ALL ABOUT THE BRAND: The American Magazine Conference, as led by Men’s Health editor in chief David Zinczenko, resolutely pushed its digital and multiplatform future — determined to be anything but a wake for the industry, as Zinczenko put it. As Arianna Huffington noted from the stage, no one had to be convinced anymore to get on board for digital change — presumably not the restless audience members, nursing their BlackBerrys. (One or two paged through a magazine.) Bloggers blogged in real time about sessions on digital strategies; they blogged about what other bloggers were doing, and e-mailed blog posts about themselves to each other across the room. New York Times media columnist David Carr asked a panel of editors if they were wistful for the old days, when the editor wasn’t “an octopus,” when they could nurse copy and go home. But there was no turning back, not for them and not for attendees remembering the leisurely golf-and-pool affairs of conferences past.
Still, there was play, and though there were notable absences — very little Time Inc. presence, with editor in chief John Huey and chief executive officer Ann Moore in India for the Fortune Global Forum, and a couple of editors in chief on the schedule canceling at the last minute — Niche Media ceo Jason Binn still managed an all-star lineup for his annual private dinner. (Tradition was maintained, though rumor had it he’d been discouraged from having the dinner this year, apparently to avoid taking power players out of the mix.) Guests like politics panel moderator Dan Rather, Hearst magazines president Cathie Black (whose book was distributed to guests) with several of her top executives, a slew of media reporters, and Playboy editor in chief Chris Napolitano were joined, somewhat inexplicably, by Miami Heat basketball player Alonzo Mourning and his wife. When Binn thanked Hachette ceo Jack Kliger for playing sommelier, Kliger helpfully pointed out that Binn had put up the cash.
By Monday afternoon, Zinczenko was still blithely torturing the English language both by pushing the term “magabrands” (despite an early onstage warning from Advertising Age editor in chief Jonah Bloom that he was boycotting it) and overindulging in puns. (He recommended the “magabrandy” signature drink but reminded attendees they were there to “learn about synergy, not sin.”) But he was also practicing what he preached, notwithstanding having put in respectable time at the bar the night before: he made a live TV appearance at 8:20 a.m. with ex-Forbes managing editor and new CNBC media and technology editor Dennis Kneale — the conference’s first national TV coverage. Kneale, fittingly, once tried to go a week without communications technology for a “Today” show segment. His sobbing breakdown after is still a hit on YouTube.
— Irin Carmon
A SERIOUS JOKE: Stephen Colbert dined under his portrait Saturday night in a Charleston barbecue restaurant with family and “Comedy Central” crew during a weekend visit to his native South Carolina, where he has mounted a so-called presidential campaign as a Democrat and a Republican. His Southern-style meal was interrupted several times by fans of the star of “The Colbert Report,” whom he bought a round of drinks, according to Sticky Fingers Restaurant waiter Michael Bourke.
Colbert picked up the $343 tab for all 15 in his party, insisting the dinner was on the campaign, Bourke said, and according to Federal Election Commission regulations, it’s an allowable campaign expense. Colbert remained in his satirical character as a long-winded, egotistical conservative while dishing with fans, extolling the superiority of South Carolina’s peaches, shrimp and barbecue. He has said nobody can pander to the “beautiful people of South Carolina” more than he can. Colbert also spoke seriously that the way to stimulate the U.S. economy was to create more jobs. Whether this was referring to his plans to boost the state’s ailing textile industry if elected president could not be confirmed.
“I think Colbert’s hilarious,” said Bourke, a 22-year-old College of Charleston senior. “But to be honest, I think Jon Stewart is better. He gets more to the point.”
Bourke, a registered South Carolina voter, said he plans to vote for Colbert in the upcoming primary. “There’s no better choice out there,” he said.
— Joyce Barrett
NO IMPACT — YET: It’s been two weeks since Fox Business Network launched, and Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive officer at CNBC’s parent, NBC Universal, said Fox has had “no impact on CNBC.” “Business Day ratings are up,” Zucker claimed, noting CNBC expects The Wall Street Journal to continue to provide business reporting to the network. Zucker confirmed he would have “loved to have” the Journal and Dow Jones, adding it was “looked at” four times in 10 to 12 years; however, in the end, the price Rupert Murdoch was willing to pay “made no economic sense for anyone other than Rupert.”
Speaking of Murdoch: News Corp. and NBC Universal on Monday jointly launched Hulu.com, an online video Web site that offers programming from both networks, and movies from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Corp. During his conversation with The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University breakfast on Monday, Zucker said Hulu.com provides “quality premium video,” and a safe environment for advertisers. He added the $15 million NBC was making annually from offering its content on iTunes was not nearly enough in his view, especially since NBC programming represented almost half of the downloaded video content on iTunes and Apple has sold millions of iPods off its content, Zucker said.
Zucker also squashed rumors General Electric Co. — owner of NBC Universal — will sell off the division after the Olympics. “We are not for sale,” he said, noting the 18 months following the Olympics should be profitable, considering the presidential election and Super Bowl returning to the network in 2009.
— Amy Wicks
START THEM YOUNG: Teenagers, specifically her own, make Vera Wang feel like an unfashionable mother. Her daughters often reject mom’s idea of what looks good on store racks. “I have high anxiety from having two teenagers who tell me I have no taste,” she said at Teen Vogue’s Fashion U. event on Saturday. “I love them, and even though they insult me, and make fun of me, it is what it is.” Luckily, the teenagers at the three-day Teen Vogue event were more forgiving — more than 500 budding fashionistas hung on every word of advice from Wang and other participants, including Tommy Hilfiger, Jill Stuart, Erin Fetherston, Phillip Lim, Rebecca Taylor and Cynthia Rowley. Of the group, about a hundred were return attendees from last year’s inaugural program, many wearing their own designs and even passing out business cards and resumes to fashion’s top brass. While ambition is key to success, Wang told the youngsters not to go at it alone too early during a Q&A session moderated by Teen Vogue editor in chief Amy Astley. “Get a job!” Wang said, repeating the words her father told her when she wanted him to pay for design school. “When you get a job, you are getting paid to learn.” Wang spent 16 years at Vogue and then a couple of years as design director at Ralph Lauren before launching her own bridal line in 1990.
— Stephanie D. Smith