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Your Publication in This Economy

Posted on Monday, June 08, 2009 at 2:54 PM

How has the present economy affected your publication? What concerns has it raised?

By Denise Gable

It's hard to find any business that hasn't been affected by the present economy. With the fall in ad revenue and subscriptions, many publications are forced to downsize staff, pages, and budgets. We asked editors what is their greatest concern. They weighed in on how the crisis is affecting their publications.

Reason, The Reason Foundation, Los Angeles, CA
Circ.: 50,000
Frequency: 11 times per year
Typical issue size: approximately 80 pages
Description: Reason, established in the revolutionary month of May 1968, is a political and cultural magazine that explores and champions "Free Minds and Free Markets." It is the premier libertarian journal in the world, and has a vigorous website (including a robust video journalism site at reason.tv) that pulls down roughly 3.5 million visitors per month.

Matt Welch, editor-in-chief, "The great and exciting challenge of this moment, especially for us (a magazine that has for a motto "Free Minds and Free Markets"), is to cover the ongoing hydra-headed economic crisis/panic/bailout in a way that makes our monthly print magazine indispensably unique, while thrusting ourselves into the second-by-second national conversation online. At a time when (generously speaking) 95 percent of economics reporting is hand-waving hokum, there is real value to be mined in trying to figure stuff out journalistically and sharing the results with readers of all stripe. The crisis also puts us in a position where, more than a year ago anyway, we are asking ourselves to do more than less. The latter is less of an issue for us than most folks because we've always had an extremely competitive and lean mindset."

Convene, Professional Convention Management Association, New York City, NY
Circ.: 35,000-plus subscribers
Frequency: monthly
Typical issue size: minimum, 104 pages; average 128 pages
Description: The leading educational magazine for the professional meeting planning industry.

Michelle Russell, editor-in-chief, "Our concern is that we're able to keep it whole -- that even though my freelance editorial budget has been cut -- I'll be able to keep my staff intact. That I'll be able to publish articles that aren't all focused on the current economy. In other words, we'll be able to write about the really big ideas that still matter."

PT Magazine, American Physical Therapy Association, Alexandria, VA
Circ.: 75,000 
Frequency: 11x a year (December-January is a combined issue)
Typical issue size: 72-80 pages 
Description: PT -- Magazine of Physical Therapy is the professional issues magazine of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Published to meet the needs and interests of APTA members and to promote physical therapy as a vital professional career, PT provides legislative, health care, human interest, and Association news and serves as a forum for discussion of professional issues and ideas in physical therapy practice. Donald E. Tepper, editor, "Viability of the publication is our top consideration. We've already cut back from 12 issues per year to 11 by combining the December and January issues. We've also reduced the number of editorial pages, from an average of 88 to a goal of 72. Since the magazine is one of the primary member benefits, it's not likely to go away. But it might be reduced to the point that it no longer provides value. Also, some of the cut-back was due not to publication financial problems, but rather to actual and anticipated problems within the organization. So we took a significant hit in order to help preserve other functions in the organization. [I'm also worried about my] job future, obviously."

Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (JPEN) and Nutrition in Clinical Practice (NCP), American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and Sage Publications, Silver Spring, MD, and Thousand Oaks, CA
Circ.: JPEN: 6,630/NCP: 6,000
Frequency: Both 6 times a year
Typical issue size: JPEN has 680 pgs/volume; NCP has 700 pgs/volume
Description: JPEN is the premier scientific journal of nutrition support therapy and metabolic support. It publishes original peer-reviewed studies that define the cutting edge of basic and clinical research in the field. It also explores the science optimizing the care of patients receiving enteral or IV therapies. NCP publishes articles about the scientific basis and clinical application of nutrition and nutrition support. NCP contains peer-reviewed comprehensive reviews, clinical research, case observations, and other papers written by experts in the field of nutrition and healthcare practitioners involved in the delivery of specialized nutrition support.

Bridget E. Struble, publications manager, "We strive to be necessary -- to provide cutting edge research and practical direction. Especially now, we must convince our readers that only we provide the networking and professional development they need to remain necessary to their institutions. "I, too, strive to be the best editor, project manager, and personnel manager to prove my worth to my organization. Excelling at my individual responsibilities while at the same time contributing to the team remain my primary goals."

DocuMania, E.Wallingford, VT
Circ.: 6.5 million
Frequency: released in multiple versions over 5 seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Christmas.
Typical issue size: 108 pages
Description: A copy-intense mail order catalogue that is released in multiple version over five seasons.

Carolyn Haley, freelance editor, "I have already lost more than one client over the past year, and just learned that another one will be cutting back (or bailing out). Prior to the current economic calamity, I began pushing hard to secure work for my normally slow winter season -- last winter really hurt me. With my primary client, I have also proposed a retainer arrangement instead of our usual catch-as-catch-can deal, because that will not only serve both of us but ensure a monthly income for me during this sure to be hairy-scary year."

Denise Gable is managing editor of Editors Only.

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"I am so grateful for these valuable hints in a crucial period like this where survival for editors and publishers has become an impossible task. I appreciate and value your guidance." --Sara Seneviratne, editor-in-chief, Funworld International. 07-24-2009


"My greatest concern is for our readers. They love the magazine and get a lot out of it, but we are stretched to the breaking point with constantly decreasing budgets, more work for fewer people, and management policies that seem aimed at actively preventing us from doing our jobs. We produce the magazine with two staff members and one ad salesperson. There is only so much that two people can do, and in the end it is the readers who suffer for it. Business owners, please, please remember that you have to spend money to make money, and look at the long-term picture." --Anonymous

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