Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Roots of Editorial 'Independence'

"Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security"
Benjamin Franklin

The Roots of Editorial 'Independence'
Page A21

The controversy over the possible sale of Dow Jones and particularly The Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. may be predictable, and the efforts of the Bancroft family to maintain the editorial integrity of the publication may be laudable. Yet the complicated negotiations to create a board that would secure editorial independence are a mistake. They misinterpret the nature of editorial independence and miss the point that the owner of a publication is the person most likely to defend its editorial integrity.

Editorial independence is always a function of one thing and one thing only: an editor's willingness to be fired. In his autobiographical book "Making It," Norman Podhoretz, the long-time editor of Commentary magazine, reflected on how he could both have independence as an editor, yet work for a magazine owned by the American Jewish Committee, which had decided interests and opinions:

"The editorial independence which the American Jewish Committee had always granted to Commentary consisted simply in this: no person except the editor or anyone he might voluntarily wish to consult could read articles in advance of publication or could dictate what should or should not appear in the magazine . . . The editor of Commentary, like any chief executive of any operation owned by others, only had as much freedom -- which is to say power -- as he was willing to risk exercising. If he did something he thought right and of which the AJC then disapproved, it was not enough merely to defend himself and hold firmly to his ground; he also had to make certain that he would not be deterred in the future by the fear of similar trouble from taking an action which he believed to be in the best interests of the magazine. There was only one way I or anyone else could be faithful to this principle: I had to be ready at any moment to lose my job. The AJC could fire me at its pleasure; that was its protection against me. My protection against it was my willingness to get fired; the minute I lost that willingness, I would lose my freedom and consequently my power to do the best editorial job I was capable of doing."

All of the mechanisms being discussed as possible ways to maintain editorial independence for The Wall Street Journal in a possible post-Bancroft era are designed to evade this fundamental fact: If the editor in chief of a publication is not willing to lose his job, he will always operate in a manner designed to please those who can assure his employment. The only thing that elaborate mechanisms such as independent committees to hire and fire chief editors, etc., will achieve is changing the names of the people to whom the editor will be subservient.

Now, some would say that Rupert Murdoch is some kind of uniquely sinister force in journalism and they would, in fact, be pleased to see a system set up to make sure that anyone other than him makes the important editorial decisions. Yet the incentive system is such that the owner of a publication, in this case presumptively Rupert Murdoch and News Corp., is the one with the greatest incentive to maintain the publication's reputation.

Readers turn to publications for information and insight on various subjects. If a publication is taken over and is losing money, as in the case of News Corp.'s purchase of the New York Post, the owner may look to change editorial approaches because the old one was not a component of a successful business model. But what is the alternative? Allow an independent board to dictate an editorial approach that does not attract readership and leads to bankruptcy?

A large, reputable and profitable company such as Dow Jones offers a very different set of risks and rewards to an owner. Any attempts to utilize the publication for personal benefit by, for example, talking up friends and attacking enemies, would be greeted with resignations by top editors who refuse to prostitute the editorial content in that way.

These resignations would be widely reported, and the word would quickly get out that readers are being fed propaganda, not news and analysis. This loss of reputation leads to a loss of readership and imposes on the owners an enormous loss of value. So ownership, though perhaps tempted to use editorial coverage to its advantage, has powerful incentives not to do so.

On the other hand, independent, self-perpetuating committees have nothing to lose and so they are not restrained in their actions. Typically, this means the publication will become a bore because the members of the independent board will look to appoint people who are admired by their friends and represent the mainstream viewpoint of their social class.

We should expect that a self-perpetuating board would eventually stray very far from what its founders intended. A good example is the board of directors at major foundations. Henry Ford II felt compelled to resign in disgust from the Ford Foundation explaining that: "In effect, the Foundation is a creature of capitalism, a statement that, I'm sure, would be shocking to many professional staff people in the field of philanthropy. It is hard to discern recognition of this fact in anything the Foundation does. It is even more difficult to find an understanding of this in many of the institutions, particularly the universities, that are the beneficiaries of the Foundation's grant programs."

