Archive for the ‘News and Views’ Category

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Harvard Business Review: A Magazine That Readers Care About. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Adi Ignatius, Editor-In-Chief.

April 24, 2015

“When I’ve worked at legacy publications, we’d create this content that was basically designed to be an adjacency to advertising. Whatever, fine. Then the advertising disappears. Advertising definitely comes and goes; you have to make sure that you have a product at the end of the day that your readers actually care about, because the advertising dollar today will disappear tomorrow.” Adi Ignatius

Apr15 Cover 300dpi Focusing on areas such as leadership, finance, marketing and the art of managing people, among many other business-related topics, Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a magazine dedicated to improving all facets of management in today’s fast-paced world.

Adi Ignatius is editor-in-chief, or as he likes to refer to himself, the balancer-in-chief of HBR. He came to the magazine in 2009 from TIME, where he was deputy managing editor, helping to oversee the week-to-week editing of the magazine and was also responsible for many of TIME’s special editions, including the Person of the Year and TIME 100 franchises.

After coming onboard at Harvard Business Review, Adi set about reinventing the academic read into more of a consumer-type magazine, one that has seen circulation growth and subscription prices increase since his joining the team.

I spoke with Adi recently and the discussion was both fun and informative. He has definite opinions on where HBR is heading and the future of magazine media in general.

So, I hope you enjoy this conversation with a man who believes in the timelessness of his brand and the collectability factor he thinks all magazines need today, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Adi Ignatius, Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Business Review.

But first the sound-bites:

Adi Ignatius On the transition he had to make in 2009 when he came to HBR right after the Market crash: When I came on in 2009, Harvard Business Review hadn’t written a word about the recession and that seemed odd. I understood that the magazine always wanted to be timeless in everything it did, but it seemed that this was a different period; readers were desperate for information about the worst economic situation that we’ll all hopefully face in our lifetimes. Luckily, the people who run this place wanted somebody who had that kind of metabolism, someone who could bring a sort of timely sensibility to the timeless tradition and deal head-on with some of the topics people were worried about.

On the advice he would give media leaders about the future of print today:
I think getting past the sense of a lot of things that we thought were traditionally important like print, front pages, home pages, viewing yourself as only a destination site; I think you have to let go of these assumptions and really follow where the market is going and where readers are going. And make sure your content is unique and valuable and make sure you are maximizing every possible connection and platform that you could be on.

On some of the stumbling blocks that would prevent magazine media from implementing his common sense advice:
We all know where this plot line is heading; we all know that we are moving rapidly toward a more digital, or even fully digital, future. The problem is we’re in the present. And the present is still in some ways attaching more value to the print part of our operations than is likely to happen in the future. So, it’s very difficult to handle that transition when we’re still relying on print for the bulk of our revenue and ad revenue, in some cases. It’s very hard to forego the short-term revenue that we all depend on to make the sort of long-term future digital.

On whether he thinks publishers are placing too much dependence on social media these days:
We used to depend on LinkedIn for a huge amount of traffic, but when LinkedIn realized they weren’t simply a place for people to search for jobs, they decided to have content and stickiness, and a lot of that content was HBR. Then they sort of realized that they could be developing their own content and didn’t really need partners. So, that was a moment of panic, but I think as long as you’re creating content that’s valuable to your audience, whether it’s a big or a niche audience, you can adapt to these things.

On whether he can ever see a day when HBR will not have a print component: In theory, yes; it’s not a part of any of our plans at this point. I can imagine a reduction in print, in the number of print copies, and I would say that’s probably likely for us. And that would be driven by two main things: the decline in print advertising, which is real and profound and we see no sign of that being reversed, and more interestingly, a kind of shift in consumption habits.

On the cover price of HBR: Yes, we are higher-priced, but this magazine is for people who love ideas and you’ll find ideas in this publication that can improve your company and your career, well beyond what we’re charging. That’s essentially our value proposition.

On whether the collectability factor is important in magazine media today:
I think we’ve all realized the value of the archives. We have an archive that goes back 25-30 years and subscribers get full access to anything that we’ve published during that time. And we tested that a couple of years ago and found out that subscribers were willing to pay significantly more when they realized they had access to that archive.

On anything else he’d like to add:
That was a reinvention in 2010 and by any measurement that you could use, it worked. Our circulation has risen and is now at a record level, about 300,000. We have to do this again. We have to reinvent the business model again for all the reasons that our colleagues in the industry are doing it.

On what keeps him up at night:
Our situation is a little more complicated because we also need contributors to feel like we’re the best place for them to publish their ideas. We’re this hybrid; we’re somewhere in between a normal magazine and an academic journal. And that sometimes keeps me up at night; whether I can keep that balance intact, while still driving the business forward. That’s what I do; I’m balancer-in-chief.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Adi Ignatious, Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Business Review.

Samir Husni: You’ve been at Harvard Business Review since 2009, so you had just come onboard when the Market crashed. Can you describe how the transition for you was during that precarious time?

Adi Ignatius: I interviewed for the job in 2008, so when I came on in 2009, Harvard Business Review hadn’t written a word about the recession and that seemed odd. I understood that the magazine always wanted to be timeless in everything it did, but it seemed that this was a different period; readers were desperate for information about the worst economic situation that we’ll all hopefully face in our lifetimes. And a publication like Harvard Business Review could provide insight.

Luckily, the people who run this place wanted somebody who had that kind of metabolism, someone who could bring a sort of timely sensibility to the timeless tradition and deal head-on with some of the topics people were worried about.

We took that opportunity to kind of reinvent the magazine, the website and set out a path for growth from that.

Samir Husni: If you were going to apply the same formula that you did for the Harvard Business Review on its business side to magazine media today, in 2015; what type of magazine would you create to help magazine publishers and editors adapt to all the changes that are taking place and what advice would you give those media leaders about the future of print today?

Adi Ignatius: I wouldn’t necessarily get hung up on print. I don’t think the answer for all of us is finding out a way to maximize print; some of us will be print; some of us will be digital, and then some of us will be a hybrid.

I think getting past the sense of a lot of things that we thought were traditionally important like print, front pages, home pages, viewing yourself as only a destination site; I think you have to let go of these assumptions and really follow where the market is going and where readers are going. And make sure your content is unique and valuable and make sure you are maximizing every possible connection and platform that you could be on. That’s obvious maybe, and the hard part might be actually implementing that. I guess that would be my first bit of advice.

Samir Husni: What do you think are some of the stumbling blocks that are stopping people from implementing that common sense solution?

Adi Ignatius: I guess some of them you’re probably very familiar with. We all know where this plot line is heading; we all know that we are moving rapidly toward a more digital, or even fully digital, future. The problem is we’re in the present. And the present is still in some ways attaching more value to the print part of our operations than is likely to happen in the future. So, it’s very difficult to handle that transition when we’re still relying on print for the bulk of our revenue and ad revenue, in some cases. It’s very hard to forego the short-term revenue that we all depend on to make the sort of long-term future digital. And we all think that we can manage that transition and jump from one to the other and do it at the perfect time versus our knowledge of a company like Kodak, which knew very well the digital future was coming, didn’t handle the transition well at all. And that’s what happens if you don’t.

But I think one big problem is simply the fact that print remains hugely important for most of our business models and, as I said, it’s very difficult to forego the short-term revenue.

The second thing is just the landscape is moving so quickly. If you look at social media, the Harvard Business Review is very successful in social media. We have a huge number of shares and a huge number of followers; we generate a lot of traffic through social media. What will our relationships be with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others in a few years; it’s impossible to know. Probably very different from what they are now.

There’s a fundamental uncertainty that means we’re all experimenting a lot, but it’s somewhat difficult to have as much confidence in precise, future digitally-focused plans because it’s such a moving target.

Samir Husni: Do you think we’re making the same mistake as we did when we put all of our dependence upon advertising, because now we’re trying to depend so much on social media? What if Facebook decides to listen to the rumors I’ve been hearing and becomes an enclosed website, where it won’t take you to your website?

Adi Ignatius: I think we have to be open to that possibility. I think the most important thing is not to panic. There will be surprises like that. We used to depend on LinkedIn for a huge amount of traffic, but when LinkedIn realized they weren’t simply a place for people to search for jobs, they decided to have content and stickiness, and a lot of that content was HBR (Harvard Business Review) and I think HBR was some of the best performing content on that site.

And then they sort of realized that they could be developing their own content and didn’t really need partners. So, that was a moment of panic, but I think as long as you’re creating content that’s valuable to your audience, whether it’s a big or a niche audience, you can adapt to these things. So, we don’t have the same kind of relationship with LinkedIn now, but we’re working on developing other relationships with LinkedIn. Facebook and Twitter are great referrals to our site. If they’re cut off, we’ll figure something else out. A good brand with good content just has to be nimble. And if some of these things happen, we’ll figure something else out; I really do believe that.

Samir Husni: Can you foresee a day when HBR will not be in print?

Adi Ignatius: In theory, yes; it’s not a part of any of our plans at this point. I can imagine a reduction in print, in the number of print copies, and I would say that’s probably likely for us. And that would be driven by two main things: the decline in print advertising, which is real and profound and we see no sign of that being reversed, and more interestingly, a kind of shift in consumption habits. The challenge for us is to truly make digital a long-form reading experience that is as effective as print is now. And that involves new personalization, new utility, kind of a reinvention of what a long-form article is online, which is what we’re doing.

