Professional Development Tour
of New York Magazines
2007
Association for Educators
in Journalism and
Mass Communication --
Magazine Division

logo

In This Report

The report below comes from participants in this year's faculty tour:

  • Barbara Reed (program coordinator), Rutgers University
  • Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, Columbia College, Chicago
  • Gerald Grow, Florida A&M University
  • Beth Haller, Towson University
  • Donna Harrington-Lueker, Salve Regina University
  • Jacquie Marino, Kent State University
  • Judy Polumbaum, University of Iowa

Magazine Publishers 
of America

Nina Link

Nina Link,
President and CEO,
Magazine Publishers of America

Ellen Oppenheim

Ellen Oppenheim,
Executive Vice President,
Chief Marketing Officer

Anne Finn

Anne Finn,
Senior Vice President,
Consumer Marketing

 

Our first stop was the Magazine Publishers of America, where we met with president and CEO Nina Link,  executive vice president and chief marketing officer Ellen Oppenheim, and senior vice president for consumer marketing Anne Finn.

Link explained that the MPA exists to support and promote the editorial and economic vitality of the consumer magazine industry. It conducts and compiles research about a variety of issues, from the habits of readers to the effectiveness of advertising, and also advocates and litigates on behalf of the industry. 

The MPA has 240 domestic members, representing about 1,400 magazines. It also has associate members (including printers and paper companies) and international members. "The industry is very strong at a time when all media sectors are going through change," Link told us. She doesn't feel that online media are a threat to the future of print magazines. "The Internet has forced us to look at the assets that are part of our business," she said.

The MPA has numerous goals for 2007, including:

  • keeping postal rates from dealing a serious  blow to magazines' bottom lines;
  • preserving certain categories of direct-to-consumer advertising (such as prescription drugs);
  • protecting the rights of MPA members in the digital realm;
  • updating the measurement of readership so that it reflects total audience, not just circulation;
  • protecting and expanding channels  of distribution;
  • exploring digital growth areas for the industry;
  • enhancing the diversity of the magazine workforce;
  • promoting environmental efforts (such as recycling) among members.

When asked about the need for editors to be comfortable on multiple platforms, Link responded that the annual conference will have a session on "Editor as Octopus," an image that accurately reflected what we saw later in the tour as editors talked about the need to attend to their Web presence as well as their radio shows, mobile blasts and other brand extensions. "It's all about exposure and flexibility and understanding the evolving rules and transformation," Link said. Ellen Oppenheim added that content management systems mean that editors can do all this without being particularly techologically savvy themselves.

When asked about the MPA's diversity initiatives, Anne Finn admitted, "It's going to be very tough." Starting salaries in this industry are still low. (We later learned that editorial assistants at Conde Nast start in the mid-20s.) However, she noted that attendance at their Mix and Mingle events has been good and that companies have come to the MPA for assistance in diversifying their workplaces.

Finn talked about partnerships between the MPA and other associations and companies aimed at bolstering circulation. These include Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and search engines. She noted that retail sales are the most unstable area for circulation because consumers do less brick-and-mortar shopping. So finding other partnerships, mainly online, has become imperative. She also addressed the environmental goals of paper certification (knowing where paper pulp really comes from and if that is a renewable source) and recycling.

Oppenheim addressed efforts by the Magazine Marketing Coalition to demonstrate that magazine ads produce results and that both print and online magazines remain effective at reaching readers. She noted that "engagement" is a key characteristic of magazines: readers still report that magazines make them smarter and offer them an escape, and advertisers get results.

We left with a new acronym that expresses the emphasis of the MPA: TEA. It stands for Targeting, Engagement, Accountability, and it represents the strenths of magazines in finding and satisfying readers and producing results for advertisers.



Rolling Stone



Brackett

Nathan Brackett,
Senior Editor,
Rolling Stone

 

Nathan Brackett, online director

On his background -- A self-described "hip-hop kid" in the 1980s, he was a student journalist at Wisconsin-Madison and became arts editor of the Daily Cardinal there.  Went on to internship at now-defunct Musician Magazine in Massachusetts; the owner happened to live in his hometown, Gloucester.  He became assistant editor, responsible for record reviews and small sections.  In mid-1980s, became music editor at Time Out New York; also freelanced for Vibe, Option, and a few other places.  A musician who'd worked at Rolling Stone referred him there ten years ago; he handled record reviews and lists and so on for nine years; last year got involved in online; just a few weeks ago took over the Web site. 

On the Rolling Stone audience -- Anniversary stories always make the same crack:  "Rolling Stone -- is it gathering moss?" Yes, Rolling Stone was his parents' magazine.  In the 1960s-70s, it reflected the counter-culture.  Now, it reflects pop culture.  And it retains many long-time readers while appealing to younger ones: "My father reads it for the political stuff; 18-year-olds read it for the music."

On the boss -- Rolling Stone is distinguished by continued presence of Jann Wenner at the helm.  "It's still owned and edited by one guy.  That's so rare in this landscape.  It still reflects his interests.  His interests are our interests."  Working for that dominant personality can sometimes be problematic; on the other hand, editors can just walk down the hall with their ideas and get a hearing, without going through layers of approval.

On the Web site -- The joke goes beyond calling it a stepchild; in the past staff jokingly referred to the Web site as "the foster child handcuffed to the radiator in the basement."  Its status is improving but not where they want to be yet.  He works with an online staff of about 7 people, plus three interns.

One challenge: Outside company RealNetworks [Seattle-based provider of Internet media delivery software and services, including RealPlayer] runs the "back end," or technical setup, meaning "we have to deal with a certain template" and the imposed format is somewhat constraining.  Wenner never started a new branch for online; he always had this sort of deal with an outside company, which pays a licensing fee and gives back a cut of advertising revenue.  "We make money off the deal... they make money off ad sales."  RealNetworks has no editorial control.  "Personally, I'd like to see us take total control."

