Crafters now have a new website to visit

eHow logoeHow Crafts is a new “vertical” on the eHow website.

“It will include everything, from tips on making felt flowers to learning how to make a yarn painting. The new channel will offer step-by-step text articles, video demonstrations, original photography, and even templates for printable coloring books,” a spokesperson said.

Prospective contributors: Be aware that eHow is owned by Demand Media, one of the so called “content farms,” but if you want to contact them for work, you can do so here.

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.

The more things change…

Is it time for a new revolt?

Back in 1970, 46 female employees at NEWSWEEK* sued the magazine for discrimination in hiring and promotion.  The suit was brought by the talented, well-educated young women who distributed the mail, clipped newspaper stories or worked as researchers doing fact-checking, because that was the most they could aspire to at that time.  There were no female writers or editors at Newsweek.

After quietly planning their uprising for weeks—in the ladies restrooms—they announced the lawsuit on March 16 of that year, the same day Newsweek hit newsstands with the cover story, ‘Women in Revolt.’  The timing was not an accident, but was orchestrated to gain maximum publicity for their cause.

The story of this groundbreaking episode in American media history, and how it brought about change, is chronicled in the recent book, ‘Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace’ by Lynn Povich, one of the leading ladies of the revolt.  It’s a tale that offers context for younger women, who may take for granted the benefits that redound to them from the struggles of their Mad Men-era sisters.

But before we get all smug and self-satisfied about how far we’ve come since those days, let’s fast-forward to 2012, and the latest editorial salary survey released by FOLIO:* magazine.

The survey revealed that female magazine editors make, on average, $15,000 less than their male counterparts.  Using data from 513 editors, the differences between men and women’s salaries span all editorial levels.  And sadly, as Folio: editor Bill Mickey told the Atlantic Wire in an interview, the gap is where it historically has been.  But Mickey doesn’t provide any insights into why this is so, and simply said it reflects “national trends across other industries.”

But, even if others do it, it isn’t right.

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”

This quote from famed American humorist, writer and Algonquin Round Table member, Robert Benchley, proves that not much has changed for freelancers in the 80 years since he said it.

Pity the poor freelancer, coping with unpaid invoices, unanswered pitches and 1099 tax forms, trying to maintain some semblance of organization and still have time to actually write.  But an LA startup company is attempting to make things easier.

Meet Assignmint.com, a new pitch-to-payment cloud workflow system, with the optimistic tagline, ‘We’re going to fix freelancing.’

Designed to target the most frequent and pervasive issues, writers will be able to manage pitches, editorial calendars, contracts, assignments, invoices, payments and expenses.

Co-founder and former New York Press editor Jeff Koyen says editor-side tools also will be built into the site, allowing them to “filter incoming pitches, issue assignments and then handle all related fulfillment right from their dashboard.”

Plans are in the works to add a clip and algorithm service, capable of matching freelancers with potential new clients, and to offer a variety of premium and custom services.

Initially the site will only serve writers and editors, but later in 2013 will expand to freelancers and employers in other fields such as IT, financial services, academia and fashion marketing.

A private beta launch is planned for June, and anyone who is interested in taking the new system for a test drive can sign up at www.assignmint.com.

The gender gap in print

Where are the women?

It’s a line we hear often in news and commentary when people are talking about business, politics or the sciences, fields where it seems like we should see greater numbers of women in positions of authority and influence.

And we can add to that list the fields of publishing and journalism, where the glass ceiling is covered in 12-point font.

A recently released study from the non-profit organization VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, exposes the continued—and disappointing—disparity between men and women in the rates of publication.  For the second year in a row, the VIDA Count looked at prestigious publications and tallied the bylines according to gender.  They found that 2011 looked much the same as 2010.

The results paint a lopsided picture. In 2011, THE NEW YORKER* published 613 articles by men and just 242 by women.  THE NEW REPUBLIC* printed 344 pieces penned by men, but only 78 written by women (we hope the new owner, Chris Hughes, will notice).  HARPERS* had 141 for the males and 42 for the females, more than a three-to-one ratio.

This story isn’t new.  Back in 2006, editor Ruth Davis Konigsberg took note of the fact that national issue-oriented and political magazines were, on average, publishing three stories by men for every one written by a woman.  She began the now-defunct WomenTK.com, as a project to keep a running total of women’s bylines.

