Tuesday, March 4, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out; Time, Newsweek, Teens and Google U

BoSacks Readers Speak Out; Time, Newsweek, Teens and Google U

Subject: Re: Time Vs. Newsweek: Battle Of The Print Dinosaurs
Bob: To paraphrase Montaigne, whether poring over TIME or N/W on the bathroom throne, or reading all the Oscar Gossip online, we are still sitting on our ass. The author reminds me of the spoiled creatures who write reviews of new vehicles for car magazines, wondering why the manufacturers offer limited GPS options, or could find only 6 more horsepower than last year.

Didn't TIME deliberately pare their circ base to contain costs and get more right with ABC? I can't imagine that they would have lost so much more readership proportionately to N/W in an even race on level ground. As logical references go, it is non sequitur.

Yes, I read more news online, and eschew gossip as best I can, but I haven't cancelled my subs to newsweeklies. They offer perspective, and insight, maybe because they have to be good and be right between the event and the print deadlines. 3.2 million readers are counting on it and paying for the privilege.
(Submitted by a self-diagnosed dinosaur, retired)

Re: Time Vs. Newsweek: Battle Of The Print Dinosaurs
Not in a million years will I pick up a print copy of these two magazines, but I'm in love with Newsweek.com!!!!
(Submitted by an Online Production Manager

Re: Time Vs. Newsweek: Battle Of The Print Dinosaurs
Bo- I'm not sure if my attitude is tainted as a publisher or not. I used to love both titles. I would read both on a regular basis. Now I find I almost never read either. Why is that? The internet? I couldn't really say. I continue have great respect for both houses, but my addiction and their usefulness or my lifestyle/needs have changed.
(Submitted by a multi-title Publisher)

Re: BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Snakes, Music, Publishing and Reading

This is a sad commentary about how the printing business has turned into the "business" of printing. Many of the big printers today--except for the one that sprouted out of the cornfields in the Midwest--are run by MBA suits who don't know anything about it. To them, a magazine or catalog is just another widget to be counted and counted, and they push and push, to produce more and more, with less and less. At the end of the day, they are only concerned with showing a profit since that is what will ultimately feather their pockets. So in order to achieve that, they shut down plants, lay off employees, and in the process, they have destroyed the business. With that goal achieved, the MBA suit walks away with a multi-million dollar bonus in his pocket. "What a world, what a world."
Submitted by a Senior Production person)

The inside baseball character of replies to replies can get tedious, I know. So this will probably remain between you and me, and that's fine. While Senior Production Person makes some valid observations, I believe he misses the point and wanted to run my POV by you.

Yes, MBA's and similarly soulless types pocketing obscene amounts of money is an offensive reality. But it is the nature of American business, not just the American printing business. Change it if you can and more power to you. But Wall Street might be a more fruitful starting point than Printer's Row.

As to the continual push to print more and more for less and less, my fellow reader puts the arse before the torse. Could it be that the amount of money that Senior Production Persons will pay their printer might have something to do with this state of affairs? And perhaps the overall nature of the marketplace? "Mmmmm, could be." (Bugs Bunny - American cartoon rabbit and personal role model). Ben Franklin, patron saint of American printers, got it only 2/3's right when he enumerated the things in life that are certain. Actually, there are three: death, taxes, and lower printing prices. There is less, and the customers want more. So, we do more with less.

As for the outrage over the fact that, "at the end of the day, they are only concerned with showing a profit," well, duh! The same is true for the beginning of the day, noontime, and the commute both ways. The first condition necessary to doing a good job is having a job. Whether you are a CEO, a production person, or a pocket feeder, that means contributing more than you are paid. That means making a profit. Call it feathering your nest or feeding your family. Either way, there is nothing shameful in it. In business, it is a moral obligation. That obligation can be met humanely or inhumanly but that is a question of execution and personal responsibility. The goal itself remains honorable.
Submitted by a Printer)

Re: U.S. teens stumped by history Survey
There's absolutely no question that the liberal arts, including history, are essential to every student's education. But this story suffers from serious flaws.