Another challenge:  "doing so much without letting standards go out the window."  Readers like Rolling Stone for its authoritativeness and good writing; cannot just give that up on the Web site.  But a certain percentage of readers want updates all day long and they feel compelled to upstate 8 or 10 times a day -- otherwise the site's considered "static."

Part of the answer seems to be "quick and dirty lists," e.g., the five most overrated albums ever...  But these sorts of gimmicks can be overdone.  For a while there was a "playlist of the day" working off news headlines, and the posting for "the top five songs about cancer" in response to Elizabeth Edward's cancer announcement was what made Wenner realize the Web site needed attention.

The subscription/newsstand split is amplified on the Web; e.g., a Paris Hilton story will increase traffic.  But his role as the new online chief is "to revamp the site and make sure it reflects what the magazine does," and he's made it clear he won't think about traffic growth for the next month or two.

How Web makes a difference -- The Web has created "a sea change" in how the magazine and its staffers work. "Ten years ago, the records editor of Rolling Stone would get to hear every album first.  There's an excellent chance that some 16-year-old with a blog will hear it first now."

Interestingly, this actually has forced improvement in Rolling Stone reporting and editing.  Given all the competition on a 24-7 cycle, and the plethora of blogs that can post information immediately, throwing up press release items no longer suffices, so the magazine must seek more information and interviews.  And unlike at blogs or less rigorous publications, its stories for the Web still have to be copy edited and fact checked.  Of course Rolling Stone has the great advantage of more access than others and more ways to "report things out."

On the fate of long-form journalism in the magazine -- Five years ago when former FHM editor Ed Needham came over to Rolling Stone, there was a big to-do about this issue and predictions of the demise of the long form, etc.  "It didn't happen... though the idea of 'long form' has gotten shorter!"  Now it means perhaps 6,000-7,000 words.

The redesign of the magazine a few years ago helped "raise the metabolism, to use a cliché."  Short stuff is shorter too; e.g., reviews that might have been 350 words in the past are down to 100.  The magazine has more features than ever but fewer very long ones; a typical issue will have a selection of 2,000-3,000-word stories.  Obviously, they cannot abandon substantive articles given that "people pick up a magazine because they want to read."  Contrast this with habits on the Web, reflected in shorthand that kids use when they lose patience:  TLDR, for too-long-didn't-read.

Advice to students -- "Definitely internships.  At a small place is great.  A big place may have a hard time giving interns interesting things to do" so they end up doing grunt work, sorting mail, transcribing.

At internships, "err on the side of being pesky...  Be game! [to try anything]  Don't be afraid of technology... Take off the iPod, too!"  In other words, listen up and absorb what's going on around you.

And student media experience, e.g., on the college newspaper, is still important.


Ray Chelstowski, associate publisher

Background -- Worked at Vanity Fair way back and then Entertainment Weekly for nine years before coming to Rolling Stone a year and a half ago.  He was a casualty of the Wall St. pressures resulting in Time Inc. layoffs; the atmosphere at Rolling Stone is quite different and "unique in that the editor and the publisher are the same person."

Business environment -- Time Inc. is much more attentive to ASME concerns about ad adjacencies that might violate church/state division.  At Rolling Stone, the sensitivities are different; the advertising folks "think like editors" in terms of creating "a certain look and feel" to meet readers' expectations, so in fact they are conscious relationships between editorial and advertising content.

"Here the process is fluid...  There's not the sense that the business side doesn't know what the editorial side is doing."  Quite the contrary, in fact; and Wenner encourages that. "Editorial is open to finding places we [advertising] can demonstrate engagement.

"Most sales people don't read their magazines.  For a lot of magazines, that doesn't matter."  But at Rolling Stone they need to understand the brand and the editorial side and the association with youth and pop culture.  Tomorrow, for instance, he and an editor are off to Louisville to meet with Southern Comfort distributors and will be "talking about the power of rock 'n' roll as a marketing tool."

Examples of editorial-advertising collaboration -- Working on the idea of a gatefold in conjunction with NBC "Black Donnellys" TV show that features "bands with brothers who fight."  Their ad agency couldn't figure out how to do it, but Wenner liked the idea and said the magazine would do it anyway.

Ford advertises a certified pre-owned program with a 100-point checklist; so in conjunction with the magazine's summer tour package they are working on a music tour checklist.

Like to see "a little piece of real estate translated for selling points," e.g., foldouts from editorial staples such as lists.  The magazine's "Charts" page, the last page, is "the oldest unchanged editorial piece... sacred... with the highest 'starching' score."  Now there's a Chevy ad foldout. BTW, Chevy is the most quoted brand name in pop music.

Increasingly, there are jump-offs to the Web site. Note the "Sopranos" final episode ad in the current issue, followed by a page about the use of music in the TV series; plus online there's a Web site with an interface with scenes and music from the show, and an interview me Will Dana did with exec producer David Chase that ran on HBO as a preview to the final episode and will be one of the extras on the DVD release in the fall.

Sensitivities, after all -- Difficulties can come up with regard to juxtapositions of, say, pharmaceuticals and alcohol ads on the one hand and articles featuring people with substance abuse problems on the other, say, someone recalling being passed out with a needle in his arm on one side and an Allstate good-driving ad or wholesome Kraft foods on the other.  "Everybody wants to be cool but they don't want to be that cool."

Politics doesn't seem to cause problems:  The issue about George Bush's days being numbered was a bestseller.  Nor is minor or medicinal drug use:  No advertisers pulled out of an issue with a sunscreen scratch-off ad that smelled like pot, and a story on California pot legalization for medical use was fine too.