Other studies have looked at editorial assignments for women and the subject matter they are given to cover.  More often than not, they are relegated to gender, marriage, motherhood, family and health, the so-called hearth-and-home topics.   Is it any wonder female writers gravitate toward women’s magazines?

Beyond the question of why this problem exists, is the bigger question of how to change it.  If installing more female editors was the magic answer, then THE NATION*, led by a woman, would do better than a male-to-female articles ratio of 440:166, and articles by women at The New Yorker, under Tina Brown, wouldn’t have fallen from 40% to just 20%.

Some think it’s time for magazines to set quotas as a way of closing the byline gap, making a commitment to place a minimum number of articles by women in each issue.  The theory is that it would force editors to seek out more quality content from women, and broaden the editorial pool.

Will some magazines, under pressure, try this type of journalistic affirmative action?  We shall see.

To view the VIDA Count and read more, visit www.vidaweb.org/the-count.

Constant contact: In times of change, Twitter identities remain stable

“My, people come and go so quickly here!”

While Dorothy spoke those words in The Wizard of Oz many years ago, they could just as easily apply to the current world of magazine publishing.

The established contact you have at a magazine today could be out the door tomorrow, the victim of cost cutting, staff shuffling, acquisition, or—heaven forbid—a self-inflicted wound.

Most of the time they find new positions and other staffers replace them, and so it goes in the magazine publishing circle-of-life.   Unfortunately their email addresses vaporize, vanishing into the ether, and contact information is rendered obsolete.

But, increasingly, one thing stays the same, no matter how many job changes or career moves someone makes: Their Twitter handle.

Just like a cell phone number that remains the same, no matter how many times you switch service providers or home addresses, Twitter handles have proved to be reliably stable.  An editor may work at three different publications in the same calendar year, but his or her Twitter handle stays constant.

A Twitter handle is inextricably linked to an individual.  It’s so closely connected, in fact, that Twitter has policies in place if a user claims that their brand is being impersonated (yes, each of us is now a brand!)  A Twitter handle becomes part of the user’s identity, and although it can be changed, few people ever take that step.  It is a great way to keep track of a favorite editor.

So beginning today, wherever possible, Wooden Horse will include the Twitter handles for editorial staffers.  It’s part of our continuing effort to provide our customers and readers with the information you need to be successful.

Thriving Latino-themed magazines are are a bright spot

Think all magazines are struggling?

It may depend on their target audience.  In figures released this week, Publishers Information Bureau reported impressive, double digit gains in revenue and ad pages for magazines targeting Latino readers.  Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the US, comprising 16% of the population, and advertisers have taken notice in a big way.

Meredith’s SIEMPRE MUJER, with a rate base of 550,000, saw advertising revenue jump by 51% in 2011 over 2010, and a 32% hike in ad pages.  Parenting pub SER PADRES, another Meredith property, has a rate base of 800,000 and upped ad revenue by 17%, with 13% growth in ad pages.  LATINA*, an English-language women’s magazine from Latina Media Ventures, experienced a similar rise, taking in 15% more in ad revenue and selling 13% more ad pages.  Time Inc’s PEOPLE EN ESPANOL racked up an added 37% in ad dollars in 2011, and boasted an increase of 32% in ad pages.

Is it any wonder that COSMOPOLITAN* last month announced plans for COSMOPLITAN LATINA, a new bicultural English-language glossy?  An eagerly awaited test issue is scheduled for release in May 2012.

So for freelancer writers and PR pros trying to find new prospects in a shifting market, you don’t have to look far.  Opportunity is here, and it looks like it’s moving to a Latin beat.

Copyright protected or free for all?

As magazines become more digital, ownership and use of their content get more controversial.

A new player has emerged in the tug-of-war between those who generate news and information content, and those who believe they should be free to access and use that content in any way they choose.

The Associated Press and 28 other news organizations have co-invested $30 million in NewsRight, a new venture created to license original news content, collect royalties and detect unauthorized commercial use of original content.  Two years in the making, the for-profit entity uses proprietary software developed by the AP, and it now stands as an independent business with a staff of 11.

NewsRight is designed to target heavy and commercial unauthorized use of copyrighted material.  Its primary mission is to work with digital entities that want to pay for and legally use content from member news organizations.  In addition, NewsRight will track content use not only to detect violations and collect royalties, but also to develop analytics that member news organizations can use in their business plans.

