Professional Development Tour of
New York Magazines

June 2003



Contents

NED DESMOND, Executive Editor, Time Inc. Interactive

RIK KIRKLAND, Managing Editor, Fortune Magazine

SHAUN GURL, Vice President, Consumer Marketing, People Magazine

LINDA REALS, Director, Editorial Internship Program, Time Inc.

MARIA BAUGH, Executive Editor
LAV SAVU, Editorial Manager
InStyle Magazine

ROY JOHNSON, Assistant Managing Editor, Sports Illustrated

BEATRICE HANKS, Circulation Director
ALFRED EDMOND, JR.
, Executive Editor
CHRIS NOEL, Advertising Sales Associate
Black Enterprise Magazine

GENE NEWMAN, Executive Editor, MaximNet
JOHN WALSH
, Senior Writer
JORDAN BURCHETTE, Senior Editor
Maxim online


Postscript: Some images from the Metropolitan Museum and New York City


Five faculty members in magazine programs spent three days visiting New York magazines to update their knowledge and find out what magazine staff members were thinking about.

Attending were Don Bird, Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus; Walter Brasch, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; Gerald Grow, FAMU; Judy Polumbaum, University of Iowa; and Barbara Reed, Rutgers.

Contents by Magazine

Black Enterprise

Fortune

InStyle

Maxim

People

Sports Illustrated

Time Inc. Interactive

Time Inc. Internships

 


 


NED DESMOND
Executive Editor
Time Inc. Interactive

 

 

Interactive, then

During the peak of the dot-com boom, Time Inc. experimented with Pathfinder, which they intended to become a portal to all their magazines.

At that time, they gave away magazine content online and thought "brand exposure" was payment enough for all the time and effort that went into Pathfinder, along with some payment for ads that appeared on the site. But now they are afraid of habituating readers to getting a magazine for free.

Interactive, now

Unlike many magazine publishers, Time Inc. makes money from reader subscriptions; they do not depend as heavily on advertising revenue as many companies do. "The heart of the enterprise is to get people to subscribe to the magazines."

As a result, Time Inc. is moving away from free, ad-supported sites.

Now each magazine has its own site, with a "curtain" over the most important titles. To get "behind the curtain," you have to be a subscriber or reader or have an AOL account.

At present, Time magazine is still free online.

Features of online material

They have tracked the click-throughs and found that few readers go through to the end of long articles online.

Even the (already short) People articles are truncated when put online. A regular 800-word "People two-pager" is typically reduced to 400 words for the online version.

People.Com is shortening everything. Some articles contain only two paragraphs, but those two paragraphs have real content, and readers read them.

Editing for online

This kind of online material works best at present:

  • Short form
  • Information
  • Entertainment

In some magazines, a less experienced "B" team was assigned the online version of the magazine, causing tribal conflict. (More than one editor commented that magazines tend to be "tribal" places, where factions readily develop.)

He promotes an integrative view that makes the web version complementary with the print magazine.

Each title has the challenge of finding just the way to use the online medium that is right for its readership.

E.g., Cooking Light has the highest rate of subscribers going to the website -- 60% go to the website, and they go for a simple, useful, informative service-the recipe database.

The real programming. There has been a lot of excited talk about how the web consists of "programming" that involves readers.

But "the real programming is in the magazine: that's where we dress it up and put it into articles" that serve and involve readers.

A magazine's relation to the web is proving to be different that people first thought. The web provides only certain limited services, such as the capacity to find answers to problems or recall some things readers had read.

InStyle will be going online, not so much to reprint articles and photos from the magazine as to make it possible for readers to search for styles, accessories, colors, etc., in a useful interactive database of relevant fashion.

At People.Com it has proved trickier to define the role of the online version, and it will be interesting to see how they work that out.

Technical expertise. Time Inc. is extremely focused on the core things you need to do to succeed in publishing: ad sales, publishing, paper, distribution, content.

Any time, for example, an editor wants to consider using a different grade of paper to achieve an effect, a specialist in paper can pop up to the office with samples, technical specs, advantages and disadvantages, and costs. The amount of available expertise is amazing.

Staffing. Time Inc. Interactive has a team of about 40, 12 of whom are with AOL.

The "creative types" are senior employees. The group does not take many interns, though it does take some management interns.

Time Inc. is a very decentralized company that hires managers who have a lot of individual initiative. Each title is its own separate operating division. Orders from the top don't mean that those orders are automatically and smoothly carried out. To make a change, a top manager may have to negotiate with others as equals and persuade them to make the change.