Will Dana, managing editor

About content -- The magazine is about two-thirds music; the Web site is much more focused on music.  The publication emphasizes "responsible, fact-laden reporting."

Memorable examples of non-music stories that have worked out well include Eric Schlosser's "Fast-Food Nation" [1998] an assignment in which the writer got fired up and figured out where to go and how to do it [and led to Schlosser's book, movie, etc.], and James Bamford's [2005] article on John Rendon, "The man who sold the war," which won a National Magazine Award last year.

A common category is "the great teen crime story" and editors sift through a lot of papers looking for those, but they seek surprise, things that cannot be explained, and want to avoid predictability -- "It has to be more than the town loser."

Re presidential campaign -- Can't do the type of coverage Rolling Stone was known for in the past, for a couple of reasons.  First, it's happening hourly and they're 10-days-to-2 weeks late; also, campaigns are now "such media events, not much happens, it's all about presenting what the handlers want you to present."  Rolling Stone now needs "the reporter with a great voice" -- their political writer Matt Taibbe will be on the campaign trail.

Fact-checking and editing -- There's a four-person fact-checking department, plus one or two freelancers added at closing.  They don't read back quotes but do call subjects to check content.  They have to verify any potentially libelous allegations, with especially stringent standards for "real people" as opposed to celebrities ("Basically it's impossible to libel Brittany Spears").

A profile of a Yemeni jihadist who told his story to an Rolling Stone writer ["The insurgent's tale," by Tom Downey, 15 Dec. 2005 raised worries that the government would demand everything under the Patriot Act, but a First Amendment lawyer thought the risks were small, and indeed the threat did not materialize.  Sometimes the magazine will consider changing names but would rather not.

Editors work closely with writers on features; research starts early on; completed articles go to copy editing for writing and structure, but then it all goes back to the editor.  The front of the book closes last (6 a.m. Thursday) and is more copy-controlled than assigned articles.

On the chimera of objectivity -- "Our bias is clear.  Objectivity is kind of a myth, anyway.  Just because you're biased doesn't mean you're not fair... You can get into the charade of trying to hide your point of view."

On the writer -- -"We're moving more toward staff writers but still use a lot of freelancers."  A stable of perhaps 15 to 20 writers, some on contract (e.g., to do five pieces a year, paid monthly), write 70 to 80 percent of the features.  Staffers mainly do the shorter pieces; relying on four or five on staff instead of 10 or 15 freelancers is "more economical and easier to do and control," with less time spent rewriting on deadline.

On the competition -- It exists on various flanks.  "The business guys say it's ESPN [The Magazine]," at least for selling ads.  Blender and SPIN are editorial competition but they're much smaller.  Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair are competition for covers since "there aren't enough celebrities" to go around, nor enough young bands that would support sufficient interest for a cover.

About covers -- Coming up with cover every two weeks is an interesting exercise; increasingly, finding ones that sell is "a crapshoot."  The magazine is still 10-to-one subscription over newsstand sales, 1.1 million vs. 100,000-200,000 copies, but newsstand still important, "the canary in the coal mine... an indicator of overall health."

To student -- Fact-checking is great training to be an editor or writer; just make sure you don't get stuck there.  "People with real talent figure out a way to exercise it.  Agree to do whatever you can to get in the door."

Real Simple

Corynne Corbett

Corynne Corbett,
Executive Editor,

Real Simple

Jim Baker

Jim Baker,
Editorial Development Director, Real Simple

Erin Whelan

Erin Whelan,
Senior Associate Art Director, Real Simple


Amanda Potters

Amanda Potters,
Associate Director, Public Relations, Real Simple

Karen Saltser Cohen

Karen Saltser Cohen,
General Manager,
Real Simple

Tom Colaprico

Tom Colaprico,
Production Director,
Real Simple


 

Session One: Editorial Side

  • Corynne L. Corbett, Executive Editor
  • Jim Baker, Editorial Development Director
  • Amanda Potters, Associate Director, Public Relations
  • Erin Whelan, Senior Associate Art Director
  • Lori Powell, Food Director
  • Anne-Marie O'Neill, Deputy Editor

According to the editorial staff of Real Simple, the magazine is one of Time Inc.'s top five titles in terms of profitability. The week we met with the staff, the New York Times had listed the magazine as No. 1 in the woman's lifestyle category that week. The magazine, which features advice on cooking, fashion, entertaining, and home management, is subscription-driven with 30 percent of its copies coming from newsstand sales. Its rate base is 1.9 million.

Launched in 2000, the magazine aims to capture the 54+ million women in the 18-to-54 demographic, half of whom rank simplifying their lives as their No. 1 priority. Its competitors include Martha Stewart Living, O Magazine, and the new Every Day with Rachael Ray.

Editorial development director Jim Baker noted that the magazine's formula involves providing the best possible distillation of information for its readers. The magazine values brevity, liveliness, and immediate take-away value. Every story also needs to involve what the editors agreed was an "Ah-hah!" moment. In Baker's words: "We want to get someone to say, 'Oh, gosh, I never thought about that.'" The magazine is also committed to copy that doesn't complicate readers' lives or create more work for them. (Reporter's aside: Think not-Martha.) The magazine's recipes are tested by regular cooks, and Baker said he often calls his parents, who live in Minnesota, to ask if an ingredient like chipotles are available in the local grocery store before a recipe runs. Reader input and advice also plays an important role in the print edition.

The magazine's distinctive visual aesthetic reflects the same commitment to minimalism. Visuals and layout work synergistically with the text, the editors and art staff said, and white space is a key visual component. That aesthetic requires intense collaboration between art and editoria -- a collaboration that begins at monthly beat meetings when story ideas are first discussed.