Publications do not edit themselves, so editors must be hired, and they are always answerable to somebody. Even if the editor happens to own the publication, he is only free to act as he chooses to the extent he is indifferent to the effects of those actions on subscriptions, readership and advertising.

Setting up self-perpetuating boards only serves to switch the names of those the editor is answerable to. A board with a lack of interest in the business success of a publication is unlikely to lead to successful and thus greatly important and influential publications.

This whole exercise of trying to ensure editorial independence is somewhat insulting to the editors of Dow Jones publications, now and in the future, as it implies that they are so desperate for employment that they need to be protected against a demanding or opinionated boss.

Great publications always come from editors on fire with ideas and with a vision for their publication. Their independence comes always and simply from their willingness to be fired. No committee can change that truth.

Mr. Prevor is founder and editor in chief of Phoenix Media Network, Inc.

Engagement: Who's in Charge Here?

"Expecting the world to be fair to you because you are a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian."
- Unknown

Engagement: Who's in Charge Here?
by Michael Koziol
Time-shifting. User-generated content. Blogging. Community. Whichever rubric you pick, the marketing mix has changed considerably, with consumers emerging as more in control than ever. While marketers and agencies try to figure it out, the consumer gains yet more control, and the balance of power will only continue to shift over the next few years. The reaches of control, however, extend farther than just marketing, with consumers now dominating everything from communities to blogs to wikis.

TiVo and other DVRs, satellite radio and new distribution services like iTunes give consumers direct control over content, often literally, via remote control. Viewers can opt to fast-forward through commercials, subscribe to commercial-free radio, and purchase TV episodes sans ads. These choices, which to some extent pit consumers against advertisers, call into question the value of broadcast advertising. I can't remember the last time that I started watching a television program at the top of the hour instead of waiting until 20 past, so I can watch the show in 40 minutes. I love the show "30 Rock" but only watch it online. And who buys entire albums anymore?

According to Accenture's annual survey (April 2007) of senior media executives, user-generated content is one of the biggest threats that traditional media companies face. And they have every right to be scared.

Blogs are quickly gaining as much credibility as as traditional media outlets, while consumer reviews are increasingly viewed as credible. According to Technorati, there are currently 70 million active blogs. On any given day, I find myself visiting a number of them. There's Engadget, when I want to feel like an early adopter; Luxist, when I hanker for a glimpse into the lap of luxury; AdRants, when I'm curious about what's going on in the agency world; Cool Hunting, when I want to know what tennis shoes are in or out, and, when I crave research on new media art applications.

News icons such as the Chicago Tribune and the AP seem to be jumping on the blog bandwagon. And in April, Icelandic publishing company Dagsbrun launched a new publication in which blogs run alongside the usual offline newspaper content, marking one of the first times blog content has left the Web.

While blogs threaten the traditional media establishment, the emergence of user reviews and other customer-feedback forums threaten brands and their relationships with consumers. Any visit I make to a brand site is always accompanied by visits to independent sites to get a balanced opinion. It used to be that Consumer Reports was enough. But now I also visit sites that offer consumer feedback when considering different types of purchases. When planning travel, I always visit TripAdvisor and IgoUgo to read contributors' reviews.

At least one-third of all online ad inventory available today appears to consist of user-generated content - blogs, videos, photo sites, communities and other self-publishing and sharing sites.

The influx of user-generated content is paving the way for a showdown. In the past, advertising subsidized the content created or purchased by media companies. But what happens when publishers only host content and pages created by consumers. Who should get the advertising revenue?

Bloggers with significant traffic, MySpace players with lots of friends who create lots of inventory, YouTube producers/directors winning recognition - they're starting to realize their value, and want more than just AdWords revenue. They're going to want a slice of the ad revenue - something I believe they're entitled to.

