Monday, April 30, 2007

Rapid Report's Slow Burn

Rapid Report's Slow Burn
by Lucia Moses

When the Audit Bureau of Circulations launched Rapid Report last July, publishers were said to enthusiastically support the online service, recognizing advertisers wanted to get circulation numbers more frequently than the twice-annual publisher’s statements. In fact, 15 percent of ABC magazine members surveyed said they expected to sign up for the free, voluntary service.

Almost a year later, a mere 70 titles have signed on—less than 9 percent of all magazine members and far below the 250 or so of the biggest publications that the service was aimed at. And one of the charter participants and biggest supporters, American Media Inc., has stopped reporting numbers for Star, one of its biggest titles.

While all the major publishing houses have at least some representation, media buyers said that without participation by all the magazines in a given category and by newsstand-heavy titles, the service has little utility.

Still, there’s no talk of shelving the service anytime soon, which provides topline circ estimates within weeks of the on-sale date. But ABC board members representing publishers and advertisers said they’re disappointed in the rate of sign-up for the service.

“Rapid Report clearly has the support of [AMI] in terms of large, multi-title companies,” said Jack Hanrahan, U.S. print director, OMD, and a member of the ABC’s magazine buyers’ advisory committee. “It doesn’t have the support of Time Inc., Hachette Filipacchi, Hearst [Magazines], Condé Nast.”

While AMI has had all 13 titles reporting from the start, David Leckey, AMI’s executive vp of consumer marketing and an ABC board member, said the publisher stopped reporting numbers for Star March 12 due to lack of participation by its competitors, although he added it would resume reporting if one of them came on board. “We are commended for taking a leadership role, but I’ve constantly seen it turned against us because competitors have access to Rapid Report,” he said. “The media have used it to a degree against us. We support the ABC’s initiative, but we will not place ourselves at a competitive disadvantage.”

In terms of other publishing companies, OMD’s Hanrahan Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated is the only weekly participating, and it’s mostly subscription-based. “In Style is a good choice to put on there, even Real Simple, but if you’re focused on what’s the most relevant weekly for buyers to know more about, it would be People,” Hanrahan said. “SI has not even 2.5 percent of its copies in single-copy sales. And [Us Weekly publisher] Wenner Media doesn’t participate at all.”

A Time Inc. rep said the company supported the service and was considering adding other titles. Wenner, meanwhile, wouldn’t comment, and Condé Nast did not return calls. Hachette supports the service, having put on three of its biggest titles—Car and Driver, Road & Track and Woman’s Day—and plans to fold in other titles in the future, a company spokeswoman said. Hearst, with two magazines reporting, is evaluating the accuracy of the data, said John Hartig, head of consumer marketing. “We are open to adding more titles as advertising interest grows, but we’d like to better understand how agencies are using the data before jumping into it full force,” said Hartig.

Publishers have been concerned about rivals seeing their numbers and how buyers will use the data. But buyers said the information provided by Rapid Report is too new and lacking in context to be used to penalize publishers.

“We don’t have enough research to know why newsstand numbers are going down,” said Robin Steinberg, senior vp, director of print investment, MediaVest USA, and an ABC board liaison. “This report was created simply to help manage and view the numbers at a more rapid rate. The biggest challenge voiced by publishers is the fear of buyers making immediate plan changes based on these fluctuations. However, the reality, is we don’t make changes based on a single piece of information.”

As for publisher objections that the process is cumbersome and numbers are a moving target, Leckey said that as the person who posts AMI’s data, he can attest that it’s not, adding that there’s no deadline to file and numbers can be updated continually. “It’s Turbo Tax,” he said. “It’s very, very easy.”

Observers said the low level of Rapid Report participation is a stumbling block to fulfilling the desire many publishers have to move to an audience-based measurement system, and that the ABC may eventually have to pull the plug. “I don’t think we need to get 100 percent [of ABC members] on Rapid Report, but I’d like to see us get to 20 percent of our membership,” Leckey said. “If participation’s not there, [the ABC] may have to rethink their allocation of resources.”

Another ABC director, Judy Vogel, research director at PHD USA, put the onus partly on her peers to increase participation. “I believe the buyers are not screaming enough about it,” she said. “Short of something that is somewhat punitive, what repercussions are there if they don’t participate? We’ve got to send a stronger message to publishers.”

The prince of magazine publishing

Zinczenko is the prince of magazine publishing
Commentary: Men's Health editor says that branding means everything
By Jon Friedman, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- David Zinczenko, the editor of Men's Health magazine, is the prince of the New York publishing scene.
He's also the editorial director of Best Life, a Men's Health spinoff; the best-selling author of the "Abs Diet" books; and a frequent guest on NBC's more "Today." Zinczenko hit the big, big time last Friday by appearing on "Oprah," the most influential talk show on television. No wonder everyone in New York seems to recognize the 37-year-old journalist.

When I arrived at the chic Soho House Thursday night to meet Zinczenko for drinks, a brunette hostess nodded and said, "Yes, we know him." A tall blonde standing next to her gushed: "And we love him."

So should Rodale, which publishes Men's Health. The monthly just had the biggest first quarter in its 20-year history, racking up an ad-page gain of 23% over the same period in 2006. Its May 2007 issue has a hefty 192 pages and features Eric Dane of "Grey's Anatomy" on the cover, with an advertising-page increase of 31% over last year.

Zinczenko attributes the magazine's progress to its devotion to readers. "You have to communicate with the reader on every single page," he said. "You have got to show them what you stand for."

Men's Health dedicates itself to helping its readers lead more fulfilling lives. Of course, its contents take many forms, from the panting "More Sex! Hotter Sex!" headline on the May cover to Ben Stein's "Read This, Retire Rich" piece on page 136.

Editors will pick up their Ellie prizes at the annual National Magazine Awards Tuesday night in New York. While Men's Health didn't garner as many nominations as other titles, it got a measure of satisfaction when it was named best performer in circulation for 2006 by the Capell's Circulation Report, an influential digest in media circles.

In publishing today, success can hinge on how well a company can create brand awareness. Zinczenko has become a media magnet, whether it's for building a strong franchise at Rodale, or for formerly dating "Grindhouse" co-star Rose McGowan (who appears on the cover of the current Rolling Stone), or for memorably telling Jon Stewart at a magazine-industry function that "thin is the new rich."

To Zinczenko's occasional chagrin, this native of Allentown, Pa., is also mentioned conspicuously on the Gawker Web site, which delights in zinging him over his social life. If Zinczenko reminded me of a movie character, I'd have to peg him as Eric "Otter" Stratton, the oh-so-suave guy in "Animal House," who tweaks his enemies and always has the last laugh.

The industry, noting that Zinczenko can create excitement, asked him to chair its annual American Magazine Conference in October. "We want people to leave this conference saying it was mind-blowing," the editor said with his characteristic enthusiasm.

"Dave's brand is successful, and he is a brand in and of himself," according to Howard Polskin, senior vice president of the Magazine Publishers of America trade association. "He's a good flag-carrier for the magazine industry."

Zinczenko said that his magazine "has a very strong sense of mission. We are relentless about spreading our gospel," which focuses on helping men live better.
With some magazines, it's hard to pin down what they're all about. But Men's Health is clear: "Everything we do is strategic," he added.

But Zinczenko has his limits. He scoffed at gossip that he would be hosting a dating show on television. "I absolutely won't," he told me. "If I won't do 'The Bachelor,' I won't host a dating show."

Why not? "It's not the right branding opportunity for the magazine," he replied.
Zinczenko learned the hard way about the pitfalls of exposure. A few years ago, Stewart, the witty and acerbic host of "The Daily Show," led a panel discussion about the relative vitality of magazines with prominent editors, including Zinczenko.

I was there and I took notes. But the only comment I remember was Zinczenko saying "thin is the new rich" -- a quip that fell flat and drew a long stare from Stewart. It wasn't all bad, though. It ended up on the media blogs and Zinczenko achieved a measure of fame from the incident. (I still wonder if he planned it that way all along.)

"It turned into a roast," Zinczenko recalled. "For better or worse, I decided to prove a point. I wasn't going to play dead."
When I asked him how he sees his role at Men's Health, he said: "I'm a servant to the brand."

Former tennis star Andre Agassi once famously and foolishly remarked that "image is everything." Zinczenko would say he got it wrong. Branding is everything.
MEDIA WEB QUESTION OF THE DAY: What's your favorite magazine and why?

Garden & Gun Magazine Has an Awkward Debut

Garden & Gun Magazine Has an Awkward Debut
Garden & Gun Magazine Has an Awkward Debut

Garden & Gun, a glossy new lifestyle magazine from Charleston, S.C., says it is for those who love “an adventure-bound, art-loving, skeet-shooting lifestyle.” In reality, the magazine is less about guns than it is about gardens, “Southern tradition” and land conservation. The gun part of the title, said Rebecca Darwin, the magazine’s publisher, is a metaphor for “the sporting life.”

It is also an inside reference to a popular ’70s Charleston disco called the Garden and Gun Club.

The name might not have raised an eyebrow had not the premiere issue arrived on newsstands just days before the shootings at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on April 16. Ms. Darwin said only one critical e-mail message was received, among many positive ones, but others in the magazine industry noted the unfortunate timing.

Ms. Darwin, a former publisher of The New Yorker and Mirabella, said that there were no guns in the first issue. The “sporting life” piece is an article by George Black on trout fishing in Georgia.