Freelancer rights. This is a complicated issue, moreso on the photo side. Freelance writers cede most rights. But photo rights vary greatly, depending on what professional group the photographer belongs to.

Time Inc. does not usually buy photos with the thought that someday they might use them. They don't buy what they don't use. Material appearing on a website is currently considered to be "perpetual" use.

His background: With Time magazine for 14 years, mostly foreign correspondent for Asia-mainly India and Tokyo. He left that position and worked in Silicon Valley. Then came to Fortune as senior correspondent, then launched Business 2.0 three years ago.

Advice to students

"Gain experience writing and reporting. Learn the craft.

"Develop some kind of expertise, so you can bring context to what you write.

"Gain specialized knowledge in some area:  Law. Medicine. Security. Politics., etc. Get a really deep grounding in something.

"It is not so important for journalism students to learn how to build websites as it is for them to learn something about how online journalism works as a business model."

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RIK KIRKLAND, Managing Editor
Fortune Magazine

 

Because thye industry is in contraction, Fortune is not hiring for writing positions. He has a lot of people he would like to hire, but there are not the positions. Not expecting to go into a growth phase in the near future.

The challenge is: How to put out a great magazine but meet the financial goals.

Only a few employees come to Fortune with magazine degrees; more come from MBA or finance, and happen to like to write. Or they are bright business grads. In the old days, they would bring in these grads as reporters and train them, but now there is not time.

In the early days of Time Inc, the reporters were all women, the writers all men. That has changed.

The old bargain was: We'll train you, not pay you much, and give you a chance to move up.

Now, there are two tracks.

A "list" department, derived from the research and librarian staff -- who do a lot of fact checking, charts and graphs, and the like.

Track 2: Writer-reporters, with more experience than new hires in the past.

Any student contacting Fortune will need to have experience writing, with clips to prove it from internships and jobs.

The most important things in a writer:

  • Quality of thinking and analysis;
  • Style: the ability to express it.
  • Combined with the ability to get itright.

The Fortune Style

"We try to put out a better-written, more thoughtful magazine that combines high seriousness with verve and narrative drive that makes you want to pick up the magazine. . . No one needs a bi-weekly; they have to want to read a bi-weekly."

He looks for voice in the writing, for the phrase that snaps, the writer with a sense of structure.

In considering a new writer, Kirkland will ask for unedited copy, to see how someone can write without help.

Working here offers "the wonderful privilege of being about to go around and talk to smart people and learn."

The magazine, like most magazines today, has moved from fact-checking to self-checking on most stories. The author of the story is responsible for the accuracy of the material in it. 

Nonetheless, each story goes through a minimum of three editors. Main feature articles may be read by others with special expertise in the subject area-for example, in finance the auto industry.

A typical feature assignment is given 4-6 weeks for completion.

Nuance matters. A writer has to go beyond getting the facts right.

"I can teach poets accounting, but I can't teach accountants to write," Henry Luce said when asked why Fortune was hiring creative writers in the 1930s.

"The prose has to jump off the page. The writer has to understand storytelling, structure." Most stories go back for a second, even third draft.

The Fortune style: Individual voice. Conversational, accessible, captured in this focus group comment: "Fortune writes about complicated things in a way I can understand."

Kirkland whimsically says that he wants for Fortune to combine the best of Vanity Fair, Maxim, and The Economist.

"A writer might receive this comment on a draft: 'This is all true, but somehow you've missed the point, or told me what I already know, or have not thought about it enough.'"

Kirkland offered this important message for students:

"The really good writers finish early, take a break, then come back and edit themselves-before turning in that first draft."

No one ever sees their real first drafts. They edit themselves before anyone else does.

In the 90s, business journalism came to the fore. It was suddenly the largest story. That changed radically with the crash of the "new economy."

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SHAUN GURL
Vice President, Consumer Marketing
People Magazine

 

 The goals of the marketing department:

  • Make ratebase (i.e., circulation guarantee: number of subscribers promised to advertisers)
  • Make a profit on circulation
  • Support the publishing equation
    • Audience demographics
    • Brand image

Time Inc. ran with the idea of putting out a great magazine that charged enough for subscriptions to stay healthy. In retrospect, Life magazine should have raised its subscription price.

Life magazine didn't really die: It became People magazine. The final issues of Life bore a great resemblance in content to the People magazine that emerged.

