Posts tagged “magazine”

NEVER! Except twice

Stupid bad journalism mars an otherwise excellent article about the culture of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn

No Jewish community in the world (other than two small Syrian congregations in Mexico and Argentina) has ever had such an extreme rule.

I feel like I see this sort of writing in print more often. An absolute statement followed by “qualifiers” that prove the original statement false.

Other than Brooklyn’s SY enclave, only two other communities in the world – a small Syrian congregation in Mexico and another in Argentina – have such an extreme rule.

I’d hope for better than this sort of hyperbolic and confusing storytelling.

Solicitation Chutzpah

About a year ago, an editor at New Design Magazine pursued me aggressively to write an article for them, based on what they’d seen on this blog and elsewhere on the web. We batted around some ideas and I agreed to do it. They weren’t going to pay me, which sucks, but is somewhat par-for-the-course in our content-bloated world.

It got awkward when they did agree to pay an author I referred them to (a colleague of mine), and further awkward when my piece (created under a serious publication deadline) didn’t appear. Indeed, trying to find out what was happening with my piece was difficult; they just stopped returning my messages once they had their free article. As far as I know, they never ran it, but they never communicated any final decision back to me, either.

Perhaps this serves me right for not insisting on payment, and for not having any sort of formal agreement. But if they are going to use karmic currency, they better get their account back in balance. I’m obviously never going to write for them again.

So it was astonishing to see a solicitation in my email today, inviting me to purchase print advertising in their magazine. Now I should give them money? “The cost for each full page would be ¬£950, but new design will go fifty:50 with you on this rate. You pay just ¬£475.”

Shyeah, right.

Spin story

I bitched about Spin magazine and questioned the notion of relaunch vs. loyalty vs. targeting in a previous post, only to read in Wired (in a piece by Chris Anderson excerpted from the just-released The Long Tail”) that “money-losing Spin magazine was just, well, spun off for a fire-sale sum.” Wikipedia sez

[Under the direction of new editor-in-chief Andy Pemberton] The [May 2006] issue’s format took a dramatic turn to many readers’ disgust. The new style has been compared to celebrity gossip magazines such as Us Weekly, even going as far as to have a cover story and picture on Kevin Federline. Prior to the issue’s release, much of the staff quit or were fired.


As of June 26, 2006, Andy Pemberton resigned from Spin as editor-in-chief amid much criticism of his handling of the magazine.


Vibe’s recent sale of the magazine for only $5 million, given the fact that VIBE paid over $45 million for the publication in 1997.

I left my last issue at the post office, didn’t even take it home to flip through. I didn’t even open the magazine before discarding it. Sad, really.

Meanwhile, Chuck Klosterman has created a big stir in the blogosphere with his Esquire article about the lack of criticism in the gaming scene.

You Spin Me Right Round

I’ve received my second issue of Spin magazine since a recent relaunch. It’s gone from being a youth-oriented slightly alternative music magazine that featured (one of my writing heroes) Chuck Klosterman (in an ever-declining role) to a youth-oriented slightly alternative People magazine.

I wasn’t exactly in love with the old Spin, given my rural lifestyle (i.e., Portigal Consulting world headquarters is just blocks away from an alpaca ranch), but I admit I found it strangely comforting to read about Coachella and Death Cab for Cutie even though there’s little chance I will go to the first or listen to the second. I want to say “I’m too old” but it’s really not a matter of age, I have always liked reading about this stuff, but I never felt part of it. Reading Spin a couple of years ago was an attempt to shake off the depressing feeling that Classic Rock Radio (and Rock Marketing) has been giving me for many years.

But I can’t stand this new magazine, it’s replaced attitude with vapiditude. Spin will certainly lose me as a reader. I’m not sure that’s a problem for them. I’m probably not a customer for their advertisers and therefore not a valued reader.

It does raise some interesting questions about how to “re-launch” or otherwise evolve a brand. I know this is not the first time Spin did this (at one point they were vaguely hard-hitting, big format, run by Bob Guccione, Jr., the Penthouse scion). But there’s no transpanecy in this process. Where is Klosterman? Why all the pictures of hotties? Parties? Hot parties? I’m asked to consider it as the same Spin, even though it’s not, and it doesn’t feel like it.

