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Senior Editor

Pub Talk

By James Sturdivant

About James

 

Publishers' Dojo

Linda Ruth
What the Streamys Can Tell Us About Publishing Today (Hint: It's Not All Bad)
Sep 17, 2014

Joss Whedon fans may revere as literature his 2008 classic, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog; but most of us in publishing don't...



Media Vent

Bob Sacks
Time Inc.’s Editors and Their Damned Church & State
Aug 25, 2014

Last fall Joe Ripp, the new Time Inc. CEO, told his editors that they'd be reporting to the business side...



B2B Beat

Andy Kowl
The Impact of LinkedIn Buying Bizo
Aug 12, 2014

If B2B publishing was a different industry, the prospect of LinkedIn buying Bizowould invite anti-trust scrutiny. Just think about what might...



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...



Industry Insiders

The Insiders
New York Times ‘Innovation Report’ Points Way to Digital Future
May 23, 2014

The leaked New York Times Innovation Report highlights the challenges it is facing in the digital age, but more importantly, it echoes...



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...



Profit from Publishing!

Thaddeus B. Kubis
Media Conference Exhibitors Should Go Deeper to Engage
Oct 9, 2013

It has been a few weeks since I attended (as the guest of the event organizer) the Publishing Business Conference...



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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