Sunday, April 22, 2007

Time and Hearst focus on new media, not new titles

Time and Hearst focus on new media, not new titles
By Joshua Chaffin in New York
Financial Times

In the history of US magazine launches, the high point may have been August 1999, when Tina Brown's Talk magazine debuted.

Jointly owned by Miramax and Hearst Communications, Talk came into the world with an extravagant party in which Hollywood celebrities and former presidents took over the Statue of Liberty.

In spite of a publicity blitz and controversy over some of its celebrity profiles and interviews, the magazine was never a commercial success. It closed in 2001.

These days, new magazine launches - let alone big- budget events - are few and far between.

Ann Moore, chief executive of Time Inc. and known as "the launch queen", is instead focused on the internet as she tries to generate growth.

Time Inc., the world's largest magazine publisher, recently pruned 18 titles from its portfolio so that it could focus more resources on its web strategy.

At Hearst, the focus these days is also on new media rather than new titles.

The company recently signed a deal with Fox Television to create video content based on Hearst brands such as CosmoGIRL! and Popular Mechanics.

The idea is to create short "webisodes" to reach readers and advertisers online.

While Portfolio represents a rare print launch, Condé Nast is also eager to emphasise its internet attributes.

The company hired Chris Jones, the former head of programming at Yahoo Finance, to oversee its website, and also brought on board its own crew of bloggers.
"The website is huge. It's key to the enterprise," said Joanne Lipman, Portfolio's editor-in-chief.

© The Financial Times Ltd 2007.


Meredith forms new company with Learfield
Magazine publisher Meredith Corp. is reaching out to "ruralpolitans," a growing group of city folk who have found their place on rural acreages.

The Des Moines-based company said Thursday it had formed a new company called Living the Country Life LLC with Learfield Communications Inc., a Missouri- based broadcast company that produces news, farm and sports programming.

The new company will provide ruralpolitans with information on buying and maintaining rural acreages.

Living the Country Life is Meredith's five-year-old magazine aimed at rural residents who work in the city. The company created a television program from that magazine about two years ago that airs in half- hour segments on RFD-TV.

Under the joint partnership, Living the Country Life will be expanded to include radio programming, an improved Web site and at least two more editions yearly of the magazine.

"All of this gives us an opportunity to expand this brand," said Art Slusark, Meredith spokesman.

The deal gives Learfield a financial stake in the Living the Country Life brand, but Meredith will maintain controlling interest in the new company, said Tom Davis said, publisher of Meredith's Successful Farming magazine, which created the Living the Country Life brand.

"The rural lifestyle market is gaining momentum in the marketplace," said Davis. It's an affluent group of people who want a rural lifestyle not necessarily connected to farming. Topics the magazine and television show cover include building fences, landscaping, maintaining a pond, planting a garden, baling hay, buying a tractor, outdoor grilling, bird- watching and controlling weeds.

"We see this as a growing segment for our business," said Stan Koenigsfeld, president Learfield News. Learfield had the expertise in multi-media marketing, particularly in collegiate sports, while Meredith had expertise in publishing and agriculture, he said.

The joint venture officially begins July 1, Davis said. The Living the Country Life radio spots - each 2 and a half minutes long to run four times daily - will begin airing by the end of summer, Davis predicted.
An enhanced Web site will be relaunched sooner and will include more information and be more user friendly, Davis said.

The new company will employ about 10 people, Slusark said. Three Meredith employees, including Julie Schwalbe, who will serve as General Manager, and Living the Country Life editor Betsy Freese, will work for the new entity and seven other will be hired as writers, sales people, production workers and Web masters, he said.

Learfield operates Radio Iowa and the Hawkeye Sports and Cyclone Sports networks. It also operates Brownfield Agriculture News.

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