Advocates of digital democracy and a borderless internet may take a jaundiced view of the new venture.  Similar efforts have overreached, attempting to legally and financially browbeat small offenders who never saw any monetary gain.

Back in September, Wooden Horse brought you the story of Righthaven, a company employed by some news organizations to troll the internet in search of copyright infringement, then sue the offenders for monetary damages as a way of creating revenue for the newspapers.  Righthaven went after private individuals indiscriminately, often for small infractions, demanding egregious sums of money.  In the end, the courts ruled against the company and it went out of business.

But NewsRight is built on a more balanced approach, working to protect and monetize the content its news partners paid to create, rather than trying to make money off content through litigation.

Find more information on NewsRight at http://bit.ly/yZx32g

Think before You Quote – Even in Comments

If you create content – or even post comments in blogs – and include quotes from someone else – be aware.  Although this particular company may well be on its last legs, there may be others out there.

It’s an ugly 18-month saga that, fortunately, seems to be coming to a close.

The players:

  •  Righthaven LLC, a Las Vegas-based firm founded in March of 2010, solely for the purpose of suing blogs and websites that re-post any newspaper content without permission from their media clients.
  •  Stephens Media, which owns 70 papers in nine states, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  •  MediaNews Group, the second-largest US newspaper chain, publisher of the Denver Post and 50 other papers.
  •  Hapless bloggers and website owners, as well as those who comment on them.

Act I:

Righthaven LLC is formed in March of 2010, with help from a $500,000 investment from Stephens Media, their first client.  The idea is simple; if newspapers can’t make enough money up front through advertisers and subscribers, monetize the content on the backend through litigation, going after those who unlawfully use their copyrighted material.

Newspaper chains will sell their copyrights to Righthaven for the express purpose of suing over the content, but according to the contract, newspapers retain all rights to control, license and print the material, while Righthaven can only use it to sue.  The agreement also states that any proceeds from settlements or legal judgments are split 50-50 between Righthaven and the newspaper company.  What could go wrong?

Act II:

Righthaven immediately goes about the business of trolling the web for copyright infringements, serving up lawsuits to as many as 300 offenders over the next year, mostly in Nevada and Colorado.  They go after bloggers and websites, even if visitors posted the material in comments or discussion boards.  The size of the infraction also is irrelevant, with no distinction made between small portions or entire articles.

Defendants are sued for tens-of-thousands of dollars, some as much as $150,000, the largest damages allowed.  At least 100 of the accused settle out-of-court for undisclosed sums, fearing expensive legal battles.

Act III:

Righthaven’s profit model and business begin to unravel by April of this year.  Defendants start to fight back, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation begins investigating, exposing large legal flaws in the company’s contractual agreements and lawsuits.

By June, two federal judges in Nevada have ruled Righthaven has no standing to bring a lawsuit, because the newspapers still retain copyright ownership.  The rulings, based on copyright law, state that, “a copyright owner cannot assign a bare right to sue.”  Most of Righthaven’s cases are dismissed, and in July the company is sanctioned by the court and fined $5,000.

Epilogue:

This week the new chief executive of MediaNews Group, John Paton, said he was severing ties with Righthaven saying, “It was a dumb idea.”  Going further he said, “The issues about copyright are real, but the idea that you would hire someone on an-essentially-success fee to run around and sue people at will, who may or may not have infringed as a way of protecting yourself…does not reflect how news is created and disseminated in the modern world.”

Aside from the questionable ethical nature of Righthaven’s business, it also was based on a flawed understanding of copyright law.  Righthaven based their model on so-called patent-troll companies, who buy up patents only so they can sue others and turn a profit.  The key, however, is that they purchase the patent and own it.  Righthaven owned nothing, since the newspapers still reserved all rights of usage.

Righthaven has not filed a lawsuit in over two months, and has not won a single case.  Discredited and with only one client, it looks to be on its way out.  Bloggers who settled with the company are considering options for getting their money back, now that they know the suits were baseless.

