Maria Rodale, is a fascinating member of the publishing community. She is the CEO and Chairman of Rodale, Inc., which makes the claim to be the world's largest independent publisher of health, wellness, and environmental content, and the largest independent book publisher in the United States. Who am I to disagree? In fact, I love the world's largest claim, as I claim to publish the world's oldest eNewsletter. Maria is a third generation publisher whose grandfather J.I. Rodale founded the company in 1930. She is a lifelong advocate of organic farming and gardening. She is the author of five books. And she graciously agreed to my interviewing her. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW
As Content & Technology Converge, Publishers Feel the Squeeze
Is there a difference between a content company and a technology company? The answer to that question is becoming increasingly difficult to answer. In the recent past, publishers were by and large content companies. Today, with the blending of multiple content distribution formats, magazine media companies have forged new business alliances and discovered new types of competitors, blurring the lines between magazine companies and technology companies.
David Carey recently noted that, "Hearst is a content company, operating with a platform mentality...functioning as one global entity as far as content sharing." I suggest to you that only a technology company that sells content on such a vast scale can achieve the goal of that kind of global outreach.
Let's put a bunch of companies in the same sentence and see if we can divine the differences: The New York Times, Hearst, Condé Nast, Yahoo, Buzzfeed, Vox, and Upworthy. Can you distinguish the differences between these companies and their missions? If we are all fast becoming technology companies, as it seems we are, perhaps we should consider the differences and significance of online readership and off-line readership. Are we nearing a point when it will all be just readership?
It seems to me that my opinion on the changes to the ASME guidelines will be in the minority. To me it boils down to integrity: you have it or you don't.
As an industry we seem to keep diluting our once unimpeachable integrity, whittling at it here and there, until before we know it, we have none. Native advertising, ads on the cover, editors working hand in hand with advertisers -- where does it end? Oh, I see there actually is no end, just a slow whimpering slide into total duplicity. Yes, you can fool all the readers some of the time and some of the readers all the time, but you absolutely can't fool all the readers all the time.
In the end the ASME rules don't matter and they never did.
Lets face it, we have never been a "pure" industry and we have always pushed the business envelope hard for a few extra bucks. But now we don't wish to even fake it anymore.
What does matter is our self-image. Editors of old would be appalled at what we have become and allow. I hear you -- modern times require modern guidelines. I'm sure that is true. But I tell you this, there continues to be less and less that differentiates the magazine media business from multiple internet scams or from the 16 year old kid doing whatever he pleases to score with the girl next door. It may work for the kid, but not for the industry.
I think the old guidelines of the magazine industry that were in place for decades helped develop the enduring value for our franchises. We are still riding on the coattails of those old values, and the public still believes in us and our integrity based on what we did in the past. It will take time, but not as much time as took to develop that trust, for it to evaporate. Is it worth it to destroy a legacy for just a few shekels? I guess so.
BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On ASME, Time Inc., On Newsstand and Circ issues.
Re: The Shady Industry That's Trapping Door-to-Door Magazine Sellers
Bob, thanks for posting. Rita Cohen from the MPA summed up the situation - selling this way is worth the hassle because agents have connections that publishers may not have. "Our hope is that we can rely on the agents to do business as we put forth in our guidelines so that we can continue to get our content to as broad an audience as possible." Since the MPA publishes guidelines on behalf of their members - the publishers, they have a responsibility to enforce them. It is obvious they are not being enforced. The MPA should be held to a higher standard in monitoring these activities.
(Submitted by a Publishing Executive)
RE: Blurred Lines Now Official per ASME
It seems to us that the ASME has lost some of its teeth, and this is their way of playing catch-up and trying to stay relevant as the marketing dollars make more and more of the editorial decisions. Appeasement has a way of falling short in the long run, and consumers have a way of seeing through this kind of veiled attempt at maintaining lines.
Simply waving around your guideline isn't enough to prop up your integrity when it starts to falter.
(Submitted by a Printer)
BoSacks Speaks Out: On Niche Media Publishing Conference
Last week I went to Denver to attend the Niche Media Conference. As I sat there at the opening ceremony I started to wonder about the term "niche". We all use it, but do any of us know the actual meaning of the word. I didn't. The term comes from Vulgar Latin, vulgar in this case meaning "common or vernacular Latin" rather than Classical Latin. The Vulgar Latin word was nīdiculāre which means to stay in one's nest. From Latin the French used the word nicher or "to make a nest."
I tell you all this because Carl Landau has succeed in making a publishing nest at his Niche Media Conference. I must have asked 45 of the 250 attendees if they liked the event and why. Most of the people I met were returnees, and that says something right there. A few have been coming since the beginning, which I think I heard Carl say was 9 years ago.
BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Publishing ROI, Print isn't Dead, Frozen subs, Mr. Magazine, Big Data…
BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Proof that Print is Dead and Why it Should Be Re:…
BoSacks Speaks Out: On PRIMEX, and the Important Nuts and Bolts of the Magazine Industry
There is an unsung part of the magazine media industry that many of us rarely think or hear about, and yet a case can be made that this hard working section of the industry is the mighty engine that actually keeps us running.
