creativity and he has tons of it, so I’m as excited as everyone else is to see how it comes out. I know it’s going to be amazing because he’s so passionate about it.

Samir Husni: What are your forecasts for 2015 and your expectations for the coming year?

Maria Rodale: I believe it’s going to be a good year; I just have this feeling that it is. I could be wrong, I don’t want to jinx it, but as I said, things seem to be stabilizing a bit and we have some great indicators of that.

The hardest thing to deal with is people’s mindset about change and getting them to be open to doing things in a new way. I feel as a company we’re in a place where everybody is really ready and excited about doing things in a new way. And I believe that’s where you have to be have a good year.

Samir Husni: What do you believe will be your largest stumbling block in 2015 and what are you prepared to do to overcome it?

RW0115_NEWS HI Maria Rodale: That’s a good question. I don’t tend to worry too much about the future and when you asked that question, the first thing that came to mind and the second and third thing, are those unexpected happenings that crop up, those are always the most challenging. Whether it’s an environmental crisis or a weather crisis, some kind of political crisis; those are the types of things that tend to impact the industry and the entire world and sometimes make people stop buying or selling and you can’t control that. You just have to be prepared to keep moving forward, no matter what happens.

And to me the most important thing is that we make ourselves really useful to people and to our advertisers and continue to do everything with as much integrity as possible.

Samir Husni: You’re known for your Tweets and the industry follows you from them. If you were going to compose a Tweet for people who want to start a new magazine or for those who want to enter our profession; what would you tell them in a Tweet?

Maria Rodale: Have cash. (Laughs) Have creativity and don’t give up.

Samir Husni: You sound on the positive side, that there is still room for more new magazines.

WH010215_NEWS HI Maria Rodale: Yes. I’m inspired by a lot of the really beautiful, high-priced magazines that people are doing today. I actually had a conversation with one woman who launched a magazine, one that I would call from the Brooklyn (New York) publishing scene, and was very inspired by her passion and creativity and the scrappiness, but yet the beauty of it. But, in prompting her, I think we both realized it’s not the creativity or the spirit of a magazine that’s broken, it’s the whole industry around it. It’s newsstand and how people buy magazines and what they expect from the whole process.

What the Internet has done is made that commerce frictionless. I want something, I push a button and I have it. The magazine industry hasn’t done that yet. And that’s where I think we need to get to.

Samir Husni: How do you propose to solve that?

Maria Rodale: I know that we’re planning on undertaking a whole series of different tests this year. Creative tests and offer tests, because if we just hand the business over to Amazon or other third party people who know how to do that, we lose quite a bit. The whole value is in the sort of multi-opportunity for sale. And we lose that when we let a third party do it for us, at least for Rodale.

Samir Husni: Let me shift gears a little and ask you: if somebody comes to visit you at home in the evening and you’re sitting on your couch; what will they see in your hands, a printed magazine, an iPad, or a book? What do you prefer when it’s your “me time?”

Maria Rodale: If it’s before my kids go to bed, it will be a laptop, because we’re all together in the kitchen or on the couch. My kids are doing their homework and I’m doing mine and we’re all in the same room together, all on our own devices.

But after they go to bed and I get into bed, I’m a book reader, a real book reader. I do not read on devices unless for some reason I can’t find a book and that’s the only way I can read it. Magazines for me tend to be more: it’s the weekend, all my chores are done and my work is done and it’s my reward. Or I just need a break.

Samir Husni: Anything you’d like to add?

Maria Rodale: Just that I’m generally optimistic about the future and I’m even more optimistic about the human ability to be resilient and to adapt. And I believe in our power to create a positive world, if we think in a positive way. So, I don’t let things worry me too much. I’ve had so much tragedy in my life and one thing that teaches you is to just enjoy every day as if it’s your last because you never know. Every night when I go to bed, I’m just so thankful that I’ve had another day to make a difference in the world.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps Maria up at night?

Maria Rodale: I’m a really good sleeper. (Laughs) Not much keeps me up.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Forbes: “Give To Print What Belongs To Print And To Digital What Belongs To Digital.” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Forbes’ Editor Randall Lane.

December 18, 2014

“We’re having our biggest print magazine readership in our 97-year history right now. You just have to listen to your readers and understand the medium that you’re working in and not try to make it something it doesn’t want to be. If you try to make a magazine like a website, it’ll be a bad magazine.” Randall Lane

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With Forbes Magazine increasing readership by 10% since spring 2014 and 29% since 2013 and with its unique monthly visitors to Forbes.com rising 20.5% since November 2013, the Forbes brand is ending 2014 on a very high note indeed.