You talked about advertising before; the trap that many legacy publications have fallen into over the years is the pursuit of advertising at the expense of the relationship with the reader and the creation of quality content.

Nowadays, native advertising is viewed as a panacea for a lot of publications and a lot of native advertising solutions are great. We at HBR haven’t plunged into that yet, but we will and that’s fine. But I worry when I see some legacy publications, when they talk about what they’re doing; all they seem to be able to discuss is native. And my only feeling on that is advertising comes and goes, that is fact.

When I’ve worked at legacy publications, we’d create this content that was basically designed to be an adjacency to advertising. Whatever, fine. Then the advertising disappears. Advertising definitely comes and goes; you have to make sure that you have a product at the end of the day that your readers actually care about, because the advertising dollar today will disappear tomorrow. And there will be a new model, fine, you just have to make sure that you’re creating content that people actually care about and that isn’t just being created or advertising dollars.

Samir Husni: Somebody recently told me that the magazine industry doesn’t have an ink on paper problem; it has an advertising problem. Do you agree?

Adi Ignatius: Meaning what, exactly?

Samir Husni: That advertising is disappearing from print.

Adi Ignatius: Well, yes, that’s true. There are other models; some of the magazines that you and I love most are essentially subsidized by, I don’t know, a wealthy benefactor, maybe, something like that.

Samir Husni: (Laughs)

Adi Ignatius: And that’s also a good model. At HBR, just so you know; we’re not subsidized by the school, quite to the contrary. I’ve worked at Dow Jones and I’ve worked at Time Inc. And at HBR, we’re as commercially focused as any other publication that I’ve ever worked at. And we have to be successful on the bottom line and we have to be significantly profitable and the money that we make goes back to Harvard Business School to fund its case studies and research.

So, we’re very much in the real world and we’re very aware that advertising dollars have disappeared, but we’re a premium-priced subscription. Advertising is an important revenue source for us, but subscription is a more important source. What we’ve been able to accomplish in recent years is to increase circulation and increase the average price of a subscription and we want to keep doing that. So, I think there are ways if you have the right model and a target audience.

Samir Husni: With the price of the newsstand edition for just one copy, you can buy a year’s subscription to other magazines.

Adi Ignatius: Yes, that’s true. But I think if you get a subscription offer from Time magazine for $20 for a year and a half, it feels a little like the magazine is saying this publication has no value, please subscribe. And that’s not our approach. Yes, we are higher-priced, but this magazine is for people who love ideas and you’ll find ideas in this publication that can improve your company and your career, well beyond what we’re charging. That’s essentially our value proposition.

Samir Husni: One of the things that you mentioned earlier in our conversation was the need to create this timely, yet timeless, content. Do you think this is the future of print, that the printed word has to have a collectability factor and that it can’t be something described as disposable?

Adi Ignatius: I think we’ve all realized the value of the archives. We have an archive that goes back 25-30 years and subscribers get full access to anything that we’ve published during that time. And we tested that a couple of years ago and found out that subscribers were willing to pay significantly more when they realized they had access to that archive. And I think other publications are doing the same thing and unearthing archival ways that are proving valuable, informative and fun. I think in that sense, a smart curation of archives is a way to prove the timelessness of some of the ideas that we publish. And we want to do more of that.

The Harvard Business Review in the past was only about timelessness and I think the brand has proven adaptable enough that now, particularly on the web, we do things that are really timely.

Samir Husni: On a personal level with the magazine; what has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Adi Ignatius: When I came in 2009, we decided that we were going to reinvent the magazine. The company had just hired a consultant who had done focus groups and research and who had talked to people and concluded that the way we used to produce our covers, I don’t know of you remember it, but HBR used to be like an academic journal or like National Geographic in the old days, where the table of contents was fully listed on the cover.

And the consultant concluded that the table of contents on the cover was as iconic for Harvard Business Review as the red border is for Time magazine. And that you mess with that at your own peril. And I wasn’t sure that I bought that. (Laughs) And I saw the focus groups and heard what they were saying, things like, yes, I’m a marketing guy and I can see the table of contents, check out if there’s anything for me and if I’d really like to read it.

But to me that meant they were looking at the table of contents and if there wasn’t anything that appealed to them, they weren’t even going to open the magazine or even tear the plastic covering off, so all that work that one does to produce a magazine, the photos, the layout, the headlines and callouts; they weren’t even going to see any of that.

And our readership was pretty much going to decide that they should just go online and research what they wanted and buy articles there and they weren’t even going to subscribe.

So, we decided to do nothing that was revolutionary, but basically remake HBR more like a magazine. Maybe it was late in the era of print magazines, but it was still very important to us to create more of a personalization. HBR articles are hard going, so we wanted to make them somewhat more accessible, in terms of the art, headlines and presentation, because that’s it, right? You want people to read the articles they didn’t think they wanted to read from the table of contents, but they’re drawn into it for some reason and realize how interesting it really is.

Samir Husni: Anything else you’d like to add?

Adi Ignatius: That was a reinvention in 2010 and by any measurement that you could use, it worked. Our circulation has risen and is now at a record level, about 300,000; our newsstand sales, even in this climate, basically have risen every year from 2010 onward, we average about 40,000 on the newsstand at $17.95, so by any measure, that’ s been successful.

We have to do this again. We have to reinvent the business model again for all the reasons that our colleagues in the industry are doing it. We’re kind of in the process of a strategic rethink to redefine what it means to be a subscriber, a member who belongs to Harvard Business Review. And I believe we’ll have some pretty interesting things to talk about in a few months.

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

Adi Ignatius: (Laughs) Business thinkers often say that you need to focus on one audience primarily and that would be readers, focus on your readers and keep your eye on them. But our situation is a little more complicated because we also need contributors to feel like we’re the best place for them to publish their ideas. We’re this hybrid; we’re somewhere in between a normal magazine and an academic journal.

And maintaining that sweet spot requires us to play this game of wanting HBR to be more accessible, but it also needs to sustain its level of rigor so that we remain true to who we are, but we also remain the place for the kind of authors that we want, who come up with the great ideas and that we remain the place they want to publish them. And that sometimes keeps me up at night; whether I can keep that balance intact, while still driving the business forward. That’s what I do; I’m balancer-in-chief.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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‘Riding Out The Storm’ With Innovation, Creativity & A Firm Hope For The Future Of Regional Magazines – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Fred Parry, Publisher, Inside Columbia Magazine.

April 22, 2015

“People still want them (Magazines). If people didn’t want those magazines, basically our business model would fail. While it’s been reduced; I think there’s still a market for that. Print is still credible; people still want that tangible experience and they still want to have that quiet time with a magazine. And I also believe there are times when people want to be on a digital diet, they want to be away from all of those devices. They just want some quiet time.” Fred Parry

Cover-4ee185aaNever let it be said that Mr. Magazine™ misses an opportunity to pick the brain of a magazine publisher. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Fred Parry, publisher of Inside Columbia magazine, as he was visiting Oxford and the University of Mississippi on a private visit.

Upon receiving word that Fred was in town, I invited him to attend my early morning magazine service journalism class at Ole Miss and then afterward we went back to my office for an in depth discussion of the future of city and regional magazines and what innovations and mind sets he has put into place at Inside Columbia (Missouri). As a University of Missouri – Columbia graduate myself, my ears were attuned to the many wonderful and inspired thoughts he had on the industry, and the city and regional category in particular.

From his opinion that traditional advertising is no longer a sustainable model for magazine publishing to the fact that he believes custom content and sponsored advertising is the new path in the woods that magazine media should take; we had a lively and informative talk that raised important questions and also answered some that have been broached over the years.

I hope you enjoy this heart-to-heart with Fred Parry, Publisher, Inside Columbia magazine, as much as I did participating in it, but first the sound-bites.

Fred Parry On whether magazine publishing has recovered from the 2008 crisis: We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think we’ll ever see the revenue levels and the level of activity that we saw in 2008 before the Market crashed. I think for the first few years we all hoped things would get back to “normal” or what we were used to, but I believe we’re all slowly waking up to the fact that advertising is no longer a sustainable model for magazine publishing.

On how he sees the transition from print to digital and going from a monthly to an hourly publication: I think it’s pretty clear that people want an hourly publication. I think people want content updated as frequently as we’re willing to do it, so that’s a real transition for us and a paradigm shift certainly.

On whether he believes that people will pay for custom content or that the status quo of our Welfare Information Society will remain intact: We have done ourselves a great disservice by creating that Welfare Information Society and I think that it’s going to be almost impossible to teach people that they have to pay for content. Somebody will hopefully find a way to do it.

On whether he thinks we can sell a publishing future to consumers without a printed product: Absolutely, by selling sponsored content. I think that’s where the revenue model is.

On the fact that we live in a digital age, yet we’re continuing to produce magazines in the same way as we did in 2007: People still want them. If people didn’t want those magazines, basically our business model would fail. While it’s been reduced; I think there’s still a market for that. Print is still credible; people still want that tangible experience and they still want to have that quiet time with a magazine.

On how Inside Columbia magazine has changed over the years: One of the things that have changed for sure is that our magazines are much smaller than they were in 2008. And I think that we’re probably more in tune with our target reader and what his/her needs are.

On whether the future of city and regional magazines appears brighter now than for the rest of the industry: I think it’s brighter because we’re smarter than we were six years ago; it’s brighter because we’re much more efficient; we’re spending money much more cautiously and really, for most of us, there is a better return on our investment. We’re leaner and meaner, and I think we’re poised to sort of ride out the storm.

