The Telegram and Gazette

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I was interviewed and quoted for a story about the sale of The Boston Globe newspaper in The Telegram and Gazette newspaper. You can read the entire story here and below are my quotes:

Mr. Ryan, the managing partner of Boston Post Partners, worked at Hachette Filipacchi Media from 1992 to 1996, when it published titles such as Road and Track and Elle magazines. A graduate of Harvard College with an MBA from Harvard, he was previously general partner of Megunticook Management Co., specializing in traditional and digital media and information services.

“He knows what he’s doing on the marketing and business side of magazines,” said Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. “That’s essential for the future of newspapers, because newspapers have become like a daily magazine.”

Bloomberg Businessweek

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I was interviewed and quoted for a story on the Meredith Corp. in Bloomberg Businessweek. You can read my quotes below and read the entire article by clicking here.

In February, Meredith published one of its signature editorial products—a “bookazine” called Chicken Dinners. It was flush with ads, co-branded under the Better Homes and Gardens imprimatur, and sold with no expiration date. In theory, it could live on a newsstand—or a coffee table or a kitchen counter—for many months. “Chicken Dinners is Chicken Dinners whether you buy it in May, June, or July,” says Samir Husni, the director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi.

USA Today

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I was interviewed and quoted for a column in USA Today about magazines and their future. You can read my quotes below and you can click here to read the entire article.

Nobody loves magazines more than Samir Husni, the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. And he’s certainly not ready to give up on the objects of his affection.

How much does Husni love magazines? Not only is his nickname “Mr. Magazine,” he had it trademarked. His magazine collection includes more than 28,000 first editions. When we talked on the phone on Monday, he had just returned from Walmart, where he had dropped $150 on 10 magazines.

Husni is certainly saddened by the latest development affecting the Time Inc. magazines. He sees it as a consequence of having business people with no regard for magazines running a company that was launched by a visionary journalist. And he sees that as emblematic of broader changes in the industry.

Picture 37As for the spinoff, Husni’s big fear is that it will lead to a breakup of the magazine unit, that it will “open it up to vultures from all over the place who will pick off the magazines piece by piece. They are going to be more vulnerable now. It’s a shame when a media giant is treated like a soccer ball.”

Husni readily agrees that the glory days of, say, 2007, “when magazines were printing money,” are gone forever. “They had the carpet pulled out from under their feet,” he says. “They’re still trying to come back.”

But he thinks some perspective is in order.

“Magazines are still bringing in a lot of money,” he says. “Many magazines are profitable. Are they making less? Yes. Maybe we need to be less greedy.”

And he is dazzled by the huge increase in the number of magazine titles. In 1980 there were about 2,000. Now there are 10,000. The proliferation reflects the dominance of the niche. Today there’s a magazine for virtually every interest, no matter how arcane. “There are about eight magazines about chickens,” Husni marvels.

Bloomberg Businessweek

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I was interviewed and quoted in an article in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine about the talk about the merger of Time Inc. and Meredith. My quotes are below and click here to read the entire article.

The combined company would have been hampered by an identity crisis, says Samir Husni, the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. “What would be their message to their advertisers?” says Husni. “After all these years, you’ve been selling, ‘service, service, service, service.’ Now all of a sudden you are telling your advertisers, we are also selling celebrities, news, and fashion. If you look at the core DNA of Meredith, that’s the anti-Meredith. E.T. Meredith would be rolling in his grave.”
Meredith editors are the masters of perennial editorial products. Last month they published an ad-supported “bookazine,” entitled Chicken Dinners. To date, Meredith’s core business of selling service journalism to women has been largely insulated from the faster pace of the Internet, and given the company plenty of breathing room to build out its digital strategy for the future. “Chicken Dinners is Chicken Dinners whether you buy it in May, June, or July,” says Husni.

Upstart Business Journal

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I was interviewed and quoted in a story about the future of print and new magazine launches. Below are my quotes and click here to read the entire article.

Samir Husni says don’t let stories about the imminent death of print—especially magazines—fool you. There is more than enough opportunity to launch print magazines in the current media environment.

It’s no surprise why Husni— founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, who is known as “Mr. Magazine—would be talking up the virtues of a printed product. Lots of headlines these days suggest otherwise, especially after magazines like Newsweek stop being published in a print format or when Time Warner says it’s going to spin off all the Time Inc. magazines into a separate company after it posted a 6.6 percent revenue decline last year.

But where some see closure, Husni sees birth. On his website, Husni tracks the number and names of magazines that have launched every month. “January opens with a blast,” says his last post on launches as it notes that 66 new titles debuted on newstands in the first month of the year.

Then why would Time Warner want to get rid of its magazines?

“The head people at Time Inc., they aren’t magazine people,” Husni said. “They are more interested in money than the product.”

A former Time Inc. employee told The New York Times last week, “Greed came to the company in the ’90s. It was just a huge company: huge bonuses, huge salaries, stock shares for the big guy, not the little guy.”

Husni said when you don’t have a love for the product, why would you take care of it?

Book Business

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On the occasion of Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2) Book Business magazine asked few media folks to tell them which one of Dr. Seuss’ books are their favorite. Click here to read the article and see below my choice.

