‘Hops & Vine’

Here is a version of the magazine prototype we created, on the craft beer and local wine cultures of our part of Virginia:

Hops and Vine Magazine 2016 MTv8

What follows on this blog is a kind of diary of the four-week spring-term class, “The Magazine: Past, Present, and Future,” with about two entries from every individual in the class, including Prof. Cumming.

ZHOU in the libraryPost art director

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Spring Term Festival!

Josie at FestivalToday was the spring term festival hosted in the library, during which students had the opportunity to showcase their work over the past four weeks. It was a great atmosphere – the library was packed as students and professors jumped from one presentation to another, appreciating one another’s work. From poverty issue briefs to Shakespearean plays, there was a wide range of presentations to view during the festival. A friend of mine even had live leeches at hers.

Our table, adorned with a binder including our magazine and the market research behind it, was stopped at frequently. Julia at the FestivalProfessors and students asked thought-provoking questions, forcing us to go in depth about the production of our magazine and the magazine industry in general. Overall, the festival was a great way to display all of the hard work that went into the past four weeks.

–Josie Hurst

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The People’s Storyteller

There is something truly spectacular about magazines. For me, it’s not the beautiful pictures that tend to catch my eye or the well-designed layout of the fine, crisp pages.

It’s the stories—the people.

During this Spring Term class, I’ve learned a great deal about magazines. Our class discussions highlighted monumental moments in magazine history, and we’ve also delved into the publishing industry during our trip to New York City. I’ve learned the most, however, from going out onto the streets and shops of Rockbridge County and simply talking to people.

IMG_8650I learned so much from the conversations I had. Each person I talked to had his or her own story to tell. They all came from different places paired with unique experiences and perspectives of the world.


I believe they had been waiting for someone to just sit down with them and merely listen to what they had to say—and I was more than honored to be those eager ears for them to speak into.

Journalism is a wonderful reminder that not one person in this world is the same. We are completely different from our neighbor. No matter how usual we consider our own lives to be, we all have something to say.

Nate Olewine, head brewer at Devils Backbone Brewery CO. Outpost

Nate Olewine, head brewer at Devils Backbone Brewery CO. Outpost

This class has taught me that it’s the people that make the stories, not the interesting facts or reporting on some sort of breaking news.

I believe that’s why magazines remain so relevant in a world now dominated by technology and digital media. Magazines remain the one form of journalism that keep reminding us that it’s people, not stories, that continue to fascinate us every day.

-Parker Butler

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Hearst, Revlon, Chevy, Cosmo, Snapchat, etc.

Walking along the streets of Manhattan, the Hearst Tower is nearly impossible to miss. The stone base of the building brings images of William Randolph Hearst’s time

The Hearst Building, visible all the way up 8th Ave.

The Hearst Building on 8th Avenue.

with the company, while the glass, zigzagged tower provides a visualization of how far it has come.

We had the opportunity to visit Hearst Tower on our last day in New York, and it turned out to be my favorite site we visited. We were greeted by Jeff Hamill, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Washington and Lee alumnus and father of a current student. He led us through the massive building, stopping at the mezzanine of the dramatic lobby as we looked around the open area in awe. We finally made our way to a conference room to listen to Hamill’s presentation.

As Hamill told us, the magazine industry is not dying – at least here, it’s thriving. So much so that last year, Hearst had its largest year in the history of the company. This success, Hamill explained, comes from the ability of lifestyle magazines to change and adapt to the times. As he put it, the magazine industry is “as vibrant, changing, and energetic as any business today.”

This plasticity is critical for companies today – we live in a world in which we expect to get what we want, when we want it. Hamill labeled this a “media disruption,” as the availability of information has completely transformed consumer behavior, forcing entertainment companies to fit these expectations. Hearst works hard to adapt to the times, continuously looking for and getting involved with the next big thing. For example, Hearst jumped onto the Snapchat bandwagon, creating a page for Cosmopolitan on the discover page. Now, their page has two million views per day.

As Hamill explained, the key to surviving the digital age is to be nimble, always looking for new ways to engage an ever-changing audience. Hamill discussed how Hearst has collaborated with many companies in creating advertisements that meet this challenge, including Revlon, Chevrolet, and Banana Republic, all of which were looking for ways to change their image. Hearst succeeded in doing just that through modern methods of advertising, including videos and personalized print ads. As Hamill explained again and again, in today’s industry, the only way to sell is to engage.

–Josie Hurst

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Civility in the City

New York City often gets a bad rap for being impersonal and unfriendly. The skyscrapers are tall and ominous, the streets are dirty, and the people walk swiftly with their heads tilted downward. However, that does not mean they do not see what is going on around them.KETTLES vu from High Line

On our trip to New York, I noticed several instances when pedestrians actually went out of their way to help or act kindly toward a stranger, whether that was me or someone else. A taxi stopped at a busy intersection to tell a woman she dropped 20 dollars. A homeless man brought an iPhone he found on the street into the nearest store in hopes that they could track down its owner. A man trailed after a young boy in the subway station who was unaware his playing cards were falling out of his backpack onto the ground. An elderly man stopped and asked if I needed help finding a location when I looked confused on the streets. When a group of our phones died at dinner, the host offered to help us call an Uber cab.

As a girl who grew up in a small river town in Missouri and who attends a small liberal arts university in rural Virginia, I am not used to huge cities like New York. I couldn’t believe how many random acts of kindness I witnessed as I walked and experienced the city in just three days. I was pleasantly surprised and almost blown away.

Kettles Times SquareYes, many of the stereotypes about the city seemed true upon arrival. However, when I really stopped to listen and watch people interact, things were different than I imagined. Maybe one just has to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city to really realize what is going on around them. Things aren’t always as bad as they’re made out to be, and you can’t believe everything you hear—a crucial lesson for any journalist.