On the main stumbling block Inside Columbia and other city and regional magazines are facing today: It’s the traditional advertising model. Trying to go out and sell paid advertising and display advertising gets harder every single day. Six or seven years ago advertising revenue was 92% of our revenue. Today, our core magazine might be 50% of our revenue.

On what keeps him up at night: I think that it’s always a struggle to try and figure out what our advertisers are thinking. There’s always something shiny and new that comes along and steals the attention of the traditional marketers that have supported us over the years. So, I think the thing that keeps me awake is trying to figure out how to stay a step ahead; how to outsmart these “innovators” that come in with these latest and greatest ideas that nine times out of ten are not sustainable.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Fred Parry, Publisher, Inside Columbia magazine.

Parry and Husni Samir Husni: As the publisher of a city and regional magazine; where do you see the future of that genre’ heading? And have we recovered from the crisis of 2008? Are you still seeing black clouds or are there rays of sunshine peeping through?

Fred Parry: We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think we’ll ever see the revenue levels and the level of activity that we saw in 2008 before the Market crashed. I think for the first few years we all hoped things would get back to “normal” or what we were used to, but I believe we’re all slowly waking up to the fact that advertising is no longer a sustainable model for magazine publishing. And I think the sooner that we can break ourselves away from the addiction of advertising revenue, the sooner we’re going to make that transition into being really content companies versus magazine publishing companies.

As we look at ways to distribute the content that we produce every day, whether it’s through a daily e-newsletter or some type of Smart newspaper or Smart magazine that you described in one of your recent blogs, I really believe that is our future and as soon as we embrace that, we’ll stop wasting time and money trying to make the advertising model work.

Samir Husni: How do you view the transition from ink on paper to digital? And also going from a monthly publication or six times per year to say an hourly, if not a by the minute type publication?

Fred Parry: I think it’s pretty clear that people want an hourly publication. I think people want content updated as frequently as we’re willing to do it, so that’s a real transition for us and a paradigm shift certainly.

But I think there are still going to be people who want that tangible reading experience, whether it’s in the bathroom or on the beach, there will be a need for that magazine. It will just become a very small percentage of our annual revenue model.

And the custom content, the way that’s evolving; the lines between editorial and promotional content have become so blurred, and there doesn’t seem to be much of an effort to defend those lines any longer. People tend to find as much value in promotional content as they do in editorial content.

So, those of us over the age of 30 in the magazine publishing business are still scratching our heads. And the real innovators are the people who are figuring out that john Smith wants to read about wine, baseball and Manchester United Soccer, and until we are able to provide custom content for John Smith, we’re going to lag behind.

Samir Husni: Do you think if we’re able to do that, and I know that technology makes it easy for us to provide that custom content; do you think that people will be willing to pay money for that or do you think they’ll expect the free ride of digital to continue and the Welfare Information Society to remain status quo?

Fred Parry: We have done ourselves a great disservice by creating that Welfare Information Society and I think that it’s going to be almost impossible to teach people that they have to pay for content. Somebody will hopefully find a way to do it.

We’re spending a lot of time in the publishing business right now; I’ve been to three magazine conferences in the last month and the one common thread that is being woven through all of these conferences and what publishers are talking about today are these universal or integrated audience data bases, where every engagement a reader has with our magazines; we need to capture that engagement.

So, if John Smith is reading about wine in our magazine or online, we need to somehow note that engagement and to know that the next time we have some content about wine, we need to alert John Smith that there is an article coming out in next month’s magazine about wine and we think that he’d enjoy it. Or let readers know that we just posted this on our blog or on our website. Being able to capture intelligence about our readers’ preferences and being able to say we know that reader 6279 is interested in these 15 verticals, these 15 categories of interest.

There are a couple of companies that are helping publishers capture that information; it is high-minded; it is something that’s very difficult for those of us that grew up in the traditional world of publishing to get our heads around, but I think it’s very clear that’s our future.

Samir Husni: Do you think that we can monetize that future without the printed product?

Fred Parry: Absolutely, by selling sponsored content. I think that’s where the revenue model is. Once we have the audience established; once we have a greater degree of confidence about the significance and validity of our data bases; I think that we can go to marketers and say, look, I can put you right in front of and help you interact with this small cluster. And maybe that small cluster is just 150 readers or maybe it’s 15,000, but they are uniquely interested in what you’re selling. And I can make it very easy for you to interact with them.

Samir Husni: And what if that advertiser or marketer tells you that they have the same capability of reaching them directly, why would they need you?

Fred Parry: They can’t produce the same kind of content that we’ll produce. They won’t have the same creditability that we do as a content provider. I think that’s going to be our only unique vantage point that we have the creditability and a reputation for generating quality content that people are going to be interested in.

As long as we can preserve our brands and keep building our brands, I believe we’ll have that advantage over the marketer.

Samir Husni: I think you’ll agree with me when I say we live in a digital age. Why are we continuing to produce magazines today like we did in 2007?

Fred Parry: People still want them. If people didn’t want those magazines, basically our business model would fail. While it’s been reduced; I think there’s still a market for that. Print is still credible; people still want that tangible experience and they still want to have that quiet time with a magazine. And I also believe there are times when people want to be on a digital diet, they want to be away from all of those devices. They just want some quiet time.

Maybe I’m just fooling myself, but I’m hoping that there’s still some desire for that physical magazine.

Samir Husni: Have you changed at all? If you compare a copy of Inside Columbia from the early years to a copy from today is there a major difference? I’m one of those people who say there’s not a problem with ink on paper, the problem is with what is being put on the ink on paper. Do I still need a local guide to restaurants in town or a list of all the attorneys in town in print, or should my content change to reflect the new realities of the digital age?

Fred Parry: One of the things that have changed for sure is that our magazines are much smaller than they were in 2008. And I think that we’re probably more in tune with our target reader and what his/her needs are.

At Inside Columbia magazine we have identified a 43-year-old female, named Lisa, as our target audience. And we have painted a picture of Lisa; we have a fictitious character that’s on a poster in our office. Our editors ask what would Lisa think about this; our advertising sales reps ask don’t you want to get this message to Lisa, so that’s one thing that’s changed since 2008. We’re a lot more in tune with what our reader wants and what our reader needs. We know what Lisa’s insecurities are and we know what her frustrations are; we know what keeps Lisa awake at night. If our magazine can somehow satisfy that concern and her needs; we’re really filling a nice void.

Probably more than anything, our magazine is Lisa’s connection to her community and to the real world. Lisa is pretty inundated right now with trying to get the kids to soccer and to school and trying to maintain the house, but also finishing that degree that she’s working on and working part-time somewhere. Lisa’s plate is absolutely full, but if our magazine can serve as that connection between Lisa and the world that she wants to belong to, the world that she wants to be engaged with, that’s probably the strongest benefit that we offer.

Samir Husni: Do you think that the future of the Lisa’s of the world and of the regional and city magazines is a little brighter than the rest of the industry?

Fred Parry: I think it’s brighter because we’re smarter than we were six years ago; it’s brighter because we’re much more efficient; we’re spending money much more cautiously and really, for most of us, there is a better return on our investment. We’re leaner and meaner, and I think we’re poised to sort of ride out the storm. And as the industry evolves and continues to change and be affected by technology; I feel like we’re going to be in a much better position to either innovate or jump on board.

Samir Husni: If you had to name one stumbling block facing the future of Inside Columbia and the future of city and regional magazines, what would it be?

Fred Parry: It’s the traditional advertising model. Trying to go out and sell paid advertising and display advertising gets harder every single day. Six or seven years ago advertising revenue was 92% of our revenue. Today, our core magazine might be 50% of our revenue.

And so we’re replacing that advertising revenue with custom publishing, which has been a big growth sector for us. We’re replacing that magazine revenue with events, digital newsletters, e-blasts and different projects that really have nothing to do with the magazine, other than the fact that we’re borrowing or trading on the goodwill of our brand. And that brand opens the door for us. Inside Columbia is a very strong brand, just like 5280 is in Denver or Boston Magazine. It doesn’t really matter what we’re selling, because we have the creditability of our brand behind us and people trust our brand. I think that’s probably where we have an edge over a lot of other people who are trying to produce content.

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

Fred Parry: (Laughs) I think that it’s always a struggle to try and figure out what our advertisers are thinking. There’s always something shiny and new that comes along and steals the attention of the traditional marketers that have supported us over the years. So, I think the thing that keeps me awake is trying to figure out how to stay a step ahead; how to outsmart these “innovators” that come in with these latest and greatest ideas that nine times out of ten are not sustainable. But they come in and they temporarily steal our milk and bread and it’s a disruption, to say the least.

I think the thing that keeps me awake is figuring out how to outsmart those folks; how do I go in and make my relationship with that marketer, with the person who’s paying the bills, so strong, that they’ll stop looking at other places and be as faithful to me as I am to them.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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“My Smart Newspaper”… From Dubai With Love: Tomorrow’s Print Newspaper. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Faisal Salem Bin Haider, CEO, Printing & Distribution Sector, Dubai Media Inc.