The takeaway – which should not be interpreted as legal advice:

  •  Protect yourself.  If you have a blog or website, there is a simple, relatively cheap way to inoculate yourself from infringement committed by those, who comment or post on your site.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects you from civil copyright liability for user content, and you can easily register a DMCA agent.  Visit http://www.copyright.gov, download the appropriate form and send it with a $105 check to Copyright RRP, Box 71537, Washington, DC 20024.
  •  Fair use practices allow you to reproduce and use a copyrighted work for nonprofit or educational purposes.  It’s usually acceptable to use a copyrighted work in teaching, research, or for criticism and commentary.  For the most part, non-commercial use that does not affect the potential market for or value of the work is considered legal.
  •  Most media outlets and people who create content don’t object to someone quoting short passages from articles, stories or speeches, especially in the context of discussion or criticism.  However, attributing credit and providing a link to the original source are welcome courtesies that can show good intention and save you some trouble.

 

Friday News Round-up for August 19

As you take that last bite of summer, we’re here to keep you up-to-speed on the news.  All titles with an *asterisk can be found in the Wooden Horse database.

An $18 million class-action settlement, in a case brought by freelance writers against publishers who reprinted their works online without permission, was voided by the 2nd U.S. Circuit court of Appeals in New York.  The court ruled the settlement was unfair, because it did not adequately compensate authors who had not registered copyrights in their works.  The settlement would have shortchanged 99% of the authors included in the suit.  A revised resolution is pending.

JET* is adding opinion and perspective pieces to the magazine, and plans are in the works for a cover-to-cover redesign in the near future.  According to Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers, the websites for both Jet and EBONY* also are slated for major redesigns…

CARSON MAGAZINE collapsed internally after two issues.  Named for creative director David Carson, the California-based design publication created much buzz when it launched in April.  Carson reportedly had major differences with Editor-in-Chief Alex Storch and left, leading Storch to rename the magazine UNTITLED.  Regardless of the name, it now faces a dubious future, and leaves behind unpaid contributors and subscribers…

SHAPE*, STAR* and NATIONAL ENQUIRER* publisher, American Media Inc, no longer is looking for buyers.  Disappointed by low offers, the company has taken itself off the market for now…

HIGHWAY STAR, a Canadian trucking magazine, has ceased print and will merge with sister publication TODAY’S TRUCKING.  Publisher Newcom Business Media Inc. owns both titles…

AMERICAN PRINTER, the long-running B2B, has published its last issue and will be shuttered.  Although the magazine’s title changed several times over the years, the trade publication has continuously been in print since 1883…

MOTOR BOATING*, a magazine aimed at recreational motor boaters, ceased publishing…

NYLON* magazine welcomed new beauty editor Lily Nima, nylonlily@gmail.com…

HOMEMAKERS* Canadian women’s magazine lost Editor-in-Chief Kathy Ullyott, who served in the position since 2005…

THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE* brought in Jon Kelly, no email available yet, to run the publication’s front of book, snapping him up from BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK*, where he was an editor…

THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE* snagged Samantha Henig, henig@nytimes.com, as website editor, attracting her from THE NEW YORKER*, where she served as digital news editor…

O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE* welcomed new assistant editor Stephanie Palumbo, spalumbo@hearst.com…

NEW YORK MAGAZINE* lost senior online editor Chris Rovzar, crovzar@vf.com, to VANITY FAIR, where he is the new digital editor…

PARENTS* magazine said goodbye to assistant editor Cheryl Lock.  No replacement has been named…

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY* brought on board editorial assistant Stephan Lee, stephan_lee@ew.com…

BOSTON MAGAZINE* welcomed Courtney Hollands, chollands@boston.com, as senior lifestyle editor…

CQ MONEYLINE will bid farewell to editor Alex Knott, aknott@cq.com, on October 14…

SALON.COM* has a new Washington editor, Jefferson Morley, jmorley@salon.com…

PCMAG.COM* hired Meredith Popolo, meredith_popolo@pcmag.com, as an assistant editor overseeing features…

NEWSWEEK-DAILY BEAST* will welcome Justine Rosenthal, no email yet, as a senior editor…

THE DAILY BEAST named Malcolm Jones,
malcolm.jones@newsweekdailybeast.com, as the new editor…

Editors Update:  Alex Storch, the editor-in-chief of UNTITLED magazine, formerly CARSON, reached out to Wooden Horse on Friday, insisting that the magazine is still viable and will move forward.  He provided no additional details regarding future plans.

Check back during the week for fresh content about new and redesigned magazines.