According to recently released MRI data, Forbes magazine (The ink on paper one, just in case you were asking) has achieved its highest readership ever in the U.S., increasing by over 1.5 million readers in the past year to 6.7 million. Forbes increased its U.S. readership from 5,185,000 in the Fall 2013 to 6,706,000 in the Fall 2014 — a rise of 29% and the largest figure for Forbes in MRI’s records.

Forbes Print readership and its competitive set of magazines. (source: Forbes)

Forbes Print readership and its competitive set of magazines. (source: Forbes)

And Editor Randall Lane couldn’t be more pleased with the numbers for 2014, but isn’t content to rest on those laurels as the New Year fast approaches. Randall’s vision for 2015 includes a Jan. 5th launch of the 30 Under 30 issue – now one of Forbes’ most popular franchises. He is successfully bringing to life the pages of the magazine across platforms, in digital … and spearheading summit after summit such as this year’s first-ever Under 30 Summit (featuring 1,500 game-changing millennials) and the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy.

The Forbes brand is loyal to the integration and coordination of their print and digital products, utilizing them in such a way as they enhance and embrace each other on the echelons of both platforms.

Randall and I spoke recently about his pleasure and excitement with the year 2014 and the perspective and focus he has for the New Year. From the awards the magazine won in 2014 to the controversial topic of native advertising, to the successful “Forbes Formula” that intertwines their print and digital components so succinctly they act almost as one unit; our conversation was filled with the nuances of a hopeful and positive future for the brand.

So, sit back and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Randall Lane, Editor, Forbes Magazine.

But first the sound-bites…

Randall Lane Headshot

On the phenomenal year Forbes had in 2014: It was a huge year when it comes to our readership increase for print and we’ve been getting big reactions to our stories. We won the Loeb Award this year for a story about the looting of Angola.

On the “Forbes Formula” that seems to be working so well for the brand: The Forbes Formula is to understand that we have an editorial point of view and that we always have and always will, and then to take each media and make it as great as it can be. It’s not one-size-fits-all.

On the controversy of native advertising: The fact that The New York Times is now doing native advertising tells you everything you need to know about it; that today, this is just a mainstream way of advertising.

On whether he saw himself and the magazine where it is today when he began his Forbes journey: That’s a good question. I think that the brand is so powerful and the history so robust that it was an honor to get the job and it’s an honor to help steward the brand and its legacy.

On the acquisition of Forbes and whether there were any changes afterward in the execution of the magazine: There were zero changes. From where I sit, it’s been great. They’ve invested in current management, and Mike (Perlis) made this clear too, they’ve given him and all of us a way to continue what we’re doing.

On any stumbling blocks he anticipates facing in 2015: I think at the end of the day, obviously, we’re well aware that we’re dealing with a very choppy situation.

On whether he could ever imagine a day without a print product among the Forbes brand: Forbes magazine is fundamental; Lewis DVorkin and Mike Perlis have always been very eloquent about that. Forbes magazine has nearly a 100-year-old tradition.

On what keeps him up at night: If it’s anything, it’s just recognizing that things shift so quickly now that if we are complacent, then we run the risk of getting run over like others who grew too comfortable.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Randall Lane, Editor, Forbes Magazine.

Samir Husni: It looks like Forbes had a wonderful year. You reported in a recent press release that things were great, both in print and in digital. Can you recap 2014 for me; what were some of the highlights of the year and a few of the ups and downs?

Randall Lane: It was a huge year when it comes to our readership increase for print and we’ve been getting big reactions to our stories. We won the Loeb Award this year for a story about the looting of Angola. We won an Overseas Press Club Award and the Morton Frank Award and several others. So we’re doing great journalism and winning awards and that lets us know the formula is working in print and it’s working online. It’s very gratifying to see that, because there are so many people who see this as a zero-sum game, where online is going to take away from print or print is going to undermine online. They don’t realize that when you’re doing them well and coordinated, they help each other. And you can see that from our numbers.

Samir Husni: You said the formula is working; can you expand a little on the Forbes Formula?

Randall Lane: The Forbes Formula is to understand that we have an editorial point of view and that we always have and always will, and then to take each media and make it as great as it can be. It’s not one-size-fits-all.