April 21, 2015

“By creating My Smart Newspaper, with its 16 pages, the reader will be able to spend 10 or 15 minutes to get a summary of everything that’s in the market today through a small, compact newspaper, and at the same time has the feel and look that only print can deliver. You are getting all the information with no waste whatsoever. No waste in paper and no waste of the readers time… it is a win-win situation.” Faisal Salem Bin Haider

Imagine It's 2020 Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Imagine it’s 2020, that was the theme of the 10th WAN-IFRA, the international newspaper association, Middle East Conference in Dubai, The United Arab Emirates. I was a speaker at, and an attendee of, the conference. One of the presentations, My Smart Newspaper, caught my attention and made me think: why wait to 2020 when the future here in Dubai seems to have started yesterday, if not yesteryear.

My Smart Newspaper is a project of Dubai Media Inc.’s Masar Printing and Publishing, an arm of the Government of Dubai under the leadership and vision of Shaikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

My curiosity got the best of me and I was fascinated by the idea of My Smart Newspaper and at the same time had tons of questions. For the first time during a media conference I was seeing and hearing someone considering the promotion of the future of print in a digital age. After all, when I started the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi in 2009, the tag line for the center was, is, and will continue to be, “Amplifying the Future of Print in A Digital Age.”

Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider, CEO, Printing & Distribution Sector, Dubai Media Inc.

Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider, CEO, Printing & Distribution Sector, Dubai Media Inc.

So, as soon the conference was over, I reached out to Masar Printing and Publishing and requested a visit and an interview with its CEO Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider, CEO of Printing and Distribution. My main conversation with him centered on the My Smart Newspaper project, but he was also gracious enough to fill me in on the history of Masar Printing and Publishing facilities that occupy a space of 50,000 square meters (almost 540,000 square feet), equivalent to 7 soccer fields…

After the tour of Masar’s very impressive facilities, I sat down with Mr. Faisal for this Mr. Magazine™Interview that I am sure you will find as informative, captivating, and delightful as I did.

But first the sound bites:

On the concept of My Smart Newspaper: I am sure that you know why we need to go to a smart platform today. We are bombarded with news, newspapers, magazines, digital platforms, etc.; in newspapers alone, each newspaper arrives with at least 80 pages daily. Add to that mobile news arriving every second of the day. We believe that the reader will go through only 10 or 20 pages max of useful information from any newspaper they receive, with the other pages of content going to waste. The readers’ time and interests are of an essence.

On how the transformation will help My Smart Newspaper: The idea starts with building the readers’ profiles and matching that profile with the wants and desires of the readers. We found out that there are four major areas folks are interested in: front page news, columnists, certain specific information and thumbnails of different newspapers.

On the goal of My Smart Newspaper: The goal of My Smart Newspaper is to match the reader’s profile with the content of the printed newspaper. My Smart Newspaper will also have your name and picture with all the pertinent information related to the reader’s profile.

On the fact that a printer came up with this editorial-type innovation: As you know, we are not only printers, but also publishers. We started with Al-Bayan newspaper where I started in 1990 working in the pre-press department. We are so tight with our publishers and we are always coming up with ideas to improve on the quality of the printed product.

On why they invested so much time and money on new printing machines: Today we are in a much better scenario than we were before. We started investing in 2007, before the crisis of 2008; we had already placed the order for the machines. At that time, yes, it was challenging. Many people in the market liked our business model, but as you know; we are in Dubai. In Dubai, we are always thinking ahead.

On whether it takes a lot of guts to swim against the current: Actually, on this subject, digital, most of us came from the IT side into this in the 1990s, so from the beginning we would like to go digital and we learned the offset on these traditional printing machines maybe a few years back. But we always believed that digital should succeed.

On when My Smart Newspaper will become a reality instead of a dream waiting in the wings: Soon, I think. It isn’t cheap. I recently briefed a publisher about the concept and he said, wow, that’s good. Key people in the government, this is what they want; all of them. The challenge will be with the publishers. Are they willing or not to team up to provide this service?

On anything else he’d like to add: The main thing about this technology is the possibilities. This is what has driven us. To make a change you have to really think out of the box. And this is something that we’re really working on and the technology helps us and the cost is becoming more reasonable.

On what keeps him up at night: (Laughs) I’m always thinking about our business.

And now for the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider, CEO of Printing & Distribution Sector, Dubai Media Inc.

Samir Husni: Would you please tell me about the concept of “My Smart Newspaper.”

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: I am sure that you know why we need to go to a smart platform today. We are bombarded with news, newspapers, magazines, digital platforms, etc.; In newspapers alone, each newspaper arrives with at least 80 pages daily. Add to that mobile news arriving every second of the day. We believe that the reader will go through only 10 or 20 pages max of useful information from any newspaper they receive, with the other pages of content going to waste. The readers’ time and interests are of an essence.

So, for that reason, and as you know, today we arrived to a very high-end digital printing machines with acceptable ratings and good quality. We do not believe that the newspaper will die, but we believe we have to become smarter in creating our newspapers.

The idea of My Smart Newspaper started with the simple premise: why don’t we create a paper as the reader would create the paper and not as a publisher. The days when the reader depended on the publisher to tell them what content they need to read are limited, if not gone. Today the reader has many different sources of information. Newspapers, TV’s, agencies, blogs; there are just too many to count. So we said, why don’t we curate all this information on paper, compact it, and produce a 16- page-newspaper on average in which the readers can get the daily articles and content that they prefer.

Digital printing has come of age. Today in Switzerland they’re installing a digital machine that will produce maybe 25,000 daily copies of a newspaper. They moved from web offset to digital. The trend is to move from offset to digital. Digital will make My Smart Newspaper real.

Samir Husni: Can you please explain a little bit more on how this transformation is going to help My Smart Newspaper?

The front page of the prototype issue of My Smart Newspaper.

The front page of the prototype issue of My Smart Newspaper.

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: Well, as print publishers and publishers of two major dailies, we asked ourselves why can’t we be different? What and how can we offer readers more in this digital age? What’s the readers’ preference? How can we put those preferences in a platform that the readers want.

For example, if a reader just wants to read the front page of a specific newspaper, the columns from another paper and the sports section of yet another paper, our idea is learn as much as possible about that reader, create a profile about that reader and create a physically printed newspaper. I know that some are offering such services on the web and on the tablet, but here we are more focused on the look and feel of the platform, and because we know the newspaper, and we know how to built it, the final product we will be a newspaper, however it will be my individualized newspaper. That look and feel can never be created on the internet.

So the idea starts with building the readers’ profiles and matching that profile with the wants and desires of the readers. We found out that there are four major areas folks are interested in: front page news, columnists, certain specific information and thumbnails of different newspapers.

Samir Husni: What is the goal of My Smart Newspaper?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: The goal of My Smart Newspaper is to match the reader’s profile with the content of the printed newspaper. My Smart Newspaper will also have your name and picture with all the pertinent information related to the reader’s profile.

By creating My Smart Newspaper, with its 16 pages, the reader will be able to spend 10 or 15 minutes to get a summary of everything that’s in the market today through a small, compact newspaper, and at the same time has the feel and look that only print can deliver. You are getting all the information with no waste whatsoever. No waste in paper and no waste of the readers time… it is a win win situation.

Samir Husni: What’s fascinating to me is you’re a printer; how did this whole idea of My Smart Newspaper come about? Rather than coming from a publisher, it’s coming from a printer. What’s in it for you?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: As you know, we are not only printers, but also publishers. We started with Al-Bayan newspaper where I started in 1990 working in the pre-press department. We are so tight with our publishers and we are always coming up with ideas to improve on the quality of the printed product. From utilizing our printing machines to their best capacity, to ensuring that we are meeting the needs of the publishers to create a competitive product without great cost or sacrificing the quality. So in short, we work very close with the publishers almost on a daily basis.

In the office of Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider with Hala Hatem, director, sales and marketing and Samer Sabri Abdel Qader, director, pre-press & digital

In the office of Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider with Hala Hatem, director, sales and marketing and Samer Sabri Abdel Qader, director, pre-press & digital

Samir Husni: I just took a tour of the printing plant and it looks as though you’ve invested a lot, in terms of new machines. Are you out of your minds? People tell us that print is on its way out; why are you investing so much in new printing machines, both commercial and newspapers?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: Today we are in a much better scenario than we were before. We started investing in 2007, before the crisis of 2008; we had already placed the order for the machines. At that time, yes, it was challenging. Many people in the market liked our business model, but as you know; we are in Dubai. In Dubai, we are always thinking ahead.

So, from the beginning when we studied the market, we built our list on the budget, which started maybe with $150 million as the initial fund to serve in the international market at that time. The international market based on a newspaper, as you know, and also in the commercial world of magazines and such. So, from that perspective we went big. Why? Let’s go one step back.

At that time, we studied the market, we found that there were maybe 500 printers in U.A.E., in small warehouses, one or two presses here and there, and they called themselves printers. So, we asked ourselves whether we should compete (Laughs) with this red ocean or should we go to the blue ocean.

From that moment on, we said that we would not go with the small machines; we’ll go with the big machines. For that reason we went with the, as you can see in the newspaper press, 16 towers at the same time. On the commercial also, we went with the big web machine, which can print and bind 48 pages in one stroke.

When we ordered these big machines, many people asked us what we were doing, but they don’t know the business. We have a faith that those big machines are good business and good for the business. From there, if we didn’t have these machines, we would not have survived during that time.

