FROM BAD TO WORSE: The Source’s downward spiral seems to be accelerating. Circulation figures released Monday showed the hip-hop magazine missed its rate base of 500,000 by nearly 10 percent in the first half of this year. Its average circulation of 453,736 reflected a 5.3 percent drop in single-copy sales (which accounted for roughly two-thirds of the total) and an 18.1 percent slide in subscriptions. The subscription losses may have something to do with complaints by subscribers that their issues have been arriving weeks or even months late. Circulation problems aren’t new for The Source: An audit released earlier this month showed The Source missed its rate base by 0.3 percent in the 12 months ended June 30, 2003 — despite the magazine’s claims that it had achieved the guaranteed level.

The magazine’s staff, already depleted, continues to dwindle through layoffs and defections. Among those let go so far this summer have been manager of finance and operations Kelli M. Skeen, account manager Tatiana Acosta and production director Joseph Trezza, an eight-year veteran of The Source. But the biggest departure could be yet to come: According to two sources close to the magazine, Jeremy Miller, The Source’s vice president and chief operating officer, tendered his resignation earlier this month. Reached last week, Miller denied having quit. But when asked whether he had made plans to leave, he replied, cryptically, “I’d like to keep that confidential.” Officials at The Source declined to comment on the circulation fall and staff departures. — Jeff Bercovici

This story first appeared in the August 31, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

THE ME GENERATION: Friendster, the Internet social networking service that seemed destined for the annals of a VH1 nostalgia series almost as soon as it launched, has spawned a magazine. The New York-based quarterly hitting newsstands next month is called Me. Co-editors in chief Angel Chang and Claudia Wu, who met while working at Visionaire, created the magazine to showcase, well, their friends. “There are a lot of talented assistants out there who are just emerging,” said Chang, who by day is a design assistant at Donna Karan. “In the downtown circuit, everyone knows each other. Me is a way of finding avenues for connecting.” Each issue will focus on one guest editor, who will select the photographer and the fonts and choose what friends to profile. “We don’t like to say it’s Friendster,” said Chang, who acknowledged that she and Wu — who doubles as the design director of Index — used the service to get in touch with their first cover subject, the painter Joshua Abelow. Abelow went to the Rhode Island School of Design with Wu, which is how he met Chang. But that isn’t how he knows the artist Ross Bleckner, his boss, who, incidentally, introduced him to a photographer named Sparrow. If all this seems confusing, the magazine’s table of contents — a flowchart illustrating how everyone met à la “Six Degrees of Separation” — should help. “I chose to include people doing interesting things who deserve to get attention,” said Abelow. A valid point, but will anyone pay attention — not to mention the $5 cover price — to another downtown vanity project? Regardless, the self-financed Chang and Wu, who have a distribution contract with Netcirculation and advertising from Sharps grooming supplies and DKNY, say they’re committed for a year’s worth of publishing. — Sara James

MAKING FRIENDS IN MOTOWN: Men’s magazines work hard to endear themselves to automotive advertisers. But Men’s Fitness went further than most when it gave one Detroit ad executive first a new body and then a new job. Jeff Vogel, supervisor of the Lincoln Motors account at Young & Rubicam, was one of three ad agency employees featured in the June/July issue’s “Motor City Makeover.” Vogel was recommended to the magazine by RPM Associates, an ad sales firm employed at the time by American Media Inc., which owns Men’s Fitness. Editors from the magazine gave him a new wardrobe, subjected him to a spa treatment and designed a workout program that helped him lose six pounds and four waistline inches in time for his wedding.

Cut to June, when AMI created a new in-house Detroit sales operation headed by Ron Englehart. Englehart, who had known Vogel for several years, offered him a job in what everyone involved described as a random coincidence. He accepted. “It may seem peculiar, but there’s no significance attached to it,” Men’s Fitness publisher Alan Stiles said of the hire.

The magazine’s editor in chief, Peter Sikowitz, said Detroit was selected for the makeover story not because it’s the El Dorado of automotive dollars, but because it had recently been ranked the fattest city in America. “It was the logical choice,” he said.

And in case you’re wondering if Vogel is still sticking to his health regimen, the answer is no, he said. “But I’m definitely trying to get more exercise and being more cognizant of what I’m putting in my body.” — J.B.

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