Media Satchel

Bits and bobs from the media beat...

For March it was Lady Gaga, for April it's Rihanna playing The Little Mermaid for American Vogue's annual "Shape Issue" – Anna Wintour is clearly comfortable kicking it with the pop-culture kids. Past Shape Issue cover girls have included Beyonce, Gisele Bundchen and Drew Barrymore (the common denominator = curves... in all the right places).

InStyle Australia has announced judges and nominees for its annual Audi Women of Style Awards. Kylie and Dannii Minogue have been recognized in the Business and News/Entertainment categories. “They have individually made enduring contributions to Australian society, and are inspiring success stories in their own right,” said editor Kerrie McCallum. Other category finalists include comedian-turned chef Jane Kennedy (Lifestyle), author/newsreader Juanita Phillips and author/lawyer Professor Larissa Behrendt. The winners will be announced at a red-carpet event in May.

ACP’s Grazia has released the finalists in the inaugural Grazia Shopping Awards after receiving 4,5000 nominations in the 10-day voting period and having judges select 10 finalists in 11 categories. “We are thrilled by the overwhelming response from readers, the industry and associated businesses to the awards,” said ACP publisher Robyn Foyster. “Our readers and the growing retail sector has embraced Grazia’s latest initiative as the number-one weekly shopping bible."

ACP's foray into reality TV, Park St, has copped a lot of flack for its debut ratings, but like magazine circulations, there are more factors at play than viewer disinterest in the subject matter, like pay-TV accessibility and marketing. Still, they say any publicity is good publicity: Foxtel reports that the “cumulative audience” for episode two, which first aired February 28, was over 270,000.

“We know that in subscription homes a programme can play over a number times in a given week, and you really can’t assess a performance until you gather all that time-shifted viewing,” Foxtel’s director of television Brian Walsh told Sky Business’ Mediaweek. “When we calculated all the ratings over a 7 day period the show reached in excess of 160,000 homes. So we’re happy with that result."

The AFR reported that episode two attracted 20,300 viewers on the Arena channel and its time-shifted version on Arena+2, while 76% of viewers are female of an average age of 35 (the kind who earn lots of money to spend on advertiser product, and the key demographic for magazines like Madison). The show airs on Arena nine times each week, including Mondays at 8pm, Wednesdays at 9.30pm and Saturdays at 2 and 6pm.

Real Living magazine editor Deborah Bibby has spoken to Mediaweek about her magazine's role in ACP's 30 days of Home, Food & Wine event and reader feedback on what they want to see in the magazine:

"It appears the Real Living reader wants to decorate more than anything. They have their first home and have maybe done a small renovation, but the primary thing they want to do is decorate on the weekend. The average household income for our readers is $109,000 which is higher than Vogue. The average age of our readers is 30 and they tend to be new parents. Although they want to decorate, they want to do it in an affordable way. They value quality and they are prepared to spend on a good sofa. We don't necessarily recommend cheap things – especially when they are considering spending on things like a fridge or a dining table – things they want to keep for a long time."

On using reader letters to inspire features, Bibby says, "They don't always know the features have come from reader feedback, but I always use the letters as my source. We are very careful to listen to the readers and act on what they think. We try to make readers feel like they are in a club, friends or part of the team, as we are all going through a similar life stage. It is important that we are trusted."

And on covers: "We had a little relaunch in August 2009 and we decided to introduce natural light into the covers. We have told all the photographers to switch off their lights! It seems to have given the magazine an energy with the warm sunlight. Our girl on the cover used to make eye contact, but she doesn't any more. She is no longer a focal point. You might look at her third after checking the interiors. Readers indicated that they weren't all that interested in the cover model." [Though, notes Mediaweek, Bibby has received letters asking what jeans the model is wearing on her March cover.] "We also had a little cushion on the cover from Kmart which cost $10 and they have sold out of it. It's great when we get the right mix and it works."

On the Sunday Mail's new U on Sunday supplement, reviewed here on Monday, News Queensland managing director Jerry Harris has told Mediaweek: "It's basically the content that used to be in the Event section – cinema, books, arts, restaurants and so on – and we've added a very solid three or four features, new columns. We've had a very positive response [in focus groups]. We're very encouraged by the reaction so far." On attracting female readers, Harris says, "They're an audience that's very attached to the internet, Facebook and Twitter and so on. The ritual of reading the Sunday paper each week is still very strong. But along with the internet, Sundays are increasingly very busy days for people. It's not the lazy day it used to be years ago." And on advertisers: "We've got a pretty good spread of advertisers in there. We think this product will find its niche among entertainment advertisers. We're also finding a lot of interest from travel and retail advertisers as well."

