Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is Print Dead?

With financial bailouts being handed out to mega-banking institutions and now Detroit automakers, it seems the publishing industry could be in need of the most governmental assistance. The troubled industry is suffering increasingly lower ad revenues and diminishing subscriptions, as more people are turning online to get information personalized and quicker. Print has had a difficult time transitioning to the Internet, and many claim that print is dying. But even in our difficult economy with media layoffs announced daily, new magazines are constantly being launched. So what’s in store for magazines and the Internet?

Richard Maggiotto believes he has the solution:, a website that allows digital subscriptions of major magazines to be e-mailed to readers every month. Zinio has partnered with more than 300 publishers of 1,200 magazine titles including Popular Mechanics, Men’s Health and ELLE. According to Zinio's website, the company currently delivers 20 million digital issues annually to a base of 3.5 million readers worldwide.

Maggiotto started Zinio in 2001 after working in the late 90's at America Online when Time Warner merged with the company. It was up to him to give Time Inc. a digital makeover, and shortly after leaving AOL, Maggiotto took that know-how and began to apply it on a large scale. However the initial reception was not very friendly.

“The response to Zinio was not as welcoming as I’d hoped,” Maggiotto said. “I was knocking on many doors. The early days were hard.” Zinio, he said, was treated by magazine publishers as Napster, the now-illegal mp3 downloading software. But really Zinio acts as a marketing agent no different from Barnes & Noble or iTunes. “Essentially the publisher only pays when they have a subscriber. Zinio becomes the U.S. Postal Service.”

But in the last two years, Zinio has seen a resurgence in popularity due to a heightened environmental concern and a desperate industry in the middle of a worldwide economic crisis.

“Publications have to change. In the U.S., 12 billion magazines are printed every year. Seventy percent of those issues are sent back to the publisher. The amount of cost, with printing and mailing—it’s so wasteful!”

“Now magazines recognize the value of it,” he said. “We’re not competing with them. We want publishers to do what they do best—produce incredible content. We’re building the distribution chain for that content.”

ELLE is one of the magazines available through Zinio, with subscriptions for digital issues at $12 actually more than ELLE’s current $10 subscription promotion. Cara Buese, digital marketing assistant for and, believes online expansion is the only way to stay viable.

“The magazine industry has completely changed its business model since the advent of the Internet,” she said. “Traditional publishing gained revenue from printed advertising pages, subscriptions, and single copy sales. It is now mandatory for a magazine to have an online presence to sell additional advertising space and complement printed content. I believe the website is even more popular than printed magazines because it allows consumers easy access to content free of charge.”

Along with digital subscriptions, Buese said, magazine websites have become a crucial element of the reading experience.

“It is mandatory for magazines to have an online presence. They serve to enhance and complement the print publication. One goal of a magazine's website is to give incentive to consumers to purchase the print issue. Magazines must now print advertisements that promote its online counterpart. The industry has expanded, as there is a need to ensure there is no disconnect between online content and printed content.”

Buese said French ELLE was the first major fashion magazine to create a website, and competitors like Conde Nast soon followed with These sites served as an online database that offers much more content than a reader could find in a single magazine issue. “ELLEgirl Magazine actually folded,” she said, “but continues to remain an active website. The costs of maintaining a website are much cheaper than printing magazines.”

Marie Yarbrough, marketing coordinator of, has seen the changes brought about online during her decade in the magazine industry.

“There is definitely a market for digital magazines,” she said of, “but I don’t think it will completely replace print. I think the answer for magazines is to provide consumers with as many options as possible to interact with their brands.”

Yarbrough admits many magazines were slow to establish an online presence but have come on strong in the last couple years. She points to,,,, and as examples of good online magazine counterparts.

“Magazines need to realize their websites are a way to interact more frequently with their readers. If they don’t recognize this then their competitors will. Editors, writers, designers—everyone—has had to learn how to survive and thrive within the new medium, and now Web 2.0 is forcing magazines to be innovative in ways they never had to consider before.”

“To me, the core change seems to be readily available content online, and the decision of how much to make available, for free,” said Lucy Silberman, assistant managing editor for Interview Magazine. “Now magazines are having to not only reproduce current and archival printed material for the web, but to also create new and original (and constantly changing) content.”

Interview Magazine does not offer a digital subscription, and in fact, has even upgraded the quality paper each issue is printed on. Just this month, the magazine relaunched their website. Silberman finds the line between magazine and website to be complicated.

“The idea of free and readily-available content is tricky," she said. "Ideally, you want your website to act as a companion to, rather than replace, the original print publication. With our recently relaunched website we've been able to cover items that didn't make it into the magazine, including interviews, photos, and blogs. Many magazines choose to only offer a taste of the content online, and then direct people to purchase the physical magazine. But the magazine can also direct people to the website.”

CITY Magazine has published digital copies of each issue (“ezines”) for several years through Nxtbook Media, a digital magazine publisher recently named to the Inc. 500. These digitial issues initially cost $1.99 but are now free. These ezines provide the same page-flip format of a printed magazine but provide hyperlinks with certain key phrases and advertisements.

“Something like Zinio is part of the answer, the first step,” said Alexander Wolf, design director of CITY Magazine. “ It's a much more faithful representation of a magazine online than what you'd find online more than a few years ago.”

Wolf has also found in a reverse influence, that the Internet has affect the design of print magazines. “Many magazines take visual cues from the digital aesthetic which powers the Internet. Look at any issue of Wired or some of the big consumer magazines and they have tons of sidebars and news nuggets that are decidedly web-ish in their look and feel. Because people are engaging with web sites constantly, their eyes are trained in take in tremendous amounts of information.”

The Internet has “changed the game completely,” said Wolf. “Providing ‘news’ in a print magazine is pretty silly at this point, as you can not beat out the timeliness of a blog or web site. Magazines have to editorialize ‘news’ in an interesting fashion to prove relevant, and the final product on the newsstands is more like a book than it ever was in the past, as a keepsake publication.”

So, are Printed Magazines at the End of their Life?

While no one is denying the unquestionable power of the Internet, the lifespan of print magazines is still under dispute. Magazine aficionados and many of those working in the industry perish the thought of online-only magazines, but others believe it’s the only hope for a troubled industry.