As a media and marketing person, all of these issues and dynamics interest me during work hours. Even outside of the office, I'm fascinated to see the power of communities taking strong positions. If 30 million people a week can vote for something as trivial as "American Idol," then they can come together on issues that matter.

Imagine what would happen if and when a few million customers band together to force a company to change its environmental policies, or to take issue with executive compensation. Companies can resist media scrutiny or even government scrutiny, but can they bear the threat of losing customers? Activism is nothing new, but consumers' realization that they have a voice that can be heard far and wide online is an incredibly powerful thing.

Michael Koziol is executive vice president, North America, Nurun/Ant Farm Interactive.

No Cheers this Fall: Bauer pulls the plug on Cocktail Weekly

"But better die than live mechanically a life that is a repetition of repetitions."
D.H. Lawrence (British Poet, Novelist and Essayist, 1885-1930)

No Cheers this Fall: Bauer pulls the plug on Cocktail Weekly
By Samir Husni

In a very short press release Bauer Publishing announced this afternoon that it has canceled the launch of Cocktail Weekly that was planned for Sept. 24, 2007. The complete press release follows:
Englewood Cliffs, NJ (July 9, 2007) Bauer Publishing today announced that it has canceled the launch of COCKTAIL WEEKLY. Today's announcement reflects the uncertain conditions in the single copy marketplace.

The magazine that would have been the first of its kind on the newsstands (think Cosmo on a weekly basis) was the second casualty today after Jane magazine's news that its August issue will be the last (See here Radar magazine's breaking news on Jane). Is it the newsstand's climate or is it the publishing climate that is causing all these closures. I have advocated at the recent PBAA meeting the need for publishers to rethink the advertising driven publishing model in this country and go back to the circulation driven model, but I guess it will take time and few more casualties before the industry starts rethinking its practices. The question is do we have the time? Well, only time will show. . .

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Adieu: 'Jane' Shutters After 10 Years
by Erik Sass
Jane will cease publication after its August issue, Conde Nast announced Monday. The storied women's magazine is the latest title added to the growing heap of consumer magazine corpses axed this year.
Jane joins Time Inc.'s Child and Life magazines, both of which folded in March, and the print edition of Hachette Filipacchi's Premiere, which closed in April. Unlike these publications, which kept an online presence, Jane's Web site is also history.

In a memo to employees, Chuck Townsend, Condé Nast Publications president and CEO, was quoted as saying: "We've come to believe this magazine and Web site will not fulfill our long-term business expectation."

Founded by Jane Pratt in 1997, the title delivered the second-wave feminist editorial mission of Sassy, another Pratt creation that folded in 1994. Both magazines featured writing that was more thoughtful than most women's magazines, flavored with a sense of irreverent fun.

After a strong start, however, the magazine seemed to lose its momentum earlier in this decade. It struggled to differentiate itself in a competitive landscape, where women's fashion and lifestyle magazines were proliferating.

In 2002, publisher Fairchild publications merged with Conde Nast, and in 2005, Pratt resigned as the magazine's publisher, replaced by Carlos LaMadrid as publisher, with Brandon Holley serving as editor in chief. LaMadrid and Holley led a major redesign of the magazine in April 2006, upping the mag's fashion and beauty content. But the makeover did little to buoy its fortunes. Last year, ad pages tumbled 20% compared to 2005.

Ad pages have rebounded somewhat since then, with a 35% increase in the first three months of 2007 compared to 2006. But with 93 total pages in the first quarter--for an annualized rate of 372--that's way down from 750 pages in 2005. Second-quarter figures aren't yet available from the Publisher's Information Bureau.

Roberta Garfinkle, senior vice president of print strategy for Targetcast tcm, memorialized the magazine in the following terms: "It's sad. I always liked it, going back to the beginning. It was a good magazine, one of the few that spoke to this female audience [19-34]." Garfinkle recalled that Jane was also "part of this generation of magazines that really spoke in the voice of the founding editor."

