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Bosacks Speaks Out

  • Why Time Inc., Isn't Destroying Journalism?

    Why Time Inc., Isn't Destroying Journalism?

    There is an interesting law of nature that parallels itself in all business environments. The law that "nature abhors a vacuum" is as strong in any revenue producing ecosystem as it is in nature. This "law" is at the heart of many a successful entrepreneur, and it is a strategic advantage often missed by corporate shirts. These nimble entrepreneurs have the ability to see the vacuums that are constantly created in the wake of larger organizations' somewhat lumbering journeys. 

    I bring this up because there has been a recent plethora of pundit conversations lately about the death of journalism based on the news that the editorial department at Time Inc. will now report to the business department.  Indeed this move by Time's new management breaks the time-honored separation of church and state rule that exists in many, if not most, reputable publishing houses.

    This separation has such gravity that outgoing editor-in-chief of Time Inc. Martha Nelson sent pieces of the "Pope's Miter" to many Time Inc. editors. The whole miter had previously been passed from the company's outgoing editor-in-chief to the incoming editor-in-chief.  The miter, which is traditionally the hat of the pope or other religious figures, symbolized the importance of keeping the editorial content of magazines pure and from being unduly influenced by advertisers' needs, wants and desires. Ms. Nelson, who left Time Inc. so as not to be part of a newly perceived and sullied tradition, sent the following note:

    "This fragment comes from the 'Pope's Miter,' which resided in the office of the editor in chief of Time Inc. While the miter was passed on in jest, it symbolized the earnest belief in editorial independence, truth and integrity. Now that responsibility rests in your hands."

    The theory is that for the assured integrity of any house of writers, there needs to be a strong separation of the editorial and the business environments, so that the written word is not unduly influenced by the seductive dollar, thus giving editors the freedom to explore and speak the truth on any given subject or company, even an advertiser. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted January 07, 2014
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On MPA-AMC Keynote by Mary Berner

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On MPA-AMC Keynote by Mary Berner

    BoSacks Speaks Out: It was my intent to cover the whole MPA-AMC in one report. But it turns out that to do the conference any justice it will take several essays, as I have over ten pages of notes and those are without any personal commentary. So I will start at the beginning and as the pages fill up I will conclude on another posting. President and CEO of the MPA Mary Berner opened with her usual verve and esprit de corps as the opening keynote speaker at the AM²C 2013 Conference.  She opened with the comment that “I’m not pissed anymore at least about where we are and where we are headed as an industry.” I can’t address what Mary may or may not be angry about, but I agree that we have made great strides in adapting to the necessary changes that face our industry. 

    But those strides have come in some strange ways at the cost of our older identities as print magazine peoples. I confess that either I or the industry, or maybe both, are a bit schizophrenic. By that I am referencing my comments about the AMC last week when I suggested that we open every conference with the benediction, “Print is not dead, print is not dead,” and we complete the opening prayer by declaring to anyone who will listen that 90% of our revenue is still print revenue. I went on to question why was it that almost nowhere in any industry convention that the actual technicalities and best practices in the revenue producing print product were discussed.  What about a few lessons on print efficiencies, best cover practices, how to create the best headlines, or the latest secrets of newsstand success stories?  (There are a few exceptions to this rule, but few and far between)

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted October 27, 2013
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: The Nuts & Bolts  of Magazines - A Review of PRIMEX NYC

    BoSacks Speaks Out: The Nuts & Bolts of Magazines - A Review of PRIMEX NYC

    In Esquire's approximately 286 page October issue, I read a quote from Arthur Miller that reminded me of the publishing industry in general, and of my experience at PRIMEX last week. "Fear, like love, is difficult to explain after it has subsided, probably because it draws away the veils of illusion as it disappears." Indeed, the print industry has had the fears, misconceptions and its illusions drawn away as we move forward and adjust our business plans to 21st century communication. To me this adjustment was clearly evident at PRIMEX, which has been chaired with great success for several years by Laura Reid, VP of Production at Hearst Magazines. 

    David Steinhardt, President & CEO at IDEAlliance, the organization that runs PRIMEX, opened the day-long conference in NYC saying we are at the intersection of interactivity. How does it grow print? How does it work with print? What are the best practices for the total supply chain? How do we work with the new technologies and create increasingly better workflows? 