“I’m not trying to say print is dead. Print will exist for a long time to come,” Maggiotto said. “But magazines need to reinvent themselves as brands rather than paper products. They aren’t proprietors of paper—magazines don’t own the printers they’re printed on. They own the content.”

Maggiotto points to new technology, like WiFi ubiquity and flexible reading screen displays such as Sony’s OLED, as tools to help magazines in the future. He said Zinio is working on a screen in 2009.

With 18,000 magazines in the United States alone, Maggiotto believes the tough economic climate will shake out a lot of titles. Buese agrees, citing the rising cost of printing magazines over website expenses.

“I believe we’ll see further web integration in the future,” Buese said. “However, I do not think the print industry will cease to exist, particularly for art, culture, and women's fashion magazines. There is a tactile experience in touching a glossy magazine with color photos that can’t be had by browsing online photos.”

“It's a tough time for print media,” Silberman said. “That said, there are still people who impatiently check the mailbox every day, waiting for their subscription to arrive. , I think many readers feel you lose something when magazines or newspapers are wholly digital. Personally, I tend to read print publications more closely; you might stumble upon content that you wouldn't have looked at if you were casually browsing online. Only time will tell whether or not print magazines are a dying breed.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reinventing the News: Adam Gaffin

While blogs don't often have original reporting from professional journalists, they do collect information from many places to provide a new angle or contextual idea about a topic. Adam Gaffin (a professional journalist) has took this idea to heart by creating Universal Hub in 2005. Universal Hub, a play on the nickname "Hub of the Universe," collects alternative news about Boston and New England at large in one place.

Gaffin, who spoke to my class on Wednesday, say he started the project because he was tired of Boston mainstream media's lack of coverage on what he thought were interesting news stories. After a murder happened in his quiet town without any coverage from the Boston Globe, he decided he needed to create a sounding board to post this kind of pertinent news.

Universal Hub takes from hundreds of Boston bloggers and breaks down news by neighborhood or topic. Gaffin, who also edits a technology trade magazine, has a background with computer programming, so creating such a user-friendly blog was no problem for him. He encourages up-and-coming bloggers to target a niche and says advertisers will pay to reach that untapped audience. Though Universal Hub is only a sidejob for Gaffin, it's has come to play an important role in Boston journalism.

Staying in bills itself as the home of style on the Internet, as well as the online counterpart for Vogue and W Magazine. The site provides countless resources for the fashion crowd, including video presentations and slide-shows from every runway. But interestingly enough, does little to represent the magazines it was created for.

Put out by mega-publishers Conde Nast, is an interesting example of what magazines have done right and wrong in creating a website. By providing a supplement to their magazines, Conde Nast still leaves a purpose for their print publication, including articles and editorial spreads. But while there is a lot of multimedia exclusive to the site, there is very little in the way of the magazine's articles archived on the site. Unlike New York Magazine, who's website has a clear connection to the layout and content of its print counterpart, Vogue and feel very disconnected.

Moving online has changed the purpose of fashion magazines. has every picture of every article of clothing shown at every major fashion show for the season. Anyone from a New York City stylist to a 13-year-old in Missouri can now have access to the front rows of the runway--an impossibility 10 years ago. Though an advancement in technology, it also puts magazines in a compromising position. By giving their audience absolutely everything, fashion editors, once needed to view the clothes from the front row and make decisions for their audience, are now obsolete while any person with an Internet connection can make decisions for themselves. Now magazines have to serve their reader's whims instead of the top tier of editors speaking down to its audience.

Conde Nast has been accused of being behind the times, technologically speaking. According to Big Money, Conde Nast has been notoriously slow to equip their offices with new technology, and it's understood that CN owner, Si Newhouse, believes websites to be less prestigious than print publications. Whether Newhouse wants to face it or not, online is the future and it's time for Conde Nast to get in style.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reinventing the News: Twitter

In our ADD generation, it seems that instantaneous blog posts aren't enough. Instead, posts need to be shorter, quicker and able to record play-by-play news. Enter Twitter, a social media network that limits people's entries to 140 characters and allows constant updating.

Readers of Twitter mainly follow people, with posts much like Facebook's status updates, rather than news organizations. I find in many ways Twitter serves to validate meaningless minutiae about poster's everyday life: sometimes funny, occasionally candid, but mostly trivial. However, more news outlets are jumping on the 2-year-old technology as a way to reach more people, though not all of them are understanding Twitter's strengths and weaknesses. The BBC, for example, uses Twitter only as a promotional tool for publicizing any new article on their site. At this moment, it's news people, not news organizations, using Twitter the best.

Two such individuals are Andy Carvin and Jim Long. Carvin utilizes Twitter's strength of a way to report on minute-by-minute developments by "tweeting" through tech news conferences and political campaign events. As a new media reporter for National Public Radio, Twitter is just one of the many ways Carvin is working with online tools to reinvent journalism. Long, a cameraman for NBC's Washington Bureau, chronicles the details of shooting interesting news stories for TV. His account of the challenges and interesting places he's in puts TV news packages in a totally different light. Both Carvin and Long come from non-print news outlets, and perhaps its the limit of word count that has lended itself so well to these reporters.

The online persona Max Gladwell is not a person at all but rather a collective of posters concentrating on social media and green living. But with Twitter not allowing much room for a personal voice in one's writing, the tweets read as if from one person. MG highlights news articles with a phrase and a link and lets the reader come to their own conclusion.

What I like about these sites is they interact with their followed Twitters and readers. They link to sites and point out information they find relevant and interesting, offering at times concise analysis if any at all. But while Twitter may be perfect for covering events, I don't think it offers any new technology that a simple blog couldn't do. It's the community around Twitter that makes the site so appealing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Reinventing the News: NewsTrust

So much information is spread on the Internet as news, but how much of it is ethical reporting? That's where NewsTrust comes in, a site designed for professional journalists and news junkies to rate the quality of news stories.