Garden & Gun, which is published by the Evening Post Publishing Company, has an initial distribution of 150,000 and plans to publish five issues this year and 10 in 2008.

Samir Husni, the head of the University of Mississippi’s journalism department, said that he winced when he saw the name. “In this day and age, any title that you have to explain, you know it’s not the right title.”

But Ms. Darwin, who had 20 years of publishing experience in New York before returning to her South Carolina roots, said she was confident of the magazine’s appeal. “There are 40 million people that enjoy hunting and fishing; when you get outside of New York City, there is a whole other world out there.” LIA MILLER

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Advertisers Look Forward to One-Stop Shopping on Google

Advertisers Look Forward to One-Stop Shopping on Google
by Lee Sherman

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google cast a long shadow over this year's adtech interactive media conference, where the search and advertising giant's recent agreement to purchase DoubleClick for $3.1 billion was clearly on the minds of advertisers and publishers in attendance at the Moscone Center.

Microsoft and AT&T oppose the planned acquisition, saying it violates antitrust law and gives Google a dominant position in online advertising. Privacy groups are nervous about what it means for Google to have access to data on so much customer activity.

But for advertising professionals, the deal, which represents further consolidation in an already solidifying market, has more-positive implications -- starting with the promise of one-stop ad shopping.

"Ninety-nine percent of the ad dollars are going to the top 10 websites," says David Naylor, online media director at Richter 7, an advertising agency. "From a media buyer's standpoint, it makes it much easier to have one point of contact."

Bryan Vickery, a marketing executive at Credit One Bank, agrees, noting that as Google adds display advertisements to the mix, its ability to drive traffic only increases. "As an advertiser, a one-stop shop is extremely appealing," Vickery says. "The question I have for any advertising medium is, 'Can you deliver customers to my doorstep?' At the end of the day they can."

One concern raised by advertisers Wednesday in an adtech panel discussion on networks and exchanges was the rise in user-generated content, such as that found on Google's YouTube. As online advertising starts to take on more of the characteristics of traditional media, advertisers want filtering technologies that can shield their brands from proximity to inappropriate content.

For publishers, the situation is more problematic. Display ads are the bread and butter of large content sites, and they will soon be in the hands of a company known for its programmatic approach to delivering information. Google collected an estimated 30 percent of all online ad revenues in 2006, mostly on the strength of its text-only ads. The DoubleClick acquisition will give it the dominant position in graphical ads, which account for another 34 percent of the overall ad market.

Henry Vogel, chief revenue officer at Quigo Technologies, a Google competitor, says publishers fear that the lack of transparency in Google's AdSense may be extended to display advertising: "The biggest single downside (of the DoubleClick purchase) is that it concentrates more information and control in one company."

Quigo's AdSonar product lets advertisers bid on specific media properties and determine precisely where their ads will end up, in addition to purchasing run-of-network ads. Vogel says Quigo's approach allows publishers to own the customer relationship, something that isn't possible with Google's network.

"Is Google friend or foe?" Vogel asks. "If Google is competing with you for your audience and your advertisers, they now have even more ammunition to do so."

Tina Brown: Hail, the Queen of Gloss

Tina Brown: Hail, the Queen of Gloss
The chronicler of celebrity culture turns her waspish wit on the life of its High Princess
By Paul Vallely

When Tina Brown took over that venerable literary institution The New Yorker and attempted to drag it into the late 20th century, a number of its most renowned writers resigned. At the magazine's 70th anniversary party in 1995, its British editor asked an actor to read out the resignation letter of one of the grandest members of staff, which bemoaned the magazine's fascination with the OJ Simpson murder case.

"For you to kiss the ass of celebrity culture at this moment that way," the departing scribe loftily opined, "is like selling your soul to get close to the Hapsburgs in 1913." Brown then had her reply read out by an actress, choosing Debra Winger to play herself in what the New York Post described as "a suitably immaculate English accent".

She wrote: "I am distraught at your defection, but since you never actually write anything, I should say I am notionally distraught."

Here, in a single anecdote, is all you need to know about Tina Brown - funny and elegant, powerful, brittle and ruthless - and the author of what promises to be the most high-profile of the slew of books about Princess Diana to be published in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of her death.

To save you the bother of buying it, here are what are reported to be its key claims: Diana was more in love with the Prince of Wales's title than she was with him; they had sex on the royal train twice before their marriage; Charles was faithful to her until her eating disorders and neurotic behaviour drove him back into the arms of Camilla; Camilla's real love was not Charles but her philandering husband, Andrew, and she only had an affair with Charles in retaliation for Andrew's infidelity; Diana had no intention of marrying Dodi Fayed but had a dalliance with him merely to annoy Charles and the Royal Family. The dead heroine was, in conclusion, a "spiteful, manipulative, media-savvy neurotic".

Not that Brown's husband, Sir Harold Evans, still perhaps Britain's most distinguished living newspaper man, will thank me for saying that. We should all wait to read the whole book to see it all in proper context, he has said. No doubt lots of people will.

Lots of people have taken to everything Ms Brown has done ever since she was a promising young playwright - winning The Sunday Times Drama Award in 1973 - and then a promising young journalist interviewing, and also dating, famous men such as Auberon Waugh, Dudley Moore and Martin Amis. She also dated Harold Evans, then the illustrious editor of The Sunday Times and, the scandalised newsroom noted, 26 years her senior, as well as married to someone else.

All that promise was actualised not as a writer but as an editor. In 1979, at the age of just 25, Brown was offered the editorship of the moribund 270-year-old society magazine The Tatler. In four years she revitalised it to the extent that its circulation trebled. She was then hired as an editorial adviser to Vanity Fair in New York for six weeks, but became editor-in-chief withinmonths. It, too, was an enormous success, based on the formula of what Brown called "high-class trash" - a mix of high-gloss fashion, vacuous celebrity and serious foreign reporting.

It was what her early life had shaped her for. Her father had been a film producer in post-war Britain making movies with stars such as Margaret Rutherford and Richard Attenborough. Her vivacious mother was Laurence Olivier's press agent and, in later years, gossip columnist for an English-language magazine for expatriates in Spain. "Family parties," said one report, "attracted the likes of Sean Connery and Joan Collins, and little Tina became used to perching on famous knees." It gave her the self-confidence to get expelled from three boarding schools - once for describing the headmistress's bosom as "an unidentified flying object". At Oxford, where she was clever but not very clever, she organised her own parties. "You knew you had made it if you were invited", said her Oxford contemporary, Tony Blair, who was not. Parties have been part of her modus operandi ever since. "You don't make friends, you make contacts," she said on her arrival in New York.

Later, at The New Yorker, some long-standing contributors sniffed that she was a vulgarian. She turned the much-lauded but little-read literary institution into "mere journalism" or "a version of People magazine". The snobbery was undiminished when Brown exercised the over-affluent editor's technique - despised by writers - of commissioning more articles than she had room for and binning the ones she liked least. But she made The New Yorker more readable by leading writers of high seriousness to feed at the trough of celebrity culture. It made it more like every other magazine in America, yet she did it with the antennae of what one US contemporary described as "her generation's most adroit zeitgeist surfer". Circulation rose by 30 per cent.

She has not always had the Midas touch. She quit The New Yorker after six years after being invited by Harvey and Bob Weinstein of Miramax Films to run a new multi-media company encompassing a new magazine, a book company and a television show. The magazine Talk, a glossy celebrity-led monthly, flopped, losing millions in the post 9/11 advertising recession. Her column in The Washington Post was criticised by the paper's own ombudsman. And her weekly talk show on CNBC was cancelled after poor ratings.

It was at that point that Brown, by now a US citizen, turned her attention to Diana, negotiating a $2m (£1m) advance from Random House, the publishing company of which her husband was until fairly recently president.

The book begins with an account of the last "girls' lunch" she had with the Princess at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan in the summer of 1997, not long before Diana died being pursued by paparazzi. Brown has used her extensive contacts book to interview 250 people, including Tony Blair, about the dead woman. It will be published inJune - just a fortnight before the memorial concert to their mother planned by Prince William and Prince Harry.

It tries, Brown has said, to examine the Princess as a cultural archetype of a modern-day Britain that is, as Diana was, "emotional and media-obsessed". High seriousness feeding at the trough of celebrity culture. Very post-modern. Very lucrative. The Tina Brown formula at work once more.

The book is "an affectionate and multi-faceted portrayal of Diana," she says. It is not a hatchet job. "I think it's sympathetic to everyone actually." We shall see. Oh, how we shall see.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Blogging is Serious Media Business

Blogging is Serious Media Business
By Kristina Joukhadar

MPA member blogs now stand at 400. Not to be outdone, 75 percent of the nation’s largest newspapers currently blog on business related topics.

The Magazine Publishers of America has released an online listing of the approximately 400 blogs established by its publishing members. Although there are 32 publishers—among them Fortune, Forbes, Scientific American, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Good Housekeeping, Advertising Age and FOLIO:—who only list one blog for their magazines, many have multiple blogs.

The “winner” in terms of pure number of blogs for one “publisher” would have to be CNET Networks, with 33 individual blogs. This is a bit deceptive, though, because the blogs cover different areas of the network and are not tied to print magazines. In second place, at 17 blogs each, are Business 2.0 and Computer World. InfoWorld is next up, with 15 distinct blogs.