–Laura Waggener

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Marriott Marquis & Magazines

cropped-NYC-pix1It’s 10:28 p.m. I’m 48 floors high, sitting at a rooftop revolving restaurant in the New York Marriott Marquis hotel with a magnificent view of the New York City lights. It takes about one hour for the restaurant to fully rotate once, and during that hour, I was able to see different parts of the city from various angles.

This experience reminds me of the magazine industry. Magazines are no longer viewed through a singular lens—print. In contemporary society that is dominated by digital media, magazines are now viewed through multiples lenses—print and online.

The history of magazines mirrors that of New York City. Throughout its history, New York City has faced many struggles, such as The Wall Street Crash, 9/11, and Hurricane Sandy. But it has withstood these hardships and persevered, earning itself the title of the Empire City.

Similarly, the magazine industry has been struggling since the rise and continuous growth of digital media. But it has not died. It has merely shifted in another direction, adapting and adjusting itself to new circumstances. This industry may be declining, but it surely isn’t going anywhere yet.

–Christina Han

W&L lawn

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New York Views

Pictures by Virginia Kettles

KETTLES downtown from Hudson

Freedom Tower, where World Trade Center used to be, from the Hudson at W. 26th St.

KETTLES me among ships

KETTLES cashier barkeep at Frying Pan

At The Frying Pan on the Hudson River.







KETTLES 5th Ave mannequins

Fifth Avenue Mannequins

KETTLES nypl Periodical Room

DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room, New York Public Library

KETTLES vu from High Line

View from the High Line

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Martha’s Empire

MS LivingHow does an empire survive after its head, Martha Stewart, is jailed for insider trading?  It is because of passionate, friendly employees such as Becky Mickel, assistant editor for Martha Stewart Weddings.

Upon our arrival at 601 West 26th Street, Becky gave our class the tour of the facility.  Behind swinging white doors, we found numerous test kitchens, an enormous prop closet, and mannequins used to show off wedding looks.   “One of the best parts of working at [Martha Stewart Weddings] is the taste testing,” Becky said.  With a single inhale I could almost taste the  cookies in the air.

As we sat down in the conference room on hip black chairs, natural light streamed in through large industrial windows.  Becky introduced us to various women who transferred Martha’s empire to print.

There was Lee Crandall, senior editor of Martha Stewart Weddings, who had previously worked for Rolling Stone, U.S. Weekly and Brides.  She encouraged our class to curate our own blog site, adding clips for the convenience of future employers.

Next, there was Kim, an intern at Martha Stewart Living who has taken on the tasks of  editorial assistant.  She advised our class to find our internship online, remaining flexible.

MS WeddingsLastly, there was Amy Conway, editor in chief of Martha Stewart Weddings, who has spent 20 years with the brand.  She told our class about the importance of newsstand sales, especially for bridal magazines.

Becky’s warmth and the enthusiasm of the other employees that we met are crucial to keeping the brand alive and trusted.  Becky will be moving to Condé Nast. I enjoyed meeting her and understanding the family-like atmosphere among the employees of Martha Stewart Omnimedia.

-Julia Kaczmar

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At the Hearst HQ

At Hearst with HamillJeff Hamill, executive vice president for sales and marketing for Hearst, talked to our class in New York last week about the company’s creative advertising tactics in what he called a “vibrant, changing, energetic” business.

“Digital disrupts,” according to Hamill, and he and his team have been forced to think outside the box when it comes to advertising. He said the key to success for publications is to create engaging content that audiences want and then scale it to a specific platform. This also applies to advertising.

It is difficult to get the audience to engage with advertisements, especially online, but Hearst has created numerous campaigns that do just that. Their #GoBold campaign for Revlon included an online reality show, hosted by transgender actress Laverne Cox, with three women who were on the brink of success in their careers. They were meant to exemplify facets of the “Revlon woman.” The webisodes were a hit and successfully promoted the struggling brand.

At HearstOther strategies used by the Hearst marketing team included native advertising in company’s the various publications. Each ad in with the content in the individual magazine. The magazine staff would help to create the content for the ads to make sure it stayed true to the style of the publication, although it is marked as “sponsored,” Hamill said. Hearst has further targeted  advertisements by sending different versions of the same magazine to different subscribers based on who the business believed would buy their product, using “big data.”

Hearst has successfully adapted to the changing culture of media and will undoubtedly continue to think of innovative advertising ideas in the future.

–Mary Michael Teel

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Inside ‘New York’

Storyboards of images and text stretch for twenty feet across the office floor. “Please don’t take pictures,” says Lauren Starke, a Aude Whitepublic relations representative for New York magazine. We are among the first to see this unpublished layout, as the new edition of the magazine does not come out until next week, she explains.

New York’s office is the first office we’ve visited that fits my preconceived idea of what a magazine office would look like. Stacks of other publications overflow on a table, clippings of photos and previous stories are slapped half-hazardously onto inspiration boards. Numerous “Ellies,” one of the magazine industries most prestigious awards, are displayed on a filing cabinet, suggesting to me that life at New York is more than winning awards.

NY women

Roxanne Bahr, photo editor; Melissa Dahl, staff writer; Lindsay Peoples, fashion editor.

Lauren takes us to the conference room where four other women, all of who appear to be under 30, greet us. The women discuss their alma maters and the paths they took to end up here. I am both impressed and intimidated by all of them. Lindsay, the fashion editor, previously interned at Teen Vogue, which seems to be a common theme among many of the women that we’ve talked to at other publications. I feel like today we are constantly told not to get our hopes up on finding a position at such a large publication, and I wonder if these women had luck on their side or if the industry really has changed that much in the five or so years since they graduated from school.

–Mary Crowgey

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Passage to India

I take a right on the corner with more authority than I really feel. The streets down in the East Village don’t run on a grid and my cracked iPhone’s GPS is having trouble keeping up with us. We reach the next corner. Wrong way. I sheepishly turn around and head back to our original starting point.