Over the last couple of years with the magazine, we’ve focused on longer stories, not shorter. A lot of people try to make their magazines more like their websites; we try to make it less like the website, they’re related, but the magazine tries to take advantage of what magazines are great at, which is long-form content, investigative reporting and beautiful photography, which we’ve invested a lot of money in.

While our website has had tremendous success by being very timely and by setting up this contributor’s network of experts, so we have expert comments and takes on things as they happen. And then we have this whole world of online business and Forbes Magazine can be much more curated and that way we’re able to set them both up and not have magazine stories on a website and web stories refurbished in print.

We focus on making the print magazine experience more of what’s great about a print magazine and we focus our website on what digital is great at, which is media feed and being able to cover topics in a timely manner.

One of our big successes in print this year that we’ve added; in fact, we just recently announced this, is our 37th global edition, Forbes Austria. We’re seeing a lot of international expansion and we’re excited about the fact that we continue to grow globally, which is part of the reason we were purchased this year by Integrated Whale Media Investments (“IWM”), they see the increased global potential.

And our events were great successes this year, which also helps with your website; we had more than half dozen huge events, led by the newest one: the Under 30 Summit. We took the 30 under 30 list from the magazine, which has become a huge sensation online, and we made it a live event where we had 1,500 people, young entrepreneurs and game-changers, meet in Philadelphia, and it was an event that I would put up against any other media company event that took place last year. And it’s going to be even bigger in 2015.

Samir Husni: I noticed that quite a bit of the revenue from the digital side is coming from native advertising. There are some critics in the media world who ask: is native advertising legitimate and does it ever have an impact on the printed magazine?

Randall Lane: In terms of what?

Samir Husni: In terms of tainting the editorial quality.

Randall Lane: Honestly, I don’t understand that argument, because magazines have had native advertising for as long as I’ve been in magazines; it’s called advertorial. That’s just native advertising, right? So, what’s new? I don’t understand. Magazines have been doing coordinated advertising for decades, and frankly, less transparently than Forbes is doing now with our native advertising. It couldn’t be clearer who the person is that’s writing the story or the post.

In the battle days of advertorial, there was a fight about how small you would make the point-size, and to me, this is much more honest. It’s not trying to squeeze the point-size down; it’s completely straightforward about where the point-of-view is coming from.

I don’t get the problem, especially in magazines, because magazines have been doing this for decades.

Samir Husni: As an editor of one of the largest business magazines, and with 37 global editions; what words of wisdom would you bestow to those who criticize native advertising in magazines and on websites?

Randall Lane: The fact that The New York Times is now doing native advertising tells you everything you need to know about it; that today, this is just a mainstream way of advertising. The key is transparency and as long as you’re transparent, to me, that’s much better than the old Kabuki dance of trying to figure out how to hide who is behind what you saw in magazine advertorials for decades. To avoid criticism of the practice, you have to focus on the transparency. As long as it’s transparent; you’re treating the readers like grownups. And frankly, some of the content is very good. It’s just important that the reader understand where it’s coming from. I’m extremely comfortable with our execution of native advertising and people are following what we do.

Samir Husni: Most critics are non-readers; have you received any criticism or objections from the readers of the magazine?

Randall Lane: I haven’t received any criticisms, not one; no complaints from our readers.

Samir Husni: As we look toward 2015 and as we also acknowledge the solid numbers that were accomplished in 2014; did you imagine when you got the job as editor-in-chief of Forbes that you would be where you are today? Or did you think that they’d hired you to kill the magazine?

Randall Lane: That’s a good question. I think that the brand is so powerful and the history so robust that it was an honor to get the job and it’s an honor to help steward the brand and its legacy.

I’ve always thought, and I continue to think, that the sky is the limit for us. It’s a global brand that means something and it’s up to us to execute the journalism and live up to that brand. And when we do, as in 2014, you see the results. And again, the online results are great and the print results are very gratifying, if only because so many people love to dump on the idea of magazines continuing to be vital, which they are, as vital as ever.

And we’re having our biggest print magazine readership in our 97-year history right now. You just have to listen to your readers and understand the medium that you’re working in and not try to make it something it doesn’t want to be. If you try to make a magazine like a website, it’ll be a bad magazine. And if you try to make a website like a print magazine, it’ll be a bad magazine; it’s just all about understanding the different nuances. If you try to do a live event like a website or a magazine, you’ll realize quickly that it has to be produced with the idea that the reader, user or the attendee should be the only thing on your mind. If you do that and you have a great brand and great journalists, writers, fact-checkers and editors, there is no reason that anyone couldn’t succeed.