NewsTrust is working with Northeastern University in rating Global Economy stories. Tonight I rated three economic stories, beginning with reports of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's potentially unpopular stimulus plan to kick-start the country's economy. The unpopular part comes with new taxation. Next I took a look at China during the economic crisis with a report on housing projects funding and an opinion piece on China's attempts to build confidence through proposed major spending. Both pieces had a mixed tone, seemingly acknowledging China's potential but also fearing the county's success.

It's easy to point out the lack of context in many of these articles, but it's important to remember that many of these stories serve only to report on that moment's news, not an analysis of a whole issue. Context and sourcing were my major issues when rating articles, but it's always easier to rate something than to do it yourself.

NewsTrust is a great idea in that it highlights well-written and researched reports for the public from a variety of sources , but it lacks a major component of all successful online tools: numbers. Popularity is so crucial for influential websites, and NewsTrust has a very small community of dedicated readers and raters. Instead of attracting journalists already in-the-know, average readers need to trust NewsTrust as their go-to news source.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Teenage Kicks

Everything seems cooler in England. The clubs, the It-girls and boys, the street fashion, and even the high schoolers.

Dazed and Confused is calling all 18 year olds and under to contribute to their January issue. Along with a contest to remix the cover, shot by Hedi Slimane, teenage Brits will submit material to MySpace and other sites to show what it's like to be young in the UK today.

At right is one of Slimane's three cover photos available for photoshopping. While the use of the term "remix" seems somewhat passe, does it creep anyone else out how ready Hedi is to work with teens? When is the 40-year-old designer-turned-photographer not obsessing over teens?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Italian Vogue's Trash is V's Treasure

V Magazine Winter 2008/09

Oh those uptight European fashion magazines with their full frontal nudity and avant-garde imagery. Will they ever lighten up?

It's not often that European fashion magazines deem photo spreads too racy, but that's the case with photographer Steven Meisel's new "dogging" inspired shoot. Italian Vogue declined running the pictures but with recession-era America's new found austerity, V Magazine has published them instead.

Dogging is the British term for having sex in public, usually with someone watching, and these photographs, with models Anna Selezneva, Iris Strubegger and Daul Kim, give off more of an eerie feeling than a sexy one. The night vision photographs with limited color are a little creepy and a little beautiful, but definitely not pretty. Wonder why Italian Vogue turned them down. Could it be they're still on their do-good-for-Africa high horse?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reinventing the News: Caffeinated Campus Map

As part of our experimentation with GoogleMaps, my class has collaborated on an interactive presentation of all the coffee shops around campus. In contrast to the plenitude of liquor stores near my Mission Hill apartment, there's a sad lack of coffee shops. It may look bleak with only 7-11 and Dunkin' Donuts, but JP Licks provides a nice refuge for people who want to enjoy their cup of coffee instead of getting a quick and cheap caffeine fix before the morning commute.

JP Licks, named after the Jamaica Plain area of Boston, is known more for its ice cream than coffee, but the cafe has a wide range of Fair Trade Organic styles. $1.85 will get you a medium coffee, and the place has WiFi and enough room to comfortably sprawl out. The staff, while usually hanging out in the back, is very friendly, and there was a good mix of college students and young professionals enjoying a Tuesday afternoon with a book in hand or a computer in front of them. While JP Licks will never become a cafe destination, it's a good place to get away from your TV and get the needed caffeine to finish that last minute paper.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reinventing the News: Maps

I'm not obsessed with celebrities the way some blog-readers are, but I definitely get the occasional kick from the oddities of a celebrity only discovered when their army of PR people aren't around. Enter GawkerStalker. When I lived in Manhattan, I would check the GawkerStalker map to see how interesting (or boring) celebrities found the neighborhoods I lived and worked.

The beauty of this map-based celebrity sighting system as opposed to new stories is that these Google Map presentations are non-linear. Like me checking GawkerStalker around my neighborhood, the reader can enter a map news presentation anywhere pertinent to them. GawkerStalker also adds another level of audience interaction: the sighting tips are submitted by local Manhattanites with their own analysis, usually interesting and slightly funny. These are updated daily. Of course, leave it to PR flacks to work Stalker for their own benefit: with the launch of her new show soon, many overtly nice sightings of Whitney Port starting pouring in to Stalker presumably from her PR hacks. Gawker did not post them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Reinventing the News: Spikey Em

Boston Globe reporter Emily Sweeney spoke to my journalism class this week about her work in online video and other mulitmedia projects. Sweeney graduated a decade ago from my university, and her return to my school really reinforced how much journalism has changed in the last ten years. A Globe reporter for the last seven years, she is also the New England President for the and Society for Professional Journalists.

In our financially troubled times, Sweeney has carved a niche for herself by being the Globe's video reporter. She started the first video blog for the newspaper in September 2006. Like Steve Garfield who previously spoke to my class, Sweeney's video skills are definitely rough. But online video for newspapers are a new field, and many older, established newspaper reporters, while excellent journalists, don't have the basic knowledge of computers young people have. Her early interest in technology has made her a go-to girl for Globe videos.

Many of Sweeney's videos are simply things she finds entertaining or interesting, very rarely hard news. Sweeney, who goes by the moniker Spikey Em due to her ultra-gelled hair, showed our class a few of her projects, including a video about Boston slang. While some of the vocabulary she features are universal (since when is "book it" only used in Boston), her video is an example of the World Wide Web's local appeal. Though this video has the potential to reach all corners of the globe, publications have had the most success by appealing to a local or niche market through the Internet.

Her videos have been a learning process for her too. In her video last year documenting the decline of Bingo's popularity in Boston, she narrated without any script. She has since learned that a script is necessary for any video work, no matter how comfortable you may think you are with the subject. For more tips of the trade, Sweeney has authored a How-to Multimedia guide for journalists that appeared in Editor & Publisher and Quill Magazine in 2006.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back to Africa

Vogue's Anna Wintour better watch out. First the world fell in love with French Vogue's Carine Roitfield. Then Russian Vogue editor Aliona Doletskaya was accidentally introduced at a party as the next editor of American Vogue. Now, Italian Vogue's Franca Sozzani is establishing herself as the Bono of the Vogue empire.

The fashion industry has long been under fire for the lack of diversity on runways, so Sozzani took the gauntlet and released an all-black issue of Italian Vogue this July. The special issue was a global hit, even going into reprint. Now she's dedicating November's L'Uomo Vogue, the men's magazine which she is also editor, to the continent of Africa.