Today when we have one of our customers spending his week working on what emotions they want to do, the art work, whatever, but when he’s ready to create and print his content, he wants it to be in the market in one hour…(Laughs)

This big commercial press gives them an advantage. They can get 50,000 copies in one hour in the market. So, this machine can produce a 48 page magazine in one stroke. That is the advantage and that is the reason we decided to go big.

Today, we are celebrating the success. Everybody now knows that was the right move from the beginning.

Interviewing Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider

Interviewing Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider

Samir Husni: When I started the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, the tagline was “Amplifying the Future of Print in a Digital Age.” And you are a prime example of that. You are actually working on amplifying the future of print using all the digital technology and the latest in the printing technologies that are out there. Does it take a lot of guts to swim against the current?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: Actually, on this subject, digital, most of us came from the IT side into this in the 1990s, so from the beginning we would like to go digital and we learned the offset on these traditional printing machines maybe a few years back. But we always believed that digital should succeed.

Since 2008 in Drupa (Drupa Print Media Fair) we were seriously working on that. From that time when the digital machines’ makers were invading Drupa, people would come to us and say that they believed we had a big setup and we would like to put our machine on your premises and share the revenues.

In that time it was good news, something given as though a gift. What’s next? If the machine is here, that’s good, but can we sell that type of printing to our clients? At that time, we were doing the visibility studies about digital and digital printing at that time, the answer was no no, we cannot, sell that type of digital printing.

We continued studying this market until we reached 2014 and then we knew it was the time. The time had come when we could successfully implement this business.

Samir Husni: When do you think we’ll see My Smart Newspaper a reality, rather than a dream waiting in the wings?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: Soon, I think. It isn’t cheap. I recently briefed a publisher about the concept and he said, wow, that’s good. Key people in the government, this is what they want; all of them. The challenge will be with the publishers. Are they willing or not to team up to provide this service?

Today, most of the online content is lifted from its original providers and it seems nobody can do anything with the digital theft. We can’t be like digital. We have to ensure we have permissions to republish the articles, columns, pictures, etc. Some people say this is a crazy idea, but we believe that sometimes out of a crazy idea, a great one is coming.

Yes, today we are telling publishers that the machine is real; we are here to help; let’s sit together and see how we can build this together.

What I think is it will be something like the Newspaper Direct; if you want to read a daily newspaper from anywhere in the world, you can read it online or you can print it. This is the same concept that I’m thinking about today. Today we can build this in Dubai. We will build the portal. In this portal, any reader can build his preference. Then we will have another printer, another hub, in any city; in all of those cities we will have it. This is what we believe; this business model will start penetrating this market. The reader will have all his preferences on his card, think of it as an airline’s frequent flyer card with all your preferences stored in it, from the type of food you like to the seat preference. So, this is his newspaper. When he’s on the plane he can get his Smart newspaper.

Samir Husni: The more I think about it; people go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, they know she’s there, but then they get surprised by all the other beautiful treasures. So, you have your preferences with the Smart Newspaper and then you surprise them with other areas that fit that same preference.

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: I’ve always thought the sky is the limit. If you are traveling to a different city, maybe something may come with some dynamic information from that city.

Samir Husni: NewspaperDirect was amazing to me. When I was speaking in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I checked into the hotel, they gave me a list of all the newspapers so I could choose which newspaper I wanted at my hotel room door in the mornings. So, I picked one from Lebanon. But you are taking this concept one step further. I love the idea of the airline frequent flyer card and all the preferences. We know you like Real Madrid and politics from this region and…

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: Yes, they will have your account on the portal. The hotel chains can use this portal, so all you’ll have to do is give them your account number, and then they will use your account to produce your newspaper. All the information is there.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: The main thing about this technology is the possibilities. This is what has driven us. To make a change you have to really think out of the box. And this is something that we’re really working on and the technology helps us and the cost is becoming more reasonable.

To make the dream come true, when we went through this project, we bought an excellent machine, a very fast machine, 300 meters per minute. Then on the finishing part, we were thinking should we go cheap or average. So, there were some options on the printing side. But we went with the high-end; it’s very expensive, the only fold-up that can do inline finishing, the gluing and stitching; everything. We decided to go with the speed of the machine if we want to present this idea of commercial on the hardware side.

We asked ourselves what is the core business of our initiative; it is the portal. The portal could be smart and dynamic. And we want the person who will use the portal to be able to understand the newspaper. We want to keep the feeling of the paper; I want the reader to say this is a paper, not online. So, for that reason we worked with a specialized company out of Lebanon, Layout International, they are international and dominate a big market share with most of the content management systems for newspapers. Today all our newspapers in Dubai are using their system. We told them this is what we want; we can easily get information from online, but we want to have a full page. This is why we need to work closer with the publisher. And today they’re working with us too and we all want to make this business successful.

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

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: (Laughs) I’m always thinking about our business.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Magazines As Informers. The Social Role of the American Consumer Magazines. A Blast from Mr. Magazine’s™ Past: Dissertation Entries Part 8

April 17, 2015

Magazines as Informers
1983

Mr. Magazine™ in his official role as a professor and educator.

Mr. Magazine™ in his official role as a professor and educator.

In a country such as the United States, media critics claim that mass communication media should have a social responsibility toward the audience it is serving. In the case of magazines, for example, Roland Wolseley argues that they should have the obligation “to provide the people with a fair presentation of facts, with honestly held opinions, and with truthful advertising.” This obligation was obvious in the case of Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts where the court penalized the Saturday Evening Post for not taking more time in checking its story on coach Butts. The Magazine Advertising Bureau agreed that magazines have more obligations than other mass media because they “do not have the spot news function of either the newspaper or the radio. With the advent of television and its role in entertaining, magazines began to focus more on informing people about different matters that help them with their daily living. This new focus covered a broad base of information. Topics such as how to prepare food better, or to cope with rigors of living, or even how to survive a nuclear war, are but a few examples of this new focus.

The role of magazines as informers is chiefly detected through the news they print, the meanings they give to events, and the descriptions used to identify those events. Benjamin M. Compaine divided this role of magazines into two parts: passive and active. The passive information, he said, is information intended for the reader’s entertainment or for his general knowledge. On the other hand, active information is intended for specific use. Compaine gave an example of each type. Passive information might be an article on the life of Billie Jean King, while active information might be an article on how to cure tennis elbow. Compaine also noted that the special interest consumer magazines deal with active information and that general interest consumer magazines deal with passive information.

Whether active or passive, the role of magazines as informers witnessed no basic change through the years. “There are just as many people who turn to magazines primarily for information,” the study found. “People regard magazines as an excellent way of keeping abreast of trends, keeping informed about new products, and securing information about individual and special interests and activities such as hobbies, decorating, family care, and fashion.”

John Tebbel went a step further in discussing the role of the magazine as informers. He said, “Among the consumer magazines, the informational function is preeminent, no matter what audience is being reached…We live in an Age of Information, and certainly magazines are the prime carriers of it.” Magazines carry information that is far different from that found in other media. This information, especially in the newsweeklies, has helped, according to John Hohenberg, to “fill an indefensible gap in the reporting of national and international affairs by less qualified daily newspapers of the nation and the bulletin-type coverage of radio and television.” This gap would only be filled by magazines in their roles as informers by offering the readers something quite different from that of newspaper or television information.

To put it in the words of Louis M. Lyons, then curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, this information should “give the readers something to chew on, to mull over, something to stir his imagination, to reflect about, not only to broaden his awareness of current issues but to lead him to consider matters that are not now and may never be current issues, but should engage the attention of the questing mind.”

The above information was written in 1983 and is taken from a portion of my dissertation when I was at the University of Missouri-Columbia where I obtained my doctorate in journalism. And while the majority of the material still holds true, things have changed drastically in some areas.

Magazines as Informers
2015

passive reeseactive cover

While many facets of magazine media have changed drastically over the years, this is one area that has not. In fact, I still stand behind every word that I wrote in 1983 concerning magazines as informers.

The voices remain status quo as well. In 2015, the passive information exists and so does the active. Examples today of Compaine’s observation could be: passive – Reese Witherspoon on the January 2015 cover of Glamour, offering a look inside her personal life with the statement “I don’t do regret,” and active – February’s Muscle & Fitness, which compels you to ‘Pump up Your Gains with a Proven Workout.’

Magazines inform on many levels: political, epicurean, fashion and beauty, science, celebrity, health, fitness, and the list goes on and on. The words of Louis M. Lyons have never been truer than they are today, the information one finds within the covers of a magazine should “give the readers something to chew on, to mull over, something to stir his imagination, to reflect about, not only to broaden his awareness of current issues but to lead him to consider matters that are not now and may never be current issues, but should engage the attention of the questing mind.” And without a doubt, they do.

Next week Mr. Magazine™ begins the journey of The Commercial Role of magazines then in 1983, and now in 2015.

Until next week…stay ‘informed,’ pick up a magazine.

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Forbes’ Chief Product Officer Lewis DVorkin To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: The Magazine Business Does Not Have An Audience Problem; The Magazine Business Has An Advertiser Problem. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview.

April 9, 2015

“I think that the pendulum always swings back and forth and I think the pendulum, which had swung pretty much to digital, now may swing, while not all the way back, certainly somewhat toward starting the comeback a bit, because there is a recognition that audiences do like their magazine products.” Lewis DVorkin

Lewis DVorkin at the Magazine Innovation Center, The University of Mississippi

Lewis DVorkin at the Magazine Innovation Center, The University of Mississippi

If you sell it and the public buys it; it’s a product, according to Lewis DVorkin. And it’s very hard to argue with his straightforward logic. And why would anyone want to? Lewis DVorkin is chief product officer for Forbes and believes whole-heartedly in his brand as a valuable product worth selling, and with the across-the-board success of the Forbes brand, obviously worth buying to the consumer.

