Writers beware: Conde Nast looks to cash in on content

Yes, it is still about content.

Condé Nast CEO Charles Townsend talked this week about the company going in to 2013. He mentioned a rate-base increase for several brands; making more money from subscriptions, and forecasted the success of the Condé Nast Entertainment division (CNE.)

“Our print business, even in the worst moment, continues to grow and the margins are sharper and the gross profit margins are mouthwatering,” he said, according to wwd.com. “When this economy recovers, the print business is going to be on fire.”

But then, he said the same thing at the beginning of 2012, which was going to be “exceptionally sunny.” We now know that it wasn’t so with layoffs and most everybody taking budget cuts, and the web business coming in at about half the rate the company expected (15% growth versus 30%.)

And he’s hot on CNE, which develops, creates, produces and distributes original television, film and digital initiatives based on the company’s brands. Articles in Conde Nast magazines have already been turned into movies (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Eat, Pray Love” and the just released “Argo”) – but not by Conde Nast. That will change now with the creation of CNE.

CNE President Dawn Ostroff has said her division intends to take “some of the great stories from our magazines and do them for the screen ourselves.” She also has pointed out that there are some 80,000 articles in the Condé Nast archive as well as new content every week in their various magazines. All of which are now being read and considered for new endeavors.

But, Townsend said, there are still questions about who owns these stories, the company or the writer? According to wwd.com, “many contracts are expected to come up for review by the end of the year. Townsend said Condé is still working through the intricacies of those questions and clarified it’s trying to propose a partnership, not outright ownership. That means ‘more income for contributors but also ourselves,’ he said.”

Do we really believe he’ll be that charitable?

Writers, check your contracts.

Wednesday News Round-Up for September 19th

Yes, the leaves are barely changing, but Toys ‘R Us is out with a list of this year’s hottest Christmas toys.  The list proves that everything comes back around if you wait long enough.  A new version of Furby, the fuzzy robot, is back, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Sewer Lair apparently is in demand.  Who would have guessed?  For now, let’s forget about Christmas and focus on the latest industry news.  All titles with an asterisk* are included in the Wooden Horse Database.

DEPARTURES*, the American Express luxury magazine, will increase its rate base to 900,000 in 2013…

PREVENTION* will reposition its editorial content and unveil a revamp in January of 2013…

FAMILY FUN* will debut a relaunch with the October issue, including new content and a new look.  The changes have been in the works since Meredith acquired the magazine from Disney in February of this year.  Three new categories—create, play and explore—divide the publication, with expanded departments for learning, health and travel.  Readers also will notice new graphics for both the print and digital editions…

Conde Nast has asked its publishers to cut 5% from their budgets, due to a weak ad market…

GOLF DIGEST* cut staffers last week…

TEEN VOGUE* made staff cuts last week…

Hearst CEO Frank Bennack has tapped the company’s COO, Steven Swartz, to take over for him.  No date for the change has been announced…

THOROUGHBRED TIMES, covering horse racing and breeding, ceased operations on Friday, September 14.  Financial shortfalls reportedly were to blame…

BRIDES* magazine no longer has weddings style assistant Larysa Balko…

EVERY DAY WITH RACHAEL RAY* snagged Abbie Kozolchyk, abbie.kozolchyk@meredith.com, as the new beauty and travel editor…

BUDGET TRAVEL* named Gillian Telling, Gillian.telling@budgettravel.com, as the new editor-in-chief…

CFO MAGAZINE* promoted Taylor Provost, taylorprovost@cfo.com, to editor for technology…

SAN DIEGO HOME/GARDEN LIFESTYLES earlier this month lost Editor-in-Chief Ron Donoho.  No replacement has been named…

PLANSPONSOR magazine promoted Kristen Heinzinger, kheinzinger@assetinternational.com, to associate editor…

Wednesday News Round-Up for February 15, 2012

Hope everyone had their fill of red and pink helium balloons, roses and heart-shaped chocolates for Valentine’s Day.  Grab some news while you’re here and, if you have time, scroll down to see if you’ve missed anything.  Note that titles with asterisks* are part of the Wooden Horse Database.