Pricing is all about how to determine the value of what we are creating.

SI for Kids was started under the assumption that you could not charge more than $20 per year for a kids' magazine. One of the ways it was saved was a price increase from $19.95 to 2$3.95. Parents were willing to pay that price, and the increase made the magazine profitable, and it survived.

SI for Kids still gives away 200,000 copies for free to disadvantaged high schools, all places where 90% of kids qualify for the federal free lunch program. The teacher's copy comes with a teaching guide, originally developed in conjunction with Bank Street College. It is a program for reluctant readers, a big, expensive program for a magazine that does not make a lot of money.

SI for Kids is edited so that women play a major role in what is covered.

Editors at Time Inc. sometimes complain about how their magazines are being promoted, but in general, in the direct response approach, "classy" does not work. People need a compelling reason to order right now -- sweepstakes, a free offer, a limited-time rate.

"We can't sell subscriptions by doing what editors like to do: talk about our wonderful journalism and great magazine. That does not bring in the subscriptions."

Consumer marketing has been in a depression for the past 5 years. You have not seen Publishers' Clearinghouse or AFP. American Family Publishing, which was 50% owned by Time Inc, went into bankruptcy as a result of the attorney general investigation of their marketing practices.

Automatic renewals have become a recurring concern, but they raise the question: What is the obligation of the publisher, what is the obligation of the subscriber?

There are lots of ways to get initial subscribers, but the renewal process cleans up the subscriber list, helping restrict it to the core audience targeted by the magazine and its advertisers.

"Magazines used to advertise a lot on cable TV, buying up residual time. But that's all gone."

In the past few years, there has been a drastic consolidation of wholesale magazine distributors, from around 120 down to four: The News Group, Anderson News, Levy , Hudson News. This has created a crisis of insecurity in the magazine industry. If one of these companies goes under, how will the magazine get out to newsstands?

The combination of production schedules and distribution schedules creates some chronic delivery problems for certain titles.

People, for examples, goes to press on Wednesday, but cannot get delivered in many parts of the country until Monday.

For Sports Illustrated, this means that 40% of the newsstands in the country do not receive the SuperBowl preview issue until after the SB has been played.

People Magazine

"Every article has a story to tell about real people with courage, hardships but also joy. The stories are superbly told.My People is an escape and a link to the real world." -- from an email from a reader who missed an issue. The Real People stories are often inspiring stories.

Readers say these things about People:

  • fun to read
  • quick to reead
  • more truthful than tabloids
  • helps me relax
  • covers interesting people beyond celebrities
  • credible

Size:

  • 3.5 million paid copies
  • 2 million paid subscriptions
  • 1.5 million newsstand sales, half in supermarkets

Comparison of subscription prices:

  • Economist $102
  • People $99 to $109
  • US $59
  • Sporting News $55
  • SI $55
  • Time $48
  • EW $46

Subscription to People is high, but whenever they have raised the subscription price, readers have been willing to pay it. People has an audience primarily of women baby boomers, though it has strength in the18-34 bracket

Comparison of retail profitability:

  • People $230 mil year
  • Nat Inq $161 mil yr
  • Star $130 mil yr, followed by:
    • Woman's World
    • TV Guide
    • Cosmo
    • Globe
    • US
    • Family Cir
    • InStyle

People is distributed in 100,000 stores, which represents a huge investment by Time Inc.

Ann Moore, who is now the CEO of Time Inc, came out of People.

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LINDA REALS
Director, Editorial Internship Program
Time Inc.

 

It's pronounced "Reelz."

Eligible:

  • Juniors, going on the Senior year
  • Interested in going into Journalism

Features

  • Paid
  • Housing provided at Columbia U.
  • Researcher-Reporter-Fact-Checker position
  • 50 each summer
  • 900 applications this summer

Application

  • Get the application material they send out
  • State your top magazine choice; but no guarantee
  • Does not include a face to face interview
  • Sometimes a phone interview
  • Deadline first Fri in December
  • Must supply copy of latest transcript
  • Resume
  • 300-worde statement about your background (1 page), emphasizing why you are passionate about this field
  • Follow the guidelines!
  • 2-3 samples of your writing
  • 3 sets of all application materials

Selection

  • Around early Feb, culling committee meets -- 20 people
  • They rank each candidate A, B, C.
  • Suggest which magazine ea A candidate may be best in.
  • A-ranked candidates are then given to editors at ea magazine, who chooses the interns from this pool.