We head back down the street for four or five more blocks. My CityMapper app keeps blinking, “YCrowgey Indian restaurantou have arrived at your destination,” but there are no signs to indicate that we really have. Finally, flashing lights in an array of reds, oranges, and greens catch my attention. “We’re here,” I announce triumphantly, just as I was sure my two travel companions, Laura and Christina, were losing faith.

We head up the stairs as four Indian men scream at us, vying for our business. “Best food in town.” “Cheap price.” “No wait.” I shuffle our little group into Panna II, the original of the restaurants, and we are seated in a table by the door. “Best table in the house!” the host announces to us, and he’s right. The rest of the restaurant is cramped with an incredibly low ceiling created by the thousands of strings of Christmas lights that drape overhead. By the window, however, we all fit comfortably and have a great view of the entire, tiny place.

Laura has never had Indian food before, and I try to suggest a few dishes she might like, but it is difficult as the menu only has very rough translations of the Indian dishes. I order the Bali Chicken on a whim, as the menu boasts that this is the most popular dish, and three orders of what is essentially grilled cheese made with naan for the table. The food comes promptly and is just a delicious as I remember it from when I first visited two years ago, but it is really the service that sticks out. In a city full of scams and unfriendliness, the staff at Panna II joke along with us as we dance to the Bollywood music that pumps through the speakers, and even take a picture with us to document our trip downtown. After a long day of traveling the city, it was nice to relax with good friends in a unique experience.

–Mary Crowgey

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Memorial to Magazines Past

DeWitt Wallace Periodical signIn the 1920s, according to the sign outside the heavy door, DeWitt Wallace spent countless hours in the high-ceilinged sanctum within, reading and condensing magazine articles. This was how he filled Reader’s Digest, the unorthodox little magazine he and his wife, Lila, had launched in 1922, their only child. At first, they didn’t bother with advertising or writers or illustrators. It was all about circulation, which by 1946 reached about eight million. Reader’s Digest became the most widely read magazine in the world.

The RoomLast week, we came to this Periodical Room of the main New York Public Library building on 5th Avenue. It’s an awesome space, although there were no magazines in sight. Instead, almost every wooden chair lined up on both sides of long tables was occupied by someone working on a MacBook. Students in this class sized up the place in a minute, and decided to leave the room and the building for free time in the city. With  iPhones in hand, they all had better things to do than waste time in this silent tomb of twentieth century print culture.

But I took the road less traveled by. I asked at the window for copies of some magazines from 1967. Sorry, the man said, we keep only recent issues here. He sent me walking down a long hallway to the room with old periodicals. I spent nearly two hours on some slow-moving research into Look magazine and The Saturday Evening Post.

Then I went back to the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room to contemplate, once more, what David Sumner’s book calls The Magazine Century. The majestic room has thirteen murals of the great magazine publishing houses in Manhattan, part of the room’s restoration in 1983 underwritten by DeWitt Wallace legacy funds.

These were grand buildings, Herald Square, the Time-Life Building, the Hearst Building. Some are still around, re-purposed. Time Inc. has moved downtown. The Art Deco Hearst Building has become the base of a dazzling 44-floor glass tower clad in diamond-shaped facets. We would hear from the head of magazine marketing in that building the next day, and the students would be given good news about Hearst’s peak profits last year, from using multiple platforms nimbly and targeting native advertising.

Magazines, it seems, will survive. But something troubles me about how sluggish I felt trying to dig into the great magazines of the past. I don’t blame my students foNYPL Lionr getting out of the New York Public Library as fast as they could. It’s a beautiful building, but in their world it’s a dead tomb of dead books and magazines that aren’t even out in the open. As the man at Hearst would tell us, with an iPhone you don’t want advertising or irrelevant content. You want what you want, when you want it. How many “snap”? he asked, meaning Snapchat. All 14 raised their hands. And how many regularly read magazines? A tentative pause, and only about half the hands went up. And this is a course called “The Magazine: Past, Present and Future.”

–Doug Cumming

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Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

1Having spent the last two years swooning over images of the beautiful Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards—perhaps the most Instagram-able vineyard in Virginia—a friend and I finally made the hour-long drive to the Charlottesville property yesterday afternoon. Nestled among the rolling vineyards and exquisite homes of Plank Road, Pippin Hill rests unassumingly atop a large hill that assures stunning views of the surrounding valley.

The veranda was crowded with relaxed patrons whose chairs faced West overlooking the scenic valley. A cool breeze granted the vineyard-goers intermittent relief from the hot sun that beat on their faces. We started our lovely afternoon with a tasting at the outdoor bar. The 2014 Chardonnay Reserve was a favorite white and the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, a favorite red.Pippin Hill wines

We ordered the scrumptious Roasted Garlic Hummus that can only be described as heavenly. From our perch at a bar top table, we watched as a photographer took portraits of the bride and groom and their families before the ceremony. A glass of chardonnay in one hand and flakey bread covered in hummus in the other, I enjoyed taking in the lively scene. I could have stayed for hours, but we were kindly reminded the tasting room was closing at 4:30 p.m. to accommodate the wedding. I sneaked a few pictures of the beautiful bride and groom before sadly leaving the party behind.

–Marielle Lafaire


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Martha Stewart Headquarters

Becky Michel

Becky Mickel

 On Tuesday, our class ventured to Chelsea, home to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Becky Mickel, a W&L journalism major from 2013, is an associate editor at Martha Stewart Weddings. She welcomed us with a behind-the-scenes tour of the spacious—and pristinely white—office on 26th Street overlooking the Hudson River. Highlights of the tour, judging by the number of excited oohs and aahs emitted from our small, entirely female class, included the prop room and two set kitchens where Martha Stewart’s Cooking School is filmed.