Perhaps some of the most unusual blogs are listed under the Glamour magazine brand. Topics like Beauty Insider, Did You Hear, and Slaves to Fashion are blogs one might expect to see—even Don’t Spotting isn’t too much of a stretch. But two of Glamour’s blogs—in particular, See Allysa Date and Life with Cancer—both written by staffers, represent an incredible extension of the brand in a very personal way.

75 Percent of Newspapers Blog

According to a study released yesterday by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University, 75 percent of the national’s largest newspapers now include business-related blogs.

Although 38 of the largest 50 papers have a blog and 24 of them have two or more, less than 10 percent of papers overall have blogs. The average number of blog postings per week is three; and the median number of reader comments to business blogs over a two-week period was nine. Half the respondents said they receive from one to five reader comments per posting; one third receive no responses at all.

"Newspapers clearly need to be experimenting with blogs as another way of reaching readers beyond the printed page," said Stephen Doig, the study’s researcher, “But it’s less clear at this point that blogs give an immediate payoff in increased readership for most news sites.”

Friday, April 27, 2007

The End-User: In media, we distrust

The End-User: In media, we distrust
By Victoria Shannon

PARIS: Happy World Intellectual Property Day! Yes, it's that time of year again, April 26, when we all pause to give silent thanks for the rules and regulations over the creative branches of human activity.

You mean you have yet to raise your voice today in praise of copyrights, patents and trademarks? You aren't alone. Professionals in the arts, entertainment and media businesses, whose livelihood intellectual property rights are designed in part to protect, aren't exactly celebrating, either.

They have little to be happy about, with those rules and regulations being flouted around the world - when their music, films, writings, design innovations and original software are being digitized, replicated and poured freely into the open arms of the Internet or sold cheaply on the street.

Recent studies suggest that the media and entertainment industries have only themselves to blame. Asked to rank their level of trust in a dozen industries ranging from insurance to health care, respondents around the world invariably put media and entertainment dead last, according to Edelman, the U.S. public relations and consulting company that conducted the surveys.

The technology industry, meanwhile, comes out consistently at No. 1 or No. 2.

In follow-up studies in Britain and France of consumers under 35 years old, the world's first generation of "digital natives," the company found that many say they will not buy an entertainment company's products because they don't believe they are getting good value for their money. Four out of 10 in Britain said that, while more than half did so in France.

In a world where pirated material can be had free or for next to nothing, "value for money" takes on a new dimension: What value is a record company giving me when I pay full price for a CD, for instance, compared with when it's free?

Gail Becker, head of Edelman's digital entertainment practice in Los Angeles, acknowledged that the message from young adults about value was not a particular surprise. The lesson for companies that want to change that perception is not to emphasize the "money" side but the "value" side, she said.

"They need to communicate the message that their products, bought legitimately, don't give the family computers any viruses," she said, "that the sound quality is better, that you can get extras like the music video with it."

For me, the biggest revelation out of Edelman's "trust" survey was the high ranking of the technology industry around the world, where it is almost without exception ranked as the most trusted on the list.

Becker said Edelman attributed that result to three causes: Technology is a "clean" industry that is not perceived as particularly scandalous or bad for society; it is seen as making our lives better, or at least more productive; and, for investors, tech companies are seen as sources of financial rewards.

What perplexes me is how those factors overcome the fact that technology companies also continuously promise more than they deliver; that their products often seem designed for engineers rather than end-users; and that many of them are practically entertainment companies themselves - Yahoo, Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc. - which should earn them a poor trust rating.

Despite the gloom of this World Intellectual Property Day, Becker sees some signs of encouragement for the entertainment industry. For instance, 59 percent of survey respondents in France and 69 percent in Britain said they trusted entertainment companies to make content widely and legally available online.

"The message about legal availability is coming through," she said. "When I think about how recently the complaint was that they were making it hard to find legal music for sale online, this is really progress."

The next step is making a dent in the industry's trustworthiness problem, she said.

"The industry can build trust by leading, or being seen as leading, the revolution in entertainment distribution by leading the change in business models," Becker said.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

James Brady On Media

James Brady On Media
Bimbos Or Sweet 16?
BY James Brady

What kind of teen magazine do we want our daughters reading? An innocent and rather refreshing True Girl with its devoted but minuscule circulation, curtly dismissed to me by Hearst Magazines' Cathie Black "because Madison Avenue has no interest in 'tweens"? The smart and sexy Cosmo Girl? The longtime No. 1 book, Seventeen? Or, heaven forfend, Teen Vogue, once snidely derided as "for rich white girls"?

For 61 years, the teen category leader in advertising page sales was Seventeen magazine (now a Hearst book), followed in 2005 by an oddly sized little (because it slips conveniently into backpacks) Conde Nast trifle called Teen Vogue. At that point only two years old, it came along to stun Seventeen by a razor-thin advantage of 26 ad pages. Within a year, Teen Vogue had a solid grip on the category, leading by 287 ad pages.

In a dismal season business-wise for many magazines--Life, Child, Premiere and Elle Girl all went under, and even the red-hot celebrity books were scrambling--Teen Vogue is again running miles ahead of its previous year's circulation and is modestly ahead in ad performance, up 4% in ad pages through May. What's the formula? I asked founding Teen Vogue publisher Gina Sanders over lunch at La Grenouille, the day before she and her family took off for a Jamaica holiday.

Sanders begins with the magazine's slogan, "Fashion starts here," and fleshes it out with names and stats. "Neiman Marcus uses our magazine because they want to cultivate a younger audience. Other stores want to gain cachet." Although girls begin reading Teen Vogue at about 16, "there are grown women who subscribe." Which is understandable when you check out the roster of what Sanders calls "our exclusive advertisers within the teen set"--such prestigious labels as Armani Exchange, Burberry, Chloe, D&G, Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Sephora. Plus multi-page ads from The Gap and other major advertisers. Sanders notes that not only is Teen Vogue beating its rival kid books in ad sales, it's also selling "more pages than many women's magazines."

When it launched in 2003, Conde Nast set the guaranteed rate base at 450,000 copies. Last October, the rate base doubled, to 900,000. But circ was rising so fast Teen Vogue was already offering advertisers a bonus of another 100,000. Right now, its audited total circulation is just over 1 million, with newsstand sales trending upward as well. Another vigorous plus: what Teen Vogue calls "the It Girls," its online reader panel of more than 100,000 active members.

You can be sure Hearst's Black isn't simply tossing in the towel on Seventeen. She's already shaken up the masthead and will be doing more. But she'll be going up against a formidable Conde Nast team as she and Seventeen attempt to recapture category leadership.

There's Vogue's editor in chief Anna Wintour, who exercises oversight as editorial director of Teen Vogue; deft editor Amy Astley; and the redoubtable publisher Sanders herself--a trim mother of two, married to a member of the Newhouse family (which doesn't hurt). She graduated from Tufts, where at college and into her 20s she was a distance track athlete running 100 miles a week. Before joining Conde Nast in 1988 as an account manager for House & Garden, Sanders worked in Boston and Madison Avenue ad agencies for six years.

She made her way up the corporate ladder from ad director of Details magazine to publisher, then Gourmet publisher until about five years ago, when the company asked her to create and launch Conde Nast's first-ever teen publication.

In recent years, girls' magazines have changed, with more stories about sex, abortion and drugs, and with glamorous "bimbos" as their cover-girl "role models." Teen Vogue seems to suggest maybe, without being didactic about it, the teen books ought to clean up their acts. Its March issue cover lines featured "Sweet 16 parties," "Should your school day start later?" and "Romantic white dresses," as well as how to earn a summer internship. April's issue includes a report on how more schools are cracking down on "dirty dancing" at the prom, and a cautionary feature on "Big spenders: Are you a shopaholic?" plus another titled, "I saw my friend die," about "drunk driving's deadly toll."

Is squeaky-clean what kids want? Maybe they do. Teen Vogue's circulation figures seem to say so. As do their ad sales. I'm anxiously awaiting my granddaughter's definitive take. So far, she thinks Sanders' magazine is "cool." And when I interviewed 16-year-old actress Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts' niece, who's on the cover of Teen Vogue and plays the title role in a new flick, Nancy Drew, young Emma said the mag is her fave.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mr. Magazine Blogs Blu

BLU Magazine
By Samir Husni

Lately we have been reading about magazines folding shop in print and claiming to stay alive on cyber space. FHM, Teen People, Shock, Info World and Elle Girl, to name a few, decided to cease the ink on paper editions and concentrate on pixels on the screen. Kimberly Toms spotted this trend and decided to do the opposite.

Rather than publishing her new magazine BLU (a magazine for single men and women) in print first and face all the problems of a new launch such as the cost of printing and production, no advertising, low sale through numbers and a lot of waste, Toms opted for the pixels on the screen.

She said that the "Magazine BLU is in digital format for the first five bimonthlies (through the December 07 edition) for brand-building and working out of the design/inclusion kinks, then monthly and in hard copy (with distribution already lined up) as of January 2008. The next issue is June/July 07 with a major launch event in Philly in July."

To say that Kimberly is having a love affair with this magazine concept will be an understatement. Kimberly told me that, "This has been the concept that would not die, no matter how much I wanted it to some days!! It has been the most difficult, yet most rewarding journey, and I look forward to every day it presents as Magazine BLU." I only wished that the passion that Kimberly has for the magazine and the magazine busniess is evident in her first issue.

A digital magazine with all the type and design that BLU offers makes it hard to read and enjoy, but I am sure that Kimberly knows that since she mentioned the ongoing work on the design kinks in the magazine. A digital magazine should not be a replica of the print magazine or an imitation of it. It does not even need the space for a UPC.

