« May 2009 | Home | July 2009 »

Issue for June 2009

Your Publication in This Economy

Posted on Monday, June 08, 2009 at 2:54 PM

How has the present economy affected your publication? What concerns has it raised?

By Denise Gable

It's hard to find any business that hasn't been affected by the present economy. With the fall in ad revenue and subscriptions, many publications are forced to downsize staff, pages, and budgets. We asked editors what is their greatest concern. They weighed in on how the crisis is affecting their publications.

Reason, The Reason Foundation, Los Angeles, CA
Circ.: 50,000
Frequency: 11 times per year
Typical issue size: approximately 80 pages
Description: Reason, established in the revolutionary month of May 1968, is a political and cultural magazine that explores and champions "Free Minds and Free Markets." It is the premier libertarian journal in the world, and has a vigorous website (including a robust video journalism site at reason.tv) that pulls down roughly 3.5 million visitors per month.

Matt Welch, editor-in-chief, "The great and exciting challenge of this moment, especially for us (a magazine that has for a motto "Free Minds and Free Markets"), is to cover the ongoing hydra-headed economic crisis/panic/bailout in a way that makes our monthly print magazine indispensably unique, while thrusting ourselves into the second-by-second national conversation online. At a time when (generously speaking) 95 percent of economics reporting is hand-waving hokum, there is real value to be mined in trying to figure stuff out journalistically and sharing the results with readers of all stripe. The crisis also puts us in a position where, more than a year ago anyway, we are asking ourselves to do more than less. The latter is less of an issue for us than most folks because we've always had an extremely competitive and lean mindset."

Convene, Professional Convention Management Association, New York City, NY
Circ.: 35,000-plus subscribers
Frequency: monthly
Typical issue size: minimum, 104 pages; average 128 pages
Description: The leading educational magazine for the professional meeting planning industry.

Michelle Russell, editor-in-chief, "Our concern is that we're able to keep it whole -- that even though my freelance editorial budget has been cut -- I'll be able to keep my staff intact. That I'll be able to publish articles that aren't all focused on the current economy. In other words, we'll be able to write about the really big ideas that still matter."

PT Magazine, American Physical Therapy Association, Alexandria, VA
Circ.: 75,000 
Frequency: 11x a year (December-January is a combined issue)
Typical issue size: 72-80 pages 
Description: PT -- Magazine of Physical Therapy is the professional issues magazine of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Published to meet the needs and interests of APTA members and to promote physical therapy as a vital professional career, PT provides legislative, health care, human interest, and Association news and serves as a forum for discussion of professional issues and ideas in physical therapy practice. Donald E. Tepper, editor, "Viability of the publication is our top consideration. We've already cut back from 12 issues per year to 11 by combining the December and January issues. We've also reduced the number of editorial pages, from an average of 88 to a goal of 72. Since the magazine is one of the primary member benefits, it's not likely to go away. But it might be reduced to the point that it no longer provides value. Also, some of the cut-back was due not to publication financial problems, but rather to actual and anticipated problems within the organization. So we took a significant hit in order to help preserve other functions in the organization. [I'm also worried about my] job future, obviously."

Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (JPEN) and Nutrition in Clinical Practice (NCP), American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and Sage Publications, Silver Spring, MD, and Thousand Oaks, CA
Circ.: JPEN: 6,630/NCP: 6,000
Frequency: Both 6 times a year
Typical issue size: JPEN has 680 pgs/volume; NCP has 700 pgs/volume
Description: JPEN is the premier scientific journal of nutrition support therapy and metabolic support. It publishes original peer-reviewed studies that define the cutting edge of basic and clinical research in the field. It also explores the science optimizing the care of patients receiving enteral or IV therapies. NCP publishes articles about the scientific basis and clinical application of nutrition and nutrition support. NCP contains peer-reviewed comprehensive reviews, clinical research, case observations, and other papers written by experts in the field of nutrition and healthcare practitioners involved in the delivery of specialized nutrition support.

Bridget E. Struble, publications manager, "We strive to be necessary -- to provide cutting edge research and practical direction. Especially now, we must convince our readers that only we provide the networking and professional development they need to remain necessary to their institutions. "I, too, strive to be the best editor, project manager, and personnel manager to prove my worth to my organization. Excelling at my individual responsibilities while at the same time contributing to the team remain my primary goals."

DocuMania, E.Wallingford, VT
Circ.: 6.5 million
Frequency: released in multiple versions over 5 seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Christmas.
Typical issue size: 108 pages
Description: A copy-intense mail order catalogue that is released in multiple version over five seasons.

Carolyn Haley, freelance editor, "I have already lost more than one client over the past year, and just learned that another one will be cutting back (or bailing out). Prior to the current economic calamity, I began pushing hard to secure work for my normally slow winter season -- last winter really hurt me. With my primary client, I have also proposed a retainer arrangement instead of our usual catch-as-catch-can deal, because that will not only serve both of us but ensure a monthly income for me during this sure to be hairy-scary year."

Denise Gable is managing editor of Editors Only.

Add your comment.


"I am so grateful for these valuable hints in a crucial period like this where survival for editors and publishers has become an impossible task. I appreciate and value your guidance." --Sara Seneviratne, editor-in-chief, Funworld International. 07-24-2009


"My greatest concern is for our readers. They love the magazine and get a lot out of it, but we are stretched to the breaking point with constantly decreasing budgets, more work for fewer people, and management policies that seem aimed at actively preventing us from doing our jobs. We produce the magazine with two staff members and one ad salesperson. There is only so much that two people can do, and in the end it is the readers who suffer for it. Business owners, please, please remember that you have to spend money to make money, and look at the long-term picture." --Anonymous

Posted in Editing (RSS), Management (RSS)

Tips for Survival

Posted on Monday, June 08, 2009 at 2:39 PM

How to weather this tough economic climate for editors.