But this proved to be a double-edged sword: "Once the founding editor was gone," says Garfinkle, "the magazine really floundered." Separately, Bauer Publishing has canceled Cocktail, a weekly magazine targeting young women with snarky celebrity gossip and fashion advice. The magazine launch was nixed because of "uncertain conditions in the single-copy marketplace."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

BoSacks Speaks Out: Fading Ads and the Future of Marketing

BoSacks Speaks Out: Here is a tale for Samir Husni, and the "Dead Tree Huggers Society" to ponder. As the story below suggests, history proves that there is always some room for change, and sometimes it happens in the most unlikely of places.

I have always stated that print will not go away, but rather be joined by its younger sibling BroDigital, who may one day turn out to be the biggest brother of them all. So it's all a matter of perspective. Which medium will have the most readers? Analog or digital? And in what time frame? What is your guess? Do you have children or grandchildren? What do they read and how do they get information?


"Generally students are the best vehicles for passing on ideas, for their thoughts are plastic and can be molded and they can adjust the ideas of old men to the shape of reality as they find it in villages and hills of China or in ghettos and suburbs of America."
Theodore H. White (English Journalist, Historian and Novelist, 1915-1986)

Signs of the Times: Fading Ads Hint at the Future of Marketing
An Author's Stroll Through a World of Ghost Messages
By Lenore Skenazy
If it's still a little hard to digest Bob Garfield's pronouncement that "Advertising is not the future of marketing," maybe it's time to take a walk with Ben Passikoff, or at least sit down with his book.

'The Writing on the Wall,' by Ben Passikoff

Ben is the 17-year-old author of "The Writing on the Wall," a high-school-project-turned-
coffee-table-book (AuthorHouse, $40) filled with photos of "ghost signs" -- those fantastic, faded, hand-painted ads you see on the sides of old buildings.

There are signs for garter belts and castor oil, men's hats and ladies' hotels. In other words: signs for the times that aren't coming back, no matter how much folks like me wish we could wake up, just for a day, in 1927. (And then eat lunch at an Automat.)

The lesson one gleans, however reluctantly, is that whatever seems absolutely immutable, isn't. Not what is advertised. Not how it is advertised. And certainly not the advertising job you go to every morning.

As Ben and I strolled up from Greenwich Village on a hunt for old signs, we were accompanied by his father, Brand Keys President Robert Passikoff. Proud papa used the opportunity to talk about his pet peeve: advertisers wasting their money on messages the public can't possibly believe. Young Passikoff listened politely, then talked about his pet peeve: doormen whose attitude you wouldn't believe. He'd had to charm quite a few of them into letting him come in and take pictures from their roofs. Some, alas, could not be charmed.

In between all this, the signs we spotted were talking, too, telling us the history of New York.

"They used to put them near churches and synagogues, because they knew that, once a week, people would see the signs," said Ben. Clever placement.

Generally the ads were for things close by -- a soda fountain, or a milliner's. "Before this book, I didn't even know what a milliner was," Ben confessed. (OK, 20-somethings: Look it up.)

One still perfectly legible sign on a former stable on East 17th Street reads, "To Let: Carriages, Coupes, Hansoms, Light Wagons." It also offers to board horses by the month.

Folks will always need their horses, right?

Another sign was for Facit brand typewriters.

Writers will always need those, will they not? Especially one from Facit.

But the largest number of signs, by far, were for garments and everything associated with the making of them, from sewing machines to pinking sheers to buttons. Some buildings listed dozens of businesses bustling inside: H. Goldfarb, Ladies Hats; LilyKnit Silk Underwear; Harris Suspenders... .

Men will always need suspenders, right?

That was certainly the assumption. Businesses kept opening up. "By 1900, the value and the output of the clothing industry was three times that of the second-largest industry, sugar refining," according to Ben's book.

Sugar refining? Who knew? But what's really amazing is how intrinsic the garment industry was to creating modern day New York. With garments came fashion, with fashion came chic, with chic came buzz. And with buzz, one could argue, came media and advertising.

And then ...