Our group settled down in a conference room lined with coffee table books that promised beautiful images and helpful tips to satisfy all of your home and garden needs. The Berry Grower’s Companion, Complete Seafood, Costume Jewelry were just three of hundreds of titles squeezed haphazardly on the waist-high built-ins that lined three of the four walls of the room. Natural light entered the room through a large glass window and back-lit Becky as she discussed everything from Martha Stewart’s recent partnership with Meredith Corporation, her own career path, and the delicious perks of a job at MSW.

It’s safe to say we were all blown away by the success she has achieved in her young career. I feel I can speak on behalf of our entire class in wishing Becky good luck with the next stage of her career at Condé Nast!

–Marielle Lefaire

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Inside Scoop on Magazines

Asme Sid Holt

Sid Holt

There’s no doubt that the magazine industry has drastically changed in the last 20 years. Sid Holt, chief executive of the American Society of Magazine Editors, says just wait and see what’s next. “Media consumption is going to have devastating effects that’s going to make what happened in the last 20 years a walk in the park,” he said.

Holt tells our class how rapidly pervasive digital media has become and how much it is being consumed on a daily basis. Digital media has changed the way magazines operate. He said magazines (including print magazines) don’t have an audience problem, they have an advertising problem.

“The audience is stable,” he said. “The problem is advertising dollars. They’re going online from newspapers, magazines, television and radio.”

Google and Facebook, group2not content producers, are earning most of the advertising dollars now. Holt said the challenge is to persuade advertisers to invest more in magazines in print, online, and other forms such as social media. Holt makes a noteworthy point, but the problem is not so much a reluctance of advertisers to invest in social media, but the fact that users of social media don’t look at or like ads. There’s also less room for them on mobile devices, and in today’s world, almost every individual checks social media on their cell phones.

Although many people may see magazines as a dying industry, Holt remains hopeful. He reminds us that the magazine industry isn’t dead, it’s merely shifting.

Exiting the conference room, he leaves us with one tip: “Your first obligation is your readers.”

–Christina Han

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Visiting ‘New York’ within New York

New York magThe offices of the New York magazine match the city; sleek, organized, and with sharp corners. Posters of the latest issues line the walls, showing the familiar faces of celebrities who are currently on the world’s radar. Today, we see James Franco and Donald Trump.

Among the Mac computers and highlighters on the desks, sheets of new issue mockups line the floor as we walk down the aisles, taking in the scenery. These are older photographs, grainy and faded, of people smiling cheekily into the camera. Some are young people holding cigarettes, others are older, wearing fancy clothing. The years the photographs were taken are written in pencil on the bottom: 1973, 1960, 1955. It’s for an upcoming anniversary issue.

We are taken to a cramped room labeled “Library,” where all of the New York magazine’s issues are laid to rest. There seem to be hundreds of copies, all packed together tightly in their respective slots. But then, before any of us can get a better look, the lights are shut off, and we dutifully file out. We’re going to the conference room.


Lauren Starke dispenses candy and good advice.

Lauren Starke, one of two p.r. staffers for the owner of the magazine, New York Media, talked about its history. The first issue came out in 1968 after it separated as a Sunday newspaper supplement from the New York Herald-Tribune. The company moved from Midtown to SoHo in 2007 and the magazine changed from weekly to biweekly two years ago. Over the years, the font of the logo has changed slightly and some sections in the magazine have been reimagined.

Starke graduated from Boston University with an English degree and Italian minor. She joined the magazine in 2006 as a Communications Manager and became the director of Public Relations in 2008.

Other employees shared their experiences working for New York magazine with us. Aude White, the other p.r. staffer, encouraged us to take as many internships as possible. It is a good way to learn and explore our real interest, she said.

Roxanne Behr, who started working as an internship at New York, is currently the Senior Photo Editor. Senior writer Melissa Dahl worked for NBC news as a Health editor before she found herself enjoying writing about behavior and psychology. Lindsay Peoples, into fashion, started working here a year ago. Before that, she interned at Teen Vogue. Dee Lockett studied journalism in Syracuse University. Lockett worked for Complex Media and Slate Magazine before she came here as an associate editor.

Aude White

Aude White

As for internship tips, the women’s advice was simple.

“Work hard and ask questions,” one said. “When you see someone that you feel like they can take responsibility, and you don’t have to hold their hand to make them do anything, you can actually picture them working there.”

Others stressed the importance of being polite and professional, following up with prompt emails, and staying busy.

New York is the model of all city magazines, but it is national in its coverage. Prof. Cumming noted how appropriate this is. “I was thinking about how much New York overlaps nationally, with fashion and media.” As the meeting ended, he added with a laugh, “Especially with our presidential candidates.”

–Nuoya Zhou ‘18 and Virginia Kettles ‘19

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Alumna Advice

Becky Mickel

Becky Mickel

Following Becky Mickel, ’13, through the refurbished factory-turned-magazine empire (Martha Stewart Living OmniMedia occupies the gigantic 9th floor of a former meat-packing building, but half that space has emptied out since Meredith took on editorial/marketing for the company and moved workers to 3rd Ave.), I was in awe of how far a W&L alumna had come in just three years since graduating. She went from the Rockbridge Report to an Associate Editor for Martha Stewart Weddings to, starting next week, a new Art and Archive team at Condé Nast.

It gave me, and everyone else in the class, hope that we would be all right once we left the safety of the Colonnade. Becky started out with Martha through the ASME internship and then got a job with the company a few months after she left Lexington. This just goes to show how important it is that we do something beneficial with our summers. It is a very cool feeling to think that what I do this July–interning in the communication department of West Virginia’s  Attorney General–could be  the beginning of my career.