The screen viewers are not the same as the page viewers. To view the first issue of BLU magazine click here,and to see a great example of a digital magazine click here to read Felix Dennis's magazine Monkey click here.

Magazine BLU is not the first magazine to publish via the web first and turn to print next, and it will not be the last. I continue to believe that, in this day and age, if you are really going to survive and make a profit, you have to pay your dues in ink on paper. If you think the competition to establish yourself in print is tough, then you do not know how big is the competition in the virtual space out there. It is good to dream big . . . but one day you have to wake up (and smell the ink . . .)

In a Troubled Time, a New Business Magazine

In a Troubled Time, a New Business Magazine
Joanne Lipman, the editor of Portfolio, the new business magazine from Condé Nast, tapped gently last Monday on the door of David Carey, the publisher, and then burst into his bright Midtown corner office.

“It’s here!” she said, grinning and handing him a copy of the much-anticipated debut issue of Portfolio. Lush, photo-rich and thick with ads (185 ad pages in a 332-page issue), it’s an unmistakable stablemate of Condé Nast’s Vogue and Vanity Fair.

The cover photograph isn’t of John F. Welch Jr. or Bill Gates but a rooftop view of Manhattan, golden lights glowing in anonymous office cubicles — a homage to Berenice Abbott, who documented New York’s changing cityscape in the 1930s.

Mr. Carey beamed back. He then reached over to a side table and picked up a recent issue of Fortune, one of Portfolio’s chief competitors. The Fortune cover was particularly busy, with a crowd of anonymous Google workers in casual dress and a cover line announcing “The 100 Best Companies to Work For.” He held them side by side. His glow said no contest.

“We’re not giving you peas and carrots,” he said. “We want to capture the glamour.”

Between all those ad pages, readers will find business executives treated like celebrities and the kind of matching of writer and subject they might find in Vanity Fair: Tom Wolfe on hedge funds (with photographs by Annie Leibovitz); Betsey Morris on the Ford family; and Michael Lewis on “jock exchanges,” which trade in athletes.

Sheelah Kolhatkar writes about the handful of women who actually do private equity deals. Gabriel Sherman interviews Bruce Sherman, the reclusive Florida money manager who has invested heavily in newspapers.

“Business is about power,” Ms. Lipman writes in her first editor’s letter. “And guts. And passion. Business coverage should be too.”

Business is also about brains, and Condé Nast’s were certainly questioned when the company announced in September 2005 that it was putting out a business magazine — its biggest single investment in a start-up — at a time when many others were foundering.

Readers were still reeling from the bursting of the Internet bubble and corporate scandals, and investors were looking at constantly updated Web sites — not biweekly glossies — for an edge. And some sizable advertisers, like the Detroit automakers, were mired in slumps of their own.

Some of the big magazines remain troubled: ad pages for the first three months of this year were down for BusinessWeek (3 percent), Forbes (9 percent) and Fortune (13 percent), compared with the same period a year ago, according to Publishers Information Bureau. Circulation at the big three has been flat or falling for the last few years, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

But Portfolio would not be the first business magazine introduced during trying times. Henry Luce founded Fortune just months after the Wall Street crash of 1929, for example.

S. I. Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast, said in an interview that he had no patience with Portfolio skeptics.

“Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to trample on Forbes or Fortune. I think we’re going to help the whole field. We’re going to bring excitement to it, and we’re going to bring luxury and fashion advertisers into it.”

Mr. Newhouse said that Portfolio had been inspired by a positive response to business articles in Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, although he could not recall precisely which ones. He also said he had not made the final decision to proceed until Ms. Lipman agreed in August 2005 to leave The Wall Street Journal, where she had overseen its Weekend Journal and Personal Journal sections and its Saturday paper.

Mr. Newhouse said that his reported commitment to the magazine of more than $100 million over the next five years was “something of a myth” because “we’re going to stay with Portfolio.”

Portfolio has hired more than 75 editorial people for the magazine, 40 for its Web site,, and more than 45 on the business side.

The business side, under Mr. Carey, the former publisher of The New Yorker, has been working Madison Avenue hard. After all, he has a reputation to uphold. During his tenure at The New Yorker, between 1998 and 2005, advertising revenue almost doubled and the magazine broke the 1 million mark in circulation. In 1996, Mr. Carey brought 210 ad pages to the first issue of the restarted House and Garden, one of the highest levels ever for a new magazine.

Portfolio’s first issue has drawn 53 business advertisers, 30 of which had rarely if ever advertised in a Condé Nast publication. The newcomers include Barclays and Pitney Bowes.

“Job No. 1 was to deepen the company’s penetration in the business advertising category, which the May issue achieved,” Mr. Carey said. Bringing more business advertisers in the door could get them interested in advertising in some of the company’s other magazines; at the same time, Portfolio provides a new outlet, and another affluent readership, for advertisers who already appear in those other magazines.

Portfolio was nearly two years in the making, a long time for journalists to go without ink. At least one who was hired has already left, sowing rumors of sagging morale. During the start-up period, competing publications have written articles that were rumored to be appearing in Portfolio, trying to steal its thunder, and articles at Portfolio were commissioned and killed.

Mr. Wolfe added some drama of his own, sweeping through Portfolio’s hushed glassy offices with a black cape over his white suit. His narrative was supposed to run 2,500 words but he submitted 11,000, since honed to 7,500 words. His is the longest piece in the magazine.

One of Portfolio’s most celebrated hires, Kurt Eichenwald, a former reporter for The New York Times, was to have been featured in the premiere issue. But his article, on terrorism, was held, according to people involved with the magazine, because Mr. Eichenwald deluged the magazine’s fact-checking department with thousands of pages of documents just before the article was to go to press last month. It is expected to appear in a later issue.

Holding it, these people said, was unrelated to a controversy involving Mr. Eichenwald that emerged earlier in March: the revelation that in 2005, while at The Times, he had sent $2,000 to someone who later became the subject of an article. (Mr. Eichenwald, who has said the money was repaid long before the article appeared, declined to comment for this article.)

Ms. Lipman declined to discuss the article but called Mr. Eichenwald “one of the finest investigative reporters there is.”

James Impoco, deputy editor at the magazine and a former Sunday Business editor at The New York Times, said that Ms. Lipman had “exacting standards.”

He said that “she knows what she wants and is pretty strong-willed.”

Mr. Impoco added: “I have to admit that I was a little worried after she saw ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and told me she sympathized with the Meryl Streep character. But she turned out to be a pretty thoughtful boss.”

Ms. Lipman was almost giddy last week as she showed off a display of the magazine’s pages on the walls of a secured room. Portfolio’s goal, she said, was to “connect the dots” between life inside the boardroom and out.

“I love this kind of story,” she said, gesturing to a profile of Boone Pickens, the Texas oil tycoon whose son pleaded guilty last year to securities fraud. “It’s a great ‘King Lear’ tale,” she said. “He’s in his second act and his family’s disintegrating.”

The magazine is priced at $4.99 on the newsstand and is testing subscription prices from $12 to $22 for 12 issues. Its next issue is scheduled for late August, and it will appear monthly after that.

The magazine’s Web site, which will be free, will contain all the articles in the magazine and report breaking news, much of it by Portfolio writers. Chris Jones, the site’s managing editor, said its bloggers would post three and five times a day. The site has elaborately produced videos and various interactive features.

In conjunction with Condé Nast Traveler, the Web site will also tell readers things like the best place to make a deal in various cities, and which company’s employees like to stay in which hotels (in San Francisco, Yahoo likes the Clift, Mr. Jones said). For those readers headed to jail, offers prison advice: get dental work done in advance and don’t talk to the press.

Still, the magazine is at the heart of the Portfolio enterprise and while some skeptics remain, they acknowledge that Portfolio is well positioned.

“I don’t think they would make the same decision to launch a business magazine now because the climate has changed since they announced,” said Martin Walker, a magazine consultant.

But, he added, “you’re talking about a powerhouse publishing company, and they have a terrific database to get subscribers, they have all kinds of ad connections and they are spending enormous amounts of money.”

And there are signs of life elsewhere in business magazines. Fortune is putting out a redesign of its venerable Fortune 500 issue today with heavier paper stock (not as heavy as Portfolio’s) and may redesign the whole magazine. Forbes is planning a new business magazine, geared toward women. Portfolio has been raiding business publications for writers and editors, setting off an intense competition for marquee names.

Robert Safian, former executive editor of Fortune and now editor and managing director of Fast Company (circulation 755,000), said the entire business category was undergoing a reinvention.

“Business remains at the heart of our culture, nationally and globally,” he said. “The traditional business magazines have had trouble capturing and expressing that excitement in recent years, and the ad market has reflected that, but I think the tide is turning.”

Mutual Suspicion

Mutual Suspicion
By William Powers, National Journal

I was at one of my usual stopping places online, Arts & Letters Daily, when I noticed a headline mentioning Stephen Greenblatt, the Harvard professor who wrote Will in the World, a strange and wonderful biography of Shakespeare from a few years back. I'm a Greenblatt fan, so I clicked.

The link took me to The New York Review of Books and a Greenblatt essay called "Shakespeare and the Uses of Power," which opens with a high-grade anecdote about Bill Clinton and Macbeth. I was cruising along nicely when, about 10 paragraphs in, I felt an urge I always get with longer pieces on the Web -- a desperate craving for paper. I hunted around for the hard copy of the review but discovered that we'd let our subscription lapse, so I went back to the screen and printed the piece out.