Samir Husni: Randall, you seem to be on Cloud Nine. In 2015, what’s your prediction; more climbing into clear blue clouds, or a few thunderstorms?

Forbes Cover 112414 Most Powerful People Sean Rad Randall Lane: (Laughs) We see sunny skies. You’re going to see a big expansion. The Under 30 Summit was a huge success, we had everyone from Sara Blakely to Monica Lewinsky, who gave her first public speech ever and was viewed by half million people on YouTube within a week. It was the number two trending topic on Twitter, only behind Ebola for the entire three days of the summit.

We had a giant music festival with 5,000 people that kicked off the Summit, where we gave away free tickets to people who had done good things for the world. We had Wiz Khalifa and Afrojack headlining, one of the biggest DJs (Afrojack) and hip-hop artists (Khalifa) in the world.

And what’s amazing is we’re only scratching the surface. There is global potential here and we’re going to be making some announcements soon about what 2015’s Under 30 Summit will feature, but it’s going to be even bigger. We had a very successful app that went along with it.

The idea that’s been exciting to us for the last couple of years is that we’ve been able to show that the Forbes brand is actually a brand for the young. It’s very powerful among young people and what’s amazing and exciting for us is that the average age of our reader has gone down and the total number has gone up. The best part is the HHI has gone up. So, total readership up, average age down and HHI up. To bring your age down and your HHI up at the same time is very hard, but that’s what’s exciting about focusing on the under 30s is these are very, very successful people who are making a lot of money at a remarkably young age. And we are able to both lower our age demographic and increase our HHI at the same time and that’s a tough trick. And it’s something that we’re going to continue doing in the coming year.

Samir Husni: Was there any difference in atmosphere after the acquisition? With the change in ownership, were there any changes in the way the magazine is produced?

Randall Lane: There were zero changes. From where I sit, it’s been great. They’ve invested in current management, and Mike (Perlis) made this clear too, they’ve given him and all of us a way to continue what we’re doing. If you look at it, they bought into us because we are moving sharply up and they’ve been nothing but supportive of everything we’re doing.

Samir Husni: What is a major stumbling block you expect to face in 2015 and your plan to overcome it?

Randall Lane: I think at the end of the day, obviously, we’re well aware that we’re dealing with a very choppy situation. The entire media world is being disrupted, so just like everybody else, we’re well aware of the dangers you can’t see that are lurking everywhere, but we’re always looking downfield while we’re running, so it’s not that we’ve isolated anything, it’s more the idea that we know the entire landscape is constantly changing and we just have to continue to evolve and be proactive about that. We can’t sit here and pat ourselves on the back; we can’t do that because things change too much. We have to keep on innovating and pushing ourselves because the second we get on our heels, we risk falling on our fanny.

Samir Husni: Can you imagine the Forbes brand without a print product?

Randall Lane: Forbes magazine is fundamental; Lewis DVorkin and Mike Perlis have always been very eloquent about that. Forbes magazine has nearly a 100-year-old tradition. Whether or not the magazine is printed or you read it on the tablet, to me, and again if you look at our readership; we have nothing but good news to share on that front, but if you want to talk long-term, 20 years from now, there will always be a Forbes magazine.

Will it be consumed on a tablet versus dead trees, I don’t know and in some ways I don’t care as long as we’re doing great, long-form journalism, with beautiful photography and a point of view and doing our lists and turning them into great events and driving the website; as long as we’re able to execute what I think a magazine is; I think print, in some ways, is almost a misnomer, it’s the magazine that I’m focused on. But the print magazine right now is doing great.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Randall Lane: If it’s anything, it’s just recognizing that things shift so quickly now that if we are complacent, then we run the risk of getting run over like others who grew too comfortable.

