Lawyers, Cops, Firemen and Doctors: How Did I End Up Here?

Written By: Kim - Feb• 12•11

I have always been fascinated with television shows about lawyers, police officers and medical/emergency personnel. Years before anyone coined the phrase “reality television” shows like “LA Law,” “Hill Street Blues,” “CHiPs,” M*A*S*H and “St. Elsewhere”, “China Beach” were shows I grew up watching. ER was the last medical drama I watched until “Grey’s Anatomy” was launched. Once ER’s Dr. Mark Greene died of brain cancer and I bawled like a baby, I just couldn’t and didn’t want to watch the show anymore.

My current television DVR list includes “The Good Wife,” “Private Practice” and now “The Chicago Code.” The only show I can recall watching recently about the publishing industry was “Ugly Betty.” Other than the Dad on “Eight is Enough” who served as a newspaperman and “Lou Grant ” from the 1980s and 1970s respectively, I do not know of any other shows centered around the publishing business. I get it. We’re just not as exciting. We don’t make the news; we cover it.

You would think that my interest in these types of television shows would have steered me toward a different career path. What keeps me interested in good television shows is not what the characters do for a living, but how the characters interact; what they say; the decisions they make. The writer determines what the characters say. Therein lies my passion and true calling.

When I look back, the signs were there that I would end up in the communications or publishing world: asking my Mom for and pointing to books when I rode in the shopping cart as a toddler; taped conversations to my Dad while he served in Vietnam; long love letters to my parents as I left for college; sentimental or funny cards for special occasions — I only pick out the ones that really speak to me.

© Tey Teyoo via stock.xchng

Becoming a wordsmith was bound to happen. I just didn’t see it at first: I wanted to be a doctor. But the chemistry, biology and calculus classes left me realizing that I could not take three more years of these kinds of courses plus medical school. Since I was working part-time retail through college, I thought perhaps a business degree would fit nicely in to my life plans. I took one accounting class. Enough said. The spring of my sophomore year, I took a speech communications class. Loved it and the professor encouraged me to consider a journalism degree. I had finally found a degree that would lead me down a career path.

Despite the fact that I was making half of what the marketing degree graduates were and regardless of the ups and downs of the publishing industry; I have never regretted my choice. I have met amazing people along the way and learned their stories. I then told those stories to you. How many folks out there can say that?

Publishing professionals were the first social networkers — we just didn’t call it that.

Cut the Fat Publishers

Written By: Kim - Jan• 11•11

I love magazines. I could spend a lot of my time simply perusing the magazine displays at the bookstores. I am fascinated by their design, subject matter, the paper choice and yes, even the advertisements. I am blessed to have a job I love in magazine publishing.

I subscribe to five magazines and four newspapers. Both industries have suffered huge financial setbacks over the last decade. Advertising revenue, according to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, has hit rock bottom. Digital, tablet and social media publishing are putting a dent in the traditional print medium and forcing us to rethink how we deliver content. If this shift has occurred, why do many of these magazines still have so many staff? What kind of implosion does it take before we operate with a staff ratio that makes sense?

Business 101 tells me that if my revenue decreases I either have to increase it or cut costs. If current mastheads on magazines are any indication of cutting costs, no wonder the industry is floundering so. It hasn’t learned to publish lean. For example, why does Glamour have 75 editorial staff listed on the February masthead? This number does not even include the advertising, marketing and public relations staff on the following page. This particular issue had 200 pages in it. So, basically, for each page produced, almost one staff member worked on it. Astounding. Ridiculous.

The February issue of Glamour also had “Cover Reads.” Half of these articles were Q&As — the lazy writer’s approach to journalism. Any editor worth her salt won’t allow this many Q&As in one issue. I avoid them in my magazine, and so should you, Glamour staff. Surely you can get your writers to be better wordsmiths. If you want me to read your content, write your content by telling a story.

I serve on a nonprofit board of association magazine publishers — Association Media & Publishing. I learned from a fellow board member that in the publishing world there is a hierarchy: publishers of consumer and business magazines/books, newspaper publishers and association publishers. Apparently, association publishers, a group I have belonged to for some time, are considered bottom dwellers in the publishing world, despite any editorial or design excellence awards we earn. I knew we weren’t famous, but bottom dwellers? Once I got over my shock, I got mad. My response to him: at least we still have a job. Our magazines aren’t folding.

My print publication is not losing ad revenue. In fact, 2010 was the biggest revenue year we have on record. This year is tracking well and we have never lost ad revenue. How many other publishers can brag about that? Name one.

We stay on top of publishing trends. We launched a digital publication in 2007 and an iPad app in 2010. We don’t double bill our members. How many publishers have launched apps and then charged their customers again despite the fact that they already subscribe to the print version? Most of them. This is a sham and should be stopped. This circulation model is outdated.

This is like paying more for something I order online verses purchasing it in a brick and mortar store. Consumers and the business community would crucify retailers if they did this. Yet, in the publishing world, no one blinks an eye.

Association publishers produce award-winning content. We design award-winning covers and spreads. Some of these are the same award contests you enter. We do this with four editorial staff, two advertising staff and a small, local design studio — Bussolati.

Being great at what you do doesn’t mean you have to be top heavy. You find a story and tell it. You deliver relevant content to your audience. You maintain fiscal responsibility by staying lean and working smart. You continue to publish the magazines and newspapers we love.