Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Friday, October 01, 2021

face in the crowd
Above is the cover photo from this week’s edition of tbt*, modified for Web purposes. That full-color girl in the sea of grey? None other than my coworker, Jamie.

As is often the case in publishing, the tbt* folks had a last-minute need for a fill-in model. Since they do most of their work right down the hall from us, they made a late-day call over to Jamie, with whom they’d collaborated before. She was wearing a colorful enough outfit that she was deemed suitable, and the shot was made.

She wasn’t especially happy with the photo; she thinks her facial expression is not what it could be. And the potential exposure has her a bit embarrassed. She kept asking me all day just where the thing was distributed, partly to ask her husband to pick one up for himself, but mainly to wonder just what the odds were on her friends/family seeing it.

I told her she shouldn’t sweat it, and she should enjoy the brief limelight. I even had her autograph my copy.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/01/2021 06:17:38 PM
Category: Publishing
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Monday, September 27, 2021

A couple of months after putting online mag Slate on the market, Microsoft may be close to selling it. New York Magazine’s Metro.com is reporting that the Washington Post Company is the likely suitor, in a bid to grab Slate’s high-minded readership.

It’d be a good match. I think the Post would be very likely to launch a print edition of Slate, as well; if they really wanted to exploit the brand, a physical product is the way to do it. One day, we might be seeing copies of Slate on coffeetables.

(Via Dustbury)

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/27/2004 08:16:19 PM
Category: Internet, Publishing
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Saturday, September 18, 2021

If you’re a fan of the “Left Behind” series — and it goes without saying that readers of this blog are the same people who would scarf up apocalyptic Biblical novels — then this conference based on the books is right up your alley.

I think they should debate on whether or not Kirk Cameron’s headlining turn in the movie adaptation signals the more immediate imminence of the End Days.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/18/2004 07:56:09 PM
Category: Publishing
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Friday, September 17, 2021

nice do
Further fun today with my aforementioned copy of this month’s FHM:

As you can tell even from the miniaturized image above, it’s hard to miss what covergirl Alyssa Milano is showing off. Such poses are a major factor in the success of FHM and other lad mags. It’s not hard to figure out where the target audience’s gaze will fall.

I brought this issue, along with a couple of other mags, in to work today, on the chance that I’d have some time to flip through them (such borderline girlie mags are acceptable desk items when you work in magazine publishing yourself, under the guise of content/layout research; no, really). I mentioned to my officemate Jamie that I had a couple of new magazines in today, and she asked to see what I had.

I held up the issue of FHM for her to get a look. The first words out of her mouth were, “That’s a pretty haircut.”

I responded, with an air of disbelief, “You’re looking at the-??”

The rest of that would have been “hair”. Had she cited another feature like Milano’s eyes, lips, or even her dress, my stock response would have included any of those, but with the same message and tone. This is an automatic prompt for the hetero male when comparing notes on provocatively-presented female figures. It’s a shorthand jab, meant to imply that there’s something wrong with you if your focus is distracted, regardless of how nice Milano’s other features are, away from the obvious assets on display.

But before I could get the entire phrase out of my mouth, I realized suddenly that I was comparing notes with a girl. And as we alll know, girls tend to look at things like this differently. So I caught myself and said, “Oh right, look who I’m talking to! Of course, the hair!”

Jamie read my mind, and started laughing. As did I.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/17/2004 04:53:29 PM
Category: Publishing
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who's the boss
Yesterday, I received the above issue of For Him Magazine in my mailbox, kicking off my subscription.

The thing is, I never bought a subscription to FHM.

I assumed it must be a gift subscription, despite the lack of immediate occasion for it (my birthday’s months passed, and it’s too early for a Christmas present). But when I checked with the likely suspects, I came up empty. Nor did I get any sort of notification with the issue that would announce the gift-giving.

The curiosity gnawed at me all morning, aided by my regular glances at covergirl Alyssa Milano. So I finally tracked down the customer service numbers and gave them a call (I justified this otherwise questionable use of my time by reasoning that I needed to update the address information anyway, as the street name was off by a few letters/numbers).