Forest Whitaker and Bernard-Henri Lévy guest-edited the issue which will focus more on ideas rather than make an aesthetic statement about Africa. "Fashion is not only about clothes," Sozzani told the Washington Post. According to her, it is about the notion of identity.

Unlike a recent spread in India's Vogue that caused worldwide outrage when real-life peasants were posed with thousand dollar handbags, Sozzani has avoided using models all together. "I think it's ridiculous to see a 16-year-old wearing clothes he'll never afford at his age," she said. Instead of models, Quincy Jones, John Legend, Matt Damon, and Michelle Obama among others will be photographed in their own clothes.

The 40 year old L'Uomo Vogue's circulation is only 80,000, but those readers are the ones who make the big decisions in the fashion industry. Without having to pander to commercial whims, Sozzani has been able to take chances with her magazine that Anna Wintour has never done. And while some may be suspicious that Sozzani is simply trying to capitalize on the success of her All Black Issue, half of the November L'Uomo Vogue's ad revenue will go to Africa-related charities. Who says fashion is only skin deep?

Gossip Folks: i-D

A little birdie told me that i-D just shot a spread starring the adorable Chanel Iman at the Chanel Mobile Museum in New York. He says it won't hit news stands until May, when the installation, designed by architect Zaha Hadid, hits London.

Reinventing the News: Steve Garfield

Steve Garfield is the classic example of the 21st century journalist--or should I say 21st century blogger? As he told my class last week, he calls himself a videoblogger, but more so, he is a business model for any average journo with a camera and a computer. Due to his aptitude for utilizing the latest technology, Garfield has reported for RocketBoom and The UpTake as well as his own site, and in addition now teaches at Boston University.

Garfield's videos are not technically impressive. They are rough and sometimes unedited, almost always amateur looking. But what makes Garfield special is that every opportunity is a possible video reporting opportunity for him--whether it be catching a politician on the street with his cell phone or documenting his wife making an unremarkable comment while watching TV. Is all of his content necessary? No. But blogging is often about quantity, not quality, and his openness to technology is a feat in itself.

One of his most enviable techie tools is a Nokia cell phone with video camera that through allows him to simultaneous upload live video from his phone for the world to see. It's amazing, really, to see a cell phone instantly connect you to an audience.

Garfield, like many journalists, are hoping to creating a brand with his or her name. It's no longer about the institution of the newspaper you work for. Now it's all about you. His main domain,, links to four of his different blogs as well as his work featured on other websites. Like a passable singer with the ability to chose the right producers to score a number one chart-topper, Garfield picks the right technology for his work through a new medium, and so far it's a hit.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We Are a Part of the MagNation

Australian magazine megastore Magnation has created a test to help you find your next favorite magazine. Take it here and find your new monthly obsession!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reinventing the News: Fall Behind

Click to view a gallery of the Arboretum

New England's autumns have inspired countless artists and writers for their majestic beauty and rich colors. Robert Frost devoted an entire collection of poems to the season, so it's no surprise this time of year has locals taking part in regional traditions. Along with drinking apple cider and going apple picking, many Bostonites make a point to watch the leaves change at the Arnold Arboretum.

The arboretum, located in Jamaica Plain, has hundreds of different trees in its collection. Designed by landscaper Frederick Olmsted, most famous for New York's Central Park, the arboretum has 15,441 individual plants belonging to 4,099 families in its collection. The arboretum is privately endowed as a department of Harvard University, but the City of Boston maintains responsibility for water fountains, boundaries and policing.

"I grew up in Florida around palm trees, so it's really beautiful for me to see the leaves change," says 22-year-old Joan Dubinski. "I've heard a lot of people talk about the arboretum and how beautiful it is, but this is my first time here." She added, "Even though we're all cold, going to the arboretum and drinking a hot drink seems like the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday."

Cassandra Nicholson has spent a lot of time in the arboretum over the years. "I live in JP [Jamaica Plain], so I like to pretend like the arboretum is just my front yard. I've been coming every fall since I moved here four years ago."

Mid-October is the best time to see the foliage in the park, so don't miss your opportunity to take part in a Boston tradition. The Arnold Arboretum is located off the Forest Hills stop off the Orange Line and open everyday from sunrise to sunset.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Profits

For my parent's generation, the ultimate culture-defining magazine will always be Rolling Stone. Even for my grandparents. When my Nana found out about my first magazine internship, she congratulated me, saying that she heard the publication "was just as good as Rolling Stone." But for me, Rolling Stone has long been irrelevant and irritable.

So as economic hardships increasingly face the magazine industry (CosmoGirl just folded!), Rolling Stone has announced it would shrink the mag from its trademark large format to the typical Berliner size of most magazines. The reformat, which also includes thicker, glossy paper, debuts October 30 with Obama on the cover.

This isn't the first time RS has changed formats. It first published as a tabloid-size newspaper in 1967 before printing on a four-color press in 1973. Finally, it switched to magazine-quality paper and its iconic 10-by-12 inch size in 1981. But that large-format has lent the magazine a sense of nostalgia that may have stood out to certain suburban teenagers at chain bookstores looking at other music magazine (but who cares about music anymore?)

But in today's online era, it's arguable whether size of print may matter anymore. The Rolling Stone brand still holds prominence, with circulation remaining stable at nearly 1.45 million since 2006, and its website is still a popular destination for music news.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stone Cold

Model Lara Stone first made an impact on me in V Magazine's "Home Improvement" shoot. Then I started noticing her as the girl with the horrific runway walk. Then I began to look out for the model with the gap in between her teeth. Soon I didn't stop seeing her nude in spreads, with her big boobs (compared to the average waif model). Lara Stone is not your typical model--in fact, she's the anti-model, and she's my favorite.

Lara is the cover star for the November issue of i-D, a perfect pairing for the fashion-forward magazine with attitude. As my good friend tells me, Lara Stone's sexiness could turn my friend gay, and turn gay men straight, so it's no surprise the tag line reads, "Yes, I think I'm sexy." The article explains her signature Frankenstein walk down runways ("her feet are a whole size smaller than the sample size") and her aptitude for body-baring shoots:
"Better naked than wearing really tight corsets. I don't put myself in situations that I feel uncomfortable with, you know, someday my children are going to see this. My tits are not really that big."