A few days later, Greenblatt was on Open Source, the nationally syndicated public-radio show hosted by Christopher Lydon, to talk about the essay, and I tuned in. I've been on that show myself more than once, so maybe I'm biased, but I think Lydon is a marvel. I e-mailed him the next day to say that I'd loved the conversation, and he wrote back that there was follow-up stuff on the show's blog. I went there and read it.

Now think about the way this little media journey unfolded: from a Web-only media site, to the online version of an old paper periodical, to paper itself, to radio, and then back to the Web.

The standard view of the media today is of two separate, warring kingdoms. Bloggers and their ilk want to take down the uppity mainstream media, the "MSM" that they despise -- traditional newspapers, magazines, and such. And the MSM curse the day that the digital barbarians stormed the castle and spoiled everything.

It's a great story line. And if you reflect on it for about one second, you realize that it's not true. Old and new media have a symbiotic relationship. Without The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS News, and the other media ancients, bloggers who cover news and politics would have nothing to talk about. Meanwhile, the mainstreamers have their own Web sites, and they adore the traffic they get from bloggers linking to them.

I've written about this dynamic before, as have others. But there's one aspect of the symbiosis that is rarely mentioned: the way it helps us consumers by serving as a two-way filter. New and old media vet one another's work, each helping us to unclutter and winnow the content from the other side. When a major print outlet shines its light on a particular Web site or podcaster, I sit up and notice. Why? Because there are millions of bloggers and podcasters out there, so the establishment media can afford to be very choosy. A blog has to clear a high bar to win that kind of attention.

Thus, when I noticed that The Wall Street Journal (hard copy) was praising an architecture blog I'd never seen called BLDGBLOG, I opened my screen and typed it right in -- it was a winner. After seeing a BusinessWeek (again, the paper version) story about a podcaster known as Grammar Girl, I told my 9-year-old about her and now we listen to her together.

Likewise, the online media don't link to just anything in the mainstream. Because many digital types are constitutionally suspicious of that world, when they praise something that appeared in print, it's noteworthy. And when they mock old-media content or call it an outrage, well, that's interesting, too. As I wrote this column, the news tab at was reporting that tons of bloggers were linking to a Time magazine story titled "An Administration's Epic Collapse." I don't know why -- I haven't even glanced at Time this week. Now I will.

The filters aren't foolproof, but sometimes they work in spite of themselves. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a front-page teaser for an article (subscription) about "relevant" Web sites for 2008 campaign coverage. I flipped directly to the piece and thought it was a big yawn. The Web fare that it touted sounded so dull that I didn't even go online to check it out. Happiness is knowing what to ignore.

-- William Powers is a columnist for National Journal magazine

A Soft Sell With Cold, Hard Cash in Mind

A Soft Sell With Cold, Hard Cash in Mind

I JUST spent a languorous afternoon watching a new form of video entertainment, sponsored by advertisers like Budweiser and General Electric on Web sites they have created. Unlike other forms of branded entertainment in which products are embedded in the story line, this genre of programming makes no mention of the products at all.

My first reaction, after sitting through a few clips and episodes, each running a few minutes? Hey, some of it isn’t bad. Among other things, I chuckled at “Truly Famous,” a show about a fake celebrity and his fake entourage trying to scam perks in Hollywood. And I was amused by a silly Japanese-style cartoon called “Samurai” on

On the other hand, I came away from the experience not particularly thirsty for a Bud or yearning for a G.E. stove. That’s slightly unfair, of course: marketing is a complex and mysterious science, and the real test is how a person feels when buying choices are actually made — say, on the bar stool or when buying a house

Generally, as I clicked my way through the afternoon, I went from impressed to entertained to indifferent to bored. In other words, it was just like watching TV. And I did appreciate that the shows themselves were devoid of the relentless product plugs that are ruining a lot of prime-time television and the movies. Yet, knowing how and why this programming came into being, I wondered if it was crossing an unseen line between commercial message and content where consumers ought not to go.

Can material spawned in such a way be anywhere near as effective as traditional advertising, or as good as conventional programming that is born by creative inspiration rather than to help sell something? After all, Samuel Goldwyn once observed (in a slightly different context): “Pictures are for entertainment. Messages should be delivered by Western Union.”

Of course, that great movie mogul never lived to see Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken,” the video Web gag from two years ago that helped increase sales of a new chicken sandwich. That presaged a flood of marketer-created programming alongside the more common homemade videos à la YouTube and the video being pumped online by traditional media players like television networks, newspapers and radio stations.

While just about everything concerning online video is an experiment at this point, there is immense interest in figuring out whether this kind of “advertainment” — it begs for a better term — represents a possible new business model for media in a digital world. It is yet another attempt at eliminating the middleman and having a direct relationship with the consumer. TV network executives like to call the Internet a “cable bypass” for their shows, but in this new configuration the advertiser is bypassing the networks.

The idea is to gather the audience you want to reach — basically, inviting them into a marketer’s virtual living room — and to give them a comfy sofa and something to do. (One thing I did not feel inspired or obligated to do was click on those parts of the sites that were more clearly marketing — for example, a G.E. video on solar power, or a couple of funny Budweiser ads.)

It is the ultimate “soft sell,” which is often the most effective form of advertising, says Rich Rosenthal, who runs a new corner of Warner Brothers called Studio 2.0 that was set up to make this kind of programming and is creating a show for

Analogies have been drawn to the early days of television, when shows like “Texaco Star Theater” spurred the medium out of its infancy. But to me, it’s something different: an evolved form of marketing blurred with media. In fact, this type of marketing already has a huge presence in print media in what is known as custom publishing — a business that doesn’t get much attention because it’s not the domain of the cool kids.

Media giants like Time Inc., the News Corporation and Dow Jones are all in some way involved in custom publishing, putting out all kinds of specialized magazines and newsletters for marketers like airlines, hotel chains and industry organizations. As you can imagine, these are rarely celebrated as “hot books,” and their editors don’t make the list of luminaries spotted at Michael’s.

But according to Veronis Suhler Stevenson, an investment bank that focuses on media, more money was spent on custom publishing in 2005 than on the entire United States consumer magazine business: $28.6 billion versus $23.5 billion. What’s more, the category is growing 15.3 percent a year — better than any other so-called traditional medium — and expected to total more than $58 billion in 2010. That, by the way, would be more than double the size of the slow-growing consumer magazine business.

Granted, there is a lot of cringe-worthy dreck in custom-published magazines by the standards of what most people think of as journalism. Yet there are also some fairly interesting postmodern examples of the form. For instance, the argument could be made that Time Inc.’s All You is one, given that it is distributed principally in Wal-Mart Stores. The same goes for Benetton’s well-regarded Colors or even Departures, the travel magazine sent only to American Express cardholders.

In video, is probably the most ambitious effort of this kind so far. And it is not off to an auspicious start: its traffic fell 40 percent in its second month, according to ComScore Media Metrix, and it is quickly rolling out a revamped site.

THOUGH less of a gamble for its corporate owners, “G.E. Imagination Theater” is an equally interesting case study. It was created as a way to convey the megaconglomerate’s new slogan, “Imagination at Work,” but it was done separately from NBC Universal, the big media company that is part of G.E.

Rather, it was conceived and executed by G.E.’s ad agency, BBDO. G.E.’s global head of advertising, Judy L. Hu, told me that the inspiration was the TV variety show from the 1950s called “G.E. Theater” (with Ronald Reagan as host).

“It was a way to explore a new medium and tell a new story,” she explained. The only tie-in to NBC was that G.E. advertised the Web site on the network, which is where I first caught a glimpse of “Samurai.” “That’s always what you want to do as a marketer: Take the old and make it new again,” Ms. Hu said. “You don’t want to walk away from your heritage.”

Unless, of course, you are dashing into a world where old distinctions between media and marketing are becoming increasingly — and at times disturbingly — blurry.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Niche Savvy

Niche Savvy
Ink Tank
Posted by Melissa Meyer

A Reuters article published Wednesday, March 21st illustrated the growing trend of the niche publication, and how special interest magazines are finding their place in an Internet savvy society.

Rodale, Inc. which publishes Runner's World magazine, seems to have found their place among runners, judging by their rising circulation, according to the article written by Robert MacMillan.

In the second half of 2006, the magazine's circulation rose over five percent, despite seeing a decline in the number of newsstand sales. Since 2000, circulation has increased nearly 40 percent.

An expert in the field discussed the draw of consumers to niche publications and how increased popularity to a sport/activity brings increased sales, at least for Runner's World.

"This is pure service journalism," said Samir Husni, a magazine expert and chairman of the journalism department at the University of Mississippi. "You're a subscriber for life. Until you stop running or die, you are getting the magazine."

There were 29.2 million U.S. runners in 2005, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, up 28 percent from 2001. As novices start running, they pick up the magazine, said Mary Wittenberg, race director for the New York City Marathon.

"Runner's World is often a key initial hook," she said.

In a single issue, the magazine offers recipes, training tips, shoe advice, ads for the coolest new gadgets, and inspirational stories from real runners, both professional and non.

The rise in ad revenue, which was $66.6 million in 2006, a 250 percent jump from 2001, is in part because of all the gadgets runners in this technology based world think they need, like i-pods and heart rate monitors. Technical clothing with wicking fabric along with reflective gear round out today's runner ensemble.

