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Issue for August 2021

Fashion Magazines Try NFTs

Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2021 at 11:02 PM

In the news: Could non-fungible tokens be a lucrative revenue stream for fashion magazines? Vogue is about to find out.

This week, Maghan McDowell of VogueBusiness.com explores Vogue Singapore’s foray into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in its September 2021 issue. “Fashion magazines are jumping on the NFT opportunity, giving non-fungible tokens the sign-off from the industry’s glossies,” McDowell writes. “Already trending among luxury brands in games and via augmented reality, NFTs offer a potential revenue stream for magazines, while the positioning gives readers a chance to evaluate exclusive, digital items of value.” Vogue Singapore’s September issue has 15 NFTs for sale, including alternative covers with NFT and AI-generated fashion items.

NFTs are a bold new frontier for magazines trying to find more ways to remain profitable -- and current. McDowell says: “NFT and fashion magazine tie-ups can help translate the value of non-fungible tokens for the fashion crowd as well as give print media a new angle of relevance.” Read more here.

Also Notable

Vice Reimagines Editorial Content

Vice Media Group is continuing with its video-first strategy, reports Max Willens of Digiday.com. The strategic shift is marked by “a number of changes designed to formally put stories and vertical video at the forefront of its content operations.... The editor in chief of Vice’s digital team ... will now report to an executive who oversees video strategy and output.” Vice has been relying more heavily on visual storytelling, and the shift has led to other staffing changes, Willens says: “Vice also laid off a small number of staffers, the majority of whom are writers and editors at Vice Media Group-owned brands, including Refinery29 and Vice.” But the shift doesn’t mean the end of quality reporting, says chief digital officer Cory Haik, who “framed the move as one that would allow Vice’s editorial teams to focus less on aggregating and more on original content.” Read more here.

Washington Post Launches Voices Across America

To further diversify its crop of journalists, the Washington Post has launched its Voices Across America page. It features columns from writers from all over the US, says Evelyn Mateos. Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt tells Mateos that the Post considers “race, nationality, gender, experience, ideology, and geography” in its diversity initiatives and that it “has reached out to writers with reporting experience and who can respond engagingly to events that take place in their region.” Read more about the new platform here.

Headline Testing for Engagement

For some publishers, testing multiple versions of a headline for the same article is paying off. The tactic allows editors to see which titles best drive clicks and reader engagement. “Headline testing drives value in two ways,” writes What’s New in Publishing. From a quantitative perspective, it directly lifts engagement for each story that’s tested. Informed by that data, content teams can then learn how to write more engaging headlines.” Over time, research suggests, editors gain better insight into the types of titles that work best, making testing less necessary over time. Read more here.

An Evening Edition Revived

The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington, has relaunched the Spokane Chronicle, formerly its evening print edition, as an eight-page digital edition for print subscribers. According to Kristen Hare of Poynter.org, “While many legacy newsrooms are working on attracting new subscribers, the Chronicle isn’t a play to build new audiences. It’s meant to keep the audience the 127-year-old paper still has, who’ve seen their subscription costs rise every year.” Read more here.

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Work-from-Home's Future Still a Dilemma

Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2021 at 11:01 PM

Editors weigh in on how successful work-from-home has been at their publications. The results are mixed.

By William Dunkerley

"If your editorial staff has initiated or increased work-from-home during the pandemic, has it worked out well for you?" That's a question we raised with a sampling of Editors Only readers. The responses that came back may surprise you. There was quite a variety.

Rich Calbay, associate publisher at DUB Publishing, gave a simple and unambiguous answer: "Yes." At Life Time Fitness, senior editor Steve Waryan agrees, and adds, "The entire magazine team has been working from home since March 2020, and we've successfully produced a monthly magazine since then by working together virtually over Microsoft Teams."

Susan Buningh, executive editor of Attention magazine, writes about how proud she is of her staff. She explains:

"Our entire nonprofit organization went from work-from-home part of the time to full time in March 2020. It has worked so well that we plan to continue in a solid capacity.

"Previously staff members set up their own WFH days in coordination with their director and department. Going forward, we expect to have one day per week when everyone will work in the office, or staggered in-office days when we will schedule all-staff meetings, for example.

"We've all become comfortable with meeting via Zoom and other platforms, but we also miss each other! We're examining all the implications of having everyone work mostly from home, including moving to a smaller office space. Nothing is carved in stone yet.

"As an organization, our workload across all departments increased during the pandemic, as we strived to meet the needs of both our members and our entire constituency.

