Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, February 06, 2021

Some sobering numbers on Domino, the Condé Nast home-decorating (or “shelter”) magazine that’s just been shuttered:

- A rate base of 850,000, plus an additional 200,000 subscribers that it inherited from the defunct House & Garden magazine.

- Average newsstand sales of 111,000.

- Targeted readership consisting of young women in the mid-20s to mid-30s demographic — a coveted segment in the consumer market.

Those numbers are sobering only because THEY ARE GOLDEN. And even with all that going for it, Domino couldn’t survive. Because advertisers weren’t convinced that a publication that was, essentially, an ad catalogue for hipster furnishings would sell for them.

And that leads to even more sobering assessments on the magazine industry as a whole:

“I think it’s pretty simple,” said Charlie Rutman, senior adviser to MPG North America, a media buying company. “The magazine industry in every category is under extreme pressure, extraordinary pressure, for a lot of reasons: the Internet, the cost of subscriptions in a tough economy, the tough economy, you name it. By the way, there probably are too many magazines, but if companies can’t survive these kinds of pressures we’re not going to have any magazines in the future.”

And that’s the most frustrating thing about this state of affairs. I don’t mourn the demise of Domino specifically — the world will survive having one less glorified product-placement laden rag around. But if that model, with the successful draw of the intended eyeballs, can’t pull in ad dollars, then what chance does any content format have?

I take this pretty personally, even though I’m effectively out of the magazine business these days. I’ve worked on both sides of the media marketing divide, including affinity campaigns designed to enhance the value and appeal of hard-copy publications. And the thing is, they generally work, whether the category is shelter, business news, sports, etc. The readers aren’t the ones who need to be worked on, beyond pricing.

The advertisers, though… I know all too well the basic drill: Your advertisers are your true customers, and your readers are your audience, and that’s the exact hierarchy in place. The persuasive energy is directed toward the ad guys, and whatever is left over is aimed at the readers.

It may be time to reconsider that time-honored model. Obviously there’s a disconnect if even the strongest of numbers aren’t enough to sell pages. Even in a crashing economy, it doesn’t make sense that attained targets result in failure. Focusing on the readers, then having the advertisers follow — a sort of bizarro process, given the circumstances — might open enough eyes to save not only print, but a broad range of ailing media as well.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/06/2021 01:16pm
Category: Business, Fashion, Publishing
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In the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, there sits a mansion that was the scene of a grisly murder-suicide 50 years ago.

That’s not the notable part. The notable part is that the house has sat practically untouched ever since that event, right down to the furniture and still-present Christmas 1959 gift-wrapped boxes and tree.

A year after the murders, in 1960, the mansion was sold in a probate action to a Lincoln Heights couple, Emily and Julian Enriquez. Neighbors remember that the pair visited the house and brought property there to store but didn’t move in.

In time, the place gradually fell into disrepair. Antique light fixtures dating from the 1920s disappeared from the outside…

[Rudy] Enriquez inherited the mansion when his mother died in 1994. Since then, he has been approached many times by potential buyers but has steadfastly refused to sell. He tells everyone he hasn’t decided what he wants to do with the property.

“I asked him why not lease it, at least. You can’t have a house sit empty for 50 years and not expect it to fall apart. It’s a tear-down now. It’s a shame,” [former neighbor Jude] Margolis said.

The article leaves so many questions unanswered that the impression left is nothing short of bizarre. What was the purpose of buying a sizable property like that and then not doing a thing with it? It’s not neglect — fifty years of this suggests an active interest in preserving the scene of the crime exactly as it was. Enriquez has to be following the lead of his parents, who for whatever reason had a vested interest in turning this house into a time-capsule.

But why didn’t the reporter uncover this? There’s never a clear answer to the obvious question of “Why?”. Nor even an explanation of why the neighbors never demanded more action, or if they were in on whatever the ulterior motive was. More questions than answers.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/06/2021 11:50am
Category: History, True Crime
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This week’s improbable common link between Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and Japan’s venerated sport of sumo wrestling: Marijuana-smoking scandal.

Both parties are feeling the shameful fallout. But I see a potential synergy here, especially for Phelps. Consider this scenario:

The gold-medal champion is suspended for three months by USA Swimming from competition, he’s lost at least one major corporate sponsorship, and he’s even considering bowing out of the 2012 Olympiad. With everything falling apart around him, how would you expect Phelps to react? That’s right: Retreat to the mind-clouding escape that every bong-hit provides. And since he’s not competing, the subsequent munchies — on top of his famed daily 12,000-calorie diet — will catch up with him quickly enough. By May, we’ll be seeing tabloid photos of a dazed and confused 500-pound Phelps, wandering around and wondering what his next move will be.

And that next move would be… Sumo! With all that acquired bulk, plus the now-regular pot habit, he should fit right in with the Japan Sumo Association. Phelps will abandon the swimming pool for a new athletic endeavor, as the newest non-Japanese star to compete in the ancient ring. I’m betting he’ll reach championship status inside of five years.

He’ll need a new sumo name, of course. Maybe something like “Phelpsakaki”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/06/2021 11:18am
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, Other Sports, True Crime
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