What did I find out? Not much. The subscription is paid for until next September, and it was started for me by some outfit called JMJ Marketing. The message on JMJ’s answering service revealed that it’s just a part of Emap, the UK-based magazine giant and FHM’s publisher. So, as best as I can figure, FHM itself tossed me a free sub.

Why? I know I don’t subscribe to any other Emap publications, so there’s no connection there. I’m suspecting that my name ticked up on some professional’s database, by virtue of my day gig, and they just felt like padding their qualified subscriber rolls. I’m used to getting professional discount offers for various titles (I got one for Newsweek in the very same batch of mail, in fact), but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an unsolicited subscription before. As long as I’m not being charged for it, I’ll take it.

So, I’ve got some additional eye candy to look at each month. Speaking of which, Alyssa Milano’s photo spread is a nice way to kick off the subscription.

UPDATE (9/21/04): Mystery solved! It turns out that my friend signed me up for a gift subscription. My delusions of being an ultra-sought-after qualified subscriber are thus dashed.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/17/2004 02:09:15 PM
Category: Publishing
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Monday, September 13, 2021

Inspired by The Paper (a mediocre flick, in my opinion), Connecticut-based Blue Chip Films is trying to sell some network on “Deadline @ The Philadelphia Inquirer”, a reality show set in the Philly newspaper’s newsroom.

At first blush, I can see why this would be such a hard sell: Who wants to watch a bunch of desk jockeys? But thinking more about it, a newsroom is a great potential setting for action, drama, conflict, and foibles on display. Plenty of yelling and tension, which is essential for reality TV. Not to mention the possibility of filming reporters as they work their beats.

Plus, with as little regard that the general public holds journalists these days, the maxim of loving what you hate plays out best on TV. Only a behind-the-scenes look inside a law office would be more popular; I seem to recall something like that being proposed, but I don’t know if confidentiality considerations allowed that to get off the ground.

Of course, “potential” is the key word. There are slow news days, and even those are filled with their own brand of excitement when you’re on the desk. I’m not sure how well that excitement would translate to the average viewer. But that’s what video-editing is for, and over the course of a couple of months, there’ll be plenty of deadline-busting nights. A prime candidate: Election night, with this November’s Presidential contest a perfect plotline. Especially if it’s another too-tight-to-call race.

From my own experience, you can’t beat the sports desk for nightly excitement, particularly in the fall. On a typical night, you’ve got college games, pro games, high school scores being called in, late results to wait on, photos to coordinate… It’s a splendid adrenaline rush to have to get everything in shape within a couple of hours.

Anyway, I’m expecting to see something about this from Steve Outing at Poynter, since the story also ran in his main gig, Editor & Publisher.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/13/2004 09:16:02 PM
Category: Publishing, Reality Check
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A couple of developments over the past week had eerie parallels, in terms of keeping one’s memory alive:

- Aaron Hawkins of Uppity-Negro.com died. Judging from the feedback (over a hundred comments and trackbacks as of this writing), he’ll be sorely missed by many a blog-reader.

- Will Allen’s “Swords for Hire” is getting accolades as one of the year’s best new fantasy novels — a quarter-century after the first-time author’s death.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/13/2004 08:06:28 PM
Category: Bloggin', Publishing
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Saturday, September 11, 2021

I mentioned the launch of the St. Pete Times’ new free weekly, tbt*, a couple of days ago. The paper hit the streets yesterday, and the Times has shed more light on what the newborn is all about: In today’s Times and on tbt* itself.

Basically, tbt* (or Tampa Bay Times) is going to recycle the most relevant news and features from the week’s worth of Times’ issues. This is key in keeping production costs down. They might use some additional content, either originally-produced or wire stuff; and they already are running things like alternate comics that would never see space in the Times. But basically, tbt* will be a condensed version of the mothership.

Given that, presentation and format is crucial. I like the grade of paper they’re using (I realize I’m among the minority that notices these things). It’s a slightly more durable newsprint. It’s not only whiter than regular newsprint, which provides a better canvas for what’s printed on it, but it’s also more durable, meaning it can be toted around and stuffed into bags with less likelihood of getting torn apart. That’s important, as you want the thing to be seen as often, and by as many eyeballs, as possible.