According to the editorial staff, competitor magazines have an obvious point of view or personality infusing their copy -- Martha Stewart for Martha Stewart Living, Oprah Winfrey for O Magazine. Real Simple adopts a different strategy, focusing instead on the "every woman" and the everyday challenges she faces as she juggles family, work, and self. "You can insert yourself whereever you want," executive editor Corynne L. Corbett said of the approach. "Three generations of women can look at this magazine and think that this magazine is for me." The magazine doesn't cast women specifically in the role of wife or mother either to maximize the "me-time" readers say they seek in the magazine.


Session Two: Business Side

  • Carrie Goldin, Vice President, Consumer Marketing
  • Kevin White, Associate Publisher
  • Amanda Potters, Associate Director, Public Relations
  • Karen Saltser Cohen, General Manager
  • Sara Knutson, Merchandising Director
  • Tom Colaprico, Production Director

The business side of Real Simple echoed similar themes: Unlike its personality-driven competitors, Real Simple cultivates "all women." It also positions itself as a "trusted friend" rather than the preacher (Oprah Winfrey) or the teacher (Martha Stewart).  The magazine asks itself three questions about its content: Is it useful? Is it smart? Is it beautiful?

Using that formula, the magazine has grown from 400,000 in 2000 to 1.9 million in 2007. The average age of the Real Simple reader is 44.4; 82 percent of readers have a college education, 68 percent are married, and 44 percent have children. Average household income is $92,698. According to the magazine's research, its readers identify themselves with optimism, success, and integrity.

White and others also emphasized the importance of integrated branding. International editions of the magazine are available in South Africa, Greece, and Japan. In addition, 50 newspapers carry a syndicated Real Simple column, and Real Simple products for home organization and home cleaning are available exclusively through Target stores. The magazine also has partnerships with Container Stores, Pottery Barn, and Whole Foods, all of which make copies available in their stores. Real Simple's television show on PBS attracts 1 million viewers a week, and Real Simple content is available on XM radio as well. Verizon has approached the company to provide content to its wireless users, and international editions of the magazine are available in South Africa, Japan, and Greece.

The magazine's online strategy is also under consideration. According to White, the site is in transition from its original relationship with AOL, which owned the magazine's inventory. White said the focus now is on aggressively increasing traffic to the site with the goal of becoming the preeminent women's lifestyle site in the next five to seven years. That site will have to be defined to work with the rest of the Real Simple brand, though, these executives said.

Another potential for growth involves special editions and books. A Real Simple travel issue launched this spring sold more than 100,000 newsstand copies, significantly exceeding the 35,000 initially expected. Other special editions have focused on parenting and food.



Condé Naste



DTillesMagNet

Denise Tilles, Executive Editor, MagNet, the Condé Nast online division

CJones

Chris Jones, Managing Editor, Online, Portfolio

msutherlandTeenVogue

Meghan Sutherland, Managing Editor,
Teen Vogue

EJSampsonTeenVogue

E.J.Samson, Editor,
Teen Vogue Online



Denise Tilles, Condé Nast Magnet

WHO SHE IS: As managing editor of Condé Nast’s Magnet, Denise Tilles provides technical and content advice to 16 Condé Nast titles, including Vanity Fair, Self, Teen Vogue, Golf Digest, and Golf for Women.

Her background includes both print and online publishing, with a master’s degree in journalism from New York University and experience on a number of online startups in the late 1990s. (One of those online publications -- a kitchen design site -- “burned through $33 million and pulled the plug,” Tilles said.) After that experience, Tilles moved to Meredith, working on titles such as Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal and More.

Two years ago she moved to Condé Nast and now oversees the development of individual and stand-alone Web sites. That work involves coordinating efforts, providing resources, and troubleshooting with each magazine’s Web editor as well as with other editorial staff.

THE CHALLENGES SHE FACES: Like other magazine publishers moving onto the Web, Condé Nast uses a company-wide content management system for its Web sites, which makes it easy for editors to upload content. Some editors feel constrained, though, by the limited design possibilities such a system offers. "All these things are templated," Tilles said. "So the question becomes, how far can we push the templates we have?"

Tilles also noted the importance of Magnet "trying to get more ingrained in the editorial process" rather than coming in after the fact. And while some editors have embraced the online medium -- Tilles cited Teen Vogue as a "dream project" for its approach to its Web site -- other editors are less involved. "They come in at the end of the process, and don’t like (what they see)," Tilles said.

Another challenge: "These are hallowed brands," Tilles said.

ADVICE SHE OFFERS TO THOSE INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE Web WORLD:

  1. Understand the industry. "You need to know both print and online."
  2. Have a solid background in journalism.
  3. Polish your editorial skills. "You have to think about it (content) in every medium," Tilles said. "It’s not just run over or a sidebar." Editors also have to deal with contractual issues with writers if content that originally appears in the magazine is to be repackaged online.

Portfolio Online - Christopher Jones

Eight times a day.

That’s how much Portfolio’s most prolific blogger posts. The more the better, says Chris Jones, managing editor of the magazine’s Web site.

With his biggest competitors being content behemoths The Huffington Post and Slate, Jones says a blogger’s name recognition is less important than the frequency of his or her posts. Jones has eight bloggers now. If he were hiring another, he’d take a frequent poster over a "ginormous" name.

His career. Interned at small community newspaper and did most everything. The editor mentored him by editing his stories sitting alongside and talking them through. Hired next by Broadcast and Cable to build a Web site for them. He asked them to send him for a couple of training courses so he could learn how. Moved to About.Com as senior editor, working on the home page. This company reorganized itself about every three months. He moved up for one-and-a-half years, then word came that the company would be sold to Primedia. Moved to HotJobs.com for 4 years, which was bought by Yahoo. Then to Yahoo Finance, where he started packaging content and creating some original content. 

