Magazining

Getting The Scoop On Big Print Publications From A Print Veteran Publisher

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Had the privilege of meeting a real life magazine publisher, Beth McDonough, formerly with the designer favorite magazine, Traditional Home. We talked shop, which for me is giddy because I’m just a babe in the magazine world. Actually I’m not even in the magazine world, as I’m a veteran of digital. As a blogger, I knew how to out-rank web pages of glossy magazines. Thanks to their overly tight controls of how they tried to keep users on their websites, I understood how Google worked, and why Google wanted the more links off the page as possible - a signal of a truly helpful web page.

Today, as corporate print magazines reduce their print schedules, and require consumers to go to the store to pick up from the shelf, I’m still mind boggled as to why that is a good idea. Sounds like veteran print magazine extremely talented editorial staff also don’t see it as a good idea. And the profit sheets of these big corporate publication mergers also don’t see it as a good idea.

Thoughtfulness of a good reading and connecting experience is not factored into the big picture strategies coming from the C Suite, and as readers, we can tell. I’m so lucky to live in the same place as this veteran publisher, and that I could speak to her in real life at one of our local cafes, Ella’s Bellas. Print lives. Advertisers do want to see their branding in print. I am more hopeful than ever at the rise of niche media like mine here at Tin Shingle and at A Little Beacon Blog. The independent publications are going to do well if they know how to bottle this Advertiser enthusiasm. 

EBONY Magazine In Flux - Print Magazine Folds, Digital Seems To Continue

EBONY Magazine and its spin off political sister magazine Jet, reportedly fired its online editorial staff without pay, as reported by the New York Daily News and The Root, and suspended the print publication. So far, Spring 2019 has been the last issue.

The Background

Founded by John H. Johnson in 1945, EBONY Magazine was the source for African American culture, news and perspective. When Johnson died in 2005, his daughter Linda Johnson Rice took the helm. By that time, the shifts in media publishing were starting to prove too volatile for survival. Rice sold the Johnson Publishing Company building in 2010 to Columbia College, moving the staff to more affordable offices.

In 2016, both EBONY and Jet were sold to The Clear View Group (CVG), an African American investment group bringing over 25 years of experience in running successful corporations.

#EbonyOwes Social Campaign Emerges In Defense Of Unpaid Freelance Writers

In 2017, a social media campaign #EbonyOwes forced Clear View Group’s owners Michael Gibson and Willard Jackson into the public eye for not paying their freelance writers, as reported by Vice. Fifty freelance writers were owed a collective amount of $200K. In response, EBONY made an effort to pay them with $18K offered to 11 writers, 3 of whom were paid in full. The National Writers Union stepped in, taking EBONY Media and its parent company CVG to court.

On February 27, 2018, the remaining 43 writers finally settled their lawsuit with Ebony Magazine, according to Kinja. Ebony Media, Clear View Group and the National Writers Union came to an agreement that all unpaid invoices would be compensated by the end of the year in four quarterly payments. But by October 2018, Ebony missed its third quarter payment. After another lawsuit and more social media shaming, CVG made the final payment by December 7, 2018 - three weeks before the final deadline.

In November 2018, the company suspended dental, vision and disability overage, suggesting the possibility of reinstating benefits in June 2019. But on January 3, 2019, all other medical benefits were cancelled, including HSA plans.

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…And Then Print…And Then Payroll…

In May of 2019, CVG informed their staff that the print edition of EBONY would be suspended on May 24th. On May 30th, a memo informed staffers that payroll would be delayed. Some employees have mentioned that their 401(k) contributions deducted from their paychecks were never added to their accounts, according to the New York Post.

The magazine cover created by Lawrence Ross for TheRoot.com, as a parody. Ebony Magazine took TheRoot.com to court alleging trademark infringement. It was ruled that the satirical cover was protected under the First Amendment.  Image Credit:    Lawrence Ross

The magazine cover created by Lawrence Ross for TheRoot.com, as a parody. Ebony Magazine took TheRoot.com to court alleging trademark infringement. It was ruled that the satirical cover was protected under the First Amendment.
Image Credit: Lawrence Ross

EBONY Magazine Loses Lawsuit Over Satirical and Critical Magazine Cover

Ebony Magazine lost a lawsuit against TheRoot.com, for allegedly infringing on Ebony’s trademark due to this magazine cover parody created by Lawrence Ross. It was ruled that the satirical cover was protected under the First Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York wrote, “Each of the 5 headlines on the Accused Image is harshly and unambiguously critical of EBONY Magazine —sarcastically purporting to preview (non-existent) stories about: the magazine being a ‘deadbeat,ʼthe magazineʼs owners ‘show[ing] us howʼ to cheat black writers, ‘100 Ways Ebony Doesnʼt Pay Writers,ʼ the magazineʼs owners as ‘Slow Pay Kings of Black Biz,ʼ and ‘Thousands in Back Payʼ owed by the magazine. It is difficult to imagine any reader experiencing confusion as to whether or not EBONY Magazine sponsored or endorsed a cover that portrays it in such a negative light. . . .” 