For information:

http://campusrecruiting.timeinc.com

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MARIA BAUGH, Executive Editor
LAV SAVU, Editorial Manager
InStyle Magazine

It's pronounced "Bow," to rhyme with "Wow!"

In Time Inc., the title "Managing Editor" refers to the top editor. Those doing the job called that at most magazines have titles like Lav Savu's. Below is a glimpse of the magazine's planning board.

 

 

InStyle became category leader this year -- beating Vogue in ad pages and ad revenue.

Readers are highly educated, wealthier (70K: Vogue is ~55K). 23-35, female, predom white (78-80%).

Baugh has bkgnd in small-town newspapers. She read a lot of reader mail, to find out what readers liked. Mail from women all over this country, all sizes and ages and wealth.

What the magazine is for its readers:

  • an escape for them
  • a peek into a life they may never experience
  • a way to feel good about themselves
  • a way to find clothes that fit them, that they can afford
  • a way to incorporate little touches, like a $5 candle
  • a way to fantasize about expensive fashion

The magazine gives readers some little way to feel good about themselves every day.

"We have different ways readers can find something to connect with in the magazine."

InStyle fashion stories use celebrities, not models -- and these are rarely as skinny as professional models.

Time Inc policy on editorial integrity is maintained. They will not even tell the ad staff in advance that they are running an article on celebs' favorite candies.

Tone of writing:

  • sophisticated, but
  • not out of reach.
  • Smart but friendly.

In service articles, it is about giving the best service we can: top of the line, best, accurate.

Maria Baugh's favorite quote:

"This will all make sense very soon."

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ROY JOHNSON
Assistant Managing Editor
Sports Illustrated

 

Career path

Sports Illustrated right out of college -- Researcher-Reporter, Fact Checker

  • 7 yrs at NYT, covering pro basketball, tennis and other sports features
  • Sports columnist in Atlanta
  • back to SI in '89 as senior editor for college basketball, golf
  • to Money mag, 3 yrs
  • to Fortune
  • left in 2000 to help start Vanguarde Media
    • quality publications aimed at segments of urban (black) marketplace: Honey; Heart and Soul; Savoy
  • back to SI in Dec. 2002
    • Oversees TV strategy

Sports Illustrated

SI took 12 years to become profitable. Today, "we would conduct more research before starting, make adjustments after start-up and hopefully reach profitability sooner."

They would make studies before starting, make adjustments after start-up so it would be more profitable.

NASCAR is now covered by SI, because that's where the fans are. For years, SI maintained that NASCAR fans were "not our readers."

SI on Campus

SI On Campus will be distributed weekly to 70 universities, covering college sports, as an insert to Thursday's edition of the college newspaper.

26 pages long. Advertisers already committed.

Shorter stories. Charts and graphs. Speak to kids in their own voice.

"Everyone's trying to adapt to an era when everyone has less time, where irreverent voices have penetrated all areas of the culture. There is no difference between sports and entertainment today. Sports has become younger, with the urban music. It has become more irreverent. We want SIOC to be fun. We don't want to be dowdy and not recognize new voices that are happening out there."

SI for Kids covers younger readers. SI covers 35 year old men. They are using SI On Campus to fill in the missing demographic group.

What makes great journalism

"What makes great journalism has not changed at all -- great writing, great thinking, great points of view. During the internet boom, much of that formula was put on the back burner for the sake of something no one could get their arms around."

"Experience at a dot-com can almost be a disadvantage on a resume, because many of those were not about great writing and journalism and did not involve serious editing experience. The magazine is still where you make your mark."

Writing, research, thinking, politics, great stories, interviewing--these are the things he mostly talks about with writers.

Diversity

Johnson plays a major role in AOL/Time Warner's initiative to place more minorities in management positions.

Closing quote

"There is no such thing as a sports writer. There are journalists who cover sports." -- Roy Johnson, Assistant Managing Editor, Sports Illustrated

 

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BEATRICE HANKS, Circulation Director
ALFRED EDMOND, JR.
, Executive Editor
CHRIS NOEL, Advertising Sales Associate
Black Enterprise Magazine

 

Alfred Edmond, Jr.

Beatrice Hanks, Circulation Director

Getting the magazine on airlines. The magazine pays a service fee, so it is expensive. Concerned that not enough people are seeing the magazine there, based in part on response to the blow-in cards. They are moving away from that program.