Things changed. Maybe the garment industry didn't exactly go the way of sugar refining, but it had to adapt to challenging times -- exactly what is happening now with that other quintessential New York industry: marketing.

Just as hand-painted signs made way for print, radio and TV -- and even to new, high-tech outdoor signs -- those media have to make way for the new, too. The industry is evolving, and those who don't evolve with it will fade like old paint.

Take a walk, spy some signs and you can see for yourself: Change is the history of commerce. The writing's on the wall.

Brownridge to Challenge Wenner

"Revenge... is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion."
Albert Schweitzer (German medical Missionary, Theologian, Musician and Philosopher. 1952 Nobel

Brownridge to Challenge Wenner
By Lucia Moses

Ever Since Kent Brownridge surfaced as a bidder for Dennis Publishing castoffs Maxim, Blender and Stuff, industry watchers have been atwitter about the possibility of a showdown between him and his old boss, Jann Wenner. Brownridge toiled for Wenner for 31 years, before "retiring" in the fall of 2005 (he said the decision to leave was his, but it's widely believed that he was bounced out after relations between he and Wenner soured). And those who have seen his fierce competitiveness in action expect him to jump at the chance to use it against his former employer.

"I think he would love to stick it in Jann's face, especially over what happened to him at the end," quipped one ex-employee.

Brownridge, who served for years as Wenner's consigliere and senior vp, general manager, would certainly have the knowhow to do so. "Kent makes Karl Rove look like a Sunday School teacher," said a former Wenner exec. (In a sense, that is not much of a stretch: Brownridge was once a political operative for George McGovern.)

But Brownridge has denied any feud-business or personal-exists between him and Wenner, calling him a "lifetime friend." "It's a natural thing for people to speculate that there's going to be a big rivalry," explained Brownridge. "My rivalry is with myself, to see if I can get out of myself what is necessary to do this. That is the question here, and not anything I might or could want to get out of Wenner." Jann Wenner declined to be interviewed, but said through a representative as he left for vacation, "We are very happy for him and wish him good luck."

Still, Maxim (and to some extent smaller sibling Stuff) and Blender have long butted heads with Wenner's Rolling Stone and Men's Journal for automotive, consumer electronics, liquor and other ad dollars. After Dennis launched Maxim in 1997 and Blender in 2001, Wenner went on the defensive, hiring laddie magazine editor Ed Needham from the now-defunct FHM to edit Rolling Stone. Former Wenner employees said anonymous e-mails were sent to Blender salespeople alleging circulation hanky-panky there, while others went to ad buyers, detailing salacious words in Maxim. Rolling Stone has since replaced Needham and amped up its serious journalism, but it still bears the influence of Blender's humorous, quick-read formula.

Brownridge, backed by private equity firm Quadrangle Group, has big plans to grow the company. Namely, by cross-selling the titles more aggressively than has been done in the past; leveraging selling opportunities with Maxim and its many brand extensions, including a planned casino and line of steakhouses; and expanding Maxim's reach online and on TV. "This is a company that makes plenty of money, and we just want to make more money," he said. "And eventually, we'll sell."

He certainly can point to a long record of successes at Wenner. He helped take the iconic Rolling Stone to profitability, was pivotal in the launch of Men's Journal in 1992, and led the evolution of Us into a weekly from a monthly frequency in 2000.

"It was a high-risk, high-wire act that turned into a success," he recalled of Us' transformation. "Everyone said it would be nuts, it would be Jann's Vietnam. We pulled it off. I wrote the business plan. It didn't work too well the first 15 months, but then it paid off. That'll never leave me." Indeed, Brownridge helped lure women's magazine vet Bonnie Fuller, who created the formula that can be seen in virtually every celeb weekly out there.

Terry McDonell, group editor of Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated, who had editing roles at Men's Journal, Rolling Stone and Us Weekly during Brownridge's tenure, said his old boss was a master at positioning magazines, who saw early on the potential to differentiate Us from People by being celeb-friendly, and was quick to adjust the newsstand draw after single-copy sales were overestimated. "He's smart, moves very fast, is fearless," McDonell said.