So how is this business glossy distinguishing itself? "Business intelligence" is Portfolio's tag line -- a business story that does not seem like a business story. E.g., a lot of rock bands out there were funded by hedge funds. "We look for business stories that are not obvious, which show how the face of business is changing, and it's no longer happening just in boardrooms and studios."

“We’re creating more of a space for business opinion and analysis,” Jones says.

The "holy grail" of Web programmers is to have a daily cycle that is somewhat like the TV cycle -- modeled after the cheerful show in the morning and serious, reflective show in the evening.

He positioned Portfolio this way:

  • Wall Street Journal -- investors
  • Business Week - -middle managers
  • Portfolio -- the idea people, the innovators, the CEOs

While they include choice items from the magazine, the site’s 15-person staff practically produces its own magazine daily. Its reporters and editors create their own content and post it. 

The reason for the site is advertising. "We generate subscriptions, but ad revenue drives the site."

Jones says they track the Web site’s readership closely. They are finding out that readers are interested in compensation, health and lifestyle. Of the financial elite Portfolio writes about, readers want to know how they’re living when they’re not at work.

And they want to read fresh blogs.

Meghan Sutherland, Managing Editor, Teen Vogue

In the conference room Teen Vogue shares with GQ, managing editor Meghan Sutherland explained the importance of  "the Vogue aesthetic."

"You won’t get hired if you don’t know it," she said.

The Vogue aesthetic is set by Anna Wintour, of course, who is at the helm of both publications.

Carrying out the vision at Teen Vogue, Sutherland, a Boston University journalism school graduate, gears content toward the magazine’s typical reader. That reader is a 16-year-old fashionista who aspires to interview celebrities on the red carpet and attend the magazine’s Fashion U. The reader of Teen Vogue, unlike the former audience of Elle Girl or Teen People, attracts high fashion and luxury advertisers, which is why Teen Vogue has not closed as the other two titles did.

Yet, the magazine isn’t all clothes, shoes and makeup. Some stories are about deeper things, such as one piece about the pressure to be sexy, and the difference between "trashy" and "sexy." The magazine also reported on the Virginia Tech tragedy.

The September issue is their biggest (fall fashion), and Meghan was just finishing it as we visited. She talked about the platforms they work with, from The Hills on MTV to Fashion U, where teens pay to hear fashion designers speak in New York. Then she introduced us to Online Editor EJ Sampson, a Northwestern graduate who came to Teen Vogue after working on the Web site for New York magazine.

He explained that magazines are still figuring out what to do on their Web sites. The sites used to be places where people went to get subscriptions. Now magazines realize they need good content on their Web sites -- original content -- or no one will go there to get subscriptions.

EJ writes, edits and produces the content for the Web site, along with an intern and a freelancer. He also has a page in the magazine every month where he talks about what’s new on the Web site and tries to generate excitement for it.

Editors maintain blogs and update them at least daily. Some update two or three times a day. The more the better, EJ says. He just found out James Wolcott’s blog for Vanity Fair is Conde Nast’s most trafficked.

User-generated content is the trend now -- readers want it to be all about them (the YouTube phenomenon). Teen Vogue was asking readers to send in videos of themselves making a case for why they should be the ones to get to interview celebrities on the red carpet. EJ is also exploring opportunities to do virtual life on the Web site.

He works closely with advertising and consumer marketing, but no one has pushed him to do ad-friendly content. He looks for opportunities where both readers and advertisers will benefit, such as when advertising asked him to give away perfume samples to readers. It was a promotion, but it was also something that would benefit his readers.

EJ left us with suggestions for teaching multimedia: Require students to learn basic HTML and Dreamweaver, as well as how to write in a way that will make people want to click on an article.

And if you’re still getting resistance from technophobic students, run this EJ quote by them:

"If people interview with me," he said. "I’m likely to hire the one who has HTML over the one who doesn’t."


Lauren Smith Brody, deputy editor, special projects, Glamour magazine

Her background -- She majored in English with a creative writing concentration at the University of Pennsylvania; while there worked on the school newspaper's weekly arts and entertainment insert.  (Her senior year, she had a seminar with Gay Talese, who was a visiting lecturer at Penn.)  After graduation, she took the 6-week intensive Radcliffe publishing course (now moved to Columbia), which covers both books and magazines.

Her first job was at New Woman, which folded three months later, but by then she was "hooked" on magazines; then at Cosmo Girl for two and a half years, moving up quickly from editorial assistant to assistant editor to associate editor to features editor.  Her earlier boss by then was back at Glamour and hired her there five years ago -- starting as an articles editor.

On the editorial progression -- "The mid-masthead editors do the heavy lifting" re assigning, editing; while the deputies do what they call "top editing," helping with ideas, some story idea development and feature assigning, and editing the edits of the tier below.

Internship programs -- The magazine makes lots of use of interns and those who work out may have job opportunities; she hired an intern who'd worked at the magazine six months as her assistant, and the same was the case for the editor-in-chief's assistant.

Interns do research, may help with fact-checking, develop story ideas, and can write bylined items.  Some come through Condé Nast's internship program; a Medill intern comes every fall, and there's also an arrangement with Spellman college.  Getting credit is important.  In addition, "if we meet somebody great who's in town," friends or friends of friends, they may enlist that person.

Aside from editorial, "there's a mob of fashion interns who want to be fashion editors;" they work hard packing trunks, returning clothes, and so on.

Other departments -- Four staffers in fact-checking, the number growing to 12 at closing.  A research director.  Legal counsel in the building who works with all the Condé Nast magazines.

On working in the Big Apple -- The hardest part of her job, which she loves, is simply "New York City."  It's especially difficult for entry-level people since the pay is so low.  Condé Nast starting salary is $26,000, with generous benefits (there's even emergency daycare in the building); and editorial assistants also can earn overtime.  Hearst starts at $32,000, and through overtime you can double that.  