First it offers no points of comparison. Do today's teenagers know less history and literature than teenagers did ten years ago? Do today's teenagers know less history and literature than people in their 40s or 50s?

Second, the survey methodology certainly influenced the results. Who among us is willing to focus carefully when answering 33 multiple choice history questions in a random phone call from a stranger?

Finally, which of the results indicates "stunning ignorance?"

-Half of the respondents knew the dates of the Civil War.
-Three quarters knew when Columbus sailed.
-Three quarters correctly identified Adolf Hitler.
-40 percent were familiar with Ellison's "The Invisible Man."
-Half were familiar with Job.
-80 percent were familiar with "To Kill a Mockingbird."
-Virtually all identified Martin Luther King from his famous speech.

Would we expect any random group of American adults to score much better?

This story is cut from a well-worn mold . In a few months we'll hear how ignorant American students are about geography. Then another group with an axe to grind will find another subject in which American teenagers are woefully underinformed. Common Core, the organization behind the survey, owes their extremely important cause less sensational and more serious treatment. And we're as "stunningly ignorant" as the kids we're snickering at if we swallow this stuff without thinking about it first.
Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Google U
"It is quaint that people speak of separating dogma from education. Dogma is actually the only thing that cannot be separated from education. It IS education." - G. K. Chesterton
In his Google U essay, Jeff Jarvis (the creator and original Managing Editor of Entertainment Weekly, whose early version of that title was hipper and more insightful though perhaps less commercial than the magazine's current iconic incarnation) has discovered home schooling. Welcome aboard!

As the failure of the model enforced by the government schools and the culture at large becomes more obvious to more people the collapse of that model becomes more and more of a likelihood; a consummation devoutly to be wished. I'll take Mr. Jarvis' comments as a positive sign, especially considering his track record for getting in front of cultural trends.

The educational system as it currently exists does not, cannot, and will never provide actual education. According to the model of its founder, John Dewey, it provides indoctrination for the production of usable, lead-able citizens. According to the wishes of the teacher's unions, which appear to be modeled on the coal miners, it provides gainful employment for life for anyone willing to keep paying their dues and pass along whatever drivel is put in front of them. According to the pleasure of academics and administrators, it provides a cocoon safely insulated from the demands of the real world and protects their phoney baloney jobs. For politicians, it provides another means of access to taxpayer dollars and a power base built on spending those dollars. But education? Sorry, wrong number. . . .
Submitted by a Printer)

Re: In men's magazines, a question of size
Bob; With the seemingly perpetual increases in paper and postal costs, the next major "universal" trim-size reduction (from the current 10.5" short-cutoff) will be the aptly named "handbag" size. Unfortunately, there is not currently a "natural" press-cutoff within the U.S. web-offset world to deliver this product efficiently. I know this because we looked at producing such a product. It is my understanding that the current U.S. titles -- produced at the handbag trim size -- are printed on short-cutoff presses. The oversized sigs (i.e., at 10.5" + trim) are sent to the bindery...where the book is trimmed to the smaller 9" trim size. This is a huge -- and expensive -- inefficiency/waste. For my project, which was ultimately tabled, the other option was to look at a rotogravure scheme. Alas, the relatively small print order did not justify this.

It is my prediction that the handbag trim size will become a viable option -- and viable press platform -- in the not too-distant future. This will occur when one (or more) of the major magazine publishers "challenges" one (or more) of the "Big 3" -- RRDonnelley, Quad Graphics and Quebecor (?) World -- to convert a significant portion of their press platform to a 9" trim-size press cutoff...in exchange for a very robust portion of their titles/print order. Only a large -- and committed -- publisher volume would justify the significant investment that this would represent to any one of the printing Big 3. Could another candidate (e.g., Brown Printing), beyond the Big 3, emerge to seize some of this "new" trim size volume? Maybe...but less likely. And one of the Big 3 already has its hands full with financial challenges.
Submitted by a Dirctor of Operations)

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