"Everybody who knows him thinks he will do something incredibly interesting with this company."

In addition to his inside knowledge of Wenner gained from years as Jann Wenner's right-hand man, Brownridge will benefit from a number of Wenner alums working for him. Those include former Wenner chief financial officer John Lagana, now in the same role at Dennis; and one-time Rolling Stone publisher Rob Gregory, now group publisher of Maxim.

Injecting new life into the former Dennis titles will be one challenge. Maxim, Dennis' crown jewel, rode a wave of anti-P.C. sentiment to rapid success, but as the monthly has softened its image, some of its distinctiveness has been lost. Circ was flat at 2.5 million in the second half of 2006, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, while ad pages are down 8.1 percent this year through July, per the Mediaweek Monitor. And FHM, the chief rival to men's gadget title Stuff, is gone, at least in print. Brownridge is known for his circulation expertise, but the rules of the game have changed there, too. Some of the tactics practiced at Us, which as a monthly barely made rate base at times and used bulk copies to pump up circ, aren't likely to pass muster with media buyers today.

Filling out the executive ranks may be difficult. (Brownridge said he doesn't expect to make any personnel changes, but people who have worked for him expect that with his intense interest in the editorial side, he will look for another top editor for Maxim; he's already spoken to former Maxim editors Bill Shapiro and Mark Golin, now both at Time Inc.) Another logical hire would be Keith Blanchard, who was editor of Maxim before briefly running Wenner's Web sites. His ability to poach from Wenner is limited, thanks to contracts binding many top sales and editorial people he himself put in place (and that Jann Wenner has been known to enforce through litigation). The take-no-prisoners reputation he cultivated at Wenner may give other candidates pause, too.

Meanwhile, a sale process that stretched out over a year and a half has swamped the former Dennis titles with morale problems. As the sale dragged on, some employees left, and uncertainty about the company's future led some advertisers to pull back. Even the office bathrooms have been neglected.

Yet Brownridge, 66, is eager to get his hands dirty again. When he left Wenner, he retreated to his horse farm in Virginia, where he tried to live the life of a gentleman farmer. But it didn't last long. On nightly runs to Wal-Mart, he found find himself engrossed in the magazine racks, comparing magazine displays. It didn't take long for him to call up his friend, Peter Ezersky, a principal at Quadrangle, and pitch his services as a consultant. (Quadrangle tried to buy Time Inc.'s enthusiast group and a couple other publishing companies before winning the Dennis titles, for which it paid just north of $240 million.)

Brownridge said it wasn't money that lured him back. "I like to run things," he said. "Ever since I was a little kid, I liked to boss the other kids around. When you run things, you fix them, and make them better and see the results."

Monday, July 09, 2007

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Why The Newsstand is Dead!

"Most executives, many scientists, and almost all business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The mind can only see what it is prepared to see."

Edward de Bono ((Francis Charles Publius) Maltese Psychologist and Writer, leading authority in field of creative thinking. b.1933)

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Why The Newsstand is Dead!

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Why Newsstand is Dead?

Bo, It was a great presentation between you and Samir and I thoroughly enjoyed both. Samir was more entertaining, but that is his nature. But I also enjoyed the technology that you introduced and your arguments were very persuasive.

You're almost spot on in your interpretation of the newsstand business being the Titanic. You could also say that all of us worker bees are the soldiers on the way to Gallipoli, and the industry leaders are those genius British nobles who think charging machine guns is a good idea.

I've sat through several presentations by the giants of our industry recently and they all talk a great game about reducing inventories, increasing efficiencies, restoring shareholder value and all that rot. It's great business speak and maybe someone out there is impressed.

But what they forget is that we are in business to sell stuff and until they start talking about selling stuff, we're dead in the water, or wondering why the hell we're charging that machine gun.

We're dead, or dying, because we are poorly led. We're poorly led because the publishers want one thing, the national distributors want something else, the wholesalers want something entirely different (to get out of the business?), and the retailers want something entirely different.