In addition to showing us around the Martha Stewart offices and the test kitchens, which smelled delicious, Becky gave us some valuable advice that goes farther than the tips you typically read online about interviews and professionalism. She suggested we email the lowest person on the magazine’s masthead for internship opportunities and have an active interest in that specific company. She also said that a hand-written thank-you note would go further than you could imagine. It sets you apart and shows that you are willing to go that extra mile.Students at Martha Stewart

So while I may not be completely sure what I want to do when I graduate, I am given great comfort in speaking with our young successful alumni. I have even further confidence that the skills I am receiving in Reid Hall will be indispensable wherever I go.

— Ashley Faulkner

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The View from the Hearst Tower

Hamill talk 2

Jeff Hamill

Jeff Hamill, a W&L alumnus and parent, is the executive v.p. for sales and marketing at Hearst Magazines, the biggest and most successful magazine company in the world. His good news to us: “Print is not dead.” This needed explanation, as we sat around a table in his conference room on 12th floor of the Hearst Tower.

Hamill did not deny that magazines are in danger in this digital age. But he pointed out that glossy lifestyle magazines are a form of entertainment—entertainment that he believes people will pay for, if the company knows what its audience wants.

Hearst is one of the few companies that has mastered this task. In fact, 2015 was Hearst’s most profitable year yet, Hamill said. According to Hamill, print sales actually increased by roughly 10 percent in 2015.

Hamill said this success was a direct result of audience engagement, “figuring out what the audience wanted and knowing how to scale it.” To help us understand this concept of “engagement”— the driving factor for his advertising strategy in the digitalOutside Hearst age—he showed us examples of native advertising campaigns he and his team had recently created. “Native advertising,” while still labeled as corporate-sponsored, is produced by the magazine staff to have more of the look and feel of the rest of the magazine.

One of Hamill’s examples was a campaign he and his team created for Chevrolet—a company he said couldn’t seem to shake its old reputation and grow its client pool in more modern times. This campaign created multiple ads with the same overall theme or message, but tweaked according to which magazine they were placed in.

For example, the ad for a Chevy Malibu that Hearst placed in Esquire had a more edgy masculine look than the In 12th floormore family oriented ad it placed in Country Living.

Furthermore, these ads were only placed in certain issues for a specific target audience—an audience Hearst identified through big data as “Malibu people.” Hamill said his team takes the research from each magazine, or outside marketing companies, and uses this demographic data to figure out which ads to place in which issues before they’re mailed to individual subscribers.  Yes, it’s expensive, but they can charge advertisers more for this.

me at HearstAnother company, Revlon, came to Hamill with hopes of updating its image. Revlon wanted to brand itself as more “provocative” and be seen as a brand that helps empower women. So, Hamill and his team developed the #GoBold campaign, a webisode series and contest between three young women, to help launch this new image.

Hamill said video was the perfect medium for “engagement,” and the Revlon campaign was one of Hearst’s most successful campaigns so far.

— Julia Gsell

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What’s a ‘magazine’ anyway?

ASME mag rackThe magazine industry is not dead. It’s not even dying. But it is changing.

Sid Holt, chief executive of the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), recalls a time when monthly editorial lunches were the norm for magazine companies. Now communication takes place largely over the Internet, Holt explains.

Perhaps one of the most notable changes for Holt has been in the definition of the word “magazine.” This term once referred to the glossy titles that can be found on newsstands, but now it means something different to each person you ask. For Holt, a magazine represents a relationship between a company and a consumer – a relationship that can be monetized.

The growth of online-only content platforms like BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post has been largely responsible for the discussion surrounding the word magazine, Holt tells us. In fact, this year, his company, which is in charge of giving out the National Magazine Awards, the so-called “Ellies,” had several winners from digital-only publications.

— Danielle Amiot

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‘It’s the devil’s field’

As our class stepped into the Wenner Media office on Monday, our first stop was a hall displaying every Rolling Stone cover from the first issue, printed in 1967, to the most recent.

Rolling Stone associate editor Andy Greene walked us down the hall, telling stories behind the different covers and reminiscing about the days before the Internet.Andy Green in hall

“If you wanted to learn about rock stars, it was basically only here,” said Greene about the magazine.

The magazine has evolved since its founding. Like other magazines and media outlets, it has been forced to change to fit in with the digital age.

Greene said when he writes a print story, he also thinks about how to make it work online. He said he likes the freedom of online journalism because there are no confines of space and there is more opportunity to do what you want with your pieces.

Greene started at Rolling Stone as an intern. He got the gig through his boss, a former Rolling Stone employee, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in his hometown of Cleveland, where he previously worked. After interning for five months, he was hired full time and has been working there for the past 12 years.

Andy GreeneThroughout his career, Greene has interviewed “almost everyone in rock.” His stories are about 80 percent music, but he occasionally writes about television and books. He gave interviewing advice to our class, reminding us to keep in mind that the interviewer is in charge.

He also said to start with what the interviewee wants to talk about first and to save the tough, controversial topics for the end. This way, if something goes wrong and the interviewee hangs up or leaves, you still have the rest of the interview to write about.

Another helpful and unusual tip was to take pictures or video of the location where the interview takes place. This can help craft the lede of the story, which Greene said is the most important part.

“I can take 4 seconds and turn it into a whole scene,” said Greene about videoing his surroundings during an interview.

Greene gave this rule of thumb in determining how good of a job you did on a story: If the publicist loved it, you failed; If the publicist calls you snarling and angry, but there are no factual errors, you nailed it.WP_20160509_030

He said that sometimes “little things can be turned into huge deals.” An example is a story he wrote on Paul Simon. In response to Art Garfunkel’s derogatory comments about Simon, Greene asked Simon whether he would tour with him again. Simon said no way. Following the interview, both Simon’s publicist and manager called up Greene begging him to take the quote out of the story. Greene refused and the story ran. Even though it seemed obvious that Simon wouldn’t want to tour with Garfunkel, there was still uproar from his team over the comment.