Lewis is the one-and-only chief product officer in a legacy media company and knows something about platforms, strategies and the power of print integrated in a digital world. With impressive style and intuition, Forbes has done powerful things with native advertising, both within its pages and on its covers.

I spoke with Lewis recently during his visit to Meek School of Journalism and New Media where he was the opening keynote at the 2015 Ole Miss New Media Conference at the University of Mississippi. After his speech Lewis and I visited in my office at the Magazine Innovation Center and engaged in a conversation about print, digital, the small screens that we consume our information on and how they seem to be getting even smaller, and we talked about the future of devices in the world of magazines and magazine media. His answers were succinct and informative.

I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Lewis DVorkin, Chief Product Officer, Forbes magazine; I know you’ll be very enlightened by his answers.

But first the sound-bites:


Lewis DVorkin at the Magazine Innovation Center, The University of Mississippi[/caption] On the role he believes print plays in a digital world:
Obviously, we’re big believers in print. Audiences love, and I can’t speak for newspapers, I’ve been out of that business for a while, but I can say audiences love magazines. They love the identification they have with a magazine; they love the tactile part of the magazine; they love getting it, whether they buy it or it comes to them; they love the storytelling; they love the photography, and they love what a magazine offers. The magazine business does not have an audience problem; the magazine business has an advertiser problem.

On whether he believes the industry will have to continue to depend on advertisers for survival or will it ever make money on its customers:
There is something more to it than the size of the audience, there is also what are the new kinds of products and features that you’re developing for your print product, and as you probably know, we have native advertising in Forbes magazine and we’ve done some dramatic things with second covers and placing a native ad on the cover of Forbes.

On the fact that we’ve moved from a big screen to a small screen and with the Apple Watch coming out, an even smaller screen: Devices will get smaller and smaller. It’s what I was mentioning before; so what’s the kind of content that you consume on these devices and how do we produce content for these devices? It’s difficult enough to figure it out on the Smartphone and there will be a time when we need to figure it out on these wearable devices, but I would also caution you to remember however many years the iPad has been out, maybe four or five years now, that was going to change everything and it really didn’t.

On why he refers to Forbes’ platforms as products:
People are buying it. When you buy something; you’re paying for a product. And if you’re paying to buy this collection of 200 pages or 250 pages, it is a product. If you’re going to a mobile website to look at advertising; it’s a product that houses the advertising.

On the major stumbling block he’s had to face:
Technology is hard. Technology is really hard to move fast enough for the change in consumer behavior. Consumers move faster than advertisers; they move faster in some ways than publishing technology; this is not about us; it’s about the industry and I think that we’re always finding ourselves just stumbling over the question: how do we move fast enough with the technology that we have?

On what keeps him up at night: I generally sleep really well, but I do think a lot about the notion of websites and apps, browsers and apps. It’s very difficult and since I’m a chief product officer; if we can’t make money, that’s not a good thing. And the app world is a difficult world to make money in, but more people are on their Smartphones than ever. So, how do we monetize our users on a Smartphone and when apps are not, so far in the news business, great revenue-drivers and we struggle with that.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Lewis DVorkin, Chief Product Officer, Forbes magazine.

Lewis DVorkin and Samir "Mr. Magazine™" Husni at the Meek School of Journalism, Ole Miss.

Lewis DVorkin and Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni at the Meek School of Journalism, Ole Miss.

Samir Husni: You told me that anytime you hear the word start-up, it gives you a rush. Today, there are a lot of new start-ups being launched in print and also a lot of digital entities. What do you think is the role of print in today’s digital age?

Lewis DVorkin: Obviously, we’re big believers in print. Audiences love, and I can’t speak for newspapers, I’ve been out of that business for a while, but I can say audiences love magazines. They love the identification they have with a magazine; they love the tactile part of the magazine; they love getting it, whether they buy it or it comes to them; they love the storytelling; they love the photography, and they love what a magazine offers. The magazine business does not have an audience problem; the magazine business has an advertiser problem. And advertisers are now trying to move to where they believe their new audiences are, which certainly is digital.

It was interesting; Martin Sorrell recently talked about how magazines have been undervalued or not valued enough by marketers, so I think that the pendulum always swings back and forth and I think the pendulum, which had swung pretty much to digital, now may swing, while not all the way back, certainly somewhat toward starting the comeback a bit, because there is a recognition that audiences do like their magazine products.

Samir Husni: At Forbes, you’re one of the few entities in your space that digital actually brought more readerships to your print. How can you monetize that? Will there ever be way where we can start making money from our consumers, our customers, the readers; or will we have to continue to depend on advertisers for our survival?

Lewis DVorkin: You know, the number that I talk about is an MRI number and advertisers do buy on MRI numbers, so the fact that our MRI numbers have risen is a good thing and our salespeople go out and sell our magazine.

But there is something more to it than the size of the audience, there is also what are the new kinds of products and features that you’re developing for your print product, and as you probably know, we have native advertising in Forbes magazine and we’ve done some dramatic things with second covers and placing a native ad on the cover of Forbes. And those new products and features have attracted a lot of advertisers to us who are interested in being able to participate.

So, again, when I say that print has an advertising problem, we’re trying to find solutions to that. And one of the solutions is the integration, clearly labeled, of marketing content in our magazine in powerful ways. And I think that’s going to have a significant impact on the revenue of the magazine.

Samir Husni: Tomorrow, the preorders for the Apple Watch will begin; the Apple store will start selling the Apple Watch, which based on what I’ve read can actually replace the mobile phone. So, we’re moving from a big screen to a smaller screen and then to an even smaller one.

Lewis DVorkin: As I told someone, what I want is a chip in my ear and all I have to do is tweak it and I can talk, or turn it off or whatever. I mean, devices will get smaller and smaller. It’s what I was mentioning before; so what’s the kind of content that you consume on these devices and how do we produce content for these devices? It’s difficult enough to figure it out on the Smartphone and there will be a time when we need to figure it out on these wearable devices, but I would also caution you to remember however many years the iPad has been out, maybe four or five years now, that was going to change everything and it really didn’t. Smartphones were going to change things.

So, I think the recognition is that everybody (has a device); you have a six-plus; I have a five; some people have watches; some have desktops; there will be many different form factors, and I think the challenge for journalism is that each form factor will require a different kind of format of content. It’s not going to be 3,000 words on a watch, nor is it going to be on a watch what it will be on a Smartphone. That’s a big challenge and we’ll figure it out.

Samir Husni: You took the unprecedented step of getting the title of Chief Product Officer and you identify the magazine and the digital devices as products. Some people in the industry think that we are much more than products; we are the journalists and the marketers; what’s your answer to that? Why do you refer to the magazine, the app and the website as products?

Lewis DVorkin: People are buying it. When you buy something; you’re paying for a product. And if you’re paying to buy this collection of 200 pages or 250 pages, it is a product. If you’re going to a mobile website to look at advertising; it’s a product that houses the advertising. It doesn’t feel as glamourous or as professional perhaps or as romantic. I go back to the days when journalism was a public trust, but all of those things were still on the TV shows, which were products.

And I think that what we have to recognize is that these things are things that make money and are being sold and we need to treat them as something different than just stories. They need to be treated differently than that. And I think that if you pay attention to that, then you will be able to deliver the journalism in a more effective way.

Samir Husni: What has been the major stumbling block that you’ve had to face in recent years and how did you overcome it?

Lewis DVorkin: Technology is hard. Technology is really hard to move fast enough for the change in consumer behavior. Consumers move faster than advertisers; they move faster in some ways than publishing technology; this is not about us; it’s about the industry and I think that we’re always finding ourselves just stumbling over the question: how do we move fast enough with the technology that we have?

And when you combine that with again, consumers are moving faster than the advertising business, and working with marketers and agencies is a little difficult stumbling block on the Smartphone device as well.

So, these are sort of industry-wide stumbling blocks; I don’t think that there is anything specific to Forbes, but they’re really hard.

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

Lewis DVorkin: I generally sleep really well, but I do think a lot about the notion of websites and apps, browsers and apps. It’s very difficult and since I’m a chief product officer; if we can’t make money, that’s not a good thing. And the app world is a difficult world to make money in, but more people are on their Smartphones than ever. So, how do we monetize our users on a Smartphone and when apps are not, so far in the news business, great revenue-drivers and we struggle with that. We have some ideas, but they’re early. Those things, if I do worry about anything, would be it. We have built a very big desktop presence, with very big revenue. How do we achieve the same on the Smartphone devices? That’s probably where I spend the majority of my time, so that’s where I have the majority of my worries. But I can really sleep OK.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Get Out Of Your Mind & Step Into The GOOD World…Re-launching A Good Magazine – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Max Schorr, Co-Founder & Will Tacy, General Manager, Good Media…

April 7, 2015

“As we designed the magazine we weren’t thinking, OK – we need to make sure that everything in this magazine is going to work in digital just as well, because that’s not what it’s meant to do. It’s meant to work beautifully as a magazine. And everything that we do on the site is meant to work beautifully in digital. We’re not trying to make sure that we can optimize every effort so that everything is working in both media. I think by doing that, you lessen the quality of both and you don’t let either media do what it can do wonderfully.” Will Tacy

Good_COVER The “Good” movement was born 10 years ago with the ambitious dream of “pushing forward an emerging community of people committed to living like they give a damn.” This statement comes from the minds of the original founders of Good: Max Schorr, Ben Goldhirsh and Casey Caplowe. In 2012, Good shifted its focus to its social network and stopped print production.