"We're trying to sell the magazine," not give it away. They sell a lot of copies in airports, which works against giving it away on flights.

In order to meet the rate base, some magazines give copies away by distributing them in public places, such as airlines, some newsstands. Even though this costs something, it can be less expensive than additional direct mail.

Circulation is 475,000. 35,000 is newsstand sales (a rate typical of consumer magazines). Growing around 25,000 per year.Pass-along rate: 6 or 7 people.

The day after the stock market crash, every financial magazine's April issue sank. Nobody wanted to read about their investments. Some dropped to 40% of the previous months.

BE, however, is still selling as much as it did before the bust. BE went up during the boom of the '90s, but did not come creashing down.

The magazine is not just about stocks; it is a more rounded magazine about finances, business life, career in general, plus a certain amount of motivational quality.

Renewal rates have remained good, much bertter than others in the category.

Demographics:

Older and richer; for people who are serious about money; 50-50 m/f.

"The best thing we did is not lose our shirts on very expensive promotions on the internet." Sending emails to subscribers. Cross promoting with books. Gift promotions once a year.

Colleges are the worst places to develop subscriptions.

"Students do not have a fixed address; they don't have any money; and if they do, they don't spend it on magazines. The best you can hope for is that students are aware of your title, so they will subscribe when they graduate and have a job."


Alfred Edmond, Jr. Executive Editor, Black Enterprise

In his 16th year. Sr VP in the company, responsible for all aspects of editorial, including web site, book series. '

First editor in the history of the magazine who has had to be a multimedia editor.

Everything is driven by the magazine. The credibility of the magazineis what enables us to do other things.

Founded 1970. Foundation is black entrepreneurship.

In the '90s, BE became the magazine of choice for understanding investment opportunities. African Americans who did not care what a stock or bond was in the '80s, in the '90s, had to know.

BE guide to starting a business; investing; black business owners profiles; profiles of corporate African Americans.

Black Enterprise carries out several large events that help them keep in close touch with their readers. The events are also money-making functions for the company.

BE sponsors the world's largest non-professional business golf tournament, BE Pepsi Gold and Tennis Challenge (1200 participants last year). Very competitive. It is a major networking event. Major corporate executives come. Also held at major spas, for people who do not golf.

National Entrepreneurship Conference-- Just held in Nashville-- around 1400 attendees. "These events bring our audience to life for our advertisers: Here's a thousand of them, right here.' It brings credibility to what our advertisers are paying for."

Kidpreneur program. Allied w National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

What started as a babysitting service turned into a new business. It sells out quickly.

BE produces a quarterly magazine, Teenpreneur. The magazine sponsored its first summer camp for youth entrepreneurs in 2003. "The earlier we can expose people to the brand, the less we will have to chase them when they grow into our market."

4-6 year olds are the youngest participants. They make things, price the components, and sell it in the end (often to their parents), and understand from age 4-5 how to create or buy something and sell it for a profit. (The concept of kidpreneurs originated with an intern at BE.)

BE gives four small business awards per year, at end of Entrepreneurship conference. Most popular is the kid/teenpreneur award. The latest one went to a 14 year old who has her own magazine that brings in $25K per year. Teenpreneur writes about such kids.

We didn't throw a lot of money at our website. Take it slow and see what happens.

"The vast majority of people will not pay you for content on the internet."

"But if you provide them with valuable information, they will give you important information about themselves that you can now use."

Editorial policies

Serious separation of church and state. Will write negative stories about some of their advertisers.

"The only thing that allows us to compete with top magazines is that our content is seen to have integrity. We measure ourselves against Forbes, Fortune, and Money. Awards: 3 out of the past 7 years, BE was one of the top financial magazines accfording to Folio awards."

"Our goal is not to be the best black magazine, but the best business magazine."

This is an editor-driven magazine.

60% is freelance.

"We develop all the stories internally and assign them to regular freelancers around the country."

"Every editor of the magazine is like an editor of his own magazine within the magazine."

"We're not a magazine per se; we're a consulting firm. We can't have a half million people come to our offices ea month; what we do is package the information and send it out to you. We call our readers clients."

"Editors decide what our clients need and how to serve those needs."

"Editors all write, but we have no staff writers."

"This is what I think our clients need to know this month about technology (etc) to advance in their business."

"Our goal is to provide information that is actually useful."

"We stopped asking whether they found articles interesting. We ask what they found useful. What they found useful, we gave them more of."