There were other stories of celebrities making demands for the magazine. Greene said that they tried to get Beyoncé for the cover recently. She was willing to be photographed for the cover, but did not want to do an interview. She offered a poet who had helped with her album to do the interview instead- that request was denied. When trying to write an article about Kanye West, he asked for story approval. Obviously, this was a no-go.

However, El Chapo was granted story approval for his interview with Sean Penn. Greene said that while it does go against typical journalism ethics, the magazine made an exception because of the exclusivity of the story. He noted that El Chapo did not make a single change to the story.

TarynFollowing Greene’s visit, we also spoke with Taryn Wood-Norris, on the digital/product design team for Wenner Media. She explained her work on site design, product design and digital experiences for magazines. She has worked on the redesign of the websites for Wenner Media’s three magazines- Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal and Us Weekly.

“Digital is only growing,” said Wood-Norris.

After launching the sites on the new platform, Wenner Media is able to create digital experiences quicker and more efficiently. It was previously outsourced, but is much easier to do in-house.

She noted the importance of knowing where to put what content, which is challenging at times. A certain article or video may work on Facebook, but may not work somewhere else. Part of her job is figuring out where to place content in order to “maximize the revenue stream.”

Greene and Wood-Norris both provided interesting insight into the evolving magazine world. However, the most exciting part of our visit came at the end.

After our class squeezed into an elevator to leave the office, a man pushed towards the back asked where we were from and what we were studying. We replied that we were journalism students from Washington and Lee University.

He chuckled under his breath. “Good luck… It’s the devil’s field.”Jann+Wenner+FMCBhS3IZNEm

Once we stepped off, another man who witnessed the encounter walked up to us and asked if we knew who we had been talking to in the elevator. After shaking our heads, he said, “That was Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone.”

Needless to say, we were shocked and excited to have gotten some not-so helpful advice from a magazine legend.

— Mary Michael Teel

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Lessons on a rock from a star (writer)

“Tell me if I’m boring you,” Alec Wilkinson tells the Washington and Lee journalism class that sits beside him on a large rock in Central Park. But Wilkinson is anything but boring.

When Wilkinson first graduated from Bennington College as a music major, he hoped to follow in the steps of Bob Dylan and become a rock-n-roll musician.

Students inIf one did not know better, they might guess that he had succeeded in that dream. His long, grey hair resembles Mick Jagger’s wavy locks and his skinny jeans cling to his thighs.

But Wilkinson has long since given up on his musical dreams. One day he decided he could not spend the rest of his life playing his music in ski lodges.

So he moved to his family’s summer home in Wellfleet, Mass., on Cape Cod, and got a job as a police officer. Wilkinson decided that his job was attention worthy. As a white college graduate, he had joined the force rather than attending law school like many of his peers had done. So after a year on the job, Wilkinson began work on a novel and his writing career was born.

Now, Wilkinson, a writer for The New Yorker, has completed ten books and been named to the “first rank of literary journalists” by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Burgeoning writers ourselves, we were lucky to spend the morning with Wilkinson in the park. We learned the ins-and-outs of the writing process and what it takes to get your foot in the door at a magazine.

Now we too are ready to take on the world of literary writing.

— Danielle Amiot

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Failure: Life’s Ultimate Tour Guide

We meet Alec Wilkinson, a writer for The New Yorker, outside of Central Park on a brisk yet sunny Tuesday morning. His persona as a self-described “rock and roll musician” is Alec talkingreflected in his Neil Young vibe and casual, yet surprisingly pulled together, layered outfit. Ambling along the park’s paths, Mr. Wilkinson suddenly detours and climbs up a large, rather flat rock upon which we plop our belongings (and ourselves) and launch into a rather unexpected conversation.

With previous magazine experts we have met, discussion topics mostly revolved around their work with the magazine and their career path. However, we listen to Alec Wilkinson begin a philosophical discussion on failure, and it is, admittedly, a strange turn of events. While the conversation eventually becomes geared more towards talk of his career and field, his philosophical opening very intriguingly provides a glimpse of life into the journalism field (and beyond) that many other people we have met with have neglected to spend much time elaborating upon: their emotional and mental trials.

Alec with students“Failure compels movement, compels response,” Alec Wilkinson says while addressing us on the rock. He continues, saying “falling short leads one in another direction”. I thought this was interesting, because it is often stated that we learn from our mistakes, but no one really elaborates on how we use them to our advantage, besides learning to never repeat them again. But Mr. Wilkinson made an excellent point in this respect. Why would we continue along on the same path when it has failed us? Failure, while closing one door, opens another that has many more possibilities, successes, and failures along the hallway of life. As we enter our final weeks of the school year, I hope that our class can channel Alec Wilkinson’s message as we fail, succeed, and continue to persevere along our journey of creating Hops and Vine.

— Anna Linthicum

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Monday in Manhattan

Some images, from Nuoya Zhou and Prof. Cumming


Aude Whitegroup at ASMEIn Cover Hall with Andy GreeneNuoya in subway

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TV and the End of “Life”

The development of television eventually brought the end of America’s general-interest magazines, creating an environment that favored niche magazines.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 9.55.08 PMPeople had greater access to human-interest news and entertainment with the turn of a knob.  Households did not need to wait for pictures of national events when they could turn on their television.  In 1972 came the demise of LIFE Magazine, a magazine dedicated to the portrayal of news, current events, and travel, using photos.  Unfortunately, the population felt no need to read “late” content that had already been broadcast earlier in the week. Television also satisfied the public’s need for real-life entertainment, consumed during down-time in the home. National advertising followed, slowly pushing their energies toward television coverage to promote their products or services. In this way TV has slowly replaced the need for old magazines such as LIFE.  In light of new technological and cultural developments magazine producers needed to refocus their content on specific interest areas instead of taking a broad all-encompassing approach.