Today Good in print has been reborn from its social pixels-only, with a new format and redesign. The mission is the same, to live well and do good, but the journal-type magazine with a quarterly frequency is a brave new attempt to get back into print with the positive gusto the brand has always stood for and believed in.

I spoke with Max Schorr (one of the original co-founders of Good) and Will Tacy (former managing editor of The New York Times.com) and now general manager of Good Media, recently about the innovative design and re-launch of the magazine. It was an informative and affirming conversation about the magazine’s mission and where the two men see the brand heading in the future. Their positivity and assurance of the need for that mission was contagious and emboldened our discussion and the re-launch with the same zeal and impactful appetite.

I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Good Co-Founder, Max Schorr and Good Media General Manager, Will Tacy, because it’s a given you’ll find it a “good” read.

Max Schorr, (right) Co-Founder GOOD and Will Tacy, Good Media General Manager.

Max Schorr, (right) Co-Founder GOOD and Will Tacy, Good Media General Manager.

But first, the sound-bites…

On why Good magazine shifted strategies and came back to print in journal form: Good never actually moved away from print. We took some time to reimagine and redesign the magazine, but there was never a time where we decided that we weren’t going to be in print. We did want to make sure that the magazine was something we felt would really resonate with the audience.

On defining the audience as a global citizen: The one thing I would say is the nature of global citizenship hasn’t really changed from what it was in 2006. It’s still rooted in this idea of people who give a damn; people who have faith that the world can be better and are willing to invest in it and make it better.

On the major stumbling block they anticipate on facing with the re-launch: I think that we have to reintroduce ourselves to the world, but I have faith that the audience that has been there for Good all along is still there and in fact, is bigger than it’s ever been. I also have faith that there is an audience that understands what we’re trying to create: something that’s not disposable and that was very intentional on our part.

On defining the magazine’s mantra of living “the good life,” to live well and do good: We see an increasing amount of people who really feel connected across the whole world and so part of it is creatively engaging the world where you are and finding what it is that brings your purpose alive.

On how Good balances digital and print: As we designed the magazine we weren’t thinking, OK – we need to make sure that everything in this magazine is going to work in digital just as well, because that’s not what it’s meant to do. It’s meant to work beautifully as a magazine. And everything that we do on the site is meant to work beautifully in digital.

On where they see Good Media a year from now: I think that in both the digital realm and in print, you’re going to see Good as an ongoing part of a cultural conversation about what it means to live well and to do good; what our shared values are; what we need to push toward; what progress means; so, Good is going to be a reference point, a sounding board and a source of inspiration for people having that conversation, and also increasingly a source of pertinent and pressing questions.

On how Good has evolved over the last 10 years: We’ve been an independent media company for 10 years and it feels like now we’re sort of ready to go into the world. Maybe we’re graduating college and we’re now armed with a lot of knowledge and really ready to stand on our own in the world, but there are definitely challenges that are ahead and we need to now bring these things that we’ve learned into the world and really thrive and make the contribution that’s possible.

On what motivates Will Tacy and gets him excited about Good: What gets me excited, this opportunity to actually give people inspiration and energy and ideas to let them move forward to unleash their creativity and inspire them. On a personal level, I think that apathy and cynicism are the two things that are going to undermine us as a society, as a people and as sort of a global tribe.

On what motivates Max Schorr and gets him excited about Good: I think what motivates me is seeing how much work remains; we have everything from the warmest temperatures on record to wars to all sorts of hatred to a lot of inequality; so there’s so many vital issues that need attention and just being able to contribute as a part of that is a great honor.

On what Max Schorr’s role is today at Good: I’m helping across the company right now and really focusing on partnerships that can help bring our brand to life and also help other organizations embody the meaning of Good and to realize their purpose and engage people in a smart way.

On anything else they’d like to add: The heritage of Good, being the first company to curate YouTube’s home page, as one of the early players that was providing high-quality media that would also be shared, is now really hitting its stride and we’re growing digitally, while back in a strong way in print, makes for an exciting time.

On what keeps Will up at night: One thing that keeps me up at night, not really in a worried way, but in a my-brain-can’t-turn-off way, is wanting to be sure that we’re executing at the highest level every day on everything. I want us to be excellent all the time.

On what keeps Max up at night: I just want to keep strengthening this business model so that we can support all the great people out there doing this work and be able to have wonderful jobs for people who want to live well and do good and realize their potential to contribute to the world.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Max Schorr and Will Tacy, Good Media…

Good-1 Samir Husni: Congratulations on the re-launch of Good. Tell me, why did you decide to come back to print and shift from the strategy of Good – the magazine, to Good – the journal?

Max Schorr: Good never actually moved away from print. We took some time to reimagine and redesign the magazine, but there was never a time where we decided that we weren’t going to be in print. We did want to make sure that the magazine was something we felt would really resonate with the audience. So, we took our time to be sure we were exactly where we wanted to be with the magazine.

In terms of the change in format and the change in design, it was really a question of what we thought the audience was hungry for. And the recognition that the magazine that was launched 10 years ago was, in many ways, perfect for that time and moment. But today, the media landscape has changed, culture has changed, and the movement that Good launched to embrace and cover has changed. Therefore the magazine needed to change and evolve along with that.

Samir Husni: I just came back from Cape Town, South Africa where I gave a presentation on: if you are still creating a magazine in the way you did before 2007, there is something wrong with that picture.

Max Schorr: (Laughs) Exactly.

Samir Husni: Then along comes Good with a very solid example of the role of the curator versus creator and how to reach an audience. And you’re now calling that audience the global citizen; can you define that audience for me and how you’re trying to reach them through the magazine?

Will Tacy: The one thing I would say is the nature of global citizenship hasn’t really changed from what it was in 2006. It’s still rooted in this idea of people who give a damn; people who have faith that the world can be better and are willing to invest in it and make it better.

One thing I would say that has changed is that sensibility and that movement has moved from being something that would look good on the fridge of common society and common conversation, to something that’s more a part of who we all are.

One of the things that we’re seeing is that global citizenship, which really means being rooted locally, but thinking globally and being global-conscious, is becoming more and more a part of how a larger and larger section of society behaves.

Samir Husni: Will, what do you envision the major stumbling block you’ll have to face with a magazine as good as Good to be, with its very hefty cover price of $14 and its quarterly frequency?

Will Tacy: I think that we have to reintroduce ourselves to the world, but I have faith that the audience that has been there for Good all along is still there and in fact, is bigger than it’s ever been. I also have faith that there is an audience that understands what we’re trying to create: something that’s not disposable and that was very intentional on our part.

A lot of magazines have moved into this realm of being truly disposable. And that’s not a great place to be. To be in a place where a magazine is bought by someone to take with them on a plane and then they leave it there when they get off. So, we wanted to build something that has lasting value that people would want to keep on their coffee table and come back to and continually think about over the course of weeks and months.

But I do think that we have to introduce that to a larger audience; we need to make sure that we’re creating something that is resonant and that people want to make that kind of investment in. And that’s not just in terms of the cover price, but also in the audience’s time. We are building a print product that’s asking people to spend time with it and not just to skim through and read one or two pieces and then set it aside.

Samir Husni: In one of the promotional cards inside the magazine, it reads: Good is from people to meet to ideas to ponder, each issue of our quarterly journal spans the globe, exploring what it means to live the good life today. Tell me in an elevator pitch how you define “good life today?”

Max Schorr: We see an increasing amount of people who really feel connected across the whole world and so part of it is creatively engaging the world where you are and finding what it is that brings your purpose alive; part of it is being present; part of it is doing work that you believe in and part of it is helping to make your community better, and the combination of people doing that locally everywhere, connected all around the world, is a really exciting proposition for us.

Samir Husni: Do you think that meets the definition of a good life?

Max Schorr: You remember our first issue, Samir; it was ___________ (blank) like you give a damn, and we’ve always liked definitions that are open-ended. We don’t try to prescribe to people that there’s one answer for the good life, but we think when people have their own questions come alive in a very real way and they find out how they can contribute locally in their own lives that begins to tell a really great story.

You asked about global citizenship; we actually brought back a Thomas Paine quote from the first issue; my country is the world and my religion is to do good, and that sort of speaks to this idea of a global citizen.

We intentionally used the term “the good life” because part of what we want to do is push against the assumed definition of it; that the good life is a life lived for the common good as much as it is for the personal good and that there’s not a conflict there. There’s not a conflict between doing good and living a good life, in fact, they’re connected; they’re necessary to one another. Just as we say we firmly believe that there’s not a conflict between pragmatism and optimism; the solutions are born from the combination of those two things. We’re intentionally using that term to say it’s time to think more deeply about it and redefine it for our new time.

Samir Husni: Will, you were the managing editor of The New York Times.com and now you’re the general manager for Good Media. Where do you see a balance between, what I call, the seductive, beautiful mistress called “digital” and the old man called “ink on paper?” Since you have been and still are in both worlds; how can you balance digital and print?

