Archive for the ‘A Mr. Magazine™ Musing’ Category

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Nothing New Under The Sun… Words of Wisdom and Words of Warning From A Century Ago

March 26, 2020

From The Vault…

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

“If you do not put good men into office bad men will put themselves in.” Calvin Coolidge, April 24, 1920

When it comes to journalism and the media, the platforms may change, but the message is still the same.  Today is just like yesterday and tomorrow is going to be like today.  There is really nothing new under the sun. A new twist from here, another from there, but at the end of the day, it is all the same.

Take a look at the April 24, 1920 (yes, you read that right), Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, The Oldest Illustrated Weekly Newspaper In The United States then, and my aforementioned statement will be as clear as crystal.

The cover shows a grim-fisted Uncle Sam with an open and empty U.S. Treasury safe box. The headline touts The Red Success in Russia and on the editorial page under the tag line: “STAND BY THE FLAG: IN GOD WE TRUST” has a guest note from Stephen C. Mason, then president of Association of Manufacturers.  Under the heading  “We Need the Open Shop,” he writes:

“The only truly American standard is the open shop, with equal opportunity for all. I believe every good citizen will agree with us that the time has arrived when organized labor in the United States had better take stock of its policies and practices from a thoroughly American standpoint. The American people are no longer going to accept lip service from those organizations which are leading the nation to the brink of the most serious economic and social crisis in our history. Oft-repeated declarations of Americanism and frequent disclaimers of Bolshevistic beliefs are not sufficient to conceal their constant efforts to stimulate unsound and dangerous industrial theories.”

I asked professor Joe Atkins, my colleague at The University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media, and our resident expert on labor unions and all things labor, to comment on Mr. Mason’s editorial.

His response: “Sounds like classic “Red Scare” verbiage from that era, a time when J. Edgar Hoover and the predecessor to the modern FBI were raiding unions and shutting down foreign language newspapers (the so-called “Palmer Raids”), all in the name of “democracy” when in reality it was a kind of American brand of fascism. All a “closed shop” means is a worker at a unionized factory shouldn’t enjoy the hard-won benefits that the union fought and struggled for without being a member of that union. All an “open shop” is, is a sweet-sounding effort to destroy the union.”

Another article entitled All Progress The Result of Economy (with great advice from a man who ended up being president himself, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge) and a subtitle: Some plain truth from Calvin Coolidge, “The Silent Man on Beacon Hill.”

By Fred John Splitstone

But the most amazing part of that interview was this section:

“The Men We Need in Office

“Here I thought of a remark made that morning by one of the Governor’s friends, who said: “The ruler of Italy is credited with saying that being a king is a business like any other, and that it is the duty of one who follows it to make good on the job. That is the conception that Calvin Coolidge has of office-holding, and he has devoted the past twenty-two years of his life to fitting himself to make good in whatever capacity the people may call him.”

I asked the Governor how we were going to get the kind of men he specified into public office.

“By each citizen realizing and doing his duty at the polls. If you do not put good men into office bad men will put themselves in. If you put good men into the elective offices they will see that the subordinate administrative places are properly filled. What we require, both in State and National affairs, is a class of officers who realize that the duty the government now owes to the people is to reduce their burdens by paying off the obligations that came from the war, rather than imposing additional burdens for the support of new projects. Government expenses must be reduced from a war to a peace basis.”

True words of wisdom, yesterday, today and tomorrow…

And as Robert Heinlein once wrote…
“A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.”

Peace in our times and stay well, stay safe and stay inside….

 

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From The Archives: On Playboy and Esquire… A Mr. Magazine™ Moment

March 25, 2020

From the archives, a Mr. Magazine™ 2019 moment on video about Playboy and Esquire. Both magazines were in the news this week, Playboy folding its print edition and Esquire reducing its frequency to 6X a year.

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From Isolated Connectivity To Social Distancing… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

March 18, 2020

“I can’t get any closer, you know, it is this ‘social distancing’ thing.”

I have always said that digital introduced what I termed “isolated connectivity.”  So in reality we had over 20 years plus of practicing “social distancing.”