Examples fill the news racks: Glamour, Costal Living, Garden and Gun, Condé Nast Traveler, Martha Stewart Weddings and others catering to specific interest groups from southerners to brides to vacation homeowners.Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 9.56.09 PM

Although the magazine business still grows and readers still enjoy the feeling of a paper copy in their hand, I wonder how much today’s niche-oriented cable and satellite TV has affected the success of niche magazines.  How much has HGTV covered that is also covered in Costal Living or Good Housekeeping?  How much has TLC covered in its show Say Yes to the Dress that is also covered in Martha Stewart Weddings or The Knot?  How much has the Travel Channel covered that is also covered in Condé Nast Traveler?  How can both magazines and TV programming exist if there is so much potential content overlap?  How will magazines adapt to keep the readers interest while staying competitive in the business world?

I find the difference to be this: while TV simply shows viewers the content, whimsical magazine articles take the reader on a journey using their imagination, a part of the brain not engaged by watching TV.  Only time will tell whether the magazine’s reliance on imaginative writing, graphic design, and photography will stand against our generation’s movement to the passive absorption of information.

— Julia Kaczmar

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Wednesday, the four teams of the Hops and Vine magazine met to give progress reports and brainstorm ideas.

ashley faulkner pix

Drawing out a layout, Professor Cumming describes his idea for the Devils Backbone story.

The content team is focusing on the main feature stories for the magazine, while everyone else contributes front of the book articles. Virginia Kettles plans to do a photo essay on Brew Ridge Taps, focusing on the variety of labels they feature there. From a business view, Parker Butler is taking a look into the positive and negative views of the Devils Backbone buy-out. And of course, we can’t forget wine! Julia Gsell wants to feature Rockbridge Vineyard. There may also be a story on the Lexington Valley Vineyard and its recent re-branding.

The design team wants to help the content come alive with visually appealing spreads. The cover design is complete and waiting for a picture that will encompass the feel of the magazine. A subtitle with a banner will also be added to the cover.  The team is beginning work on the 27-page book to help establish story lengths. Photos of the wine, beer, breweries, vineyards and all those associated in the process will be the focus in the magazine’s layout.pippin_winegallery_3 hopsvine (003)

Without market research and the business team, however, the magazine could not be possible. The market research team has sent out a Survey Monkey to help find out important information about our key demographic. They are asking the important questions of what people want to see in a magazine about Virginia beer and wine. The business team is exploring the financials behind it all and deciding what model is best for us. They are debating how to best reach our target audience, while keeping the costs affective. Professor Cumming recommended a setup where our goal was to make a profit after the first year of print. They are also researching advertisers, which the design team will represent in the magazine.

With New York coming up very quickly, the teams are busy at work to accomplish all of the goals. To find out how it all turns out, be sure to stay up to date with the class blog and read the prospectus for Hops and Vine, due out May 20.

— Ashley Faulkner

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‘Like a Complete Unknown’

As I’m writing this blog post, I am listening to Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” out of its sheer irony in relation to this topic. However, Dylan’s song surprisingly resonated with my post. He sings a line that I think all readers of journalism will be able to relate to: “How does it feel/to be on your own?” Because, truly, we are all on our own when it comes to deciphering news. We must take everything we read with a grain of salt, because who knows what is fact and what is fiction?Rolling Stone covers

Today in class, we discussed the article written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely in the Dec. 4, 2014, issue of Rolling Stone. This article received a lot of criticism and was the cause for multiple lawsuits against the magazine from the University of Virginia and the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi. This journalistic mess is frankly an insult to the field.

Discussing the article and the mistakes made by the journalist, Professor Cumming informed us that Erdely was on a mission to find a specific story for the magazine. He argued that this could have made her more likely to believe the victim’s words directly as stated without getting another point of view because the victim’s tragic story fit Erdely’s  mission perfectly.

However, Professor Cumming also presented the issue of ethics as far as a rape story is concerned.  How does a reporter sensitively question the story that a rape victim tells? Personally, I would feel very shady and unsympathetic if I listened to a victim’s gruesome nightmare of a story and then made her think I didn’t trust her version of the truth.

On the other hand, isn’t that a journalist’s job — to make sure information is accurate? More times than not, people are going to get annoyed with you as a journalist, because people aren’t necessarily itching to reveal their private lives to the world. Just look at the response the paparazzi receives.

In order to avoid professional, legal, and other issues, journalists are required to be over a hundred percent certain on the accuracy of their story. While Erderly was not the only one to blame for this mess, as the fact-checking team and editor dropped the ball as well, these facts should have been verified.

I learned in Journalism 101 last semester the journalist’s responsibility is to the public. Rolling Stone was not fulfilling its responsibility when their journalists did not ensure that their readers were getting entirely accurate information. It is our responsibility to ensure the journalists of the future, whether that be us or others, treat the public as their number one priority.

— Anna Linthicum

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Norman Rockwell’s covers

“With many of his paintings considered American icons, Rockwell holds a permanent position as a national treasure.”
— From the front wall of the Norman Rockwell exhibit in the Taubman Museum, Roanoke.

Nuoya & RockwellThursday the class traveled to Roanoke to see how the man known as the “People’s Painter” chronicled the events and emotions of life in the 20th century through his artwork. Most famous for the covers he created for the popular  magazine The Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell gave the class a better sense of the role art plays (or played in that “Magazine Century”) in connecting a magazine with its audience.

GSELL pix 1Many of us had seen one of his most famous pieces, The Problem We All Live With, but had no idea that it was his work.

“I’ve seen it before in a history book when I was growing up,” Ashley said. Seeing it as a Norman Rockwell among many Rockwells, it was her favorite in the exhibit.

She said these paintings helped her make the connection of what a huge impact magazine art has on pop-culture.