12 yrs ago, Folio commissioned Gallup to poll: If you had to do without one form of media, what would you eliminate?

Conventional wisdom predicted it would be books. Answer came back: magazines.

Another question: Would you give up YOUR magazine? The answer was no.

While readers may not see magazines in general as important, they see as important the magazines they read and use in their daily lives.

Black magazines once thrived on the Johnson Ebony model: Nobody is going to write about black people, so we will. But now black people are covered by many media.

"Being the black version of a white magazinestopped being enough about 20 years ago. Yes we are a black magazinein the sense that our audience is black, but mainly we are a magazine."

Magazine management. Bottom-up model: section editors are supposed to go to the readers, their clients, to conferences, to find out what they are dealing with, what they care about, what they need. "'Journalist's hubris' can't exist here; editors can't tell readers what they need, they have to listen to readers."

They try to hire people people, not journalism people.

Emphasis on REALLY serving readers. Looks for editors who have run their own magazines and can do everything as a miniature ed-in-chief.

"If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I've got 4 people on my staff who know everything I know about running a magazine."

First rule of management: "Money is not a motivator; it is a minimum requirement."

"Now, I'm turned on by the prospect of bringing together a group of people with finite resources who have to compete with publications with much greater resources. And you are only as good as your last issue."

"I like people who don't like to be told what to do; who are smarter than I am; who emotionally care about the audience; who know more than I do."

"There is more diversity here than most places: [African Americans on the staff are diverse; they] don't agree about anything. They have different countries, backgrounds, ages.

Internships. They get 300 applications per year for internships. They look for actual working journalists, who know what to do to cover a press conference, interview, copyediting, etc. They hire 4-6 interns in editorial.

This year, all the interns are women.

"We evaluate them like employees on the job. Last year we had a terrible intern. Never finished a story. Never had an explanation. Looked good on paper, interviewed well."

"Three of our interns from last year still write for the magazine. Our goal with interns is to recruit people who can write for the magazine."

"We look for attitude and someone we don't have to tell what a lead is. Someone who has written for publications, covered things."

Interns have stories to tell about their experiences doing journalism already. They are already writers and journalists, and they now want to do it in a professional environment.

Apply early. Resume. Clips. Recommendations. It helps if you have been editing and writing.

(FAMU has an intern here summer 2003: Naeemah Khabir.)

Fact-Checking. 5 copy editors fact-check every story in the magazine.

Pet peeve: The diff btn a journalist and journalism student: "Journalists worked for the campus paper, radio station, etc. There are students who are truly journalists, whether or not they majored in journalism. We are looking for people who are not studying to be journalists, but who ARE journalists."

He is aghast that students don't automatically read the paper every day.

Edmond's Background. He was in a head-start program at age 4, when he learned he could draw. Spent his youth reading and drawing and writing, an introvert.

Voted outstanding writer and artist in his HS clsss. One of 4 children, divorced single mother, welfare. Longbranch NJ, did not grow up around people who went to college. Grandparents took him around to colleges.

"I lived at the public library. I did not know how starved I was for culture until I left."

Rutgers College grad, '83. Majored in art. Drawn into editing and writing for a student newspaper.

First job was edit asst at Asbury Park press. Got another part time job as layout artist at what is now the NY Beacon. 3 hour commute to Brooklyn.

On that job, he kept asking: "If this was my paper, what would I do with it?"

"I was one of the few people who knew how to put out a paper" [thanks to his experience on college publications.]

Where his art background fits in:

Magazines are pieces of art as mucha s they are journalistic institutions.

"I'm the only editor on staff with a Mac. I'm the only one who can speak the language of the art director. I let him do his job. All of our designers are journalists; your job is to communicate information. I don't get into the art-editorial wars that are common in magazines."

Responsible for editorial, art, production depts.. "I don't know if I could be ed in chief without the art degree."

"Selling is an emotional response not an inellectual response."

"When you understand art, that is helpful in choosing the cover."

Cover: You've got 4 seconds max to communicate emotionally with your reader.

If you use art appropriately, you can get the attention of the audience. Then the intellectual part kicks in, with the cover lines, headlines, captions.

Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman. Emotional response is first; intellectual response follows a fraction later.

"Preview"-- They show the whole magazine to a sample of their readership every time and ask them to take it apart. I didn't get this article; this is not true; I was offended; I don't like this, etc. "Editors have to get beyond the hubris and listen to what readers say."

