FinePrint December 2010

In this issue:

New for 2011: Magazine Mingle

January 27th at 5:30pm - Loft Literary Center

The Minnesota Magazine Mingle—the 8th annual celebration of publishing in Minnesota— will take place on Thursday, January 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 at Open Book in the Loft Literary Center, located at 1011 Washington Avenue South in Minneapolis.

Co-sponsored by MMPA and The Loft Literary Center, the Magazine Mingle is a unique opportunity for professionals in the magazine world to come together in a casual setting. Freelance writers and editors, primarily, will gather to shake hands, put faces to names, and marvel at the quality and quantity of Minnesota magazines. Magazines published in all regions of the state will be on display.

Light refreshments, a cash bar, and door prizes will be part of the evening. Register online. Early registration rates are valid through January 13, and members of MMPA, the Loft, ASJA, and PEN are eligible for member rates.

2011 Summit & Expo

From Gutenberg to Google Magazines: The Next Generation

What:  MMPA Summit & Expo

When:  April 28th, 2011

Where:  Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, MN

Why:  Whether you are interested in audience development, editorial, sales or production, at this event you will learn the latest strategies for keeping your magazine relevant in the ever-changing, ever-evolving world of publishing.

More information available soon!

December Circulation Roundtable - From Paper to Pixels: Publishing Options in the Digital World

By Kat Knudson

Wayne Metcalfe, Director of Sales for Nxtbook Media, joined the Audience Development roundtable to help us understand the possibilities and pitfalls of the major platforms when considering digital publishing options.

We all know the digital publishing world has changed significantly over the past few years, and Wayne laid it in stark contrast. In 2007 Nxtbook Media offered their clients seven digital platforms. In 2010 there were twenty-five with more on the horizon; the options have exploded. Internet usage is expected to quadruple by 2014 with mobile Internet expanding at an anticipated 29x growth rate. 

Wayne also offered examples of different business models for jumping into digital apps. For example, Adobe advises to get involved sooner rather than later-- people are showing a limited appetite for the number of apps they are willing to download. 

But publishers need to consider the reasons for jumping in and how much they have to invest.  “Jumping in” can mean not developing your own apps, but working with partners who can do that for you.

When considering what routes to take on digital publishing, Wayne recommended thinking usage, not users. You might be surprised at how tech-savvy your audience really is. Research is important; don’t simply assume you know what your audience wants and expects from you. In addition to leading us through the variety of platforms and devices – “i” products, Android, Blackberry, the new Playbook, Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader – Wayne talked about considering native apps vs web apps. He laid out the pros and cons of both.

Conversation was lively throughout the roundtable with many questions asked and important circulation and reader items discussed – how a fulfillment company fits into the equation, the benefits/challenges to having one magazine-reading app, and potential costs involved.

At the conclusion of the roundtable, Wayne left us with a checklist of questions to be answered when moving forward publishing digitally:

  • Budget: what do you want to spend?
  • What is your audience size?
  • What device(s) does your audience use? (Blackberry, iPhone, etc.?)
  • Do you have research to support the audience knowledge?
  • How many apps do you want?
  • What is your content type? Is the publication text-heavy? What type of advertising does it contain?
  • What does your audience expect/want from your publication digitally?
Kat Knudson is the Consumer Marketing Manager of the Affinity - Media Division

Moderation Advised in Taming Comment Liability

by Jim Tarbox

Where I work, we refer to the Internet as the “Wild West.” For Minneapolis media/ First Amendment attorney Mark Anfinson, it’s “The Twilight Zone.”

Even with more than 20 years of media legal work behind him, Anfinson says he finds the “rapid evolution” of the Internet filled with “wonderful but disturbing change.” And while traditional media legal concerns remain at the fore, a lot of what’s new in his world is driven by web-oriented issues.

Much of the discussion for the 20-plus in attendance at MMPA Editorial Roundtable in October revolved around libel issues, particularly concerning the “comments” section of various publications’ websites. Although these user-generated pages are among the most dynamic sites on the web, and publishers seem eager to expand their possibilities for reader-involvement, they also hold the potential for the most problems, particularly regarding defamation.

Only partially with tongue-in-cheek, Anfinson directed his listeners to the nearly 900-page Internet Law: A Field Guide (at $195 a copy) for guidance. And while he once counseled that publishers should take a hands-off approach to reader comments, he now urges editors and publishers to moderate the conversation in the interest of controlling legal risks. And he cautioned against relying too heavily on the protections provided by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that largely frees site hosts of liability for third-party postings. He also encouraged his audience to include social media-usage policies within their companies’ employee-behavior policies, including those for blogging under assumed names and on the employees’ own time away from the workplace. The later being an area of particular liability for publishers, as an employee commenting on the employer’s site is currently not considered an act of a third party.

He also addressed questions about whether blogging free-lancers would be considered “employees,” urged free-lancers to not ignore their intellectual property rights vis-a-vis web usage, and briefly addressed such issues as archived data being “resurrected” after lying quiet for years (particularly in the case of criminal prosecutions), and such niceties as “practical obscurity,” “collateral consequences” and “certificates of rehabilitation.”

All in all, the rapidly changing landscape of the Internet will demand continued and attentive vigilance. And should keep the likes of Anfinson busy for the foreseeable future.

Jim Tarbox is the editor of the History Channel Magazine.