In this case, the entire experience has changed, it’s not a new ad campaign or new bumper graphics, old stuff is gone, new stuff is here, the editorial voice has been revamped.

Contrast with newspapers that change features all the time (newly designed stock tables, new font, new page format, you name it) and typically will explain the heck out of it, what was done, how it was done, and why it’s better. They know that when you have a comfortable relationship with a paper, you’ll be shattered if changes slightly without you knowing a little bit in advance.

A recent study we did around some commercial software that was used aggressively every day all day found that the management of inevitable changes is crucial, the software is “their” software, just like Spin is “my” magazine. The consumer/producer split has an emotional component that producers don’t always get. As one of the software users told us (paraphrase) “I don’t come to your office and change how your system works!”

That’s sort of how I feel. Spin didn’t ask me if I was going to be okay with this, and I’m not. I hate this magazine and I want my old one back. And Spin is probably all right with that reaction, but it’s easy to identify other cases where it’s not so cool to piss people off so much that they leave.

No pat solutions here, although maybe others have examples of good or bad to contribute here.

Silly AT&T ad


From the outer ad in a recent issue of The New Yorker.

The hang-tag reads:
I get 14 days,
336 hours,
20,160 minutes,
1,209,600 seconds of
time a year.
And I’m going to enjoy every one of them.

And, we see Jasmine, lying in a hammock, reading a book. No laptop in sight. But this is an ad for AT&T. What are they telling us? In teeny tiny type at the bottom, we see
Jasmine relies on the most complete and secure network from AT&T so she can have DSL high speed Internet access to find more unique and exciting places to relax and unwind.

So, what’s this an ad for? Using the Internet to find places to sit and relax? Or, in fact, using AT&T’s secure network (and it’s also a complete network) to access the Internet? In order to find places to relax and unwind?

It just doesn’t really cohere for me. It’s almost a good effort – showing the benefit of using a technology by showing what it enables. But the claim that somehow DSL (and not just DSL but the special kind of quality DSL that AT&T offers) has afforded her sitting in a hammock is just too disjointed, and not very credible.

How on earth would we ever be able to relax out in the wild if we didn’t have DSL?! Lame and confusing ad, I think.

Meadow pr0n (NSFW)

This post is Not Safe For Work (or children). Please move on!

Just the other day we went for a walk with the dog in the flower fields near our house. I was fairly startled to see bits and pieces of an adult mag (i.e., nudie) strewn semi-artistically through the area.

Click on any of the pics to see ’em larger in flickr – you can even select All Sizes in flickr to see the picture in somewhat more full resolution. See these images on flickr here.

This had a Blair Witch aspect to it. A sculpture-like thing.

Close-up view of the pr0n-eating tree

Topless in the grass.

Punctures in this page suggest that it at one time had resided in some branches, but now lay sadly inverted in the leaves.

Budweiser? Perhaps this is a clue!
Impaled…on a branch.

It’s nature’s way.

TV Guide Relaunching As Larger Magazine

In some ways, it’s amazing that TV Guide has hung on this long; I can’t remember the last time I used any sort of printed television guide, and I’ve never paid for one, going back to when they’d come free with the weekly paper (I guess they still do, but that goes right into the recycling in our house). The story is interesting, if not particularly shocking, because it marks a sharp transition point in a slow and inexorable change in technology and associated consumer behavior.

full story

TV Guide is slashing the circulation it guarantees advertisers by about two-thirds and relaunching itself as a large format magazine with far fewer TV listings and more emphasis on lifestyle and entertainment, the magazine announced Tuesday.

The radical changes to TV Guide come as it struggles to remain relevant in an age where many TV viewers get their listings from on-screen guides provided by their cable companies or online.

The new TV Guide, which will launch with the Oct. 17 issue, will contain just 25 percent listings and 75 percent stories, versus the 75 percent listings and 25 percent stories it has now, the company said early Tuesday.

Rich Battista, the CEO of TV Guide’s parent company, Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., said in an interview that the company’s research found that readers would be more interested in reading a magazine with fewer listings and more stories about TV shows and their stars.

Plus, we get the standard PR-speak where the company explains that their business decision was purely informed by research about consumer preference. These things write themselves!


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