In some ways, tbt* is a re-introduction of the traditional Weekend section, which the Times used to publish in Friday’s paper but moved to Thursday years ago. It’s not the same, as tbt* is designed to penetrate a demographic that currently doesn’t read the paper regularly.

Also of note: It looks like tbt* has pretty much taken over the tampabay.com site. It’s a good move, as the Times never seemed to know what exactly to do with it. At one point, I was informed that tampabay.com was going to supplant the Times’ sptimes.com domain; this was when many papers were seeking out online brands that reflected their states/regions. That was never really carried out, and since then tampabay.com was just a dumping ground for the main newspaper site’s links — really, a prototype for tbt*.

I’ll be really interested to see how it does. First thing to do is to expand the fairly small distribution area/channels.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/11/2021 08:03:40 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Publishing
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Thursday, September 09, 2021

Faced with competition from alternative newsweeklies that are often distributed for free, newspaper publishers are launching their own freebies. These vehicles are seen as the most effective way to snare and retain the sweet-spot young-adult demographic.

It turns out that my own local paper, and indirect employer, the St. Petersburg Times, is joining the game with TBT (Tampa Bay Times). It’s set to debut tomorrow; it got a cryptic ad announcing it in today’s Weekend section.

This will bring the Times into more direct competition with the Bay area’s established freebie, the Weekly Planet. The tussle over advertisers will be fierce. Some of the more borderline accounts (i.e. bong shops, detox pills) will gladly be ceded to the Planet. The more lucrative advertisers, such as apartment listings, cars and such, will be what TBT targets. I imagine the marketing muscle of the Times will help, but the Planet can always use Creative Loafing Inc.’s modest regional spread in Atlanta and Charlotte to counter.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/09/2021 08:10:03 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Publishing
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Sunday, September 05, 2021

A new-media court case is coming up that could have far-reaching impact upon how a lot of quickie-research companies do business. Jupitermedia is suing eMarketer over unauthorized and misrepresentative use of their proprietary research data. Jupitermedia claims that the information it pulls together belongs to it, and the bulk of which is made available only to paying customers.

For its part, eMarketer doesn’t buy that Jupitermedia can own facts:

“Facts, including Jupiter’s numbers, which are expressed as facts, are not copywriteable,” she said. “Further, the original text written by our team of analysts based upon facts they gather and upon their own individual analysis is likewise in no way a violation of any copyrights.”…

The eMarketer spokeswoman said, “Emarketer gathers all of its data from public sources including search engines, company Web sites, trade journals and published news reports.”

This is yet another manifestation of the “information is free” mantra that the Web has popularized, and has provided the justification for everything from music/media fileswapping to outright plagiarism.

Succinctly: Information is not free. Particularly not analytical data that’s compiled, interpreted within a set of useful parameters and invested with expert opinion. There are actual human beings, with unique skills, on the other end of that information, who put in hours of work to bring it into existence.

The people at eMarketer don’t see it that way. To them, once a piece of information is released into the wild — even if that “release” is in the form of paid subscription — it’s public property, up for grabs by anyone who wants to re-use it. In this view, it’s available, so it’s fair game as a non-compensatory resource. To take it a step beyond, by stating that such data are “facts”, the argument boils down to the elimination of ownership, because facts can’t be owned.

It’s a weak argument. eMarketer is obviously re-purposing Jupitermedia’s originally-produced reports and passing them off as their own production. That would be bad enough, but it’s compounded by violation of Jupitermedia’s stated provisions for use and distribution of its published material.

As always, it comes down to money: eMarketer has made a business of pulling in data and analysis produced by other companies and using it as the foundation for their own services, calling it “aggregation”. Jupitermedia considers it the equivalent of theft and the undercutting of its reputation.

Does news aggregation provide a justification for all this? Using straight news reports from newspapers and magazines is not at issue; most often, they do relay facts. The value of that information is limited, because it is public and so widely available. Dedicated analysis is the value-added version of news: It goes deeper, provides a more complex view of those facts, and often gives direct advice on what it means for specific companies or industries. That’s why it’s worth the extra cost in obtaining it, or even commissioning it. That’s why a company like Jupitermedia looks askance at having it ripped off.