POWER & MOTORYACHT* and SAIL* magazines have been acquired by Active Interest Media, from Source Interlink Media.  The purchase adds to AIM’s existing marine group, which includes five other publications.  Power & Motoryacht has a circulation of 150,000 and Sail magazine’s rate base stands at 100,000…

MARIE CLAIRE* brought in Jessica Flint, jflint@hearst.com, as lifestyle editor, a newly created position…

W MAGAZINE* soon will have Marie Amelie Sauve, no email yet, as senior fashion editor…

FORTUNE* welcomed Stephen Gandel, stephen_gandel@timemagazine.com, as a senior editor…

ESSENCE* welcomed Sharon Boone, sboone@essence.com, as senior health and relationships editor…

SUNSET* magazine named Kitty Morgan, morgank@sunset.com, as the new editor-in-chief.  Morgan takes over for Charla Lawhon, who was serving as the interim editor…

CHARLOTTE* magazine snagged Aleigh Acerni, aleigh.acerni@morris.com, as senior editor…

WEST COAST FAMILIES, based in BC, Canada, debuted a redesign and editorial repositioning…

Magazine internships: Opportunities or exploitation? The courts may decide

“A million girls would kill for this job!”

Remember that line from The Devil Wears Prada, the movie about a hapless, abused junior assistant at a VOGUE*-like fashion magazine?

While we haven’t heard any reports of young magazine assistants committing murder to get ahead, each year thousands of eager college students and graduates do give up compensation to get a job, working in unpaid internships at magazine publishers.  They forego paychecks in return for on-the-job learning and professional opportunities.

But who really benefits?  We may soon find out.

Xuedan Wang, a former Hearst intern, now has filed a lawsuit against the publisher for back wages and overtime, alleging Hearst violated wage and hour laws.  Moreover, Wang and her law firm are looking to make this a class-action suit.

A strategic communications graduate at the time, Wang claims she routinely worked 40 to 55 hours a week at HARPER’S BAZAAR*, most of it doing menial or administrative tasks like coordinating sample pick-ups and deliveries, processing reimbursement requests and maintaining records.

Hearst may have run afoul of labor laws in a few ways, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which outlines criteria for unpaid internships:

* Hearst directly benefited from Wang’s work, instead of the other way around.

* The tasks she handled were essential to the company, and a paid worker would have had to do them if Wang had not.

* The work was not conducted like training in an educational environment, with mentors or supervisors providing constant guidance.

Some are beginning to question if publishers are offering priceless experience to aspiring professionals, or whether free labor from unpaid internships is now built into the magazine industry’s business model.

Friday News Round-Up for January 13th

Congratulations! You made it through what is for many, the first full work week of 2012.  Catch up on the end-of-week news as you start a well-deserved weekend break.  When you see an asterisk* next to a magazine title, that means you can find it in the Wooden Horse Database.

GUITAR WORLD*, REVOLVER and GUITAR AFICIONADO* were sold by owner Future US to New Bay Media for $3 million, as Future offloads its music division in New York.  The company also will sell the New York property housing its offices there.  Future plans to use the cash to restructure its remaining American operations, including nine other magazines…

THE NEW REPUBLIC* owner denies press reports that the political magazine is looking for potential buyers or investors…

FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE* will raise its rate base by 50,000 this summer, to 1.45 million, the seventh consecutive hike since it launched three years ago…

THE HUFFINGTON POST* will bid farewell to managing editor Nico Pitney on February 3…

THE HUFFINGTON POST* appointed Jimmy Soni, no email available, as the new managing editor beginning in February, replacing the departing Nico Pitney…

SPIN* will phase out album reviews in the magazine and move them to the magazine’s Twitter account…

PREVENTION* promoted Jessica Branch, jessica.branch@rodale.com, from senior editor to health director…

PREVENTION* promoted Molly Raisch, molly.raisch@rodale.com, from editorial assistant to associate editor…

PREVENTION* named Siobhan O’Connor, siobhan.o’connor@rodale.com, as deputy editor for the website and senior editor for the print magazine…