Also the market for footwear has increased. In 2005, it was $5 billion compared to just $1.5 billion just a decade prior according to NPD a market research firm.

Runner's World has also begun to incorporate blogs into its online site. It offers blogs from marathoner Kristin Armstrong, and keeps "marathon diaries from professional athetes Meb Keflezighi and Deena Kastor. The site also has chats for top songs to run to and nutrition.

Rodale recently acquired Running Times, essentially its only real competitor, in February, allowing it to move beyond the recreational runner, and reach the pros, which the Times catered to. The article did not disclose its source, but said the acquisition price was less than $5 million.

Other niche publications hope to fare as well. Primedia Inc. wants to sell a division of its company, Enthusiast Media, which includes titles like Motor Trend and Hot Rod. They posted $524.8 million in revenue for 2006. They could get more than $1 billion for the sale.

An acquisition like Running Times works for Rodale because it is a narrow, focused segment of a loyal audience.

"There are niches of niches today because the interests of Americans with their leisure time is so diverse," said media banker Reed Phillips.

Runner's World is one of several magazine published by Rodale, Inc. including Men's Health, Bicycling, Best Life, and Backpacker, all of which earned 2007 National Magazine Award nominations from the American Society of Magazine Editors. Other magazines from Rodale, like Prevention and Women's Health, which are also doing remarkably well. Prevention saw a 65 percent increase in sales during the 1990s. Their ad pages also doubled according to an article by Media Central.

So what is the implication for aspiring journalists? Well, have no fear, the niche publication is here! Although newspapers have seen declining sales and readership due to increased online news, magazines are here to stay. If magazines like Runner's World continue to effectively target their readers through online chats and blogs, the industry is sure maintain its status.

According to, the average pay in the local/regional magazine industry is $30,000, with only 25 percent earning less than that. Throughout the country, according to this site, magazine journalists consistently earn more than newspaper journalists, and those in the online industry earn even higher wages. Also, with the number of niche publications rising, it seems that job security in the magazine world should be a waning problem. And according to the article's stats on advertising sales, it seems like that would be a safe career bet as well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why Google will never conquer Madison Avenue

Why Google will never conquer Madison Avenue
By Dave Pasternack,
April 10th, 2007

Every new inroad that Google makes into non-search media creates more anxiety on Madison Avenue. This past week, when Google announced it would begin using its auction-based ad platform to sell television ads on Echostar’s DISH Network, a satellite-based network with 13.1 million subscribers, you could almost smell the panic.

Ad agencies have a lot to be concerned about, including audience fragmentation, consumer rebellion against intrusive ads, clutter, a failure to embrace technology, plus the overall secular shift of ad dollars from traditional untargeted media to targeted media. But any panic over Google is, in my view, unjustified, and so I offer this piece as a reality check.

Everybody agrees that Google rules Search. The question is whether Google can apply those same things that made them dominant in Search to non-Search media such as radio, television and newspapers. If it can, Madison Avenue, and the whole old media establishment, may be doomed.

There are, however, several fundamental reasons why Google may just as likely fail, or at least stumble along the way. Here are three of them:

1. The self-serve model only works with media that are not creative-dependent

Google has more than 400,000 advertisers using its Adwords system, but the text-based advertising they’re doing is a far cry from the way most advertising is created, especially in terms of the need for creative excellence to differentiate the messaging. No one needs an ad agency to write 40 characters of text using Google’s self-serve platform.

With non-search media, however, creative excellence makes the difference between campaign success and failure. For example, you can take the same exact script for a TV or radio spot, hand them to two different director/cinematographer/talent teams, and wind up with two completely different experiences, one wonderful, the other horrible. This is where talent, insight and experience count (and this is why talented, insightful, experienced producers will continue to make the big bucks). Google has yet to demonstrate any core competency in the creative area, nor has it expressed any interest in terms of getting into this field. For this reason alone, ad agencies can breathe a sigh of relief.

2. The mechanics of media buying doesn’t create interest in the medium: the audience does!

Sure, Google’s Adwords platform makes it easy to buy media. But few advertisers have been kept out of any media because they’ve found it too hard to buy. The mere fact that Google can make media buying easier doesn’t make the media in question any more attractive, in fact I’d argue that it makes it far easier for media neophytes to make serious, money-wasting mistakes.

There’s an even bigger problem with automated, auction-based media buying systems such as the one that Google is touting. While auctions may introduce efficiencies into the buying process, they also introduce uncertainty. How can any advertiser plan a multichannel marketing campaign when there’s always a chance that somebody, somewhere, will outbid them for a key campaign component?

It’s true that advertisers at the bottom rungs of the food chain may be attracted to the marginal discounts that auction-based ad buying may deliver to them. But price is rarely a big concern at the start of any advertising campaign: what matters are results. If results are good, then spending can be re-upped, and price discounts can be negotiated at a later stage.

Google (and its shareholders) may expect that providing a more automated, more efficient way of buying media will convince many of its 400,000 Adwords clients to take the plunge into non-search media, but in fact provides no compelling reasons to do so, and this is why the general response to its forays into non-Search media have been lukewarm.

3. Google only thrives where media is measurable

Google became a multibillion dollar powerhouse because those little text ads it matches to search queries are surprisingly effective, and this effectiveness can be precisely measured in real time. But broadcast television, radio and print are inherently unmeasurable media. Google can make such media easier to buy, and perhaps even a bit cheaper to buy, but can’t make these media any more measurable or transparent by itself. There are no real advantages to using Google to buy your media for you, beyond the marginal discounts and ease-of-buying issues discussed above.

The exception to this proposition exists in cable TV, where today’s generation of smart set-top boxes provide both measurability and the ability to provide targeted messaging to very narrow audience segments whose characteristics have been mined from network subscription databases. This is why the Echostar deal is important for Google: because it is the one area where it can actually add value, both for advertisers (who will be able to see highly granular, usage-based stats about how and whether viewers are consuming their messages), and subscribers (who will see fewer irrelevant ads).

Addressable advertising with a high degree of transparency and accountability is undoubtedly the wave of the future. But the Google-Echostar test is small, invitation-only, and it remains to be seen whether major advertisers, especially those seeking the kind of scale that one can only get from broadcast media, will get on board anytime soon. Furthermore, Google is certainly not the only player in this space, which is crowded with technology companies that have been working on the problem of making advertising more accountable and relevant for longer than Google has even been a company.

David Pasternack is president and co-founder of,

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Experts: Newspapers Won't Be as Profitable

Newspapers will never be as profitable as they once were, experts say, but can still do well
The writing on the screen


April 10, 2007

They don't feel like part of the traditional newspaper thrown on your doorstep - online chats, podcasts, video and audio feeds, plus searchable databases to aid in the hunt for a new home, used wheels or the best pizza on Long Island.

But increasingly they are important parts of the modern newspaper, an ever-evolving format for news and information that is making a not-so-subtle, sometimes wrenching, shift from ink-stained newsprint to computer screens in the Internet age.

Last week's decision by Newsday's parent, Tribune Co., to become a private enterprise, away from the financial demands of Wall Street, will provide only a little breathing room for a media company in the throes of change, experts say.

"It's too early to tell, but there's a sense that companies looking at quarterly reports are more afraid to experiment and innovate," explains Randy Bennett, vice president of audience and business development for the Newspaper Association of America, a trade group based in Arlington, Va.

In a sense, the move by Tribune to go private is a throwback to an earlier time, when newspapers were owned by families such as the Hearsts and the Pulitzers. In recent decades, most major media have been publicly traded, yielding rich profits for investors until recently, when Wall Street began punishing newspaper stocks because of declining circulation.

No longer the only 'road'

But whether they are publicly held, controlled by private owners or even operated through a nonprofit foundation, America's newspapers face unprecedented challenges for advertising dollars and the public's attention.

"Newspapers will never go back to their historical level of profitability," said Philip Meyer, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Newspapers, he notes, used to have "a near-monopoly in the market, and the newspaper owner owned the road on which information flowed."

Meyer's 2004 book on the industry, "The Vanishing Newspaper," explained how perhaps the strongest mass medium the United States has ever seen for presenting vast amounts of information has steadily lost readers during the past few decades because of technological changes, particularly competition from the Internet.

Despite a host of worries, including substantial recent drops in national and classified advertising, Meyer said, "You can still make an investment case for newspapers." He said the strength of traditional newspapers to break news and "influence" society won't go away soon if their owners learn to adapt.

Meyer said that by moving steadily onto the Internet, newspapers can make a substantial dent in the costs of newsprint and transporting papers, costs that now account for as much as 17 percent of a newspaper's total expenditures. "The new model can be built on information, as the leading trustworthy provider of information," Meyer said. "But now is the time to do it."

While taking a newspaper company private might seem a good idea, it means little in the long run if no investment is made in a long-term strategic plan to improve its financial picture, said former newspaper editor Alan D. Mutter, now managing partner of Tapit Partners, a Silicon Valley investment firm specializing in new media.

Slow to adapt

Mutter, who writes a blog, or Web log, about the newspaper industry, pointed to the Philadelphia Inquirer, which went into private hands last year after the break-up of the publicly held Knight-Ridder chain, as an example of the difficulties facing newly privatized papers. Layoffs began in January, and 71 newsroom employees - about 17 percent of the editorial staff - departed. Mutter notes that, after taking on sizeable debt to fund the purchase, "There was little extra cash to put into the product."