By far my favorite book that I continue to quote and recite by heart is Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! I do not care how you go. Just go!

–Dr. Samir Husni, Magazine Innovation Center, Publishing Executive columnist

Mashable

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I was interviewed and quoted for a story in Mashable about Magzter, the on line service that wants to be the You Tube for magazines. Click here to read the article and below are my quotes:

Will Magzter come out of nowhere to become a viable competitor to Apple, Google and Amazon? Samir Husni, the director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, School of Journalism, isn’t so sure. “Can they actually compete or will they find a niche like a boutique,” he asks, adding that “there’s always room for more. Just look at how many brick and mortar newsstands we have.”

Publishing Executive

Publishing Executive magazine and blog published a round up about magazine conferences that took place last Fall and Winter.
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Click here to access the entire article and read below the sections related to the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 3 Experience and my speech at the Folio: Media Next conference.

The fall and early winter were a busy time for magazine shows, with AMC 2012, MPA’s Magazine Media Conference, taking place in mid-October in San Francisco, “Mr. Magazine” Samir Husni’s ACT 3 Conference a week later, sponsored by the Magazine Innovation Center at Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.
Magazine Innovation Center: ACT 3

✔ The Conference theme, “Never Underestimate the Power of Print,” says it all!
✔ Rebecca Darwin, President & CEO of Garden & Gun magazine, describes lessons she’s learned as a magazine entrepreneur, including “go with your gut” in terms of what you publish, decide what you want to be and stick with it, get as much advice and you can and then do what you think is right, surround yourself with good people, and be honest with yourself, your employees, your advertisers, and, most of all, your readers.
✔ Kevin P. Keefe, VP, Editorial of Kalmbach Publishing Co. describes very carefully focused and targeted niches, a deep knowledge of readers’ interests, and a diverse array of product, including print, online and events. In the video series “Cody’s Office,” Model Railroader associate editor Cody Grivno has become “a rock star.”
✔ Ali Ghanbarian of SOMA magazine started as “a bored engineer looking for something different to do” and blossomed into a restaurateur and the publisher of one of the most influential magazines for the “creative community.”
✔ Jamie Pallot talked about creating multimedia projects at Vanity Fair. He says the magazine is “a hotbed of idea sharing and generation, watching news, making contacts.” As far as access, “doors fly open for them.” They have a great stable of writers, and great editing and design. Tom Stoppard even sent him a note about the copyediting!
✔ Carla Kalogeridis of Association & Media Publishing describes the journey many associations take to become publishers, which was not part of their original mission.
✔ Lisette Heemskerk of the Netherlands’ Linda magazine brings an international perspective. Know your DNA, she says. List your values and characteristics, and if something doesn’t match these values, don’t do it. Be good and know what’s good. Within your limitations is a world of creativity but there’s “no shine without friction.”
✔ Consultant William Pollak says magazines need brand consistency and someone has to be the keeper of the brand. Advertising expert Jim Elliot describes the appeal of short-term commitment media: “now online you put money in today and it can be up tomorrow.”
✔ Magazine maven Bo Sacks says “our problem today is that the change hasn’t finished” and Folio’s Tony Silber reminds us that this change we are experiencing will still be going on and taking shape for a long, long time to come.
✔ Mr. Magazine Samir Husni laments: “I have never heard any industry talk so much about its own demise!” He emphasizes that if one magazine dies it doesn’t mean the end of magazines. His studies prove just how many new magazines are constantly arriving on the scene. It’s all part of the normal magazine lifecycle. PE

The Root

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I was interviewed and quoted for an article on the journal-isms blog about the usage of stock photography on magazine covers. Click here to read the article and here are my quotes:

“Cost cutting is the name of the game or so it seems,” Samir Husni of the University of Mississippi, known as “Mr. Magazine,” told Journal-isms by email. “Fewer magazines are taking their own photos, so this is more of the norm of small magazines rather than the exception.” He added, “. . . times have changed and competition is now tougher even for the African American magazines…”

The New York Times (Blog)

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I was interviewed and quoted for a story on a new magazine about fatherhood. Click here to read the article and here are my quotes:

Actually, someone did. In his office at the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi journalism school, Dr. Samir Husni keeps a stack of magazines including American Dad, and Fathers and Dads.

All quickly died.

“The biggest problem is that American dads don’t think of themselves as dads. They think of themselves as men,” Dr. Husni said in a telephone interview.

“Which means there will be no advertising. None. If I want to reach an upscale dad who reads Esquire and GQ, why wouldn’t I advertise in Esquire and GQ?” (Actually, Kindling did have a few ads in its first issue, including one for the Brooklyn Brewery.)

Dr. Husni agreed, however, with Kindling’s strategy of charging a high cover price, offsetting the possible dearth of advertising.

But then there’s the sleek urban tone. “In New York, that’s normal,” Dr. Husni said. “But if I work with a guy who says he’s seeing a shrink because he has a baby, in Mississippi we call him crazy.”

Mr. Perez conceded that Dr. Husni has a point, but he thinks he has identified an audience that defies such traditional boundaries.

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