What keeps me up at night is ironically what’s going to keep moving us all forward, which is we cannot get complacent because in this market, in this environment, that’s a very big risk. You can’t sit there and think that you’ve figured it all out and now you’re done. You can’t ever be done or else; if you think you’re done then that’s when you should be able to go to sleep.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Joe Ripp, David Carey, and Samir Husni in This Week’s Edition of Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning

December 15, 2014

Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 9.59.04 AMThe Dec. 15 edition of Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning is out. This week’s issue includes interviews with Joe Ripp, CEO of Time Inc., David Carey, President of Hearst Magazines and a profile story on yours truly written by Angela Rogalski, a free-lance journalist and the administrative assistant at the Magazine Innovation Center. Angela is also a former student of mine. The weekly e-mail Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning is free of charge. You can read this week’s issue here and you can have your own subscription here.
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If Magazines Were a Country — Mr. Magazine™ Would Be the Ambassador. A min: media industry newsletter re-post.

December 10, 2014

The following note and article were written by Steve Cohn, editor in chief of min:media industry newsletter and Angela Rogalski, a freelance journalist and former student of mine. It was first published on minonline.com on Dec. 8, 2014.

Picture 1 Editor’s (Steve Cohn) note. This fall, Samir Husni celebrated his 30th anniversary teaching magazine journalism at the University of Mississippi. That was the linchpin to Husni’s numerous achievements, begun with his first Guide to New Magazines in 1985 and continuing with his advising magazine entrepreneurs in Mississippi, the U.S.and around the world.

In 2009, Husni opened the Magazine Innovation Center at Ole Miss, and his ‘ACT’ (Amplify, Clarify, Testify) conferences have turned Oxford, Miss., into a global forum for an industry experiencing much change and challenge.

Angela Rogalski studied under Husni at Ole Miss and currently works for him at the Innovation Center. Here is her story of the trademarked ‘Mr. Magazine.’


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If Magazines Were a Country – Mr. Magazine™ Would Be the Ambassador

By Angela Rogalski

Imagine a connection so strong that it’s unexplainable. There’s no tangible reason for it, other than a call from destiny, where kindred spirits meandered along their lone paths, until that point in life when they intersected.

One spirit belonged to a living, breathing human – a man.

The other to a sleek, glossy enchantress – a magazine.

Husni in his office

Samir Husni grew up in Tripoli, Lebanon and when he was a boy, he experienced a life-altering transformation; a transfusion, if you will. It was the moment that he bought his first magazine, Superman.

“I was introduced to the Man of Steel as a young boy,” Husni said, “when I bought my first magazine. It was Superman and when I held that magazine in my hand for the first time, I felt something similar to the blood leaving my body. It was eerie and at the same time, exhilarating. From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do with my professional life; I wanted to be involved with magazines.”

Husni had always had an abiding affinity for the printed periodicals that could transport a young child from Tripoli to anywhere in the world that he wanted to go. Like rubbing a magic lamp; reading had always provided the small boy with a way of satisfying his wishes to be immersed in the printed world.

From reading to designing his own; the young Husni had more than a fascination with magazines; he had a deep-seated passion for them.

But it wasn’t until that fated moment when he was nine that his heart actually began to pump ink instead of blood and Mr. Magazine™ was actually born.

Today Husni and his alter ego, Mr. Magazine™ is considered the leading expert on magazines and magazine media. From Finland to South Africa, from Lebanon to the United States and every country in between, Husni travels the globe, offering advice and “just common sense” on the subject of his love and obsession: magazines and magazine media.

Husni has never seen a magazine he didn’t like, or a first issue he didn’t buy. Regardless of the language, regardless of the price; if it says, new, first, or special, that magazine has to be his.

“It’s beyond a compulsion,” he said. “It’s a need.”

In the world of publishing and magazine media, Husni is renowned for being able to pinpoint problems and then execute solutions when it comes to the industry he loves.

“When everyone was shouting ‘print is dead, print is dead,’ I was rebuking the naysayers and amplifying print, preaching its value and the stability of its foundation for the brand.”

Not being content with spreading his positivity about print and magazines to just the media industry, Husni recently celebrated his 30th anniversary and that of the magazine service journalism program he initiated at the University of Mississippi.

“With the help of a lot of people from the Meredith Corp. in 1984, we developed five courses, and we began to offer the program,” Husni said. “Students needed to know more than just your basic reporting, writing, editing and designing and that was uncommon for the 1980s. Ole Miss was the first school to include journalism and the business side of magazines in one program.”

Since then, Husni has been teaching and emblazoning his magazine precepts into young minds at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media on the campus of Ole Miss. Imparting his passion and love of journalism, and magazines in particular, to the many students that often have to waitlist his classes just to get in.