An update on NineToFive magazine's digital incarnation care of Joni's Juice: "While the final print version of the magazine will hit the streets this Monday March 14, 2011, the strong online presence of the brand - at - will ensure the magazine will not be gone, nor forgotten. Matt Young , features journalist at NineToFive magazine for the past year...will be the new website editor of the re-vamped online version of the hugely popular magazine."

Christine Middap has been made editor of The Weekend Australian Magazine. Middap is currently editor of the award-winning QWeekend, which she launched for the Courier Mail in 2005 and prides itself on its features. She is also a former Courier Mail chief of staff and London correspondent. The Weekend Australian Magazine’s current editor, Steve Waterson, will oversee The Australian’s daily features page and the weekend Inquirer section. (The Weekend Australian

Jeremy W. Peters reports on the success of The Week's American edition for The New York Times: "While magazines like Time and Newsweek published heavy essays, distinguished guest columnists and artful photo spreads, The Week embraced magazine journalism at its most functional and stripped down. Small photographs. Graphics with no bells and whistles. One-hundred-word news bites in unadorned prose and synopses of opinion columns, all culled from what was written the week before by other news organizations around the world. The Week’s formula has worked, and it is testing the tenets of what many editors have come to believe their readers wanted."

Publishers of paid magazines saw their ad revenue increase by 5% in February, while newspaper inserted magazines lost 18.2%, according to media tracker SMI. (AFR)

Thank God. Comedian and actor Shane Bourne will be hosting the 2011 Logie Awards, which air on Sunday May 1. “Well-regarded for his varied small-screen work (think Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Thank God You’re Here and City Homicide), Bourne is a solid choice and someone who should be able to deliver decent comedy moments while driving TV’s night of nights along,” reports Sunday Telegraph TV columnist Richard Clune.

Clune adds that Seven has raced ahead of Nine in the TV ratings so far this year, growing its total audience by 7 per cent on the same time last year, including its digital channels: “Seven has also won the key advertising demographic of 24 to 54-year-olds, previously owned by Nine”.

Still with Nine Entertainment Co, CEO David Gyngell has played down talk of a sharemarket float of the beleaguered company, which currently has $3.5 billion of debt due to be refinanced in early 2013. “I think everyone is preoccupied with how essential it is for us to float. It’s not that essential,” he told The Weekend Australian. Hopeful that Nine’s assets – an east coast TV network, ACP Magazines, 50 per cent of Nine MSN, Ticketek and interests in digital sites Cudo and iSelect (35%) – are worth more than Seven’s, which sold to West Australian Newspapers for nine times its operating earnings. (The Weekend Australian)

Key Nine Entertainment Co private equity investor CVC Asia Pacific sold its 49.1% share in for $565 million last week.

Of course, the Ten Network has hired/pinched/poached James Warburton, formerly the Seven Network’s chief of sales and digital officer. Following the abrupt axing of Grant Blackley on February 23, Warburton was/is to commence his CEO role starting July 14, though this is now a point of contention before the courts. The Seven Network is taking legal action against Warburton and Ten Holdings over breach of contract claiming Warburton cannot work for a competitor until 14 October 2012. James Packer exited the Ten board after Warburton’s hiring, reportedly to keep relations with Kerry Stokes afloat, while Lachlan Murdoch remains the network’s temporary CEO. Lucky him!

Last week Margaret Fulton defended her comments on reality TV chefs being taken out of context in The Sunday Telegraph; this week Daphne Guinness has been quick to correct her "ugly pig" comments on Victoria Beckham in The Sunday Times Magazine via UK Vogue: "I would never make a comment like that about my worst enemy, let alone someone I like. I think Victoria is brave and fantastic for building up her business like she has. I did not make those comments. They were bitchy and horrible and just not me." 

“The core of our content is still about journalism and compelling content,” Peter Blunden, managing director of the Herald Weekly Times told Mediaweek in reference to the Herald Sun’s relaunch and new branding campaign, which has less focus on people, more on journalism (tag line: ‘Stories Start Here’). “Our campaign is platform agnostic and applies to all people whether they are reading the newspaper or watching video via an iPad, mobile phones or the web.”

Meanwhile, "captains agree content is king but are divided on delivery" @ The Australian.

Jihad Cosmo? The Daily Mail has reported that Al-Qaeda has launched a Cosmo-style lady mag called Al-Shamikha (the Majestic Woman) that “mixes beauty and fashion tips with advice on suicide bombings.” The glossy magazine's front cover features the barrel of a sub-machine gun next to a picture a woman in a veil. There are exclusive interviews with martyrs' wives, who praise their husbands' decisions to die in suicide attacks.