Interns also can freelance for other publications with permission (as an intern, she did cover stories for Nylon and Time Out New York).  But the starting salary raises issues of how to increase diversity on the staff, since those who can afford to come are people whose parents can help.

On the readership -- "I'm 29; I am the magazine's audience."  As a result, everything in her personal life becomes fodder for story ideas or content.

The magazine's content -- The front of the book, the first two-thirds or so, features "lusher photography" and "higher-end marquee writers," with one or two substantive health features-usually one on reproductive health and one on fitness; at least one or two relationship stories-one with sexual advice and a "softer" one; then "big gorgeous beauty and fashion features;" and a news feature or two.

Magazines have less and less long-form journalism.  Glamour admittedly uses "something of a formula," but also has "the luxury to break format because we're such an established brand."  For instance, the May 2005 issue carried a 7,000-word feature by Brian Alexander on the religious right's influence on women's health (referenced a week later in the lead of a New Yorker article -- it got noticed).

Marianne Pearl now writes a monthly column focusing on individual women around the world that can run up to 2,500 words and exemplifies the effort to "connect with readers through individual stories."  In conjunction with the movie "A Mighty Heart," the magazine ran an exclusive conversation between Marianne and Angelina Jolie, "moderated by our editor-in-chief [Cindi Leive] in Angie's backyard" in Los Angeles [for the June 2007 issue], and they hope to do a few more things in connection with the movie's opening.

International traditions:  Glamour has always covered international issues and it's "finally fashionable to do so."  The magazine still runs an editorial "with an actual editorial stance."  A ratings team reports every month, and fashion and beauty always rate highest -- "but part of this magazine's mission is to empower women."

Brody oversees activities associated with the December Women of the Year issue.  A huge live event with an audience of 2,000 celebrates the achievements of 10-12 women, including international human rights activists.  Last year it was held at Carnegie Hall, this year Nov. 5 will be at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall.  Brody orchestrates the event and edits videos shown on each winner, and also creates and directs a related syndicated TV show.

They try to find "at least one international activist" as a woman of the year, especially individuals who haven't gotten a lot of press already.  They are always scouting, including through their photographers who travel all over the world.

In 2005 the international honoree was a Pakistani woman, Mukhtaran Mai Bibi, whom Nick Kristof had written about, and even though she was under house arrest Glamour managed to get her to NY for the event.  ABC News named her person of the week, and she received an influx of donations to her women's shelter; the magazine also gave her seed money to start a women's crisis center.  Last year it was Cambodian activist Somaly Mam, who'd been sold into sex slavery as a child and now works to rescue other girls -- 3,000 so far.  At the ceremony, Queen Latifa pledged $150,000, enough to run her organization for a year, and was followed by the same from Barbara Walters.

On brand extension -- "Magazines are no longer just about what's in the magazine but are reaching out in other ways."

"Trying to extend the brand has become part of every editor's job."  Nearly every issue has "some event tying into a feature."  An example is "Glamour do's and don'ts" book release last fall; Brody helped edit the book and worked on promotions and it was covered in the magazine as well.

Advice to students, what to learn and how to learn it -- She recommends work on school publications, seeking a "consistent role" on campus papers, magazines, arts and entertainment publications, and not just reporting, but also opinions, reviews, anything else.  Hands-on experience at local newspapers or TV or radio is valuable.  Develop "a well-rounded portfolio with different kinds of clips."  Command of "copy writing" is essential -- "snappy" writing that connects with readers.

Her educational background taught her "the value of discussing... how to write... writing on deadline."  However, "99 percent of what I've learned has been on the job."  Important lessons are "how to be inquisitive and think beyond the obvious steps."

E-mail's becoming too much of a crutch.  "Be unafraid to pick up the phone."  The best reporters call people and earn their trust, "and get people to open up face to face or at least voice to voice."

Read everything.  If you're making photocopies, read what you're copying!  And if you apply for an internship or want to freelance, for God's sake read the magazine!  Know what the sections are called, what they cover, etc.

Hearst Magazines


MMoody

Maureen Mooney, Advertising Director,O Magazine

LLindsay

Letena Lindsay, Director of Public Relations for Hearst Magazines

CWilkes

Chris Wilkes, Executive Director, Marketing & Audience Development Group, Digital Media


EliotKaplanHearst

Eliot Kaplan, Editorial Talent Recruiter for Hearst

CCavender Diversion

Cathy Cavender,Editor-In-Chief,
Diversion


JSaltzSeventeen

Joanna Saltz, Executive Editor, Seventeen



 


Maureen Mooney, Advertising Director of O

O, the Oprah Magazine, was launched in 2000 with 500,000 copies, and they had to do two additional printings. "It blew away all expectations." It has evolved over the years. The content must engage all people and not just be about celebrities.O does not negotiate off the rate card -- ever. Readers are affluent, 24 percent African American. Essence magazine appeals to a lower income readership, Mooney said. O strives to be inclusive: for married/single, for work/no work; it appeals to 25-45 year olds. Many have babies and many are starting up companies on their own. It also appeals to the college student all the way up to the grandmother, and 88 percent of readers are women.

The editorial staff is more diverse than the sales staff; five men are in sales. Editors constantly are changing the content looking at attributes to finding their readers. O is well packaged, and research suggests it gets readers to try new things, such as books that made a difference in their lives. 

Readers spend a lot of time with the magazine. Readers identify and at times experience an "ah-hah" moment. They did a series on adoption in the Connection section and received a great response. For October, the theme is mental health. 

The December theme is traditions -- warmth that people get but not all about holidays. It is open to all ideas. It carries Oprah interviews 8-10 issues. For controversial editorial content, O tells advertisers of it ahead of time so they are forewarned. It does not carry any ads for cigarettes, or Slim Fast or other kinds of meal replacements. 