"Everyone rose to the occasion by producing excellent work. We are examining staffing needs for the future as well. In terms of staff performing editorial functions, which in our case are multimedia, the entire staff did excellent, exemplary work every step of the way."

At the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, managing editor Stephanie Dean agrees that work-from-home worked out. She adds, though, that "the staff layoffs have not worked so well."

Some respondents are raising questions about continued work-from-home. Ashlee Duren, publisher of Augusta magazine, says, "Work-from-home worked out okay, but better for us to be together." At Cosmetics and Toiletries magazine, managing scientific editor Rachael Grabenhofer elaborates, "Yes, it has worked out well; most feedback I've gotten is we get more done! It's partly because we aren't currently traveling. Although we are re-entering the office now, and it's nice to have spontaneous meetings where new ideas are generated -- ones we wouldn't have had otherwise. It's a balance."

Samuel Moore, senior editor of IEEE Spectrum, agrees that work-from-home has been helpful. But he discloses, "Apart from helping to keep us safe from the virus, work-from-home has allowed me to deal with some family issues that arose during the pandemic in a way that would have been difficult-to-impossible otherwise. However, I am seeing how it has limited my productivity."

Indeed, productivity seems to be an important issue in the work-from-home dilemma. Just reading the general news, I've seen a tendency by employers to claim it has reduced productivity. With employees, on the other hand, there seem to be many claiming to have a greater sense of productivity at home.

We attempted to check out the situation in editorial offices. For that we conducted a separate survey, using a different sample of readers. We asked how work-from-home affected productivity. No one answered. We drew another sample and asked the same question. Zero response. Finally, we drew a third sample, but got the same unanimous non-response.

My experience with surveys of all kinds is that when questionnaire recipients skip answering a question, it is often because it provoked some sort of unexplained anxiety. Productivity seems to be a hot-button issue here.

If you are an advocate for work-from-home, that means it would be wise to start documenting productivity and comparing the result with the old days back at the office. If there is a deficiency, fix it. Likewise, if you are advocating a return to the traditional office environment, it's time to institute an objective check and comparison of productivity. This is certainly an important matter.

Work quality is another key issue here. Becky Schoenfeld, editorial director of QST magazine, has already tuned in to that matter. She shares her insights:

"Overall work-from-home has worked out well, but I find that it gets harder, rather than easier, as it goes on. It's much harder to maintain a sense of the team, and I think folks have been home for so long, that folks' critical reading skills have relaxed a bit -- I'm seeing a lot more copyediting and fact-checking slip-ups, and will have to come up with a way to get things back on track."

Managing a remote workforce does require a very different approach from traditional at-office supervision. You have reduced opportunities for qualitative observation of performance and productivity. Metrics can help keep your hand on the pulse of editorial productivity, i.e., how much copy is being produced. Metrics can also assist in maintaining deadline performance. Tracking it is a good idea.

Tracking of editorial quality should be helpful too. One manager was faced with editors submitting less-than-polished copy. She instituted tracking of the number of changes that had to be made during copyediting and proofreading for each editor's submissions. After each issue the results were shared with the whole staff. That seemed to successfully address the problem of submitting sloppy copy. Similarly, try tracking fact-checking errors too. The key is to collect metrics that can provide you with an objective assessment of how everyone is doing. That way you can provide factual feedback to editors to keep them on their toes.

With all that said, our survey identified some editors who were carefree when it comes to work-at-home. They were doing it all along!

At Old Schoolhouse magazine, senior editor Deborah Wuehler writes, "Our company has always been a work-from-home virtual company. We have not changed that aspect, but we have hired more staff to help through the pandemic year. We have set up regular Zoom, webinar, or phone meetings since running a virtual business needs this kind of interaction and communication where simple emails may not suffice."

Tricia Bisoux at BizEd magazine said, "This question isn't applicable to us. My co-editor and I have always worked remotely from our homes (for 20 years, in fact)!"

William Dunkerley is principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, www.publishinghelp.com.

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Discovering the Music of Language, Part II

Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2021 at 11:01 PM

Consider writing and art for listening.

By Peter P. Jacobi

When Leonard Bernstein, in one of those remarkable public demonstrations of his, spoke of Beethoven and pointed to flaws in the composer's technique, he was making an argument for writing to be tested against the ears. Beethoven, said Bernstein, was not the most inspired melodist or proficient harmonist or sagacious contrapuntalist or talented orchestrator. But he knew, concluded Bernstein, he knew better than anyone in the history of western music, what the next note should be.