"How to succeeed in business without being white," by Earl Graves. This book required at BE, and explains the voice of the magazine: a mission-oriented voice.

There used to be a sign in the editorial office that read,

"If we're not saying How To, we're not doing our jobs."

At times we got away from showing How To and started showing how brilliant we are. Editors who write for other editors.

Our articles: How to solve a problem, how to take advantage of an opportunity. Service voice.

"Interesting" vs "useful."

Celebrities in the magazine. Our readers are not slaves to celebrity. We walk a fine line on how and when we use celebrity.

Story recently about how celebs manage their money, not knowing any more about money than reader does. In addit to learning about the celeb, article taught readers more about how to manage their finances.

A recent cover on Shak did not work well.

Worst issue in terms of newsstand sales and evaluation. Every story scored 80% usefulness, except the celeb story. Research showed that the big cover story on celeb endorsement in that issue had the least to do with readers' decision to buy it on the newsstand.

Fortune sold well with a Michael Jordan cover, picking up many readers who normally do not buy the mag, but it did not lead to additional subscribers. "I can read about Shak anywhere. I don't sub to BE for that. I can get that anywhere."

"We're a consulting firm and you're our clients."

"If you've been reading BE for 2 years and don't feel you are doing better in your business because of it, don't subscribe to it."

 


Chris Noel, Advertising Dept, in charge of schools, universities, and franchises

$96,800 = av household income
67% of subscribers have MBAs

Niche publication for affluent AA market.

Amherst grad. Manager for OfficeMax store. Goal to be a high-ranking executive in a corporation.

Dedicated audience. Very little duplication: few readers of BE also read Money, Bus Week, Forbes, Fortune. Highest duplication at Money with 20%;. Other bus pubs have as much as 70% duplicate readership with another major business magazine.

They are actively cultivating potential advertisers, against the time when the economy turns around and they start to advertise more.

Travel and tourism -- one of the biggest categories to decline in advertising. A huge industry. Tech companies next in amount of cutbacks. Consumer products in general.

Extensive schools and universities program. Biannual "top colleges" issue (every other year). Many look to this issue for what colleges are best for their children.

3X year, special university section: 300 words by the university about its programs.

"Many executive readers in this economic slump are going back for education that will help them in their careers later. Universities benefit from such grads when they return to corporate jobs."

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GENE NEWMAN, Executive Editor, MaximNet
JOHN WALSH
, Senior Writer
JORDAN BURCHETTE, Senior Editor
Maxim online

 

 

John Walsh

 

Jordan Burchette

A glimpse at where a magazine gets produced, at Maxim. Note the Macintoshes. Every publisher we visited over the past two years uses Quark and Macs to design their magazines.

Maxim is run by an educated staff of funny guys, not all of whom are young.

We talked to:

Gene Newman, Executive Editor, MaximNet

Jordan Burchette -- Senior Editor of Maxim online (FSU grad in Communication).

John Walsh-- Senior Writer (38 years old).

 

Based on what men are like

"What are common exchanges and practices among men and how can we bring that to our enterprise."

"Men fire shots at each other all the time. They make fun of one another. This is the kind of male characteristic Maxim picks up on."

"The composition of the magazine is almost like the composition of a male brain -- 40% sex, a mix of violence, power, money, lists, gross stuff, self-deprecating humor."

"Guy stuff" example:
"Dare a Maxim Editor"
to do something stupid.

"Dares are common among juvenile men like us, so it made sense to bring an element of that to our magazine. " Examples of dares from readers that Maxim has carried out and published a report on:

  • Give the Gen Mgr a hickey.
  • Dress as a figure skater. ("It was scary how much he enjoyed doing this!")
  • Eat a whole can of EZCheese in a single setting.
  • Eat a spoonful of raw cinnamon.
  • Get shot with a Taser.

Website

MaximNet has a staff of 18 people doing 7 websites.
They recently consolidated the multiple magazine websites under a "wartime English rationing mentality."

85% of web content each month is public. The Maxim Lounge is open only to subscribers.

Website runs video clips of the models appearing in the photo shoots that month.

Material can originate either in the magazines or on the website.

Example: The online version started a Hometown Hotties feature that turned into a 9-pg spread in the magazine and a call-the-900 number to vote on a favorite.

The website provides several ways the magazine stays in touch with its readers, what they are like, what they want from the magazine.