From his Mr. Magazine™ Musings to the thousands of interviews he has conducted with industry leaders and entrepreneurs across the globe of magazine media and publishing, Husni knows the topics to cover and the questions to ask when it comes to anything dealing with the world of magazines.

He has interviewed up and coming pioneers such as Editor-in-Chief, Margarita Restrepo from Naked Food Magazine to seasoned vets like Joe Ripp of Time Inc. and David Carey of the Hearst Corp. and many, many in between. The mutual respect and admiration Husni and the commander’s-in-chief of the industry have for each other is palpable. They recognize Husni’s absolute loyalty to the industry and its print components and Husni treasures the people who take care of and put to bed his beloved magazines each day and night.

“The most important contribution that I feel I can make to the magazine media industry,” Husni said, “is to continue to amplify the power of print and to stress the importance of integration when it comes to digital. In the 21st century, there is no reason any one human being should ever have to decide whether it’s going to be “print” or “digital.” Obviously, it has to be both. And while many still tout the declination of print, many, many web entities are producing or completely going to a print format. Collectability and the forever quality of print are characteristics that make ink on paper very seductive and a heady motivation to produce a print product. It’s what the audience wants.”

One telling factor of Husni’s passion for print is the over 30,000 first editions he has in his personal collection. The only rival the magazines have for space is his equally large collection of neckties.

As an ambassador, Husni has visited many countries in the name of magazines. In 2014 alone, his journeys have taken him to South Africa, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Finland, Lebanon, Slovakia, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic, Mexico, and Russia with many more adventures to come.

As someone who has earned his envoy accreditation, leaders in the magazine media world are ready and willing to recognize his contributions.

These questions were presented to industry notables:

1. In your opinion, what impact has Samir Husni had on magazine media, in terms of his advocacy for the industry and its products?

2. If you could turn the tables and interview “Mr. Magazine™” what would be the first question you asked him?

3. Someone recently commented to Dr. Husni: if magazines were a country, you should be its ambassador, duly noted because of his extensive travel promoting and bringing awareness to every aspect of the medium. As someone else who deeply believes in and loves magazines; what trait or characteristic do you believe makes the ambassador to the country of Magazines so suited for the job?

And these were their answers:

Matt Bean.jpg

Matt Bean
Editor-in-Chief, Entertainment Weekly

1. I thought I was a magazine fanatic, trolling the basement in Gallagher’s for old copies of Spy and obsessing over the old Fortune magazines, the early era at Sports Illustrated, the spread of zines and the development of premium, low-run titles of late. But Samir’s the biggest fan of magazines there is–a hoarder with a mission–and in this time of turbulence and converging media worlds, having someone like him remind you of the power of print is a shot in the arm when you’re a magazine editor. He’s a consistent voice in inconsistent times.

2. If I were to ask Samir one question it’d probably be this: Choose your favorite magazine. Just one. The only title you could bring with you, or put into a spaceship to explain to beings in another galaxy why we smear ink onto pulped paper. Which one would it be, and why?

3. An ambassador’s greatest skill is diplomacy–and Samir has that in spades. He makes it a point to know everyone in the business–he’s fearless in a way–and so upbeat that it’s contagious.

Berner headshot


Mary Berner
President and Chief Executive Officer
MPA – The Association of Magazine Media

1. Samir is the ultimate evangelist. He is tireless in his pursuit of an accurate narrative for the industry. That commitment has impacted how the media covers us, and that impacts everything!

2. I would ask: If you were a magazine, what would the name be? And, what would some of the cover lines be.

3. Samir is endlessly passionate about – and fascinated by – the magazine media industry. But, what makes him such an extraordinary resource is that he also takes a very balanced view of the business and its challenges. There is a reason that he is considered an authority.

Vanessa Bush pic - ACT 5 (2)


Vanessa Bush
Editor in Chief
ESSENCE Magazine

1. Dr. Husni is the industry’s most visible and vocal champion in support of the power of print. He has a deep understanding of what drives engagement between print magazines and their audiences, and what makes for a successful relationship with the audience. And he uses his platform to advocate for the importance of magazine media.

2. Ha! I would ask him what keeps him up at night!

3. In a word: passion. His enthusiasm and sheer devotion to magazine media is unmistakable, and he’s not afraid to share it—even when others in the industry are questioning the value of printed media. He truly believes in the power of print to not only influence others but also transform lives. His confidence in this medium has encouraged countless others in this industry to feel the same.

