Oxford, USA

Thanks: Thanks to Professor Samir Husni and the Ole Miss students who made me feel so welcomed at the university’s Magazine Week. While the weather was a little chilly, Oxford’s charm is as warm as its reputation suggests. Professor Husni’s students are an engaging group who had some impressively nuanced and insightful questions about custom publishing. Also attending was a group of magazine editors and executives from Finland who were kind enough to give me the CD Kokka, by the Finnish group, Värttinä. (Quicky review based on listening to it during the drive back to Nashville: Think six Finnish Dixie Chicks who mix some funky speed-singing folk music with techno-pop.)

Speaking of Finland (this will be appreciated mainly by folks at Hammock Publishing who’ve grown tired of my references to the about-to-mentioned person ), someone in the audience asked me a question about how much involvement our clients have with the development of the editorial of our magazines, which made Osmo Wiio spring to mind. I started to answer, “according to the Finnish communication theorist, Osmo Wiio…” and then I realized what was going on, so I interrupted myself, “Wait, what a great opportunity I have: I get to quote Osmo Wiio to a group of Finns.” One of the visitors spoke up that Wiio has been a columnist in his magazine for 20 years. And afterwards, the head of the University’s Journalism Department, another Wiio fan, joked that I was only the second speaker in his tenure at Ole Miss to quote Wiio. [Later: Dr. Stuart Bullion, the department chair, followed up with an e-mail after reading this post with this clarification: “Actually, Rex, you were the second person in my quarter century in journalism education to mention Wiio.” (Thanks, Professor Bullion. I’ve never been so proud to be obscure.)]

During the drive back (remember, the one during which I listened to the Värttinä CD), the weather predictions led Ann and me to go cross-country rather than via Memphis and I-40. Actually, it turned out to be a much more interesting route than the famously boring stretch between Nashville and Memphis. A five-minute detour from the main highway led us to the birthplace of Elvis, allowing me another phenomenal opportunity: The chance to get my picture taken with two kings in one day. (See below.) Again, to all the folks in Mississippi: Thank you. Thank you very much.

A day of kings: (Left) Finally, I get to meet (other than online) the king of magazine punditry (and my new friend), Samir Husni.
(Right) In Tupelo, me and a statue of THE king at age 13 .

A brief departure from tradition

A brief departure from tradition: For those new to the rexblog, I have typically tried to stay away from news about the employment comings and goings of magazine people (one could devote an entire blog to that subject). However, once in a while, there will be such a story that is hard to ignore. Today, there are several regarding Art Cooper leaving GQ which are, if nothing else, insightful about the behind-the-scenes activity at some major magazine publishing companies.

  • In this “Off the record” column in the NY Observer (that’s a temporary link, if it doesn’t work, try this), Sridhar Pappu dishes the inside scoop (or poop?) on Cooper’s ouster. Ouch.
  • UK GQ editor Dylan Jones is one contender for the job.
  • Rose McGowan’s boy friend is also a contender, according to the NY Post’s Keith Kelly, who handicaps the field (temporary link).
  • My only question is this: Who the heck cares?

    Catching up, bouncing back

    Catching up, bouncing back: Thanks to writer Norman Schreiber for letting me me know that he has posted on his website an article he wrote that appeared in the January issue of Media Magazine regarding the outlook for a bounce-back in consumer magazines. He includes several suggestions from industry veterans on what needs to happen for improvement to occcur.

    Quote:

    “Magazines should stay relevant” and “stay true to tone and mission,” says Carol Pais. Some publications err, according to Pais, when, in an effort to be contemporary, “they stray from the mission statement that resonated with their core readership.” Mademoiselle, for example “couldn’t figure out what its editorial mission was. They simply weren’t consistent.”