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Senior Editor

Pub Talk

By James Sturdivant

About James

 

Publishers' Dojo

Linda Ruth
How to Look at Your 2014 Sales
Feb 23, 2015

So far I have spent 2015 deep in analyses of publishers' sales in 2014 and before. That probably puts me...



Media Vent

Bob Sacks
Why Print Magazines Are Not Necessarily Facing Armageddon
Feb 19, 2015

My optimism may be hard to understand with all the data that on the surface seems so damned negative. To...



B2B Beat

Andy Kowl
Private Equity Firms Taking Over B2B Media
Jan 13, 2015

Private Equity firms are now the dominant players in B2B publishing. They probably own less than half of all B2B...



Industry Insiders

The Insiders
The Real Cost of Content Marketing
Dec 10, 2014

How do you respond to advertisers who want to blog more and advertise less? Do you discuss with them the...



The Digital Market

Thea Selby
Top 5 Mobile Trends for Publishers—It’s Good News, Folks
Jul 7, 2014

Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is one of my s/heroes. In this day and age of branded...



Publisher's Paradox

Andrew Davis
Publisher’s Paradox: Your Newsletter Subscribers Are Being Overfed
Apr 28, 2014

Charlie Magazine, based in Charleston, South Carolina, isn't asking its readers to subscribe to everything. Instead, Charlie is inviting readers...



Magazines' Fragmentation Problem

 

The website coverjunkie has posted a couple of vintage magazine covers in honor of the late, great Larry Hagman. There's Time magazine's WHODUNIT? from August 1980, as the nation held its breath wondering who shot J.R. A New York magazine cover shows a young, not-too-far-removed-from-Major-Tony-Nelson Hagman sporting a Santa cap with the line "Merry Christmas—Or Else."

Who shot J.R.? I don't remember, but the question reminds us of the hold a few media outlets could have over the zeitgeist in the pre-Internet days. It was an atmosphere good for consumer magazines, which were adept at capturing the prevailing mood or conversation and representing it on covers inevitably seen by everyone, everywhere.

People managing editor Larry Hackett laments about the new reality today in AdWeek: "It’s not like it was 20 years ago where everybody saw the same movies and the television audience was five times as high for the top shows.” He was talking about the difficulty publishers have predicting which celebrities will sell covers. While "the story may have been reduced among big movie or TV stars," Hackett said, reality stars do well because they have "narratives."

In a fragmented media landscape, people seem drawn to reality-ish celebrity drama, rather than soap operas of the fictional sort. We don't rally around characters and mythologies the way we used to. While I can imagine a Time cover featuring a stylized picture of Hugh Laurie leaning on a cane, and the tagline "Dr. House—And the Real Life Drama of Medical Mysteries," I don't expect to see it anytime soon. Time's latest cover features a bunch of legumes and vegetables. The one before that? David Petraeus, of course.  

 

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