As a representative of a publisher, what is sad about this is all the time and energy these editors and art directors put into putting something together for their readers, and then the mishandling that goes on because the four links in the chain are going in different directions. In the end, the reader is poorly served. To me, that's almost criminal.

Thanks for the enlightenment. I stay in the business because selling insurance has even less appeal. And I do genuinely like most of the people I interact with.
(Submitted by a Publishers Rep)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Why Newsstand is Dead?

Good One!! I support you!!! The same situation existed in the paperback industry, when the newsstands, (supermarkets, drugstores) were displaced by the large Bookstore Chains.. The same thing has happened now in magazines, with supermarkets, drugstores giving up on the magazine display rack and looking at the checkout only...The amount of display space lost in the last ten years is staggering!!
(Submitted by an Unknown)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Why Newsstand is Dead?

I have concluded that even in my micro-publishing world, the distros and chain stores are colluding to "wallpaper" with our titles. I recently cut my draw at a major chain (for all three titles) 25%. When the next issue's sales came in, you know how many copy sales I lost? Zero. Actually, sales *increased.* It amazes me that more publishers don't "get it" - with the store-by-store detail now available to us, there's no reason on earth why we should put our zines into stores in which they do not sell. But getting a draw cut requires nerves of steel and a rather aggressive personality; neither the distributors nor the chains will do it themselves. Fortunately, I have both of these qualities, which might be why my sell through averages 50%. (A recent issue hit 62%, I'm happy to say.)

Personally, I believe that magazines should be sold at approx. 80% discount, with no return privileges. You heard me; NO RETURNS. This would put the onus for newsstand management and draw-setting where it belongs: on the retailer and the distributor. Yes, circ would take a huge hit if the true costs of returns were distributed more evenly, instead of the publisher subsidizing the bad habits of the retailers. I have no-returns contracts with several of my distributors, and believe me, they keep their draws tight and their sell throughs average 80%. I'm happy as a clam at high tide with such an arrangement, and know that as long as I keep my content strong, my newsstand will thrive. Three quarters of my income comes from newsstand, so this is my bread and butter. I'm truly appalled at the waste I see on newsstand, and think major changes are vastly overdue.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Why Newsstand is Dead?

Bo. You and Samir exceeded my expectations in your debate. You are both very entertaining and informative. It was a terrific hour and I hope that you become a regular event at the PBAA, as your rant about why the newsstand is dead clearly demonstrated the need. Congratulations on speaking out on the very hard topics of our industry.
(Submitted by a Distributor)

RE: Abitibi Consolidated/Bowater merger

Bo, The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission okayed the merger of the two corporations subject to stock holders approval at special meetings on July 26, 2007.
If this merger becomes finalized and these two manufactures of newsprint, groundwood specialties, SC grades, etc., come together, end users and brokers better be ready for some major changes, because business will not be done as usual.

For years, many endusers and brokers have been playing off these two companies
against each other. This system will abruptly come to an end if this merger is finalized.
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: There Are More Magazines Than You Think

I guarantee that MPA doesn't know that I exist, and I have three quarterlies, total yearly page count approx. 1000 pages and am going to launch a semi-annual next year. I don't support a lot of people and have a gross sales of under a half million $ a year. But yes, I've been making a living off publishing magazines for over fifteen years, and except for a stint with the (alas, defunct) IPA, I have never joined an industry group.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: There Are More Magazines Than You Think

Does this include all the special issues, special interest publications, etc
etc? It's always exciting to see a new mag (well, for me anyway) but there
are dozens of SIPs a year from Meredith alone, and special (additional)
issues of People almost every week. No wonder the page count (advertising)
is predicted to be down.
(Submitted by a Newsstand Operator)

Re: Prostitution Is Legal

And the magazine industry can't figure out why our profession is in free-fall. I'd laugh myself silly if I didn't want to cry so bad.
(Submitted by a Publisher)