The big difference now is “isolated connectivity” was done by choice, “social distancing”  is not. So please don’t complain about staying at home for 14 days or so, you should, you must.

Stay well and stay safe.

Pick up a magazine or a book. Lose yourself in its great content and experience the magic of holding and touching the magazine or book and reading like never before. Also, it may not be a bad idea to turn off the television for few hours a day.

Just saying.

And this shall pass too.

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From The Roaring 1920s To The Storming 2020s… A Mr. Magazine™ New Year’s Musing…

December 31, 2019

Welcome to 2020… 

Whether it’s going to be the “Roaring ‘20s” again in the world of magazines and magazine media or the “Storming ’20s”, remains to be seen. But rest assured 2020 will go into the history books as the year of excellent vision, as you can see from my series of conversations with the movers and shakers of the magazine media industry (part 7 appearing Thursday Jan. 2)…

You know, Mr. Magazine™ had to bring this “vision thing” somewhere into the blog.  Now, that the  “2020 vision” pun is out of the way, and while we wait for this New Year to unfold, Mr. Magazine™ deduced that it would be apropos at the very beginning to look back 100 years to see where and what the world of print media was celebrating that first year of what would become the Roaring ‘20s.

Needless to say, Henry Luce, founder of Time Inc. and all of its many magazines, had proclaimed to his readers that the 20th century would be known as the “American Century,” and when he launched TIME Magazine in 1923, it was a manifestation of that 20th century and what was going on at the time.

I decided in this New Year’s musing to reflect back on two titles that were actually published in that first week of 1920, the leading weekly illustrated newspaper at that time, Leslie’s Weekly and from the trade side of the business, Campbell’s Courant, formerly The Optimist.

If we take a peek at these two magazines we will discover a couple of things: one, we will see how that really was the beginning of the “American Century,” by taking a look at what the (then) Secretary of the Interior, Franklin Lane, wrote in the editorial of that issue of Leslie’s Weekly, which you will find below verbatim, and we’ll also take a look at what the powers-that-be at Campbell’s Soup wrote in the introduction of their magazine.

However, everything wasn’t hunky-dory at the beginning of the Roaring ‘20s any more than they are today. But there was a hopefulness in the air after the end of WWI. And it was the end of the famed printer’s strike. And during that time, we must remember that print was the only mass media people had, so it was a very vital part when it came to receiving current information. So, anything that affected print, affected the mass population across the nation.

Leslie’s Weekly was happy to announce that after all the disruptions due to the printer’s strike in New York, that they were moving back to New York City from Chicago where they had been printing now that the strike was over, as you will read in an excerpt found below from the publishers.

And as we approach our own, hopefully, the 2020s will be more roaring than storming. Let us stride bravely into the New Year as our counterparts from yesteryear did, knowing that the industry we all love is strong and resilient. And as Mr. Magazine™ continues his conversations with the great magazine makers of today, we will see that their vision of the future is definitely 2020!

Leslie’s Weekly Jan. 10, 1920

Know America

By Secretary of the Interior Lane

As Edward Everett Hale used to pray, “Teach us to know that we are sons of the living God,” so I would pray also that we might know that we are sons of a living America. To know that is to know that we can solve our difficulties, answer our problems, and go on growing. For a living America is one that is not static, fixed, traditional, but one that is moving, living, growing, and therefore always ready for the day’s work. We have an American way of doing things, not a European way. Because we have an American conscience and an American sense of justice and an American common sense – these are our traditions and they are equal to any task.

Leslie’s Weekly, Jan. 10, 1920

To All Leslie’s Subscribers

The publishers of Leslie’s are pleased to announce that the strike of printers in New York and vicinity has ended in an amicable settlement and that the printing of Leslie’s has been resumed at the Charles Schweinler Press, from which we will receive the same prompt and efficient service that we have enjoyed for many years past

The strike made it necessary to place our work temporarily with a Chicago firm, and we were fortunate in not missing an issue during the strike, but the difficulties of manufacturing the paper more than one thousand miles from the office of publication were so enormous that our issues were unavoidably late in appearing. As it is a physical impossibility to gain the time lost, it has been found necessary to combine the issues of December 13th, 20th and 27th  into one large number; also to combine the issues of January 3rd and 10th, and the issues of January 17th and 24th. We will in this way resume delivery of papers to our subscribers on the regular schedule during the month of January.

