Dec. 1 Is Last Day to Register for State of the Industry Banquet

At our Dec. 7 State of the Industry Banquet, an expert panel will address the move to digital media. How fast do we need to make the shift? And how far do we need to go?

Our panel will include:
The banquet will be held Thursday, Dec. 7 at the Holiday Inn Boston-Newton, starting at 6:00 p.m.

RSVP to chapter president Alan Earls at alan dot earls at comcast dot net or (508) 528 6930.

Get full details on the banquet here.
 

Competition Brochures Mailed Today

Entry brochures for the Azbee Awards of Excellence were mailed out today. If you are on our mailing list, you should receive yours in the next week or two.

If you don't want to wait or are not sure you're on the list, you can just use our online entry form or download a PDF version of the form (831K).

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"Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission"

Those words come from Neal Vitale, CEO of 1105 Media, as quoted in Folio:'s report on today's CEO roundtable at American Business Media's Top Management Meeting. According to the report by Folio:'s Matt Kinsman, "the CEO panel emphasized that the transformation facing publishers isn’t just about adapting online but breaking established, outdated molds throughout their companies."

Vitale's comment had to do with moving corporate focus away from the bottom line. The full quote from Vitale, as it appears in Kinsman's article, was this: "We want there to be a sense that it's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. If people have a good idea, don't wait around for approval from the budget department."

Other highlights from Kinsman's report:
  • Panelists stressed the importance of investing in the company and fostering entrepreneurship, even in the face of the lean times we've seen recently.

  • Vance Publishing president and COO Peggy Walker noted that her company has had to rethink its decentralized organizational structure; the energy and resources expended on multiple small projects could have been used on larger projects that might have benefitted the company more. That advice seems to contradict the point immediately above, and Vitale's comments, which seem to call for a less-centralized decision-making structure. Perhaps the point is to be flexible and rely on common sense, not fads or trends, in deciding when and how to remake your business.

  • With 18 different publications, Farm Progress Companies suffered from overlap among titles. Kinsman quotes company president Jeff Lapin as saying. "Advertisers recognized us as a strong brand, but said we just did the same content across 18 magazine[s]." It must have hurt to hear that. Farm Progress deserves credit for taking the advice to heart and overhauling its offerings.

  • Also of note: As part of its revamp, Farm Progress entered the consumer market with a new magazine called Rural Life.

  • Interestingly, Vance Publishing brought on board staff members it referred to as "change agents," including a new human resources staffer.

  • Also in the human resources arena, McGraw-Hill's Harry Sachinis advocated what he called "overhiring," noting that the company hired a former astronaut and aviation-industry executive to head up its AviationWeek group.
It's nice to hear all this emphasis on investing in products and personnel coming from corporate leaders, but it's hard not to think that for many companies -- especially given the recent economic situation in the industry -- such investments are just not an option. And fostering an entrepreunerial culture is something much easier said than done. Still, there are companies that seem to manage one or both feats fairly successfully (IDG comes to mind). The hard part is figuring out how they do it, and how to replicate that success. At one of last year's chapter meetings, it became evident that innovation often happens under the radar.

Related link:
Other B2B media news today from Folio:

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Online Azbee Entry Form Posted

The online version of the Azbee Awards for Excellence entry form is now available. This form lets entrants fill out and submit entry information online instead of filling out paper forms, and basic publication information and contact information can be entered just once for multiple entries.

As noted earlier, a PDF version (831K) of the Azbee Awards for Excellence entry form that can be downloaded, printed, and mailed in is also available. Hard copies of the entry brochure will be mailed out in a few weeks; subscribe to this blog to receive an email update when that happens.

And don't forget: We've added 16 new categories, in these areas:
  • Multi-Platform
  • Print Magazine Editorial
  • Print Magazine Design
  • Print Newsletter Editorial
  • Print Newsletter Design
  • Digital Magazines
  • E-Newsletter
  • Blogs
  • Web
A full list of new categories is here.

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Airing Problems in Science, Industry, and Reporting

The PBS show AIR: America's Investigative Reports is always fascinating viewing. Each episode looks at the reporting behind a specific investigative story. Last week's episode, "Science Fiction," was of particular interest for professional, industry, and association publications, though. It centered on reporting done by Environmental Science & Technology, which is published by the American Chemical Society.