Former EBONY Publisher Files For Bankruptcy

In April 2019, former EBONY publisher Johnson Publishing Company filed for bankruptcy, which does not impact the publication, according to EBONY as quoted in Black Press USA.  They are in the process of selling off all remaining assets, including an archive of photos chronicling black American history and Fashion Fair cosmetics, the first cosmetic line to address the beauty needs of the African American community it retained from Linda Johnson Rice.

Photo Credit: Screenshot from the article at  The Root .

Photo Credit: Screenshot from the article at The Root.

Photo Archives Of African American People And History Are Unsecured

The photo archives were once valued at $46 million in 2015, according to TheSource.com. The photo archives included photos of entertainers, civil rights leaders and prominent African American businessmen and women. According to The New York Post: “The archive includes one of the most dramatic photos of the civil rights era: the badly disfigured body of 14-year-old Emmett Till laid out in a coffin. The Chicago native was accused of offending a white woman during a trip to Mississippi, which led to barbed wire being tied around his neck before he was thrown naked into a river with a 75-pound weight tied to him. The photo by David Jackson appeared first in Jet in 1955 and became a searing reminder of racism in the Deep South at the time.”

Financier Mellody Hobson and her husband George Lucas (yes, that George Lucas) are attempting to take control over the archive according to The Root, as it was used as collateral when Capital Holdings V, a company Hobson and Lucas control, lent JPC $12 million dollars back in 2015. The photo collection is set to go up for auction the week of July 15, 2019, likely in Chicago.

Entertainment Weekly Magazine Goes Monthly - But Keeps Weekly In Title For Now

Entertainment Weekly magazine will go monthly, yet retain the title of Weekly, according to Adweek. The publication, part of the Meredith family of print publications, will start this new schedule in August under new Editor In Chief JD Heyman. The July 5th issue will be the last weekly publication. The new EID is coming from People Magazine. The former EID, Henry Goldblatt, has been at a Entertainment Weekly for 17 years, according to Variety, as highlighted by Adweek.

What Does That Mean For Businesses Looking For Features?

The print publication cycle will slow down a bit, now that there aren’t weekly magazines to churn out. As for an Editorial Calendar, they may release a broad theme to sell to advertisers in a broader way. But, we don’t recommend you to pitch by Editorial Calendar theme anyway because there are way to many ideas out there to wait for a broad theme. 

Tin Shingle will inquire as to what their new print publication cycle will look like, so that we know which months they are working on when. We will also keep our eyes on media moves for those coming and going for our Media Contact Library.

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Sunday's Are Perfect For...Magazine Reading...Here's How To Find The Perfect Media Contact

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You can get into any one of these magazines. Be your business a local shop, or if you’re an expert in your field, or if you’ve developed the perfect toy. Inside the pages of these magazines - and their digital versions - are a myriad of reasons why your business would fit into a story. The key is to unlocking that 1 reason that makes your business a must-write about.

The Perfect Pitch

Sunday's are for being unplugged and dreaming your dreams. That means answering to no one, and listening to the ideas that enter your mind. Being that you're running a business, the ideas #dontstopwontstop. They make you happy! That is why you can use today to discover one special pitch.


Discover The Pitch

You want a feature in a magazine. Or a TV show. Sunday is the day you will pick up 1 magazine, or watch 1 TV show you want your business featured in. You will turn the pages. You will read the articles. You will discover "The Why" of why that writer might cover your business next time. You see how they covered one business, and an idea will click on why they might cover yours.


"Don't I Need To Wait For The Editorial Calendar To Tell Me When To Pitch?"

No. While Tin Shingle does give you instant access to over 100 editorial calendars (Yes, over 100 different publications and growing! Our researcher Yvonne has been busy!), it all comes down to the ideas. Planting the seed.

You can do this. You can plant that seed. You can send a writer an email about your business, just as an FYI, and walk away. You will want to be thinking of so many different story angles. Perfect ones for a particular writer at a particular brand (magazine, digital magazine, TV show). If you’re nervous or unsure about it, you can join Tin Shingle and talk to us in Tin Shingle’s Community using the Pitch Whisperer forum to get feedback.


How To Discover The Best Contact

In your Sunday Reading, here's how you're going to discover who is making the magic. In this video, Tin Shingle's owner and publisher Katie takes you through a little media monitoring of Sift Magazine, a publication that features bakers, bakeries, products, authors, recipes, and more. Another way to discover writers or publications you had no idea about is to tap into Tin Shingle’s Media Contact Library, also a perk of membership with Tin Shingle.

Chevy “Grilling” On The Cover Of bon appetit February 2019 “Healthyish” Issue - Whatever Works!

These magazines arrived in the mailbox today. Condé Nast Traveler and bon appetit. Can’t wait to read! Re the bon appetit cover of the enormous grill on the Chevy Silverado: whatever works, y’all! 😂 I’ll take that all American grill.