Rockwell captures the drama and flair of his subjects by his use of color. These bold colors, combined with his ability to capture human expression, give his gsell pix 2paintings a human quality that helps his viewers connect to his work.

By placing his subjects at the foreground of his paintings and making them appear to pop out of the picture plane, Rockwell made his viewers feel like they’re a part of his paintings.

Rockwell was a true storyteller and pioneer for art in the magazine world.

— post and photos by Julia Gsell

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Business at “Leisure”

Editorial, ad sales, and audience distribution.  Those are the three legs of the stool that make a successful magazine.  Denise Koff, the Vice President of Client Services at Leisure Media 360 in Roanoke, told our class that if any one of those three legs does not hold up properly, the stool (or magazine) will fail.

Koff & LauraLeisure Media 360 publishes high-end regional magazines including, but not limited to, Blue Ridge Country, The Roanoker, and Bridebook (my personal favorite!).  Liz Long, a writer and social media expert who moved her way up from a receptionist at Leisure, claimed Bridebook as her baby.  It is an annual publication that essentially serves as a glorified bridal announcement.  I found this idea genius, because the magazine becomes a glossy must-have keepsake for Virginia brides.  The magazine is full of authentic peer-to-peer communication, where brides give first-person advice and tell their wedding stories.  Long said this personal touch is very characteristic of what Millennials want in a magazine.

Liz LongMany of the Leisure Media publications have different business models.  “There’s not one right way to get revenue,” Koff said.  She said that The Roanoker is driven primarily by ad sales.  The urban subway model, where magazines are distributed by hand to commuters waiting for the subway, and custom publishing model are also popular options.  Leisure partners with ABC Virginia to custom-publish a magazine called Spirited Virginia.  Koff stressed that none of these models are successful without multi-media strategies to accompany them.

Koff’s conversation was extremely relevant as she touched on several of the points mentioned in class and the David Sumner chapter “The Magazine Century.”  Like in the reading, Koff said general interest magazines are falling off rapidly and have turned into special-interest or niche publications.  Likewise, as Professor Cumming mentioned, she said everything must have journalistic integrity.  Advertisers should not ever be allowed to pay for editorial, although sponsored content is a good alternative if it is clearly labeled.  She ended with insight that any magazine dealing with luxury is “in” right now—a good sign for us I think as we venture to create a high-end publication about the ever-so-trendy craft beer and wine industries.

— Laura Waggener

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Looking Past the Paper

“You’re only as good as your material.”

Jacobi begins the fourth chapter of “The Magazine Article: How to Think It, Plan It, Write It” with this simple sentence–and those words resonated deep in my brain. To be a journalist, you have to look past the story. In reference to writing for magazines, a good journalist must have the ability take the information she collects on her topic and present it as colorfully and intriguing as if she were telling a fictional story.

SIMG_8660o, when Professor Cumming sent our small groups on our way to different locations on W&L’s campus with the assignment of finding an interesting story, I knew the task would be easier said than done.

Our class groups were sent to places like the library, the Global Learning Center construction site, the Dining Hall, and the museum under Lee Chapel–all of which Professor Cumming hoped would provide enough sensory details to make a story that Jacobi had described in his chapter.

I knew what to look for and I knew the questions to ask the workers at Café 77 (or Co-Op), but multi-tasking proved to be a challenge. As I collected information from talking to workers, I kept my senses open and aware of my surroundings: the sizzling grease from the fryers,IMG_8650 the sweat beads appearing on the workers’ brows, the buzz from the refrigerator, etc.

As I took in the setting, I had words and phrases zooming in and out of my brain as I felt a strong story beginning to form. My partner and I stayed in the Co-Op for approximately 45 minutes, before returning to our classroom on the third floor of Reid Hall.

In the two-hour period, I learned a valuable lesson. Research isn’t all about numbers and data; it also involves a lot of personal experience with the subject, whether it be a person or a place. A good story requires a writer to make the reader care about the subject and feel as if he or she is exactly where the writer was when she did her research.

So, yes, a story goes beyond the numbers and the statements. There is a detailed world around a story and that world must be explored by a writer to display the story’s truest values.

–Parker Butler

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From “Playboy” to “Edible”

“Content mills” is what Steve Russell calls one style of today’s magazines, and I winced at the thought. It’s true, though. This ex-New York staffer of Playboy and Maxim knows that magazines today have limited options for surviving the blustery winds of the digital Steve Russellclimate. The most obvious is to hack content, hack it down to shorter attention spans, to bits of clickbait on glossy paper, or listicals, and pay a lot less to the freelancers who will crank it out – the “hacks” in the older sense of the word. More and more is done by staffers too.

Steve, who spoke to our magazine lab Wednesday afternoon, now publishes Edible Blue Ridge – a free quarterly with less flesh than his previous titles. (The world labelled Maxim as a men’s magazine full of hot babes, but the people who ran it thought of it as a humor magazine, Steve says.) Natalie was copy editing Maxim when they met, then was with the founding staff of “O,” then at Martha Stewart Living. (We’ll be visiting both of these places in New York soon.) Steve and his wife edit Edible Blue Ridge out of their Charlottesville home.

“Edible” is a national franchise of foodie magazines all using a similar format and business model in about 30 locations, but each one with local content, a local name and local advertising. It’s another model for a magazine today. Every three months, Steve takes about a week in a rented Subaru to deliver the magazine around the Commonwealth to trusted locations, not newsstands. It’s an attractive publication, with Edible BR1rich color photography on good uncoated stock and with the high-quality writing and editing skills the couple brought to Virginia from about seven years in New York.

Steve also freelances for high-end magazines like Garden & Gun, but the freelance market is drying up, he says. He used to get $2 a word, which for a 1,500-word piece was not bad. Now? “I can’t get them above $1 a word.”

As for the content mills, the pay is lower. A lot lower.

— Doug Cumming

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