Overall, he said, newspapers have been slow to adapt to technological change, often publishing stories based upon the "personal predilections" of editors and reporters - articles that may win journalism prizes but fall outside the interests and needs of most readers. "In a market that has changed dramatically," he said, "it's a huge problem."

Despite these challenges, Mutter said newspapers remain a "unique and powerful brand with a high degree of credibility," provided by staff who usually know more about local government, schools and social activities than any competing medium, including television, cable and radio.

Online ads surge

Bennett, the trade association executive, said newspaper companies are making substantial inroads with online advertising, which has been growing at a brisk 30 percent annual rate, though last year it still accounted for only $2.7 billion of the $49.3 billion total spent on newspaper advertising. Local retail and classified ads accounted for almost 80 percent of last year's spending on newspaper advertising, the association's records show.

Print-ad revenues have been flat or declining in the past year for "cyclical" reasons, Bennett said, reflecting the slowdown in real estate. Revenue from online ads, meanwhile, is still far short of replacing what print ads generate, he said.

To grab more of the hard-to-reach younger-than-35 audience, Bennett said, newspapers are investing in numerous online ventures. As an example, he pointed to newspaper companies joining with Internet search engines such as Yahoo in an effort to maximize advertising potential.

Hearst, MediaNews and other companies representing a total of 150 newspapers recently announced a deal with Yahoo for online classified advertising, aimed initially at job recruitment. "In an age of many media platforms, newspapers have to think of what is the right way to reach a certain audience," Bennett said.

More modest margins

Even veteran industry observers like Meyer said they've changed their expectations for newspapers. No longer will publishers enjoy 20 percent to 40 percent profits. Today, large urban newspapers often produce profit margins in the teens - considered very good for most industries - though Wall Street investors have not been satisfied.

Meyer said newspapers will have to learn anew how to compete, as they did after World War II amid growth in television, FM radio and direct-mail advertising.

Meyer said he's surprised what the advent of Internet competition has meant for his own life. Rather than buy a newspaper ad to rent a property he owns, Meyer said, he used craigslist, a mostly free online service that has sapped considerable paid classified advertising from newspapers in recent years.

"I felt so guilty," he said, "but it was faster and cheaper."

Increase in newspaper ad spending from 2003 to 2006:





Amount spent last year:


$46.6 billion


$2.7 billion

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.

Martha Stewart Targets Russia's Middle Class for Magazines, TV

Martha Stewart Targets Russia's Middle Class for Magazines, TV
By James Brooke

April 10 (Bloomberg) -- Martha Stewart, the self-styled American authority on taste, plans to bring her books, magazines and television shows to Russia, tapping into an expanding middle class as incomes surge in the former Soviet republic.

``It's a very, very opportune time,'' Stewart, the founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., said in an interview today in Moscow during a week-long Russian visit.

Translated into Russian, Stewart's publications about cooking, entertaining and gardening may be on sale at kiosks in Moscow by next spring. She'll start with Martha Stewart Living, Everyday Food and Blueprint, a new magazine aimed at women aged 25 to 45. The media rollout will be followed home furnishings including sheets and towels, possibly through an alliance with a local retailer, she said.

Stewart arrives in Russia as income from the country's oil exports filters down to consumers. Retail sales rose 14 percent in February from a year earlier, while construction surged 24 percent in the last quarter of 2006.

``There is a middle class that is rapidly emerging,'' said Kim S. Iskyan, co-head of research at Uralsib Capital in Moscow.

Russians' disposable income has increased about fivefold in the last five years, bringing about 20 percent of the country's 141 million people into the middle class, he said.

``Everywhere you look, someone's fixing up their apartment,'' he said. ``And as soon as people have the discretionary income to upgrade their immediate surroundings, you can bet they are going to throw out the hand-me-down china.''

Stewart said she's noticed a gap between U.S. perceptions of Russia and the reality.

`Wild West'

``The new Russia -- people are just imagining it's the Wild West, a bunch of cowboys making lots of money, oligarchs just running around like crazy,'' she said. ``But in fact Moscow is a very sophisticated city.''

Stewart's mission will be to reverse setbacks in taste imposed by seven decades of Soviet rule, she said.

``All the things that happened during that time were very bad for the middle classes, for good taste,'' said Stewart, recalling her studies of Russian history as a student at Barnard College. ``Now people are scrambling to learn, scrambling to develop a lifestyle they can call their own. And I think that is all very exciting.''

To contact the reporter on this story: James Brooke in Moscow at .

Journalism Education Stuck in Same Oldthink Mode as Big Media

Journalism Education Stuck in Same Oldthink Mode as Big Media
by Mark GlaseR

When I visited the campus of Ball State University recently, I was struck by the number of innovative programs the school had carried out, from a live interactive TV local broadcast to its converged newsroom. Ball State is also home to the well endowed Center for Media Design , which conducted one of the most comprehensive (and expensive) usage studies, the Middletown Media Studies , in which researchers literally watched and recorded their subjects’ media usage during all their waking hours. And the Ball State campus itself is aggressively wired with WiFi Internet access, and is filled with gleaming buildings and high-tech trappings.

But the problem, particularly with Ball State’s journalism and communications study programs, is that the school’s philosophy remains mired in a legacy media mindset. You can learn about advertising or PR or newspapers or broadcast or magazines. And the goal of those programs is to get placed into positions as they have been defined for decades: the big PR agency, The New York Times, ABC News, Newsweek.

I went to speak in front of a class of students learning about advertising sales. I was happy to hear some of them were working on a project related to ads on cell phones. I was horrified to hear that there was no class related to online advertising. None, nada, zip. That’s unbelievable, when you look at the growth of online advertising — up about 34% in 2006 alone — compared to the stagnation of legacy media’s ad business. How can students be prepared to go into media ad sales without knowing about the online realm? My only advice to students was to learn it on their own, check out the blogs and websites dedicated to the topic and soak up what they could.

I don’t think for a minute that this is a problem only at Ball State. Almost every interaction I’ve had with journalism schools and their faculty reaffirms that these institutions have a long way to go before they can evolve from the oldthink mindset. There might be pockets of resistance or some innovative projects here and there, but overall the focus of students is to follow in the same footsteps as their professors: Start your career at a podunk daily newspaper and work your way up to the big metro papers, and end up in academia.

Nowhere do students get the inkling that the metro paper might not exist by the time they get there — at least in its current ink-stained format. Nowhere do they learn the ins and outs of being a freelancer, even though they are living in a free agent nation, almost assured of being downsized out of a job at some point. Nowhere do they learn what it takes to moderate an online community, to do outreach into a community and work with citizen journalists and bloggers. The blog, in academia, is looked at by faculty as something to disdain, a lazy way out of doing real journalism; and by students, it is looked at as a leisure time activity, pointless and fun.

From what I learned from Ball State’s administration, there are three groups of professors: those that understand the shift that is happening and are happy to figure it out; those that refuse to change their curriculum that has been set in stone for years; and those that are on the fence. The hope of administration is that the oldthink types can be moved along the path to retirement, while the middle group can be convinced to join the vanguard.

Meanwhile, the students present an interesting conundrum. I figured that they would be chomping at the bit to work in new media, as they are the digital generation born with a laptop and cell phone in their hands. David Studinski, a Ball State senior who is editor of the student newspaper, explained to me over lunch why students were as slow to embrace change as their professors.

“They use the technology all the time, they all have cell phones and they text message,” he said. “But they don’t take it seriously as a work thing. They think of blogging as gossip and MySpace is for fun with their friends. They don’t think they could work in that type of environment as a journalist.”

So what is a university to do? It could start a program for students to learn networked journalism or online journalism. Or it could start to require all journalism students to learn the basics of multimedia production and storytelling, online moderation of communities, and the skill of writing for the web and on blogs. Newspaper students would learn about making — and being on camera for — online video reports. Magazine students would learn the basics of doing an audio podcast. Broadcast students would learn how to write for the web. And advertising students would learn about behavioral and interstitial advertising online.

Freelance writer Greg Lindsay gave an amazing virtual commencement speech to 2005 j-school graduates on mediabistro, noting the same problem with academia. His main point:

You thought you were buying [with your tuition] a set of skills, credentials, and quality time with the placement office. And you did. But your professors also sold you a mindset, a worldview, an ideology — one in which newspapers are God’s work, bloggers are pagans, and your career trajectory is a long, steep, but ultimately meritocratic climb to a heavenly desk at The New York Times or ‘60 Minutes.’ Accepting any of this as gospel truth will almost certainly cause permanent damage to your budding careers…

Is there a way to fix this? Maybe, if your professors are willing to admit that they’re evangelizing as well as teaching, and that where they see a decline and fall going on in the media landscape, you might just find opportunities helping tear it down. But who wants to say that?

Who, indeed? What’s your experience in academia? Are administrations ready to shift their teaching along with the times? Are students still focused on legacy media and what will it take to change their mindset? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to be proven wrong with examples of widespread change.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hearst to Turn Magazines Into Webisodes, TV Series

Coming Soon to TV: Your Favorite Mags

Hearst Inks Development Deal With Fox to Turn Popular Titles Into Series

NEW YORK ( -- Fox Television Studios and Hearst Magazines are joining forces to create series for broadband and eventually network TV based on popular magazine titles.

The development deal includes two initial webisode projects inspired by CosmoGirl and Popular Mechanics.

The development deal includes two initial webisode projects inspired by CosmoGirl and Popular Mechanics. The online series feature an undetermined number of two- to three-minute episodes that will launch on the magazines' websites. The companies also plan to pitch the content to web portals such as Yahoo and AOL.