SELF* promoted Meaghan Murphy, meaghan_murphy@condenast.com…

LUCKY* picked up new beauty assistant Emily Gaynor, emily_gaynor@condenast.com…

US WEEKLY* welcomed Natalie Van der Meer, natalie.vandermeer@usmagazine.com, as assistant editor…

CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS* promoted Jeanette Smith, jhsmith@crain.com, to managing editor…

CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS* promoted Daniel Duggan, dduggan@crain.com, to deputy managing editor…

THE SOURCE hip hop magazine welcomed back Kim Osorio, kosorio@thesource.com, as editor-in-chief, a post she previously held from 2003-05…

VENTURE BEAT snagged Ben Popper, no email yet, as the new East Coast editor starting January 16…

GENOME TECHNOLOGY lost Editor-in-Chief Meredith Salisbury, and no replacement has been named…

SHOOTING SPORTS RETAILER magazine’s editorial and business operations will be taken over by Grand View Media, a subsidiary of EBSCO Industries…

Wednesday News Round-Up for January 11, 2012

Like other business sectors, the magazine industry is ramping back up after the holiday lull, so take a minute to check out the news.  All titles with an asterisk* are included in our Wooden Horse Database.

LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL* will begin creating print material from user generated content, such as consumer posts on DevineCaroline.com (a Meredith sibling), the LHJ website and Facebook page and other digital channels.  The magazine still plans to use fact-checkers and subject matter experts, but Editor-in-Chief Sally Lee is enthusiastic about “content creation that begins with a reader,” instead of with the editor. Lee says the plan is to pay professional rates to amateur contributors.  The editorial change coincides with a redesign of the magazine, beginning with the March issue, and includes a new cover design and logo…

LONNY* reportedly is not publishing at this time and has furloughed its staff, due to cash flow issues.  Despite tough times, Editor-in-Chief Michelle Adams insists that an “exciting announcement” is coming soon…

Media Auditor BPA Worldwide issues amended rules for measuring digital magazine audiences…

THE PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN, a long-running social justice magazine, ceased publishing on January 1 after 189 years in print, and the website ends on January 15…

SUPERMARKET NEWS magazine relaunched its website with a new design and added content; http://supermarketnews.com

THE NEW REPUBLIC* is being shopped around for potential buyers or investors by The Blackstone Group.  Owners are hoping for a cash infusion or sale.  The political biweekly has been in print since 1914…

BC LIVING magazine will debut a redesigned website with expanded sections;  www.bcliving.ca

Hearst magazines brought in Lynne Palazze, lpalazzi@hearst.com, as editorial recruiter, beginning January 23.  Palazzi will focus on recruiting for entry and mid-level positions…

NEWSWEEK*/DAILY BEAST will lose John Solomon, NewsBeast editor for news and investigations…

SELF* promoted Meaghan Murphy, meaghan_murphy@condenast.com, from fitness director to deputy editor…

SELF* promoted Nicole Catanese, Nicole_catanese@condenast.com, from senior beauty features editor to fitness director, replacing Meaghan Murphy…

BETTER HOMES & GARDENS* named Oma Blaise Ford, oma.ford@meredith.com, as the new executive editor…

TOWN & COUNTRY* promoted Danielle Stein, dstein@hearst.com, from features editor to features director…

EVERY DAY WITH RACHAEL RAY* lost associate lifestyle editor Alison Caporimo…

READER’S DIGEST* snagged Alison Caporimo, Alison.caporimo@rd.com, as an associate editor…

LUCKY* picked up new beauty assistant Emily Gaynor, emily_gaynor@condenast.com…

TIME OUT CHICAGO* said goodbye to John Dugan, senior web editor and nightlife editor…

SOLID STATE TECHNOLOGY magazine said goodbye to senior tech editor Debra Vogler.  No replacement has been named…

FamilyFun Magazine will become part of the Meredith Publishing family

FAMILY FUN MAGAZINE has been acquired by Meredith from Disney Publishing Worldwide.

Meredith says the publication, “further strengthens our leadership position and reach among women in both the parenthood and food spaces.”  Launched in 1991, FamilyFun reports a rate base of 2.1 million.

Disney has been shedding its magazine properties of late, while Meredith has sought to make greater inroads into the young female demographic through family and food-related brands.