And that came from Beethoven's ability to listen. Now remember, fate dealt him a blow. He could not, later in his life, hear the actual sounds because of his deafness. But he had the ability to enunciate his music and somehow truly hear it so that the flow of notes -- the one-after-another of notes, as well as the coming-together-of notes -- was somehow perfect.

The writer needs to reach toward his own perfection, toward capturing the just-right next note, or word, and most of us have ears with which to hear.

Be the listener, first to what surrounds you and then to what springs from within you. Read aloud. Listen. Is there sense to what you've written? Is there flow? Is there a voice? Is there something that is distinctly yours?

Listen to the late Elie Wiesel. "Let us repeat it once again," he writes, concerned perhaps that we who read have not been listening. "Auschwitz is something else, always something else. It is a universe outside the universe, a creation that exists parallel to the creation. Auschwitz lies on the other side of life and on the other side of death. There, one lives differently, one walks differently, one dreams differently."

Those words come together to teach and to warn, to imprint themselves on a reader. Each word is there because it needs to be, because it fits, because none other would serve as well. Wiesel listened.

The late Stephen Spender in the making of a poem urged that poets aspire to create a world through "a kind of language of our inner wishes and thoughts ... a language of flesh and roses." And so, he could write:

How can they call this dark when stars
That all day long the sun rules out
Show brilliant at the ends of space?

Each word, again, has been carefully selected, and the placement of each word has been just as carefully designated. Spender listened.

A Melodic Flow

As did that legendary writer for the New Yorker Joseph Mitchell when he noted:

I often feel drawn to the Hudson River, and I have spent a lot of time through the years poking around the part of it that flows past the city. I never get tired of looking at it; it hypnotizes me. I like to look at it in midsummer, when it is warm and dirty and drowsy, and I like to look at it in January, when it is carrying ice. I like to look at it when it is stirred up, when a northeast wind is blowing and a strong tide is running -- a new-moon tide or a full-moon tide -- and I like to look at it when it is slack. It is exciting to me on weekdays, when it is crowded with ocean craft, harbor craft, and river craft, but it is the river itself that draws me, not the shipping, and I guess I like it best on Sundays, when there are lulls that sometimes last as long as half an hour, during which, all the way from the Battery to the George Washington Bridge, nothing moves upon it, not even a ferry, not even a tug, and it becomes as hushed and dark and secret and remote and unreal as a river in a dream.

Mitchell had to watch and watch and watch again to capture his subject. But then, having recreated the observations on paper, he had to hear the words to make sure he had really captured the scene. He had. Mitchell listened. In his passage, there is that sense of flow, of words, of words nesting where they belong. No element is out of place. The words are like a melodic line.


It is the writer's responsibility to listen, whether what ends up on paper is to be prose or poetry. Rhythms that comfort or excite result. Flowerings of language which entice or amaze result. Lessons which sink in and stick around result. Inspirations which lift and enrich result. Fiction or nonfiction which has meaning and imports results.

Scott Russell Sanders recalls a moment out of childhood in an essay for the Gettysburg Review. He had been taken to the funeral of someone he knew.

The following Sunday, while a visitor preached, I stole from the church and crept over to the parsonage. I drew to the edge of the porch, wrapped my fingers around the spindles of the railing, and stared at the empty rocker. Rev. Knipe will never sit in that chair again, I'd told myself. Never, never, never. I tried to imagine how long forever would last. I'd tried to imagine how it would feel to be nothing. No thing. Suddenly chair and house and daylight vanished, and I was gazing into a dark hole, I was falling, I was gone. I caught a whiff of death, the damp earthy smell seeping from beneath the porch. It was also the smell of mud, of leaping grass, of spring. Clinging to that sensation, I pulled myself out of the hole. There was the house again, that chair. I let go of the railing, swung away, and ran back to the church, chanting to myself: He was old and I am young. He was old and am young.

The music of death and life results. And what a gift that it is -- from you to your waiting reader. Those, too, were words listened to, each noun and every verb. So precise they are and so deftly combined. They have cadence and texture.

Consider writing and art for listening.

A classic article from a past issue in tribute to the late Peter J. Jacobi, longtime EO writer and author of The Magazine Article: How to Think It, Plan It, Write It.

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Free Assistance

Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2021 at 10:59 PM

During this time of crisis recovery, we stand ready to answer privately any specific questions our readers may have, time permitting. You can contact us at: crisis-help@editorsonly.com.

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