Magazines of Dennis Publishing

Maxim, Stuff, Blender, plus two special issues on movies and fashion.

Unlike the other titles, the company also publishes a compact, serious, Economist-like news weekly, The Week ("All you need to know about everything that matters").

Magazine management

The company runs with small, tight staffs.

8 editors on creative side
Conde Naste has 30 eds on crea side

Staff gets moved around among the magazines.

What we value is what a lot of places would say, "OK that's funny, now get down to work."

It's fun to work here. "If you're bored when you're editing an article, it's not good enough to go in."

Spinoffs

Stuff is launching a video game magazine under its brand. There is a hair product with the Maxim brand.

Internships

They have interns, but no formal internship program.

They ask of potential interns: "Can you be a trusted editor?"

"College kids see the freedom here, but sometimes do not see the discipline involved."

Deborah Day, editor in chief of MaximNet, worked up through journalism and "is fanatical about fact-checking and journalistic integrity and discipline and deadlines."

"Almost every intern we liked is now working full-time for us."

Magazine formula

The magazine mutates subtly with different editors. A previous would re-write everything like he was the host of an insane and funny party.

"We've arrived at a kind of formula that feels right" (after various experiments):

  • Popcorn section of short stuff
  • Gritty read in the features section
  • Fluff and entertainment
  • Humor

Readers: "You may not be interested in the topic, but you're never going to regret reading the story."

Everything in the magazine should be interesting and entertaining..

Photo standards

No nipple, no porn."The promise is to get to know the models a little and get them to say something funny."

The Maxim voice

  • Erudite in one breath and sophomoric in the next
  • Most important, to be able to demonstrate you can be juvenile and clever at the same time.
    The gritty read is straightforward.
  • We like to take a piss at everything.
  • If there is pomp in something, we like to take a poke at it.
  • We make fun of people who wouldn't like it.
  • Think of the friend of yours who always makes the right joke at the right time.
  • We use the communal "we" in articles and reviews.
  • Maxim has a personality. Stuff is all over the place.
    • Maxim is servicy and has something behind it
    • Stuff is just wacky entertainment

Numbers

Maxim -- 2.5 million With pass-along, 10 million; about 50-50 subscription/newsstand.
Stuff 1-- .2 million, with pass-along about 5 million.
18-34 readership

Blender -- outselling Spin and Rolling Stone on the newsstand, but not with subscriptions.

Closing quote

"Maxim is not based on a hatred of women, but on an incredible love and admiration of everything they do" -- Gene Newman, senior editor, MaximNet.

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That concludes the report on the magazine tour.

What follows are some images from the Metropolitan Museum and New York City, with occasional comments.

The urge create expressive graphic communication is ancient, as shown in the early Greek horse above, and the early Mediterranean harpist on the right: The sound of unheard melodies.

Above left: a painting about looking intensely. Above right: a sculpture of the infinite in the form of a goddess figure.

Right: two cityscapes. The upper picture is a NY skyscraper seen from below.

Celebrity relationships from the early Renaissance--as hot as a magazine cover of today.

The Holland Tunnel, from a speeding van. There's light all along the tunnel, not just at the end.

Right: Van Gogh's self-portrait in pastels. Block off each half of the face and watch it change. Above: detail from his irises: How can a picture show how it feels to really see something?

Left: Vermeer, where realism meets mystery. Above: Note the graphic symbols in this late medieval religious painting.

Left: Velazquez' portrait of Juan de Parejo--one of the most masterful portraits ever painted.

Above: The glittering jewels on the horse's rump in this Velazquez, seen up close, prove to be impressionistic jags of bright paint.

The old lute-player in Union Square
serenades someone no longer there.

"NYDog," a municipal artwork across from the entrance to the Sports Illustrated Building.


The alphabet is everwhere -- on clothing, in tatoos, on the sidewalk, carved in tree trunks, written across the sky, fluttering on flags, blowing down the street on handbills, on the tails of airplanes, on taxis, on the sheets we sleep between, and deep in our minds. It is the root technology upon which technological civilization is founded. We live inside the alphabet.

Special thanks to
Joe Treen, formerly Executive Editor at People, who did so much to make this tour possible.

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Index to Professional Development Tours of Magazines

Text and Photos by Gerald Grow, except for logos and magazine covers.
Copyright 2003

Art photos above were taken in the Metropolitan Museum. Unusual among museums, the Met permits visitors to take photos (without flash), except for certain special exhibitions that include works from other museums.