Paul D. Thacker, who was a reporter at ES&T, starting finding evidence of deliberate attempts to slant science news to benefit certain industries. Among Thacker 's findings:
  • Steven J. Milloy, the publisher of JunkScience.com, which criticizes scientific research findings on topics like global climate change and health issues, was a science consultant for Philip Morris at the same time he was debunking the risks of second-hand smoke on Fox New's web site. (At this writing, JunkScience.com has posted no statement about the AIR episode.)

  • A purportedly grassroots activist group in Oregon called Project Protect was connected to the timber industry. The group advocated for cutting down trees as means of preventing forest fires, a position also espoused by the industry.

  • The consulting firm The Weinberg Group submitted a proposal to DuPont detailing ways to defend an allegedly carcinogenic chemical used in Teflon.
Thacker reported on these issues in ES&T (see Related Links, below, for stories accessible to non-ES&T subscribers). He received acclaim for his work -- including an award from the Society of Environmental Journalists -- and got positive feedback from readers.

Thacker's story especially resonated because of the recent publication of ASBPE's book Journalism That Matters, which tells how B2B writers reported articles that brought about positive change in their industries. But Thacker's reporting didn't result in quite such a happy outcome as those in the book.

An American Chemical Society board member questioned the value of Thacker's reporting on the Weinberg group, and Thacker says he was soon asked to stop doing investigative pieces. When he found evidence that the Bush administration had tried to stop scientists from discussing connections between climate change and hurricanes, ES&T wasn't interested in publishing the story, he says; in September his climate change story was published on Salon.com. Thacker says he was later fired by ES&T. (The magazine has released a statement about the AIR report and Thacker's departure from the magazine, saying among other things that American Chemical Society rules prohibit board members from interfering with publication editors' activities. Thacker now works for the web site Inside Higher Ed.)

If you get a chance to catch a repeat of the episode, or any installation of AIR, I highly recommend it. And for a look at techniques business press reporters used to get key information for controversial articles, see this report from the ASBPE Washington, D.C., blog.

Related links:

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Azbee Entry Forms Now Available!

A PDF of the entry form (831 KB) for the 2007 Azbee Awards of Excellence is now available.

Hard copies of the entry brochure will be mailed out in a few weeks, and a form that can be filled out and submitted online* will be posted on the ASBPE web site as well; subscribe to this blog to receive an email update when that happens.

As mentioned in a previous post, we've added 16 new categories to the competition, greatly expanding the digital and newsletter portions of the competition. In the print magazine area, there are new categories for headline writing, buyer’s guide s, product sections, and overall photography/illustration. A full list of new categories is here.

* Be aware that copies of magazines and other materials still must be mailed in for most categories even when submitting the form electronically.

Update, Nov. 16: The online version of the entry form is now available.

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Dec. 7: Is Our Industry Schizophrenic?

Come explore this question as we explore the divide between old media and new at ASPBE’s State of the Industry Banquet and Holiday Social, Dec. 7, 2006. (Reservations must be received by Dec. 1.)

Update, Nov. 13, 2006: Response to this event has been tremendous and space is limited, so if you would like to reserve a table or an individual seat, please do so as soon as possible. See price and reservation information.


Digital Media: Transition or Transformation?

The move to the web by business publishing companies is at a crossroads. We’re all doing it to some extent, but at different speeds and in various areas. How fast do we need to make the shift? Can it be pursued in an orderly, “business as usual” fashion, or should it be made at a more radical, wholesale pace? And how far do we need to go?

Well, there’s no better way to figure it out than by asking a panel of experts, such as:
Our panel will address this issue through topics such as:
  • What are the risks and rewards to incorporating more of a digital presence, and how much of your existing infrastructure can make -- or enhance -- that transition?

  • What end state should you aim for in terms of dividing assets and resources amongst print and web?

  • What digital products should you build? How can you create value-based differentiation between your print and electronic products?

  • What will your staffing needs be?

  • What are appropriate success metrics?

Tickets include hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and a buffet dinner. A cash bar will be available.

Where:

Holiday Inn Boston-Newton
399 Grove Street (off I-95)
Newton, MA
Driving directions and transportation information

When:
Dec. 7, 2006
Networking: 6:00-6:45
Dinner: 6:45-7:15
Panel Discussion: 7:15-8:00
Q&A: 8:00-8:15
Cost:
Nonmembers: $75
Members: $65
Tables of 10 $590
To register: Please mail your check, payable to "ASBPE-New England Chapter," to chapter president Alan Earls:
Alan Earls
222 Pond St.
Franklin, MA 02038
Reservations must be received by Dec. 1.
For further information or to pay by credit card, contact Alan at (508) 528 6930 or alan dot earls at comcast dot net.

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