Lara, who had a rebellious streak that got her kicked out of school, still listens to her parents:
"Everyday my mum looks at and to see my pictures. The first time she saw me naked she sent this whole long big email, that was sooo sweet. She had seen the pictures from Purple by Inez and Vinoodh of me, butt naked, stood in the studio. She was like 'Lara, if you don't want to do this, you can just say no, you can always move back home with us.' "
On a sad note, the i-D editorial spread, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place," features the late male model Randy Johnston alongside Stone. Johnston, notably starring in the Dior Homme Fall 2007 campaign, died under unknown circumstances on October 11 at the age of 20. It's always sad to see someone young die, made more tragic when they are young and beautiful.

And to keep your fashion taste buds going through October, be sure to check out this month's Numero with two incredible spreads: Siri Tollerod evoking a creepy doll-yielding Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest" and Edita Vilkeviciute in the best recent example of proper photoshop effects in "Interférence."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reinventing the News: Radio's Bright Future

Down here on earth, print reporters, editors and lovers are in hysterics about the death of the printed word. Journalism is over as we know it. But wait. Up above, in the airwaves, radio is doing better than ever.

Last week, WBUR Radio's Director of New Media Robin Lubbock spoke to my class about radio's success in the face of new media. Since millions of people are still stuck in their cars during the daily commute, the audience for quality radio has not changed a bit. In fact, with stations like WBUR entering into online content, it's even possible radio's audience has grown from local to (selectively) worldwide.

I once worked at a company that provided the website template and content for public radio stations nationwide. Some of the stations uploaded their own shows to the site, but the majority of them stuck to the bare-bones template and AP content. WBUR is an exception. Their online content rivals that of the Boston Globe's, and it seems Lubbock doesn't stop thinking of new ways to expand with today's technology.

What struck me as timely, given the radio station's successful online foray, is if WBUR will go from a popular news radio station with a great website to one day a legitimate online source that also happens to operate a local radio station. This question can also be raised about magazines: could magazines one day be a comprehensive website and blog that just happens to publish a round-up of its best content on a monthly, seasonal or even annual basis?

Monday, October 13, 2008

I'm Just Like Nancy Pelosi!

It's official--Nancy Pelosi and I are total twins!

The Speaker of the House opened the 2008 American Magazine Conference on October 4 with a keynote speech and a brief Q&A. Pelosi confessed she's an "addict of magazines"--just like me! She went on to thank the 400 magazine industry professionals in attendance, saying: "Thank you for the information. Thank you for the entertainment. Thank you for the diversion. Thank you for the strengthening of our democracy you all provide."

The conference, which ended last week, unsurprisingly centered on the fears of print dying and speculation of how magazines should move into other media. The tone, however, was generally upbeat, with most of the speakers excited for the future. It seems fitting that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bridge between camera-ready celebrity and outspoken politician, also spoke at the conference.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Reinventing the News: Wired Journalist

Some view the online frontier with fear, an unknown entity that will surely threaten journalism as we know it. Others, though, view it with excitement. For those of us that fall in the latter, there's Wired Journalist, a new tool for online multimedia journalism and social networking. I was easily able to share photos of Boston shoppers spending money despite fears of an economic crisis. Along with joining my college's group, I joined a Blogging Group--imagine that! Wired Journalist has the potential to be a great tool for up-and-coming journalists using all the Internet has to offer, but it seems its membership is still low. I think for it to be successful, it needs to be an active community of people posting projects and giving critiques and spreading ideas.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Evolution VS. Creationism

Blender's logo evolution

I grew up in a Southern city with a raging debate a handful of years ago as to whether evolution or "creationism" should be taught in public school biology classes. The controversy gained national media attention and ended ignorantly with evolution being completely overlooked in classes and an unsightly sticker smacked in the front of each textbook stating that "Evolution is just a theory."

In the case of magazines, though, the term "evolution" is favored. Instead of citing a "redesign," magazines make the case that their product is simply evolving, as to retain readers and not scare off advertisers. Of course, magazines are constantly changing, but we can only hope that each change strengthens the magazine, not brings it one step closer to extinction.

In an interview with the Society of Publication Directors blog, Blender Magazine's new creative director Dirk Barnett explained the sometimes politically-correct process of redesigning a magazine:
At the beginning, then-CEO Kent Brownridge told me to never call the redesign a "redesign," but rather an "evolution" of the magazine. I had been hired to redesign the magazine, but when I got there, the terminology shifted slightly so we didn't scare advertisers into thinking we weren't happy with the product. I began by slowly leaking [the new typeface] Locator onto the pages, and within 2 issues had a soft "evolution" in place until the new logo was finished, at which point I would roll out a complete "evolution".
But when all is said and done and when all the stars are in the right place, like it seems was the case for Blender, a new redesign can remake a magazine into something better, not new. You can read the rest of the interview with the award-winning Barnett here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

New Magazine Alert: Tar Magazine

A new art and fashion biannual from Tar Art Media, Tar Magazine is set to launch this month with a cover created by the one and only Julian Schnabel with a raised logo in his childish handwriting. Tar Art was formed in 2006 by Blackbook Magazine founder Evan Schindler and Diesel marketing man Maurizio Marchiori to be a "media company with a message."

The magazine aims to be sustainable with--guess it--tar. It will be published on a combination of recycled and eco-paper (meaning a tree is planted for every one cut down). In the magazine's prototype, every page had a swatch of tar on it, creating a "visceral experience," says Schindler.

Purple Magazine's editor-at-large Bill Powers will act as editor-at-large of Tar as well, and October's contributors include Matthew Barney, Juergen Teller, and Terry Richardson. What might be most striking of all, the back cover of the 300-page debut issue is not an ad, but instead a "Vote Obama" drawing by artist Nate Lowman in the vein of Warhol's "Vote McGovern" silkscreen.