Health is a huge interest to their readers, and they must be careful of losing weight claims. After a story about mutilation and rape in the Congo, readers sent money. 

They are running a sex column for August for the first time, written by the producer of Sex in the City. The idea is how to have fun with it – girlfriends’ standpoint. They did an issue on love which was not divisive but inclusive. Redbook appeals to Generation X females and is sexier. 

O’s staff cover Oprah’s projects, as readers are interested in her show and her magazine. 

Oprah is her own profit center, and Oprah.com makes money, Mooney said. It is easy to find material on the Web, and the show and Web are linked. 

A total of 800,000 copies of the first issue were produced, and it compares favorably in newsstand sales to Better Homes & Gardens, which has 7.6 million circulation, but 200,000 from newsstand sales. O has 450,000-500,000 on the newsstand currently and 200,000 in subscriptions. 

The idea is to create a personality when walking into one’s home. Something personable, something you can act on. They create content for the Web in Chicago, but all editorial material comes from New York. Snippets of articles form separate content for the Web. Cover lines differ between newsstand and subscriptions. 

  

Chris Wilkes
 Marketing and Audience Development Group, Digital Media

Chris Wilkes, Executive Director, Marketing and Audience Development Group, Digital Media reports that 12 Web sites were relaunched at Condé Nast and all are done. There is a technology group as well as editorial and ad sales. Eight people direct consumer behavior online. In 2007, they got two million subscribers from the Web, and only half of that from the magazine using direct mail. 

The rebuilt sites were challenged to find new growth, and better marketing techniques were created. 800,000 subscribe to the magazine; now seven to eight million are attracted to the Web with 12 million projected for the coming year. 

Glamour.com after only six months had circulation climb from a million to 14 million. They pair up with blogs and community-oriented sites. They do not get involved in content but do things like horoscopes. They have created 150 new positions with the Web.

Doing journalism in our new media environment calls for two-way dialogue, the freedom to publish something incomplete, with opinion and feedback and a real community aspect. People want the same material as the magazine but on a different platform.

A person can search onsite and receive, for example, relationship advice. Editors can see weekly aggregated data to learn what readers search for. 

The magazine uses InDesign and Quark.

  

Eliot Kaplan, Editorial Talent Director for Hearst Magazines

Eliot Kaplan has been the Editorial Talent Director for eight years. He is an internal headhunter for Hearst. He recruits editorial positions particularly and notes the internal movement on any magazine. He recruits senior talent. For 20 years, he served as the EIC of Philadelphia Magazine, and was also the number two at GQ. 

He looks for people who can become integrated; their personalities have to fit. He receives referrals on other magazines, and he recruits. He has 3,000 names in his database. He sets up guidelines with the staff and then is let loose inside the company. People usually have special training to be the next generation of editors, to know what it takes, and to know how to make money on circulation, he said. Typically, each position is a 10-year editorial move. He is now approached by others outside the company and places people in the top third of the masthead. 

He sees the Hearst company as more flexible than Condé Nast, its chief competitor. Glamour has 30 more staff people than Cosmopolitan, so the pressure is on to move more money. 

Having a good attitude is a recruit’s advantage. He looks at blogging, Web sites and special projects. The training of the next generation on the job is done as a "see one, do one, teach one." Leadership and management training are all important. How to do a podcast, how to do a video are important skills. Editors must be comfortable in their own skin. They must have confidence, polish and charisma. They are the public face of the magazine, not celebrities, and are changing the industry. They are the brand stewards. There is typically a 50-percent turnover when a new EIC comes in. 

He suggests that students get internships, sell themselves and not ask advice during interviews. EICs live and die for their magazines, and if not, he doesn’t want to interview them. He says you make the rounds. If you’ve got someone's name, use it. He sees nothing wrong with putting resumé s online, but prefers to see hard clips. Students do not need their own Web sites and should ignore Facebook. Three good clips, perhaps demonstrating what will fit in, are needed. He gives a test: 

     
  1. Critique the magazine. 
  2. Come up with 10 or 20 strong ideas for the magazine, including ideas for coverlines, headlines, and articles. 
  3. Edit a story. 
 

Editorial assistants or entry-level positions earn around $30,000, more for overtime. At the senior level, people earn from $75,000 to a few hundred thousand dollars. The Senior Editor earns $80,000-150,000. The editor in chief earns $200,000-250,000.
Beauty and fashion editors court advertisers. 

 

Cathy Cavender, editor-in-chief of Diversion magazine

Diversion is a trade magazine for 200,000 doctors, or one-fourth of all doctors in the United States. It is a controlled-circulation publication with revenue coming from ads. It goes to doctors who are general practitioners, psychiatrists, gastrointestinal doctors and others. Dr. Perry Klass does a column every other issue and sometimes reviews books. There are six pages of meetings and conventions and a frequent column called "My Favorite Place." The magazine goes to 70 percent men, 30 percent women, but in the younger group of readers, the gender split is 50/50. 

The magazine was begun by Steve Birnbaum who sold it to Hearst. Cavendar is the first woman and outsider to do the magazine. The average household income of readers is $160,000. The magazine runs 70-80 pages and used to be 200-300 pages. She said that topics must appeal to readers, and it’s important to get good writers. Graphics are important now; the magazine recently underwent a redesign. 

Their competition is the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), clinical journals, and Medical Economics, which concentrates on how to run a practice. The logo looks as if it comes from the 1970’s, she admitted, and may be changed soon. The magazine contains many inserts, interrupting the editorial material. 

It does not go to higher-end specialties, such as oncologists or neurologists. The magazine has 400,000 readers, counting pass-along readership. Eleven people are on the staff. It operates on a small budget, and the pay is not great for freelancers. They used a dining-out editor from Esquire.   