To make up to the subscribers the issues missed by the combinations, all subscriptions will be automatically extended for four numbers beyond the normal expiration date. No correspondence on this subject will be necessary, and we would ask all of our subscribers to note carefully this announcement and to refrain from sending us unnecessary complaints at a time when the entire energies of our organization are being devoted to the restoration of the subscription service to its normal high standard.

Campbell’s Courant, Jan. 1920

To you, dear reader, our customer or business associate, in whose interest this publication was conceived and in whose service it has its being – to you, we earnestly and hopefully re-dedicate it. May “The Courant” prove a helpful and cheering friend during the New Year.

 

Until the next time…

See you at the newsstands…

Both today’s and the ones from yesteryear…

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Mr. Magazine™ Presents: Magazines and Magazine Media in 2019 & The Industry’s Projections For 2020…

December 13, 2019

It’s that time of the year again where Mr. Magazine™ reflects on what happened in magazines and magazine media in 2019 and then projects what will happen in the upcoming New Year 2020.

And while Mr. Magazine™ can tell you exactly how many new magazines were launched in 2019 and others can tell you how many magazines folded, I feel as an observer and student of the industry, the best place to learn about what went on this year and what’s expected to happen in 2020, is to go straight to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and talk with the ones who would know; the movers and shakers of the industry.

From printing to distribution, from retailers to the corporate floors, Mr. Magazine™ presents a new end-of-the-year series entitled:

Magazines and Magazine Media in 2019 & The Industry’s Projected Future For 2020

The five objectives I hope to achieve from these informative interviews:

  1. As we approach 2020 each individual’s assessment of the future of magazines and magazine media…
  2. Three accomplishments or successes from 2019 for each company…
  3. What each considers to be the biggest challenge they had to face or will face…
  4. What their approach to the future business model of magazines and magazine media might be…
  5. Whether social media (in its many different platforms) is a friend or a foe to magazine media and why…

And there would be no Mr. Magazine™ interview without the traditional question at the end of the interview, “What keeps you up at night?”

So please check back on Monday, December 16, 2019, for the first installment of this new series where Mr. Magazine™ will talk to the heads of the magazine media companies and many other media professionals about the current status and future of the industry…

Until then, hope to see you at the newsstands where Mr. Magazine™ will be rounding up the new magazine launches of 2019.

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1919: A Pivotal Year For Magazines… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

October 16, 2019

Mr. Magazine™ was relaxing in his vault recently when it dawned on him that the magazines of 1919 were looking back at him from all around the massive room. The faces of a century ago seemed to be channeling his psyche pointedly, beseeching him to tell their story. He stared back at them, turning slowly in a circle, absorbing their loud but silent pleas completely. And then he wrote this…

 The Year Was 1919

Reflecting the times has always been something that magazines do well; 100 years ago and today. The covers told the stories vividly. From Teddy Roosevelt on the cover of “The New Success,” to an editorial his son, Theodore Jr., wrote in “Our Boys” magazine, 1919 served as a year to remember in magazine history.

Highlights Of The Times

 In 1919, the first World War (or the Great War, as it was called back then) had just ended and the country was trying to absorb the effects, financially and emotionally. Woodrow Wilson was the leader of the free world and his dream of a League of Nations becomes a reality after the League Covenant is adopted at the Paris Peace Conference.

Also in 1919, a group of 19 magazine publishers from across the entire magazine publishing scene, from consumer to trade and farm publications, came together to form the National Association of Periodical Publishers, Inc., which later became MPA – The Association of Magazine Media.

The Role Of The Magazine

The role magazines played as experience makers was and still is remarkable. “Harper’s Bazaar,” for example, had its Christmas, 1919 edition, in which the magazine offered an invitation to its new and enlarged offices in the heart of fashionable Paris:

We cordially invite all Americans visiting on either pleasure or business to make these new Harper’s Bazar offices their Paris headquarters. Particularly do we wish to point out the advantages of consulting with our resident representatives there before embarking on shopping expeditions in fashion’s capital.  