Reinventing the News: Link Journalism

Sarah Palin is stressing me out. During what must be the most-watched VP debate in the last twenty years, Palin evaded the questions and put on downhome mannerisms, with winking and everything, AND YET the support she receives is still stronger than ever. Did they watch the same debate as I did? How do we make sense of Thursday's spectacle?

There was no doubt a lot of pressure was on Palin to perform. Michael from BunkoSquad (Technorati authority: 11) gives "props to the McCain campaign for having the good sense to send that TalkingPointsBot" in her place but noticed that her " 'maverick' button got stuck in the 'on' position." Also recognizing Palin as a fembot, Sean at BlueMassGroup (Technorati authority: 195) thinks that the only thing impressive about Palin is her speaking abilities "given her short time on the national stage."

Others find the debate an unfair playing field. Steven Jens, of Jens 'n' Frens (Technorati authority: 1), first finds Gwen Ifill's role as moderator as a "blatant conflict of interest," going on to say the media bias of this election cycle has been "pretty remarkable."

"Palin had the last laugh," according to John from the Beacon Street Journal (Technorati authority: 9), who thinks the media has been out to end her electoral chances from the beginning. John thinks Palin won America's hearts "by her speech, her mannerisms, her temperament; by her accomplishments, her belief system, and her homespun charm."

Susan at (Technorati authority: 15) agrees she has charm, but thinks it's all manufactured. "She has certainly absorbed the language and spin of the past 3 decades that the conservative idealogy [sic] has cultivated so assiduously through it's vast array of 'Think Tanks'."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Conde's Grand Addition

Okay, so we're in an economic crisis and the last thing a logical publisher would do is put out a new fashion magazine, right?

WRONG. Pop Magazine founder Katie Grand has been tapped by corporate magazine megahouse Condé Nast for a new biannual fashion mag, beginning in March. Still unnamed, the publication will be a larger format and provide Grand with Condé's big budgets for the first time. It's a shift for Condé Nast, known for straight-laced Vogue, but the publisher still promises the magazine will have Grand's "edgy and experimental" style.

Grand was first recognized working on the launch of the never-disappointing Dazed & Confused, then moved on to the ever-influential The Face until 2001. She is most famous, though, for founding the fun and energetic Pop magazine in 2000. All of these are British glossies--will Grand be leaving Londontown for NYC?

It's very exciting to combine Grand's grand ideas with Condé's grand finances, but I hope she won't be trading in a bit of her soul for this new job. Grand told the Guardian, "I'm really looking forward to building up a new magazine from scratch again - a fresh start is always fun, and we have lots of ideas we can't wait to start working on."

Below is Pop Magazine's debut issue cover with her original Letter from the Editor. To read it at the Premiere Issue Project, click here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Reinventing the News with the Boston Globe

Journalists become journalists because they like words--not numbers. And their aversion to numbers soon becomes a fear. The longer they don't use math, the more they think they can't compute numbers. Soon even trying to figure out how much you owe for tip at a restaurant becomes a challenge. But statistics and percentages are used powerfully in news reports every single day. This week, Boston Globe reporter Matt Carroll spoke to my online journalism class explaining how the newsroom thinks he is a math wizard simply for doing basic Microsoft Excel functions, and I'll take a look at three databases that could make for news stories.

My eye first jumps to the Boston homicide map, an interactive platform displaying the location and frequency of murders for 2007. I zoomed into the area I live, known to be unsafe in certain sectors, to find that in the last year there were very few murders. Creepily, though, the map combines the information on those killed and even in some cases their picture on a clickable map item. Using this map, if a large number of homicides happened in one area, a reporter could put a face on these crimes and bring them together to start a safety initiative.

Next I looked at gay marriages in Mass. for 2005. Obviously, Provincetown was up there with 660.4 wedded gay couples per 100 heterosexual couples, but other unheard of towns like Leverett (150) and Pelham (200) had high rates of gay marriage. Then I looked at Real Estate Value Estimates to see how these town's real estate values compared with towns that had low rates of gay marriage. For these two databases, if the evidence was there, a reporter could make a connection between real estate prices either rising due to the growing amount of gay couples or the gentrification these wedded couples could be bringing to these small towns (now just speculation). So if you chose to be a journalist to get out of crunching numbers, you're out of luck. The future, I'm told, is database journalism.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paper Cut

I am all for saving the environment. I recycle. I don't drive a car. I even worked at an eco-friendly store. But that doesn't mean I want all magazines to stop being printed on paper.

Digital magazine vendor Zinio has launched a new campaign aiming to make people aware of the environmental reasons for subscribing to online magazines. The site distributes over 1,000 digital magazines from more than 200 publishers, including Hachette, Wenner Media and Reader's Digest, that have agreed to offer 50 million free digital magazine subscriptions (one per person) to build awareness for this new publishing frontier. Of course, it doesn't hurt that this move will also cut costs for the fledgling industry, which reports that 70 percent of printed magazines die at the newsstand.

Zinio says a portion of the proceeds from the campaign will go to purchasing “eco unit credits” and “more trees.” A $400 color reader, thinner than many print magazines, is also anticipated to come in the coming months.

I am all for receiving news and articles in a digital format, but when it comes to photo editorials, that will always be best on a tangible page held in one's hands. Of course, I'm not one to pass up a free deal either, especially one that benefits the environment.

An interesting note: David H. Gilmour, who purchased Zinio last year, is also the founder of Fiji water. And we all know how environmentally-friendly bottled water is.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Reinventing the News

As our upcoming presidential election becomes more of a reality show than a major political matter, it only makes sense that the entertainment machine would follow. Spoofing the controversial July 2008 "Fist Bump" New Yorker cover, Entertainment Weekly has Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert making fun of an already outrageous presidential season. I think the original New Yorker cover is brilliant even though it came under intense heat for being insensitive about possibly misleading uneducated voters who were on the fence about Obama (though would they be reading the New Yorker in the first place?)

This spilling of politics onto an entertainment magazine is an indicator, however, of the shrinking number of news magazines. According to Folio, the number of news magazines in America and Canada has dropped 39 percent from 75 to 45 publications in the last five years. Do people not care about politics, or are they simply finding other means to get the news?

