SPINNING THE WEB: How anxious is the magazine industry to start “getting” the Internet? Enough so that the American Society of Magazine Editors invited blog impresario Arianna Huffington to lecture at its annual meeting Monday. The Huffington Post founder cautioned against charging for content (criticizing The New York Times for its premium service, Times Select) and recommended taking new magazine concepts “for a test drive online” before committing them to print. “Radar would still be alive if it had started online,” she opined. (Radar founder Maer Roshan may be reading her thoughts; Gawker.com reported Monday that Roshan is planning a Web-only relaunch, although a source told WWD the plan was most likely “a strategy to keep the brand warm while Maer looks for more funding.”)
Huffington claimed her site, exactly a year after its inception, is already profitable, and will be launching a sister site dedicated to political satire in the next two months. She concluded by contrasting print’s obsession with the next big thing to the blogosphere’s inability to let a story die. “You’ve got ADD [Attention Deficit Disorder] and we’ve got OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder],” she said. “We need both. Let’s be crazy effective together.”
Naturally, there was much talk of the National Magazine Awards, set to take place tonight at Lincoln Center. The bad news was that trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who had been booked to perform, has canceled owing to a lip infection. The good news was there would be a cocktail called an “Ellie-tini,” named after the elephant-shape statuettes awarded to winners. Texas Monthly editor in chief Evan Smith graciously downplayed his magazine’s chance at winning the general excellence Ellie in its circulation class, saying he thought New York would win. (In fact, New York did garner magazine of the year honors Friday from the Society of Publication Designers.) New York’s editor, Adam Moss, said he expected The Atlantic Monthly to win. James Bennet, who edits the Atlantic, was absent, and thus unable to display modesty.
There was also business to attend to, namely the election of new ASME officers. Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker handed over the presidency to Cindi Leive, editor in chief of Glamour and current vice president, a bit prematurely. When someone pointed out that Whitaker had neglected to call a vote, he quipped, “This is in the spirit of Iraqi democracy.” But Smith, who took over for Leive, got the laugh of the afternoon: “Thanks for electing me vice president. I promise not to shoot any of you in the face.”
— Jeff Bercovici
OLD BOYS’ NETWORK: Maer Roshan isn’t the only one (allegedly) using the Web as a proving ground. Two Time Inc. veterans with an impressive store of experience are teaming up to launch a new magazine for middle-aged men. The title, called What’s Next, already has a Web site with original content about health, careers, travel and finance. A print version will follow this fall, according to a message on the site. A source who has seen the prototype likened it to a slightly older-skewing version of Esquire.
What’s Next’s president, Jeremy Koch, spent 23 years at Time Inc., heading the consumer marketing division and working on the launches of In Style and Teen People. Jim Gaines, credited on the site as editorial adviser, is a former managing editor of People, Time and Life; after leaving Time Inc. in 2005, he went on to found Travel & Leisure Golf.
Koch did not return calls on Monday, but two sources said What’s Next had some funding, but was seeking more before committing to the print rollout. One of the sources said Koch had approached AARP about partnering, but was turned down. Certainly, What’s Next will face stiff competition for the eyeballs of affluent males over 40. Condé Nast, with Men’s Vogue, and Rodale Inc., with Best Life, both have new magazines aimed at the same demographic.