Personally, I don’t see how eMarketer has a leg to stand on. The best it can hope for is a partial victory, along the lines of limited use for a severly limited period of time. Jupitermedia CEO Alan Meckler predicts that other research companies will jump on the bandwagon against this type of unauthorized re-use, and a successful suit will certainly spur that. Meanwhile, a bunch of companies that have made a cottage industry out of cutting-and-pasting report data will have to shift gears quick. Even lower-level, generalist outfits like Hoovers will become suddenly vulnerable, as they could be sued over how they gather their lifeblood data.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/05/2021 11:57:31 AM
Category: Internet, Publishing
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Saturday, September 04, 2021

A few days back, I marvelled at the size of the current issue of GQ. Turns out the 432-page count isn’t even the biggest perfect-bound periodical in Conde Nast’s September roster. This month’s Vogue clocks in at 832 pages, with enough ads to make your consumerist arteries clog:

More than half - much more - of those 832 pages are ads. A Reuters story says the total is 647. I counted - twice - and, by my standards, got 599. It can be hard to tell the stories and photo spreads from the ads, so maybe I got a little confused. Or maybe Vogue counts as ads its fawning profiles of the new breed of models, three top designers and the making of Nicole Kidman’s Chanel No. 5 commercial.

Yes, the line between editorial and advertising tends to blur — badly — in fashion mags. Buyer beware. At least GQ has some content that’s vendor-neutral, including fiction and opinion columns.

Anyone who says that magazines are dying old-media dinosaurs need only do a few arm-curls with these fashion-season monsters. Printing money, indeed.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/04/2021 10:13:10 PM
Category: Publishing
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Sunday, August 29, 2021

A quick snapshot of me-time magazines I’ll be reading over the next month (so far):

- GQ
- Esquire
- Clear
- Wired

Notice how the September GQ dwarfs the other three. Fall marks the start of the fashion season, so GQ plumps up accordingly. It’s sick to think how much money Conde is making just from that one issue.

Clear was an impulse buy, an extremely pretty mag with a translucent cover wrap and gorgeously slick, heavy bond paper that really shows off the interior color. I’m surprised it’s got such a relatively low cover price ($7); I guess the ad rates allow it.

This is far from the total magazine consumption I’ll be doing this month; it’s more like the appetizer. Between work and play, my eyeballs will glide across too many pages to count. But the first wave is always exciting.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/29/2004 09:20:00 PM
Category: Publishing
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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Bridget Jones is kicking Fabio’s ass. Harlequin, a publisher long synonymous with trashy romance novels, is facing falling sales due to the siphoning away of its traditional audience by chick-lit and other genres.

Who knew that Harlequin was a Canadian operation? And that it’s run by the owner of the Toronto Star? I’d always assumed that Harelquin was an imprint of HarperCollins or some other traditional publishing powerhouse.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/26/2004 11:20:53 PM
Category: Publishing
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Sunday, August 22, 2021

You can take the blog out of Blogger, but you can’t take Blogger out of the blog. Not out of this one, anyway.

Three months ago, I posted my admiration for “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”, Lynne Truss’ enjoyable screed against reckless punctuation. I failed to draw a direct relationship between the general subject of writing and blogging. I think it would have been a somewhat useless argument, given the rampant grammatical larceny within the blogosphere (and the Web in general).

It turns out I didn’t have to, because Jennifer Garrett did the job admirably in a guest essay for Blogger’s Knowledgebase. She also realizes it’s wishful thinking, but makes a good case nonetheless.

As a bonus, Garrett also points to a New Yorker magazine piece that jabs into Truss’ own punctuational peculiarities in her book. Nobody’s perfect!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/22/2004 10:06:32 PM
Category: Bloggin', Publishing
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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Sometimes it takes a while. Author S.E. Hinton, who has teen novel classics like “The Outsiders” and “Rumble Fish” to her credit, is back in business with “Hawkes Harbor”, her first book in 16 years.

Sounds like she had an extended writer juice drought.

Limited output certainly isn’t an indictment. Harper Lee wrote only one book in her whole life, and she managed to make it a grand-slam homerun.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/21/2004 05:01:12 PM
Category: Publishing
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