By Meredith L. Dias

Perhaps most important during these uncertain times is alleviating staff anxiety. One editor tells us in no uncertain terms, "Stay calm and clearheaded and do NOT contribute to water-cooler paranoia." Though job insecurity is typical in today's publishing world, "the nose-diving morale eats away at everyone's ability to function, and then you actually play a part in bringing everyone's fears to fruition." So resist the urge to commiserate with your co-workers. Instead, invest all of that energy in problem-solving and innovation.

Communication with your sales department is also key. Donald E. Tepper, editor of PT Magazine, advises to "stay on top of your advertising sales people. Let them know, editorially, what's happening in the magazine so that they can sell better ads. But then hold them accountable." This is particularly true for journals, which rely heavily upon these advertising revenues. Daryl B. Lund, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Food Science and Comprehensive Reviews of Food Science and Food Safety, emphasizes the importance of keeping ad sales up. "It is tough to do," he admits, "but necessary for survival."

As staffs shrink, surviving editors are left with heavier workloads, longer hours, and little compensation to show for it. In order to beat the burnout, one editor advises to derive motivation from within: "We're given more work and no pay raises, no company contributions, no real incentives other than within ourselves. I've decided to focus on what I can do to help our readers deal with tough times."

Many editors are also restricting budgets however they can, by trimming page sizes/counts, reducing company travel, exploring cheaper postage and paper options, and switching from print to digital content. One editor is "focusing on slashing budgets, reducing travel, printing on both sides of paper." Patricia Harman, editor-in-chief of Cleaning and Restoration magazine, tells us, "We just changed printers and the size of our magazine by about a quarter-inch all around. The savings will translate into at least $2,000 per month and we publish monthly."

Therefore, despite the current bleakness of the industry, editors everywhere are rising to the challenge and implementing cost-saving and innovative measures to keep their publications alive. Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of Reason, has the following advice for stressed publishing professionals: "Buck up! You wanted to live in interesting times, and now here they are. Readers value good journalism more than ever, so stop producing the mediocre stuff."

Meredith L. Dias is the research editor of Editors Only.

Add your comment.

Posted in Editing (RSS), Management (RSS)

The Race Issue

Posted on Monday, June 08, 2009 at 2:34 PM

Giving editorial coverage to a matter that is for many publications uncharted territory.

By Wendy Perron

In 2005 my publication, Dance Magazine, devoted a whole issue to race in our field, which is dance. We felt there were a lot of conversations to be had that many people were not comfortable having. And I was inspired by my experience on the Multi-cultural Committee at my son's school. It's always a challenge to speak with someone of a different race about race, and I was learning how to do it there, so I kind of transferred what I learned to the magazine.

As with any field, dance has special tensions with regard to race -- although I felt and still feel that dance is an area that is freer of prejudice than most others. Being in a studio and dancing side-to-side, sweat-to-sweat, with a person of another race or sexual orientation dissolves some of those biases.

Our Editorial Plan

We have room for only four features a month, but luckily our publisher allowed us to have more pages so we could have a fifth. We chose to delve into trends that exist in more diverse companies: why there are so few black ballerinas, the identity of Latino dance artists, and the generational differences of Asian artists. Since any discussion of race has to face white privilege, we also had a feature on "whiteness in dance."

After we decided what the focus of the stories would be, I had to choose writers to assign. One of my editorial staff was appalled that I planned to assign the Latino story to a Latino writer. He thought the writer would be insulted at my assumption. But I asked this writer, and he jumped at the chance. This writer has a broad experience with dance, but since the Latino experience was so much part of his background, he had followed Latino concert dancers all over the country and was happy to have a chance to highlight them.

For the story on black ballerinas, I thought I would ask a black writer who long ago had aspirations to be a ballerina. I thought she would get more honest interviews with black dancers. She accepted the assignment, but only later did I learn that she had serious doubts about the race issue and about the story I had assigned her in particular.

For the story on whiteness in dance, I asked a black dance scholar who has written often on deconstructing whiteness and blackness.

A Mis-Step?

We felt we were in uncharted territory and knew that we would make some mistakes. For the cover we chose four dancers from a company known for its diversity, a company that was mentioned in our lead story, "Beyond Tokenism: When diversity is part of the art." However, the art director, not wanting to clutter the cover, did not put their names or the name of the company on the cover. And they were soooooo angry with me after that. They felt they were used instead of celebrated.

Another bit of trouble we got into was that some readers were so happy about the race issue that they expected every subsequent issue to address the topic in a similarly bold way. A couple readers accused us of falling back into racial indifference the very next month -- which was a wake-up call to me.

Success in the End

I was proud of our issue on the race issue, and it got a huge response. Readers wrote long letters, some with the stories of their lives. Others commented about a single telling incident. I really wish we could have set up a continuing dialogue, as we all need to talk openly about race. Now that we have a mixed-race president, these conversations might come more easily. So I am planning a five-year follow-up in 2010.

For any editor who wants to mount a similar theme issue on race, I would give only this advice: Make no assumptions. Talk to as many people of different races as possible, especially if your editorial staff is mostly white -- and gather different viewpoints. It's risky to go into that embattled territory, but it's worth the risk.

Wendy Perron is editor-in-chief of Dance Magazine, circulation 50,000.

Add your comment.

Posted in Editing (RSS), Management (RSS)

« May 2009 | Top | July 2009 »