Haven’t seen the magazine out in the wild on the newsstands to see if this advertisement cover is also used on retail shelves. Variety magazine also sells their cover to advertisers, especially around Oscar time when Oscar campaigns from film studios are fierce for attention.

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Starting Research on Sift Magazine, From King Aurthur Flour

Reading for the night...in preparation for our hopeful new series...Sunday Reading. Does it count that I’m starting on Monday?

This magazine, Sift, is from King Arthur Flour. Yeah. That’s right. Because companies see magazines as good for business. And this Holiday 2018 issue employed a fair amount of people, most of whom are full time freelance or work for King Arthur Flour. Right now, the magazine comes out 3 times a year: Spring (March), Fall (August) and Holiday (October). Each new issue becomes available on the last Tuesday of the month it publishes in.

There are great product recommendations in the pages as well. And a holiday gift guide! Future updating into Tin Shingle’s Media Contact Library we go. To make sure you know about these foodies. All Access Members of Tin Shingle get instant access to that idea 💡center of goodness.

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“What Do You Do With Your Magazines? Can I Have Them?”

People have been seeing the magazines in our Instagram feed and blog. The print. The physical books. And they’ve been asking: “What do you do with your old magazines? Can I have them?”

Answer: I KEEP them! Proud magazine collector over here. How you gonna collage with no pages? You can’t collage your Instagram! Unless you print it. And that’s work. Where you gonna find the easy amazing pictures? What inspiration are you going to hang on your walls? Subscribe! Get them to your door! At this point, they are a dollar. an. issue.

Will this help the big magazine industry stay afloat? Will this help journalists, artists and production people stay in their jobs? Maybe. Probably not because corporate thinking at magazines - excuse me - “brands” - are behaving erratically and cutting off their arms by stopping printing magazines.  You know what? The indie magazines are going to do well (if they market right) while these corporate leaders at magazines like Glamour, Seventeen and Redbook get confused and cut their arms off.

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Reading Inc. While Walking: Fitting As The Article Encouraged Moving

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Some people read in the bathroom. I read while walking. Another reason to read in print - most people judge (and shouldn’t) people looking at or reading screen devices. But less so when it’s an actual book, magazine or newspaper! One just looks like a nerd. Who hopefully doesn’t trip while walking.

Anyway - the point is - great point presented by Thomas Goetz in Inc. for his Launch Pad column in Inc. Magazine. He asks: “Can your business pass The Donut Test?” The Donut tastes really good and people really want it, but should you make it for them? What are the consequences of what your business makes (no offense to our donut making friends who have built businesses on donut making shops and other treats!)

Thomas presents his example with with Facebook News Feed, which Greg Marra, then a Facebook product manager talking to Thomas when Thomas was at Wired magazine, likened to people just eating a bunch of donuts. Facebook thought to just give the people more donuts since that’s what they wanted. But if you talk to people, Greg said, they said “I actually want to eat fewer donuts and maybe have a kale smoothie.”

Hard core anti-kale people will throw rotten tomatoes at this concept (I’m eating salted seaweed chips right now!), but you get it. If you keep feeding the people just donuts, the people will be angry, depressed, and probably illness ridden. So can the business switch it up? And is your business doing something to improve people’s lives. Help them move. Feel better with no crashes. Bring people together.

It was a good read.

This Week’s Cover of Variety: The Survivors

Sometimes Variety, the trade magazine for the film and television industry, will be bought, and an ad will be there, positioning a film to win an award. Nothing wrong with that - it’s what pays the bills and the writers and the designers and the editors and the entire departments that produce a magazine.

So when Variety doesn’t have an ad on the cover, you know they’ve devoted a deep dive into some great reporting and information presenting.

This editorial, this subject matter won’t stop. It won’t let up. It won’t become less trendy and cycle out of news cycles. A culture of acceptance and rudeness and entitlement and blindness is being fired right now. That’s why this is so hard. Pages in print and in digital are the weapons. Both sides use them, and readers need all of them to find the right answers.

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Local Magazine Reaches Far and Wide for Small City - The Valley Table for Beacon in Mahopac

Enjoying the article on cream in the September-November 2018 issue of The Valley Table which devoted this issue to farmers (and the Pots de Creme in the recipe section).

I’m currently writing this blog post from a car dealership in Mahopac, which is about 35 minutiae from where I live in Beacon, NY (and I produce a blog from there). Several of the staff way out at this dealership love Beacon, NY simply because they read about it and the restaurants so often in The Valley Table.

As a side note, the ads are so well designed! I always enjoy reading the features and the ads. My philosophy is to support ads, to pursue purchasing them, as well as pitching magazines for organic, solid PR. While a true editorial feature can raise your brand’s profile as well as tap into a flood of sales, well placed advertising also educates your customer base and keeps your brand top of mind.

That and, without it, the magazine wouldn’t exist. So there’s that. Plain and simple. 

So support your local and national media sources! 

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