In short, Harper’s Bazar was offering American newcomers to the city of Paris a verbal guide to the shops and couturiers of the city, advising Americans where to find what they wanted, how to get there, and even how much they should pay. A total experience with one of their favorite magazines, indeed.

When Magazines Ruled The Land

A century ago magazines ruled the land. From the mass general interest titles like “The Saturday Evening Post” and “The National Geographic Magazine” to the more specialized and niche publications such as “The Farm Journal” and “Field and Stream,” 100 hundred years ago the scepter of information and entertainment belonged to magazines.

And when it comes to specialty titles, niche magazines do not just belong to the 21st century. In 1919, there were singular topics covered on a regular basis in magazines: “Successful Farming,” “The American Legion Weekly,” “Photo-Era,” and the list goes on and on. So, being a niche magazine is not a new idea, it’s just a good idea that continues today.

Looking Good For Your Age

When something or someone lives to see 100 years or more, they know what the word longevity means. Magazines that have such a long heritage are indeed something very special. Today there are more than 50 print magazines that have flourished for more than 100 years.

From “Harper’s Bazaar” to “Scientific American,” “Good Housekeeping,” to “The Nation,” these legacy titles have become generational favorites over the years and each one of them are as relevant, informational and entertaining today as they were during the eras of their infancy. Magazines reflect our society no matter the year on the calendar. They always have and they always will.

When The Presses Stopped

Wanting higher wages and better hours in their work week, local unions in New York City made their demands clear in 1919 to their international unions, closing every magazine printing establishment in New York City by striking. The end result was magazines that were late being delivered and in some cases, not being delivered at all, such as with the November issue of Harper’s Bazar:

Harper’s Bazar, December, 1919

 In not publishing a November number, Harper’s Bazar skipped an issue for the first time in fifty-one years. This unprecedented occurrence was a result of the stand taken by New York Publishers in their controversy with the radical local printers who went on strike in defiance of the orders of their international unions. Even at the sacrifice of one of our most important issues of the year, Harper’s Bazar believed it necessary to stand together with all other New York Publishers in resisting the tyrannical demands of certain irresponsible leaders who were disowned by their own international unions and the American Federation of Labor. Subscribers will receive, instead of their November issues, one more number after the date on which their subscriptions would ordinarily expire.

And read the ad from the Periodical Publisher’s Association of America that appeared in the November issue of The National Geographic Magazine:

The Reason Why Magazines Published In New York City Will Be Late

Differences between certain local unions and their international unions have closed every magazine printing establishment in New York City. Some of the local unions have retained their membership in their international union, while the pressmen, feeders, and paper handlers have seceded and struck. These local unions demand a 32½ to 44- hour week and an increase of $14 per week, with double and triple pay for overtime, to take effect immediately. The international unions contend that the men should return to work and the entire matter be left to arbitration.

The publishers of the magazines meanwhile must suspend publication until the unions fight out their differences. This means “Collier’s Weekly,” “McClure’s,” “Pictorial Review,” “Cosmopolitan,” “Hearst’s Magazine,” “Harper’s Bazar,” “Good Housekeeping,” “Harper’s Magazine,” “Metropolitan,” “Scribner’s Magazine,” “Century,” “Munsey’s,” “Popular,” “Delineator,” “Everybody’s Magazine,” “McCall’s,” “Popular Science Monthly,” “Vogue,”  “Vanity Fair,” “Motion Picture Magazine,”, and 152 others, as well as many of the largest trade papers in the country, will not appear on time as usual.

Some of the publishers are making plans to remove their plants from New York to other places, and many Western cities are bidding vigorously to induce these publishers to consider their particular localities. Three very large publications have already completed plans for permanent removal, and their printing machinery and paper supply are now being shipped to Chicago.

The millions of readers of the publications affected by the strike are requested to be patient and to refrain from writing the publishers concerning delays in receipt of magazines. It will be only a question of a short time until the presses will again be running.

(Signed): Periodical Publisher’s Association of America.

NEW YORK CITY, October 10, 1919

The times were difficult, but magazines stayed strong.