Will Tacy: It’s funny, because I never saw a conflict between the two. I’ve always felt that they serve very different purposes; very valuable purposes, but different. And one of the things that I think, in particular a lot of magazines have stumbled on, is trying to figure out how you do the same thing in both, rather than simply embracing the two different media for what they’re wonderful at.

And some of that means that things we used to think were really the province of print, particularly newsweeklies, don’t really work anymore. They’re more effective in digital. And print has a very different purpose. The same audience is going to be incredibly psyched and excited about what you’re producing in print and in digital. As long as you’re meeting them where they are and where they want to be in each of those two media.

For instance, as we designed the magazine we weren’t thinking, OK – we need to make sure that everything in this magazine is going to work in digital just as well, because that’s not what it’s meant to do. It’s meant to work beautifully as a magazine. And everything that we do on the site is meant to work beautifully in digital. We’re not trying to make sure that we can optimize every effort so that everything is working in both media. I think by doing that, you lessen the quality of both and you don’t let either media do what it can do wonderfully.

Samir Husni: Put your futuristic cap on for a minute and tell me where you see Good a year from now.

Will Tacy: I think that in both the digital realm and in print, you’re going to see Good as an ongoing part of a cultural conversation about what it means to live well and to do good; what our shared values are; what we need to push toward; what progress means; so, Good is going to be a reference point, a sounding board and a source of inspiration for people having that conversation, and also increasingly a source of pertinent and pressing questions. Part of what we’re going to increasingly embrace is the idea that as this movement has matured and as it has moved farther and farther into the mainstream, part of our role is to ask the movement tough questions about itself and about ourselves.

I think you’ll see a much larger digital footprint; we’ve already seen our digital audience grow at an almost exponential rate over the last several months. You’ll see Good as a source of more and more content in pure digital streams, social streams and otherwise. And you’ll see Good as a voice in the national and global issues and values conversation.

You’re not going to see us playing in the breaking news game, that’s not somewhere that I think we can add value. You’re not going to see us playing in the “Gotcha’” media game and you’re not going to see us playing in the celebrity media game, but you will absolutely see Good as a contributor to a national conversation about what we all should value and where we all should be pushing.

Samir Husni: Max, this question is for you since you were there 10 years ago when this baby was born, and in the life of a magazine 10 years is an incredible lifespan; where do you see Good now from that infant that was born with a lot of fanfare 10 years ago?

Max Schorr: That’s a great question. We’ve been an independent media company for 10 years and it feels like now we’re sort of ready to go into the world. Maybe we’re graduating college and we’re now armed with a lot of knowledge and really ready to stand on our own in the world, but there are definitely challenges that are ahead and we need to now bring these things that we’ve learned into the world and really thrive and make the contribution that’s possible. The ideals from when we started are alive and well and they’re really what bring us all together as a cohesive team. So, we’re mature, but still hopeful and vibrant.

Samir Husni: I’m talking with two out of the three parents of Good: Will and Max.

Will Tacy: I would say that Max is definitely a parent, but I’m maybe a recently-discovered uncle. (Laughs)

Max Schorr: A wonderful uncle. (Laughs too)

Samir Husni: What happened to Ben (Ben Goldhirsh – one of the original founders)?

Max Schorr: Ben is still very much in the mix. He is currently recharging his batteries in Costa Rica; he visited us a couple of weeks ago and he’s coming through again in couple of weeks. He’s been such a huge part of this entire effort; he’s just recharging now because we’ve all put in a lot of work over the last decade.

Samir Husni: My question to you Will is; what makes you click and tick? What makes you get out of bed in the mornings and say, wow, I’m going to do some good today? No pun intended.

Will Tacy: (Laughs) No, actually, that’s the perfect way of saying it. I really do believe that fundamentally media has a critical role to play in providing people ways to think about our ability to move the world forward and ideas and models to inspire us.

And I think Good has such a wonderful opportunity to be that voice, that rallying, questioning, thoughtful, challenging voice that’s so necessary to begin to connect this larger and larger tribe and to be a sort of antidote to cynicism and apathy.

And that’s what gets me excited, this opportunity to actually give people inspiration and energy and ideas to let them move forward to unleash their creativity and inspire them. On a personal level, I think that apathy and cynicism are the two things that are going to undermine us as a society, as a people and as sort of a global tribe. And the opportunity to everyday try and kick down that door is just wonderful and inspiring.

Professionally, I’ve always loved being in places where you’re inventing and you’re constantly embracing the idea that there are new things we can do in media, there are new opportunities and that the audience is brilliant, hungry and thoughtful. And our job every day is to try and meet them where they are. There are no established rules that can never change and we can always think of ways to do this job better and more thoughtfully.

And to be at Good, where that’s not just accepted, but expected, and where there’s a hunger to continuously improve and to be thoughtful and forward-thinking, is just wonderful. And that’s what excites me every day.

Samir Husni: And Max, I’ll ask you the same question that I asked Will; what makes you get out of bed in the mornings and motivates you to say it’s going to be a good day?

Max Schorr: It’s just been such a great honor to start this magazine and meet people all around our country and all around the world who are putting these ideals into action and who are making changes happen in small ways, in their own lives and in their communities.

It started as a sort of audacious dream; we said that you could live well and do good and when we took the word good and decided to call our company that, people made fun of it. They didn’t understand how pragmatism and idealism could come together, or that doing good could ever be an appealing thing, but now we really see a growing movement of these people and we see it as the predominant sensibility.

And yet, I think what motivates me is seeing how much work remains; we have everything from the warmest temperatures on record to wars to all sorts of hatred to a lot of inequality; so there’s so many vital issues that need attention and just being able to contribute as a part of that is a great honor.

Samir Husni: Max, what’s your role now; I realize you’re one of the co-founders, but besides that; what’s your role at Good?

Max Schorr: I’m helping across the company right now and really focusing on partnerships that can help bring our brand to life and also help other organizations embody the meaning of Good and to realize their purpose and engage people in a smart way. So, I’m spending a lot of time here at Good and I’ve also been invited by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society out of Harvard Law School to study the intersection of social change in new media. So, I’m a student of that and doing research and also looking at how Good can really be the leading platform in moving the world forward.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else either of you would like to add about Good – the magazine, Good – digital, or Good – the global citizen?

Max Schorr: It’s an exciting time, Samir. Will mentioned our digital is really growing exponentially and that’s an important piece. We’ve launched this high-quality print journal for the global citizen and what’s really exciting is there’s a whole buzz in the office right now because we were at several million unique visitors in January, but then in February we were at over 4½ million as verified by Quantcast. And in March, it’s not official yet, but we’ve beat that by a wide margin and so we’re seeing that continued growth.

The heritage of Good, being the first company to curate YouTube’s home page, as one of the early players that was providing high-quality media that would also be shared, is now really hitting its stride and we’re growing digitally, while back in a strong way in print, makes for an exciting time.

Samir Husni: My typical last question and it’s for both of you; what keeps you up at night?

Will Tacy: (Laughs) There are so many things. One thing that keeps me up at night, not really in a worried way, but in a my-brain-can’t-turn-off way, is wanting to be sure that we’re executing at the highest level every day on everything. I want us to be excellent all the time. So, that is super-exciting and it’s what keeps my brain going.

There’s not a lot that keeps me up in terms of worry, concern or fear. What keeps me up is there’s so much to think about and so much to consider and so much great work to do and my brain just can’t turn it off.

Max Schorr: Similar to Will, I just want to do the best work possible, but also it’s been a volatile stretch of time for the media industry. We’ve learned a lot, but we’re still an independent media company and I think we’re still strengthening our business model and our financial position in the world. And we’re really grateful for the wonderful partners that are in this magazine like Apple, Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s.

I just want to keep strengthening this business model so that we can support all the great people out there doing this work and be able to have wonderful jobs for people who want to live well and do good and realize their potential to contribute to the world. There’s just a lot of work to do.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor: A Healthy First Quarter And Second Quarter Opens With A Bang…

April 5, 2015

The first quarter of 2015 ended with 191 titles – down 19 titles from the 210 titles appearing in the first quarter of 2014. The largest drop were the titles published with the intention to appear at least four times a year on the nation’s newsstands. The total of new magazines with frequency in 2015 was 45 titles compared to 61 titles in 2014. As for the specials and book-a-zines, the numbers almost ran neck-to-neck with 2015 producing 146 titles compared to the 148 titles from 2014. To see each and every magazine launch click here.

The first chart below illustrates the total number of the titles, average cover price, average subscription price, average number of advertising pages, and average number of pages of the new magazines.

The second chart below compares the top 10 categories of the new launches in 2015 to those in 2014.

Chart One:
launches q1

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Chart Two:
categories q 1

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And A strong start for Second Quarter:

parents latinaSGD-1505-covernational geo history

The month of April is still in its infancy, but three major new launches are already on the nation’s newsstands with a fourth one arriving soon. Meredith was the first publisher to introduce the quarterly Parents Latina, National Geographic Society followed with the bimonthly National Geographic History, and Bauer Publishing with the monthly Simple Grace. Rodale is getting ready to launch Organic Life in ten days. A strong start for quarter two of 2015 and a good sign of a healthy and hefty spring ahead… and by the way, did I fail to mention that all these new launches are magazine launches, as in ink on paper launches? I guess March showers are indeed bringing in April flowers!

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