Michael Clinton pic - ACT 5 (2)

Michael Clinton
President, Marketing, Publishing Director, Hearst Magazines

1. By his dedication to the magazine industry, Dr. Husni has kept the medium top of mind in marketing, media, associations and other influential circles.

2. How did you develop such a passion for the magazine medium?

3. Loving all people (magazines) equally, acknowledging the successes of the big players, but also celebrating the success of entrepreneurs. Passionate citizens will always follow a leader who is passionate about their world. “The country of magazines” will also welcome Dr. Husni as their Ambassador.

Steve Cohn-1 (2)

Steve Cohn
Editor-in-Chief, Media Industry Newsletter

1. The impact that Samir has on the magazine industry is immeasurable. I recall when he published his first Guide to New Magazines in 1986. He was considered a gadfly back then, but his expertise quickly became highly regarded by magazine watchers. Further, Samir quickly spread the magazine “gospel” around the world. No one can match his impact on the business in Finland and elsewhere. Finally, Samir has given added respect to Ole Miss, which had long been considered an academic backwater since the violence that accompanied James Meredith integrating the university in 1962. He gets some of the credit for bringing one of the three 2008 presidential debates to the school. And look at how many people attend his ACT conferences.

2. I would ask Samir that what in Lebanon induced him to do what he does. I presume that he grew up speaking Arabic, so reading an American magazine as child had to be difficult.

3. Samir leaving the Ole Miss campus many times to write, lecture and teach the magazine business makes him special. My only objection is his trademarked Mr. Magazine. That is too “vanity” for me, but it has worked to make Samir a “brand.” He is a great “ambassador.”

Lisa Scott photo - ACT 5 (2)


Lisa Scott
Executive Director, PBAA – PERIODICAL & BOOK ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

1. I’ve known Samir for approximately 25 years, and throughout all that time his absolute dedication to and passion for the unique products that are printed magazines is unwavering; his advocacy message is portable to and translatable into every language and society on earth.

2. One thing I’ve always wanted to ask him is to actually do a brief business/editorial plan for a magazine that he believes would be a success in today’s market. He’s had such fabulous exposure to so many of the greatest entrepreneurs, editors and researchers, so there must be a lot of “yet unborn” magazines that he’s thought about.

3. Samir is a “citizen of the world”- no one presumes that his message is grounded in one country, culture, or language, or even economic or political system. His ability to find common ground with publishers everywhere is a tremendous asset, while at the same time empowering publishers to still find their own solutions and successes.

CGX


Vicki Wellington
VP, Publisher & Chief Revenue Officer – Food Network Magazine, Hearst Magazines

1. He is a fair third party source who speaks the truth and is not swayed by any group.

2. How do I create a brand and become Ms. Magazine when he passes the baton.

3. His genuine passion for magazines which is clear when you see his office and the thousands of copies of every magazine piled throughout.

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With many of magazine media’s leaders depending on and looking to Mr. Magazine™/The Ambassador’s opinions and projections about the future of print and its place in the industry, the only entity that hasn’t presented a point of view is the “Magazine” itself. And of course, if that were possible there is no doubt the passion and love Husni has for ink on paper in its purest form (the magazine) would reciprocate the emotions.

So for the sake of unexplored possibilities and an idea that manifested itself from the depths of the unexplainable; here are “Magazine’s” answers to the questions presented to industry leaders:

magazine ambassador

Magazine
Editor-in-Chief of Magazine Media

1. His impact on my existence has been phenomenal. Mr. Magazine™/The Ambassador is my biggest advocate and sometimes my only friend. When the world was ready to bury me in a shallow grave, he was my life support and refused to let them pull the plug. He is my human counterpart.

2. He always asks publishers and editors if they could strike their magazine with a magic wand and a human being could appear in place of the magazine, who would it be? So, I would ask Mr. Magazine™/The Ambassador how it feels to strike ANY magazine and see himself emerge?

3. The characteristic that makes him most suited for the job as my ambassador is tenacity. We ink-blooded organisms are a stubborn lot. And we will not be denied. So he travels the globe evangelizing the world on the value, collectivity and power of print!

The consensus is unanimous: Mr. Magazine™ is definitely the ambassador to the country of Magazines…

Thank you all. I am truly humbled and blessed to be doing what I do. Thank you for your support and keep those magazines and magazine media coming.

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