Audience First

Putting the reader first was always important to magazines, even in 1919  and remains the mantra today. A magazine that was the backbone of what is now the Meredith Corporation, “Successful Farming” proudly stated it was for: the busy, practical working farmers of America whose interests determine its policy. The magazine published in the interest of the reader. And you can’t argue with that statement. If you don’t take care of your readers, your publication will not know success. It was true in 1919 and it’s still true today. Without your audience, what do you have? A nice book of information that no one is interested in.

Mr. Magazine™ Reflects…

Suffice it to say that 100 years have passed since 1919. Many things have changed; many things. However, some things haven’t. Information, entertainment, niche brands, and the most exquisite experiences can all still be found in magazines. That is a fact that has not, and will not ever change. Magazines and Mr. Magazine™ himself, if I may be so bold as to toot my own horn, are staunch advocates for the print experience. Both of us love to inform, entertain and create inimitable happenings in people’s lives that no pixels can recreate. Seeing us both in the flesh is quite the experience. And you know what they say… if it’s true, it ain’t bragging.

Until the next time…

Mr. Magazine™ will see you at the newsstands, somewhere between today and the portals of the past…

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The iPhones Of The 1950s: Yesterday’s Newsstands Bring You Surprises & A Glimpse Into The Future…

October 3, 2019

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

In my research, I discovered a genre of magazines that has technically been ignored. I haven’t seen anything really written about them that give this group of magazines the credit that they deserve. These magazines would have to be described as the “iPhones” of the 1950s. They are the size of a shirt pocket and they were touted as such, “pocket-sized” titles, small enough for men to carry in their shirt pockets or women to carry in their purses. The amazing thing is that even in the 1950s, magazine makers realized that people needed information on-the-go, and if you think about it, these magazines actually blazed the trail for the technology we have today.

In fact, in March 2001, Glamour burst onto newsstands in the U.K. with its own pocket-sized version, promoted as the magazine that “fits into your life and your handbag,” and it was an immediate hit. But long before the 21st century, magazines of this convenient and mobile size were in the marketplace.

I was able to find 53 pocket-sized titles that covered the gamut when it came to topics. From the newsweekly, a magazine called Quick that was launched by Look magazine, and of course, everyone knows that Look magazine was one of the trio that ruled the magazine industry in the 1940s and the 1950s: Life, Look and The Saturday Evening Post. People are more familiar with those three titles during that era than any of the other magazines.

So, Look launched this weekly magazine called Quick, which was a newsweekly that fit into your shirt pocket or purse. When Quick folded, the staff of that magazine took over and launched another magazine called Tempo, then later on Tempo and Quick merged.

These titles were a personification of the entire magazine industry and the pop culture of that era. They did exactly what digital is doing today, making one’s pocket or purse an outlet for information and the news of the moment. And in the 1950s, those magazines provided the same thing.

And the information and news they provided was diverse, from Adonis, the art magazine of the male physique to TV Life, which provided people with the latest TV news, people and pictures, and then just everything in between. Sports, celebrities; even Jet magazine, which many people are familiar with today, was part of that genre, and between Jet and The Negro Review, they served the African American audience well. There was the Pocket Celebrity Scrapbook, which gave complete details about the celebrities of the day, such as Nat King Cole and Marilyn Monroe.

However, these titles didn’t shy away from any topic. There were no taboos, although there were a lot of topics that would be considered today not politically correct. Whether it was homosexuality, sex outside the marriage or sex inside the marriage, stories about the dangers of the birth control pill, stories criticizing baseball and stories praising baseball, tales of the world’s most provocative women and tales about the ideal physique for men.

If you look at the titles from the poster I created of these 53 magazines, you will see the variety of the subject matter. From humor to the most serious of topics, these magazines reflected society in their time. That’s why I’ve always said that magazines are the best reflectors of society, no matter what era one may live in. There is nothing that compares to magazines when it comes to mirroring pop culture in the world we live in.

 

So, enjoy a glimpse of these great covers from the 1950s and keep on reading magazines, for you never know what you might encounter along the way.

Until the next time…

Mr. Magazine™ will see you at the newsstands, somewhere between today and the portals of the past…

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