Back in the 1990s, before blogs, Twitter and a host of upstart Web sites transformed online debate into a raucous convention anyone could gate crash, David G. Bradley decided to build a media company around the "influentials" market. The guiding notion was that opinion leaders—people who formulate, shape and promulgate important ideas—rather than gatekeepers or copyright owners, were the true heirs to the digital kingdom, and that a lucrative consumer market could be constituted by those charged with putting good ideas into action.
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Testifying in front of a congressional committee is unlikely at the top of most business executives' lists of career goals—especially these days—and yet it was this act that probably best distinguishes Mark W. White's career to date. Standing in front of the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia, on Oct. 30, 2007, White delivered a brilliant, surgical argument on behalf of publishers everywhere that forced the various interests to rethink their positions and promoted efficient mailing to benefit both the USPS and publishers alike. It is for contributions like these that White, U.S. News & World Report's vice president of manufacturing and distribution, is a 2009 inductee into the Publishing Executive Hall of Fame.
Today's production department bears little resemblance to the analog world of film and FedEx of not so long ago. As digital and multimedia are layered on top of a print process that is undergoing rapid change, "doing more with less" has become a common refrain among production people—and in their case, it's far more than a tired cliche.
Shona Burns, upon entering college, was "bored rigid" with her business studies major. "I had met a couple of fellow students who were getting a publishing degree and found what they were talking about a lot more interesting …," she says.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and it seems that in our industry's case, necessity has prompted many magazine publishers—faced with declining ad revenues and other financial hardships, or simply greater competition in the marketplace—to be increasingly inventive in their approaches to publishing and the partnerships they are mustering up.