    Posted October 14, 2013
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On FMA Day 2103

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On FMA Day 2103

    The FMA Day 2013 held at the Princeton Club opened with a clear presentation by Ethan Grey, SVP of Digital Strategy & Initiatives, MPA, who shared several digital success stories and then went on to explain that as an industry we need to market digital editions better than we have to date. He used Hearst as an example of a digital industry leader who has a "be everywhere strategy." He said Hearst is on every platform known to digi-hood and has instituted a "read them first in digital strategy," whereby all issues are released in digital format before the print editions are available. (I think that it is worth noting that Hearst is up to 1.3 million full priced digital subscriptions, representing 3% of their total circ and, as I have reported before, Hearst Digital circ could hit 25% in five years.)  Another successful Hearst initiative is weekly digital editions of Esquire and soon to be released weekly Elle editions
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted October 14, 2013
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  • by Bob Sacks
    Posted September 29, 2013
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Tina Brown to Leave Publishing

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Tina Brown to Leave Publishing

    BoSacks Speaks Out: There is an old expression that says if you have nothing nice to say you better not say anything.  As it turns out I do have a few nice things to say.

    Tina Brown was once on top of our game. She was editor-in-chief of the British magazine Tatler at ripe age of only 25. Later she rose to prominence in American media as the editor of Vanity Fair from 1984 to 1992 and of The New Yorker from 1992 to 1998. In 2000 she was appointed a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to overseas journalism, and in 2007 was inducted into the Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame.

    All of that is quite remarkable, and truth be told she did a splendid job for some 25 years or so. Then, like one of those old sports legends who stay on the

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted September 11, 2013
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

     

    Several times this week I have been involved in correspondence and conversations about QR codes and various other forms of augmented reality. The theory continuously presented to me is that print will be saved by the use of augmented reality. It is at that point I stick my feet into the ground, as I think there is nothing much further from the truth on this subject than this thought process.

    I need to be clear here, as I have many friends and associates who own or work for augmented reality companies. I support the use of AR in that it is a wonderful tool and can be a bonus for any printed product for either ads or editorial. But I am not a fan of augmented reality in regards to it being used the savior of print. In that regard, it is a total red herring to print's ability to succeed or not succeed in regards to printed magazines.

    Here is my reason why although it is a good tool, it isn't something that you could or would use on every page, or for any extended period in a printed magazine. When we are offered a QR code or other AR launch system in a magazine that takes us to the web, we are then forced to balance two separate devices. The web product/cell phone/tablet in one hand and a magazine in the other hand, or on your lap, or perhaps on the desk, making neither a comfortable long-term reading experience. Continually sending people from the printed magazine page to an electronic device defeats the purpose of having a good print product and the concurrent rewarding lean back experience that we are all so proud of as an industry. As the old expression goes, putting lipstick on a pig only wastes your time and annoys the pig. Although AR indeed has its valuable moments and its usefulness, AR is a distraction to the nature of our printed products. In this case it is trying to fake the electrification of the printed page. If I wanted to get online, I would have done so. If I chose to read a magazine, why send me somewhere online? Does that make sense to you?  READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE


     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted August 26, 2013
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On Interns, Business and Conde Nast

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On Interns, Business and Conde Nast

     F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."  I am going to try to discuss the concept of internship where I hold two opposing thoughts.

     I was never an intern as I started my first publication a year or so out of high school.  One could say I jumped from unemployment into the frying pan of being a publisher/owner, without the intermediate steps of a normal career, and it is fair to say, I did not do it alone, I had two other great partners to lean upon.

     Wikipedia says that an "internship is a method of on-the-job training for white-collar and professional careers. Internships for professional careers are similar to apprenticeships for trade and vocational jobs. Although interns are typically college or university students, they can also be high school students or post-graduate adults. Internships may be paid or unpaid, and are usually understood to be temporary positions. Generally, an internship consists of an exchange of services for experience between the student and an organization."

     There you have it. Part of the definition is that internships may be paid or unpaid, and are usually understood to be temporary positions. If that is the understood and agreed upon definition, where is all the uproar coming from of interns claiming slave wages and demanding some sort of remuneration? 

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted August 24, 2013
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On Local/Hyper-Local Publications.

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On Local/Hyper-Local Publications.

    There are many things that I surmise about our industry from a career spanning over forty years doing the very voodoo that we publishers do.  There are other things that I do not guess at, but know from practical and specific experience. I'm not sure where the "expert" classification lines up in cases like this, but I think that I am an expert in local/hyper-local publications.

    My very first publication was a local free newspaper in the Metro New York Area called The Express. My second publication was a local free magazine style publication I conceived of and produced for a local radio station (WLIR) on Long Island, NY called Free Flight.  My third publication was a free local newspaper in Tucson, Arizona, called The Mountain Newsreal. After those experiences, I and some other friends and cohorts went on to start a national publication that is still on the newsstand 39 years later.

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted August 24, 2013
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