In the last few years, there has been a growing interest in database journalism, or the gathering of facts from databases in a cohesive or interesting way and distributing it to the public. One of these such sites is, which is full of articles debunking each candidate's jabs at each other. The site seems impartial, using straight number to check both candidates equally. It is very to the point, but mainly seems to focus on ads or speeches instead of the overall positions of the candidates., another example of database journalism, at first seems more convoluted to go through, but is actually more entertaining. With animated graphics, the candidates are judged on their truthfulness and how often they flip on issues. You can also click on tags of certain issues and see the validity of each candidate's claims and how often they've flipped on issues. This site is more interactive but still information is being told to you rather than you manipulating it.

FactCheck and Politifact are great tools for people looking to educate themselves on the candidates in an engaging manner, but check out Project Vote Smart and the Washington Post's Vote Database for the ultimate resource in candidate information. These are databases in the truest sense of the word: they are dry and all-encompassing. While not engaging, Project Vote Smart is the best, focusing on presidential candidates and local leaders from every state.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Judging a Book by its Cover

As much as I claim to like the content of magazines, it's really all about the cover--that initial reaction you have to a beautiful or shocking or thought-provoking image that (supposedly) sums up the issue. That's why it's always interesting to see who the MPA, the Magazine Publishers of America, announce as their finalist for the Cover of the Year. Below is the Cover of the Year finalists for 2008, with the winners to be presented at the AMC on October 6. View all the finalists here.

Cover of the Year

June/July 2008

“Andy is 80!”

New York
March 24, 2008

Eliot Spitzer’s Brain

The New Yorker
October 8, 2007

“Short Stance”

It's pretty special that Interview's "Andy is 80!" summer issue is one of the top 3 finalists, acting as recognition for the revamped magazine. I worked at Interview during that issue, and it was a real turning point for the magazine. Editor Ingrid Sischy had stepped down after 20 years and a whole new crew from the top echelons of the industry were brought in. The magazine could have gone a number of different directions, but for that issue, they decided to honor the man himself, Andy Warhol, who created the magazine nearly 40 years before by having Marc Jacobs play him on the cover. MJ was the perfect choice because it not only marked Interview's renewed footing in the fashion world, but Marc's whole career and life is based on Andy-isms.

The New Yorker and New York Magazine raked up the most nominations. The MPA didn't recognize many fashion magazines even though those covers are usually the most striking (perhaps because my favorites covers were from international mags). Notably, the controversial New Yorker cover depicting cartoon Barack and Michelle Obama acting out America's fears wasn't mentioned. Other deserving finalists:

Best Concept Cover

April 28, 2008

“How to Win the War on Global Warming”

Best Fashion Cover

New York Look
Spring 2008


Vanity Fair
September 2007

Gisele Bündchen

My So-Called Life

A new life for Life.

More than 70 years after influential publisher Henry Luce started the first American all-photo magazine, Time Inc. and Getty Images are reinventing Life Magazine as a Web site offering free photos from top photographers from around the world for non-commercial purposes. How's that for changing times?

This isn't the first time the magazine has tried to be resurrected--in fact, it's been shut down three times before, as recent as when Time stopped publishing it as a newspaper supplement in April 2007. But the history of Life is so monumental to magazines and American history that the name still carries significance.

This is also the first time that the resources of the professional photo market will be available to consumers, including over 3,000 news downloadable photos and the extensive archives of Getty and Life Magazine.

While this seems like a clear indication of magazines moving solely online (the Magraker's biggest fear!), the new will be more a resource of photographs than a photojournalistic magazine.

The site is expected to go live early 2009.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why the Esquire Backlash?

I can't help it--I'm a sucker for gimmicks. And I believe most magazine readers are too. By definition, aren't all magazine covers gimmicky, from Vogue declaring its "Biggest Issue Ever" to i-D's customary wink photo (dating back to the 80s) and monthly theme (The Couples Issue, The Ice Cream Issue, The Tissue Issue)? So then why all the backlash to Esquire's 75th Anniversary E-Ink cover?

For the big milestone, Esquire worked with Cambridge, Mass.-based E Ink Corp to develop a 10-square-inch display on the cover that flashes "The 21st Century Begins Now" along with flashing images, much like a mini-Times Square. A two-page ad also features a 10-square-inch display with a car shifting colors on the inside cover. The E Ink cover is estimated to flash for more than six months. Amazon's Kindle reader also uses E Ink, but unlike Kindle, the magazine's display is not linked to a wireless network. The magazine cover is actually quite cool, as seen in the video below, taken from

According to an AP Report, Esquire was interested in E Ink more than 7 years ago, but the company said it was not ready for magazines. The biggest challenge, according to the magazine's Editor-in-chief David Granger, was fitting in the six batteries and two computer chips.

Magazine aficionados, though, are quick to point out that Esquire's cover is more publicity stunt than wave of the future, but who cares? The magazine industry needs publicity now more than ever to keep itself relevant. According to Granger, this issue had more ad pages than any other issue in the last 11 years that he's been editor, so I'd say its a great way to celebrate the history of one America's longest lasting magazines. In the AP article, Granger said he had high hopes for the use of E Ink.
Granger predicted that Esquire will someday include e-paper displays linked to a cellular network or radio frequency, which will allow the magazine to add updates to stories during the month an issue is on sale.

"It could be a year away, it could be three years away, but it will happen soon," Granger said.

E Ink has an exclusive agreement with Hearst through June. Granger said he hopes to use an electronic paper display again in the magazine during the first half of 2009.

I don't think this will change magazines forever the way Granger predicted, and I don't believe many magazines will pick up on this technology, but it is definitely cool to look at. I went the day after it hit newsstands to buy an issue of the sure-to-be collector's item to find it already sold out. The gimmick must be working. Yesterday during another casual magazine perusing, I found a normal, non-E Ink cover for the issue, but didn't buy it. I think I will purchase it next time, though, because I believe meaningful content must lie behind this magazine's clever gimmick.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Prescription: Subscription

V Magazine will always be a favorite. It's spreads are thought-provoking, its content extends beyond trends and its sheer large size makes the magazine and its images feel important and valuable. It's the monthly mainstream offshoot of Visionaire, the avant-garde publication centered around a fundamental theme.