Emmanuelle Alt's first Paris Vogue cover is pretty. In this month's cover double-ups, Gisele reportedly wears the same Dolce & Gabbana dress that appears on the covers of Spanish and German Vogue, and Amanda Seyfried and Abbie Cornish sport the same Prada frock on the covers of US marie claire and Australian Harper's BAZAAR respectively.

American Cosmopolitan has released its first iPad app, "The Showcase Edition"... which includes 'How to decode his bedroom sounds'. (WWD)

Will Apple "garage magazines" be the new digital genre du jour?

Freelancer Rachel Hills on writing, authenticity and baring all.

More from Mediaweek, who spoke to Michael Gill, CEO of the Financial Review Group about the evolution of The Australian Financial Review: “In 1990, we didn’t have our daily centre sections on higher education, resources, life and leisure and The AFR Magazine and Boss magazine hadn’t been launched.” On the paper’s team, he adds, “Business journalism isn’t well suited to people who think they are stars. Most of the time you are trying to get information from quite specialist people. We have many people who are well respected for what they do.”

And Greg Hywood, appointed CEO and managing director of Fairfax Media in February, says, "The days of absorbing gratuitous criticism are over. It gives a false impression of the state of the company. Quite clearly, the company is in a very strong position. Fairfax has successfully negotiated the transformation of its classified business. There are many media companies that haven't been able to do that. It is just absolute nonsense to say that somehow Fairfax is beleaguered. It is not beleaguered... it is as challenges as any media company because things are constantly changing. The fact is it has a whole range of opportunities to grow and it will...

"Some people tend to look at Fairfax in a narrow way. It's a lot more than The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Ten years ago those papers were 75% of earnings, now they're less than 20%. The largest earner for the business is the regional newspapers, followed by the digital business. It's a very diversified business both geographically and technologically... Newspaper circulations have been going down since the late 1970s. Newspapers remain the only place where under a single brand you can get such a number of high quality readers every day. That's always been a proposition and it's still the case. The notion that circulations are down is not a new one. Meanwhile this company has diversified massively and has built a top class digital publishing business that is now close to being the second-largest earner in the group." (Mediaweek)

More Americans are getting their news online than from newspapers, according to the State of the News Media 2011 report by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, which also found online advertising revenue topped that of print newspapers last year. Forty-six percent of Americans now get news online at least three times a week, surpassing newspapers (40 percent) for the first time. (SBS)

Group advertising buying sites are expected to go through a period of rationalisation with three or four sites and a few specialist sites remaining, Alison Deans, chief executive of Netus told the AFR on March 7. “There is a natural efficiency to group buying as merchants can broadcast their offers to massive audiences using email, social networks and word of mouth,” said Rohan Lund, CEO of Yahoo!7. The myriad of online buying sites taking advantage of the digital revolution, taking a usual 50% revenue cut, include Spreets (27%), Scoopon (25%), Jump On It (16%), Cudo (11%), OurDeal (7%), Zoupon (3%), Ouffer (3%) and Zizzle (1%).

“The digital world and its mobile transformation is here. Businesses need to work out what to do - if they don't, they won't exist in 10 years.” Media honcho Harold Mitchell writing for SMH. Mitchell’s Mitchell & Partners is the top ranked media agency by billings, according to the annual Nielsen Media Agency Billings report.

Rupert Murdoch turned 80 on Friday 11 March. Attending Tina Brown's Women in the World event last week with wife Wendi he said, "When I go back to China, I have a lot of relatives I didn't know I had before."

Members of The Newspaper Works, News Limited, Fairfax Media, APN News & Media and West Australian Newspapers, have advised the Audit Bureau of Circulations Rule Review Sub-Committee that they plan to significantly increase reporting of circulation data, including their daily sales figures, commencing July 1 2011. (Mediaweek)

And Roy Morgan has responded by releasing information about weekday readership figures."The data shows readership for large metropolitan and national dailies is highest on Sundays, followed by Saturdays, but also experiences smaller peaks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays," reports The Australian.

Ad spend in Australia will increase 5.8% in 2012, while online advertising will lead ad spend growth across 12 global markets, according to a report from Warc.

The Age’s Tony Wright reported on the debut of the new-look 7.30 on ABC1: “It’s the new all-disco, all-swirling, lots-a-moving Kerry-free 7.30. Months after the ABC announced its venerable current affairs flagship was to get a makeover, complete with two hosts – Leigh Sales in Sydney and Chris Uhlmann in Canberra – to replace the singular Kerry O'Brien, the re-designed product finally hit the screens last night. And by crikey, the re-designers haven't held back.”

Girl With a Satchel