We constantly read about creativity in our industry, about the art or editorial without which we wouldn't have a business. We read about newsstand issues, both the good and the bad. But the "magazine auto mechanic" who keeps the engine running is rarely in the forefront of industry discussions. Yet without a good, well distributed substrate, where would you put your creative content?
The somewhat hidden yet vital sectors of our business are the production departments. Having been a member of that elite group myself, I know the perils of the position all too well. Our job is to keep costs down to minimum and quality up to a maximum. Sounds easy, right? Other than those cost and quality conditions we only surface when things go wrong. What kind of person would actually take on that kind of responsibility? The fact that we get it right and near perfect 99.9% of the time is irrelevant when the pulp hits the fan of manufactured discontent. FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE
We will need good leaders to provide direction in the changing publishing world.
In this column I have pontificated many times about the positive nature and direction of our industry, about the belief that we are headed toward a new golden age of publishing, and that new technologies should be considered the friends of information distributors. But there is one aspect in this new world that has me worried. It is the area of mentorship where, it seems to me, we have fallen behind and, as an industry, we have been greatly diminished.
What has happened? When and where did we lose the skill set and the will to teach the younglings? Have we so trimmed our business models that there is just no time to teach and mentor? Have we lost sight of the power of the properly groomed apprentice?
I do not know how to quantify the value of a properly mentored apprentice except through my own experience. But I know that as I moved up the corporate ladder, each of my teachers built upon the foundation of the other guild members that went before them. And I can tell you this: Having been a mentor myself there is a tremendous joy in the successful transfer of knowledge and power.
For me, Vito Colaprico (The New York Times), Lowell Logan (McCall's) and Irving Herschbein (Condé Nast) were giants in their day, and took the time to reach out to a young and inquisitive subordinate. I have attempted to return the favor to them and the industry by mentoring others, through my e-newsletter and my column in this magazine.
The Need for Leaders in a Time of Change
Without mentorship we are collectively less than we might have been. It is the aggregate of this loss that will be felt and perhaps is being felt now. Who are the leaders of your corporation? Who are the genuine leaders of this industry? I don't mean who is your immediate supervisor or who is the CEO-those are just job titles. Whom do you aspire to emulate as a role model? A generation ago, if you asked anyone in publishing who the real leaders were, the names I mentioned above would be high on the list. In the print world today, who is on the real leadership list now?
We have many problems ahead of us as an industry. We will need good leaders to provide direction. If you think about it, we are trying to prepare publishing personnel for jobs that don't yet exist. Students will be using technologies and concepts that haven't yet been invented, and they will be trying to find the solutions to problems we don't even know are problems yet.
Many of the people who read this blog are in one way or another devoted to the process of print. Some of them are printers, some of them are publishers and most of them have a strong and deep bias, which is clearly and understandably centered around making a profitable living. In fact, we all, regardless of what our profession is, have a biased point of view that is skewed by our need to make a living. In this discussion I am not in any way saying a bias is wrong, just that it exists and aids us in forming our opinions.
Actually this bias comes twofold. Not only is it based on our need to make a living and feed the family, but also to be in our comfort zone. This comfort zone is, for the most part, like Mom's cooking. By that I mean that the things we learned early when we were growing up are filled with a nostalgia that makes us feel most comfortable with what we knew and experienced then, something along the lines of Mom's cooking. If you didn't grow up in an internet era your comfort in it is less than the screenager who has never experienced lack of instant access to any and all information.
Ask Alexa to buy some Nike shoes, and she might try to hawk you a pair of Nike men's Revolution running shoes for $59.99. She'll spout off product details, then ask, "Would you like to buy it?"But say you're actually looking for women's shoes, as was the case in one Ad Age trial. We tell her that. But she really wants you to buy those men's Nikes, though."Would you like to buy it?" she prods...
CES, the massive tech trade show held in Las Vegas every January, this year has a roster of keynote addresses from CEOs of companies like Ford Motor Company, Hulu, Turner and Intel.But many leaders in tech and marketing see one problem: Each of the six keynote address speakers currently listed on CES' website is a man. Five of them are white men.GenderAvenger, a group that is dedicated to...
Facebook has unveiled a new version of its Messenger app for children, opening up a new front in its battle for younger users with Snap Inc.Unlike Facebook's regular apps or its Instagram photo-sharing service, Messenger Kids doesn't require users to be 13 years old. Instead, parents have full control over their children's contact list and the app doesn't require users to have their own Facebook...
Retail isn't dead; it's undergoing a transformation.Despite a significantly stronger economy, store closures are at levels last seen during the 2008 recession. Data from Fung Global Retail & Technology shows 6,121 stores have closed in the United States in 2017, up 203 percent year-over-year. By comparison, a little more than 6,000 stores shuttered their doors during all of 2008. At the same,...
What is the BoSacks FREE newsletter all about?
It is purely a very "personal" and slanted collection of news gathered daily over the Internet, which to me seems relevant and useful about the publishing industry. I do this as a labor of love and to keep myself as up to date as is possible with the ever changing and advancing "Information Distribution Industry" formerly known as "Publishing".
And how much does it cost?
The price for this service is nothing. It is Free. It is just as easy for me to copy three or four of my industry friends as it is to carbon copy the current list of 16,500 publishing professionals.