The CosmoGirl project is a serialized soap, with fans contributing to the narrative by submitting suggestions for what should happen next in the story. The details of the Popular Mechanics webisodes have not yet been determined, nor has a timeline for launching either project.

50-50 split for Fox, Hearst
The deal marks the first union between Fox and Hearst, with the companies agreeing to a 50-50 split of any advertising revenue. If successful, they hope to create further content for both broadband and network TV. "This is an innovative partnership that marries Fox TV Studios' creative ideas with Hearst's successful brands and content," said Angela Shapiro-Mathes, president of Fox Television Studios.

The webisodes will be the first foray into broadband for Fox Studios, which has long been known primarily for reality and documentary content.

This week, the Fox team will seek to score two more credits when it begins shopping two projects from "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell, whom it signed to a development deal last year. The studio is keeping quiet on the details, but Ms. Shapiro-Mathes is optimistic this summer will be a watershed. "This is a nice place to be in a comparatively short period of time," she said.

~ ~ ~
Mr. Hibberd is a reporter with TelevisionWeek.

See what's free at

Survey Gives Good Reviews to Online Product Reviews

Survey Gives Good Reviews to Online Product Reviews

By Todd Wasserman

NEW YORK -- When it comes to influencing online purchases, positive reviews in Amazon may trump online ads, per a new survey.

One in three Internet users report their purchase decisions are influenced by sites with social content, Amazon being the most influential, according to a report from iProspect and JupiterResearch being released this week.

The study, based on a poll of 2,223 respondents in January, sought to measure how consumers use social networking sites. Though Amazon isn't usually thought of as such a site, the survey defined a social networking location as one that lets users post their own content. In Amazon's case, that means reviews.

Robert Murray, president of iProspect, Boston, said it's unclear whether a positive review in Amazon is more effective than an ad, but: "It's human nature. People trust people."

Among other findings in the survey:

• Search engines get more visitors than social networking sites. Forty percent of adults surveyed visit Yahoo! on a daily basis versus 12% for MySpace.

• YouTube appears to skew male. Twenty-eight percent of men visit the site at least once a month compared to 12% for women.

• The younger the user, the more likely they are to visit and interact with a social networking site. Sixty-eight percent of 18-24-year-olds surveyed visited MySpace over the past month versus 65% for YouTube and 42% for Facebook.

Murray said the data also shows that up to 90% of visitors to social networking sites don't post. That, in part, showed the gap between hype for such social media and the reality, he said. "It's like when blogs first came out a few years ago and all you heard about was how blogs were changing everything," he said. "We tend to overstate the importance of new technologies."

Still, Murray said the item marketers should take away from the survey is that the brands that exploit the two-way communication potential of Web 2.0 will gain an edge over competitors. "You want to find a way to engage with the community in a dialogue," said Murray.

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'Relish' Success, Husni Names It Launch Of The Year

'Relish' Success, Husni Names It Launch Of The Year
by Erik Sass, Monday, Apr 9, 2007 8:15 AM ET

Relish, a magazine delivered via newspaper with a circulation of almost 9 million, was awarded the new magazine "Launch of the Year" by Samir Husni, a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi, better known as "Mr. Magazine." Every year, Husni--widely acknowledged as a guru of all things magazine--holds a one-man awards ceremony to honor standouts that carry status in the industry.

Asked what distinguished Relish from the other 900 launches of 2006, Husni listed several key accomplishments. Foremost, the magazine's circulation rose from 6 million to 9 million in its first year, partly through the use of an unconventional distribution channel.

"While everyone is complaining about distribution and how bad the single-copy distribution channels are, and how expensive the direct-mail subscriptions channels are, Relish went a different way: the newspaper route." That method guaranteed a strong distribution channel, and it ensured the "timely and cheap delivery of the magazine to its intended audience."

Husni also praised the magazine for giving a boost to the newspaper business --a medium desperately in need of help. "I have spoken with a few newspaper publishers who credited Relish with giving their paper a boost every time it is inserted." In fact, he notes, most papers advertise the arrival of Relish a week before the magazine is out.

Relish and American Profile, both produced by the Publishing Group of America, use the same distribution model as magazine inserts like USA Today and Parade, but they target a previously unfilled niche: "B" and "D" counties usually comprised of small towns and rural areas. The magazines' success is notable--especially in light of the recent closing of Life, which was also distributed via newspapers, but in competition with USA Today and Parade in "A" and "B" counties.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Breaking News . . . Journalism Doomed!

Breaking News… Journalism Doomed!

While it is very well to say that the task of the media is to inform and educate the public, only entertainment is increasingly being given top priority to promote sales

Writing in ‘The Hindu’ (March 7), Jeff Jarvis, a professor of Journalism at the City University of New York, raised what he called two important questions. He said: “First, why teach journalism? Aren’t newspapers and news doomed? Why ensnare young people in a dying profession? And second: how should you teach journalism today?” To the first question his answer was: “Journalism is evolving – at long last – and actually growing and that’s what makes this an exciting time to get into the news business”. As for the second question, his answer was that he was taking students through audio, video, slideshows, blogs, wikis, web pages google maps, photos, interactive forums and data bases”. Fair enough answers. But there is some truth in what he said about newspapers becoming a dying profession.

Ignorant public
But that is mostly in the United States and in recent times in Britain as well. According to one responsible source, students in the United States no longer read news. Indeed, according to a report by an Indian journalist just returned from the States the situation is truly bad. Writing in ‘The Hindu’ again, Sevanti Ninan says: “Walk into a relative’s home in Atlanta and you discover that they don’t take newspapers any more on week days…. Go around in a graduate class in Philadelphia and ask how many read newspapers and two out of 15 hands go up”. And a friend reported to her that the number of graduate students at the Columbia School of Journalism reading newspapers were zero! Sadly, US newspapers are winding up their bureaus abroad because they have ceased to be ‘cost-effective’. For an American newspaper it costs about $250,000 to maintain a newspaper bureau abroad. In the 1980s, American TV networks each maintained about 15 foreign bureaus; presently, they have six or fewer. So American people are getting to know less and less about more and more countries which is a dangerous development. An ignorant public can easily be manipulated by a vicious government which has its own agenda.

Luckily, the situation is just the reverse in India. In India more and more newspapers are selling and ‘The Times of India’ claims it has the largest circulation in the world! The Chandigarh-based ‘The Tribune’ (March 15) has announced that “responding to the demand of its readers for better coverage of the hill state”, it is launching its Himachal Pradesh edition. According to a report seen in a website, from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, as recently as October 2005, some 23 publishers and CEOs from the German Magazine Publishers Association has toured India to explore potential joint ventures and alliances with Indian publishers. Even journals like ‘Newsweek, Fortune, Time Out, Men’s Health’ etc. are setting up Indian operations. ‘The Independent’ of Britain has tied up with ‘Dainik Jagran’ which is a leading Hindi paper. Fancy that! Then again it is not just the English media that is thriving. The Indian language papers too are doing well. ‘The Times of India’ is reportedly planning to have a Kannada paper in Karnataka. The point is that as more and more Indians become literate, their desire to know is growing by leaps and bounds.
Most of the neo-literates can’t afford to have computers but they are sophisticated enough to realize that information on what is going on around them, in their own country and abroad, is important for their own future. Technology, on the one hand, is making information more easily acceptable to people. At the same time it is turning otherwise intelligent people into morons. We have come to a point where plenty of information is available but knowledge is on the decrease. The fashion is “to break news”, not to explain news. Becoming aware of ‘facts’ has become more important than to analyse what those ‘facts’ portray. The public is being inundated with information, but not with knowledge. It is a very unhealthy development that must be resisted. Currently, the fashion is to bring up tabloids on the grounds that they are easy to carry around, unlike broadsheets and hence easier to read. Readers are lured to buy tabloids because they are dazzled by the page designs, the colour and glamour. One whole page can be given to one news item without enlightening the reader as to the significance of the event reported. The reader hardly realizes that he is being taken for a ride. It suits government because no one goes to analyse news and go to the roots of the matter.
Iraq was damned for stocking weapons of mass destruction. No one was ever told that what the US wants is a pliable government in Baghdad that gives easy accesses to find our who supplied Iraq with poison gas and other such weapons to attack Iran for nine long years. Currently Iran is being targeted for allegedly manufacturing nuclear weapons. The truth is different. The United States and other western powers in the developed world wants to have total access to Iranian oil and gas, considering that both may get depleted elsewhere in the next two to three decades leading to a steep fall in living standards. The West, notably the United States, wants to control Iranian oil and gas stocks. Nowhere is this discussed. Iran is condemned as a war-mongering state, forgetting that for more than nine years the western powers were instigating Iraq to demolish Iran. Iraq failed and is now paying for that failure.

An important task
The electronic media does not deal with these matters and even when it does, the retaining power of news in the average listener is low. He sees, he listens and he forgets. It is the print media on the table that helps memory to last. The tragedy is that even the print media in India is more engaged in making money than in educating the people of the land. The point is made that while it is very well to say that the task of the media is to inform, and educate the public, entertaining the reader is also essential, only entertainment is increasingly being given top priority to promote sales. The excuse behind this explanation is that nearly half the population of India today is under 25 and that youth wants to be entertained, not educated. A sad reflection on out times, but one that has to be faced and corrective measures suggested. And that is the task of educationists, politicians and social reformers