So to my surprise, I discovered that V lowered its annual subscription from $40 to $10! It's brother publication (actually doing better than V) VMan also lowered its subscription rate to $10 as it changes from biannual to monthly this October. You know my checkbook came out for that deal, and so should your's.

But the lowered price makes me wonder if V will be going in a cheaper direction, not only in price but in content too. Its former editor Christopher Bollen jumped ship to the new Interview Magazine (another ultimate favorite of mine), marking a turning point for Visionaire-cofounder and current V Magazine editor Stephan Gan. The last issue with glamazon Gisele on the cover was pretty lackluster. Was it an attempt to make their magazine more mainstream, or just a summer issue slump? Though this month's issue with 14 different black-and-white covers of top models (my favorite of course is dutch model Lara Stone) is their biggest issue yet. We'll see how it plays out over the next year now that we're subscribed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gossip Folks: Plenty Magazine

First was Oprah. Now Al Gore?

Adding to his Current TV network, it's rumored that Big Green Al is planning to buy the environmental-centric magazine Plenty, according to Portfolio Magazine's Jeff Bercovici. Haven't heard of Plenty? Me neither. But after the success of his documentary An Inconvenient Truth, is Gore hoping to turn his failed 2000 presidential run into media mogul-dom?
Gore's on the cover of this month's issue, counting the top twenty green do-gooders. While I appreciate his dedication for environmental causes, dating way before the Going Green trend, I can only hope that we won't be seeing Gore's hammy face on each month's issue, Oprah-style. If it pans out, it will be interesting to see if magazines are still a lucrative extension of one's media empire in the year 2008.

Fools Rush In

Editor's notes are included (boxed in pink) on a Time news story.

Anyone who's ever worked in a magazine newsroom knows that rushing is an understatement. After a few weeks of leisurely pondering over article ideas, the mad last-minute rush soon sets in as the magazine hurries to get the issue to print on time. It's the same every month--you avoid certain easily-stressed people. But when that monthly printing rush turns to a daily online rush, well, it can become very foolish.

Valleywag posted about Time Magazine's online slip-up concerning a Q&A with death expert Dr. Sam Parnia. In the online article, posted on Yahoo!News, an editor's comments are included at the top of the story. While I'm always intrigued by editor's notes as long as they aren't ruining my perfectly crafted words, it raises the question of how quickly are stories rushed online. In a magazine newsroom, the story would go through copy editors before being printed and checked once again. Is this error a sign of less professional reporting, or a step into making readers more involved in the reporting process?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Let's Not Forget the Blogs

At the beginning of every month (or in the case of Vanity Fair, two months in advance), I get so excited to check my mailbox for magazine subscriptions. It's like a surprise gift I know I'm receiving. But that's not to say that blogs don't have their place in a magazine lover's life. Blogs occupy the meantime in between months--they offer the quick and constant updates without the luxury and frill of a periodical. And often, they inform of new worthwhile magazines.

The premiere blog in my mind will always be Gawker. Gawker is the blog that could--starting from Manhattan media gossip to the paradigm of blog networks. It's the outsider blog looking in, only to find everyone else is looking with it. The site never takes itself too seriously and never stops posting. It's content is always spot-on, from political criticism to self-indulgent celebrity babble. And of course, Gawker (and it's sister site Jezebel) covers the ins-and-outs of magazines.

Where as Gawker provides content in an unserious manner, The Sartorialist picks up with pictures given the utmost thought. Scott Schuman, AKA The Sartoralist, has become a household name and inspired dozens of imitators due to the success of his fashion-photo blog. He posts a picture every day of one man and woman who he believes to be fashionable, successfully employing runway trends to real-life outfits while retaining personal style. Scott provides his readers with something aspirational to dress up for every morning.

Given the infinite number of blogs in cyberspace, I'll round out my blogroll with Men.Style.Com. Conde Nast's online counterpart for Details Magazine and GQ, Men's Style.Com serves as the authority for men's fashion and culture. Its Material Interest blog keeps readers up-to-date on menswear and design news, but the site is most valuable because of its multimedia content. Given Conde Nast's deep pockets, Men's Style has video interviews and tours of cities and stores. We read about these people all the time--it's interesting to see them on camera.

Whereas a daily newspaper acts much like a blog in its quest for constant, daily, up-to-the-minute updates, magazines at their best are a beautiful round-up of all things worthwhile. Blogs may lead to the demise of papers, but it seems blogs and magazines have a strong mutual future together.

All Hail the Supplement!

Image from Men.Style.Com

Magazine lovers are told constantly that the publishing world, facing many reported financial challenges, will soon cease to exist giving way solely to online reading. To those that keep magazines on their bookshelf as prized possessions, this prediction never fails to break our heart. It comes as a surprise then that the nation's two major newspapers, doing much worse than magazines in terms of retaining print readers, release new magazine supplements to their papers.

The Wall Street Journal unveiled its much anticipated magazine WSJ. this month to compete with the New York Time's existing T Magazine. Aside from the fact that the initial-only names are uninspired and trying-too-hard (and yes, that period is purposefully in WSJ.), this marks a positive sign in the allure of glossy magazines to both readers and advertisers. Men.Style.Com rates the two, declaring T the winner, but the WSJ. debut feels much more foreboding.

Its cover story shows model Diana Dondoe in an amateur-looking newspaper dress against a colorless backdrop. The Wall Street Journal is not known for its critical fashion coverage, and it shows. The story, however, asks how the luxury industry must evolve in order to survive. WSJ. must be in denial because really that is the very question they should be asking themselves.

Other newspapers around the country are also trying their hand in fashionable glossy supplements, like the Boston Globe's Fashion Boston, but their efforts come up inept. Even for a magazine connoisseur like myself, using them for wiping seems their only practical use.

These struggling and stodgy institutions believe that the invaluable 20 to 30-something audience, which opts for GoogleNews instead of newspapers, still have an interest in reading magazines and looking at printed photographs instead of digital ones. Plus, luxury and fashion companies still rely on magazines as a primary source of advertising, just as magazines rely heavily on them for income. So in the face of adversity, we now have two new magazines to ogle at each month.