John Searles, Deputy Editor, Cosmopolitan
Ashley Womble, Associate Web Editor, Cosmopolitan
Christie Griffin, Web Editor, Cosmopolitan

Working at Cosmo is not merely a 9-5 job, Searles said. The idea is to extend the brand, such as doing an extra issue that’s closing now for September. The magazine has published 7–8 books already and another is coming out in January. They do book-a-zines where they repurpose magazine material. The contract reads that they own the material for three months, but after that the writer can resell the material. They use mobile programs and have a 24-hour show on Sirius satellite radio called Wake up to Cosmo. A lot of it is about music. 

Searles' assistants, Wombie and Griffin, are tech-savvy, on-the-go young people, writing about dating tips and wallpapers. They recognize readers’ loyalty to the Cosmo brand. In March of ’06, Hearst Digital relaunched 12 Web sites and now consists of 100 plus people. 

Typically, it took six months to do one site. The online user is young and in her 20’s. Subscriptions are important, and the Web site drives "tons" of subscriptions. There are seven channels on the site with mini-TV shows at 4 p.m. on mobile phones, talking about style. Web-isodes are put in the magazine as was an article about prom queens with 90-minute episodes which were also used in blogs. There’s an online newsletter for those who subscribe to the Web. They said they can charge for the Web but not earn too much from it. Money can be made online. 

Changes are occurring rapidly. YouTube – video is it, and readers must have it. Even Senator Hillary Clinton does Web videos. YouTube ran with somebody with a crush on Barak Obama. Seventy percent of the online readership reads the magazine. It’s important to get ratings about how much time people spend with the online platform and then do a better job to reach them. Hearst was once thought to be stodgy, but recently Cathy Black, its president, put on a program called Generation Next that had speakers such as Al Gore, Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Clinton. 

  

Joanna Saltz, Executive Editor, Seventeen
  Joanna Saltz, Executive Editor, Seventeen, oversees all pages of the magazine and is a liaison between the staff and the editor-in-chief. Editor Altoosa Rubenstein left in November and, before that, was the Cosmo Girl founding editor. She created the goal of readers being into every page so the publication is fun, interactive, and inspires confidence, Saltz said.

The staff has a big mobile site. They relaunched their Web site in April. It is updated daily. They must be where their readers are, whether on national TV each week, or a presence on My Space, or a mobile and Web site, tied in with MSN. 

She compared magazines for teenagers: Cosmo Girl is first in popularity. Then came Elle Girl and Teen People. There are only so many teenagers, and Elle Girl became an online-only magazine because it did not find its niche, Saltz said. It was considered too forward for teens. Seventeen magazine is for fashion and beauty. Teen Vogue wants the high end, urban, upscale readers with more ambition and aspirations. Cosmo Girl is for the girl not really noticed in school, who is quirky, and will become a corporate executive or a fashion designer. The Seventeen girl is a cheerleader and the one voted most likely to succeed. 

The average age of the Seventeen reader is 16.4 years. It is the number two magazine read on college campuses and is less New York-centered. The magazine has its largest number of readers in Los Angeles, followed by Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and Houston.

The Reader Services Editor reads e-mails and works with My Space all the time. She hears what people are saying, and she gets back to readers right away. Readers are on mobile 34 percent of the day, research says. They call up Web sites on their phones and receive a certain amount of information, such as fashion and beauty tips, and horoscopes. Readers can sign up for a text club where editorial information comes to them two times a week and two times a month they get e-mail blasts. Advertising information suggests a million unique visitors per month. 

Readers read the magazine in the bathtub, Saltz said. The magazine has a circulation of 500,000, which is down – but circulation is also down across the category. Seventeen had a high of 600,000 all the way up to 800,000. Seventeen has 3,000 mobile subscribers. Anyone can sign up for $2.50 and have a magazine sent to one’s phone daily. August is a huge readership and the September issue is big.

 
  

The Hearst Tower

 
HearstTower
 
  

Hearst Tower from the outside. The new building was built on top of the old one.

  
Hearst atrium
 
 

Hearst Tower, inside the atrium, showing the cafeteria.

 
Old dining room
 
  

The old Hearst dining room, re-created in the new building.

 
view
 
 

One of the spectacular views from the upper floors.

 
GH test lab
 
  

One of the Good Housekeeping test labs.

  

A Good Housekeeping lab for testing kitchen implements.

  
 

 
 
Credits  

Coordinator of professional development program -- Barbara Reed

Photos -- Gerald Grow, Beth Haller

Text -- Barbara Reed (editor), Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, Gerald Grow, Beth Haller, Donna Harrington-Lueker, Jacquie Marino, Judy Polumbaum

Web site and Postscript -- Gerald Grow

Citing this publication


Index of Professional Development Tours of Magazines

   

Postscript

Comments on magazines imagined while in the Roman Court of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Gerald Grow. 

  
business  

Never forget: Magazines are not an art, they are a       business!

 
  
intuitive approach  

The print edition is now just one expression of the brand it created.

 
  
cover of rolling stone  

Should the Web edition exist to sell subscriptions for the print edition, or should it provide original content and new ad revenue?

 
  
three grades
 

On a blog, you can publish a story that is incomplete if it has enough relevance for your readers.

 
  
personal connection  

Why do I have trouble sleeping? Higher postal rates. Diminished distribution channels. Restrictions in direct-to-consumer drug advertising. Underestimates of audience size. New technologies. Digital rights. Enhancing diversity...

 
  
new media
 

Long-form journalism did not die with the advent of the Web. It just became shorter. 

 
  
fonts  

Why do you think our fonts need updating for the Web?

 
  
bullish on magazines  

I want a second source to verify that she actually said "Moo."

 
  
worry
 

You have to produce content that can run in every medium. 

 
  
take it off  

Can't you just Photoshop it?