Archive for the ‘Magazine: Business’ Category

I don’t like to see people get fired. Especially when I feel attached to them. When Michael Bloomberg took over BusinessWeek, I swore it off. I had gotten BusinessWeek free for three years as part of my Executive MBA program. I loved it. I would spend a couple of hours every week reading it, fantasizing about how smart I would be someday and creating a mental image of how refined I already was for reading BusinessWeek in my spare time.

So when multiple employees (many of them editorial) were let go last year, I was unhappy. I had read their stories, looked at their charts, absorbed their sidebars. I felt like this know-it-all millionaire had come into my playground and messed up the sandbox. I just was not going to play anymore.

But time has passed, and this new article has piqued my interest in the magazine once again. Richard Turley, a 30-something from Britain (a little reminiscent of Jonathan Ive, maybe?), pushed for a dramatic redesign and got it. The magazine’s creative director is daring with charts and photo shoots and concepts. I love this quote of his:

“One of the things I wanted to do was to have a magazine which you could graze. The idea that you could have two different kinds of reading experiences. One where you just flick through it. There’s a lot of ways of getting into articles, there’s a lot of things going on the page that hopefully catch your eye. So you can have a rich reading experience without actually reading the magazine. But, if you want to read the magazine, there’s a lot there to read.”

So what changed with the redesign? Everything. The covers are really intriguing — I’ve been watching them the last few months. I’ve just downloaded the new Bloomberg Businessweek iPad app that I plan to spend time with this afternoon, and next time I’m in the bookstore, I’ll pick up a physical copy. Some complaints I’ve read about it say that the magazine traded content for looks, or that the journalism has suffered so that the book will be more beautiful. I hope that’s not the case. Because now, after this year-and-a-half-or-so of being without the magazine, I want to open it again and enjoy it.

Have you seen the new Bloomberg Businessweek? What do you think of it? Click through here to see some of the more interesting pages from the past year.

Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

Update 4/25/11: Richard Turley got even more praise today by WWD Media. The entire article is here. This is an excerpt: “Turley, a quick study of the company line, explained how the open seating plan in the Bloomberg offices encourages the magazine’s art directors and editors, who sit amongst each other in the office, to collaborate. ‘Bloomberg is a very ego-flat place to work,’ he said.”

Advertisements

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fortune (http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/)

Issue reviewed: September 27, 2010, Vol. 162, No. 5

  • Published in New York, N.Y., by Time Inc.
  • Circulation: 830,000
  • 142 pages, perfect-bound

Audience

  • median age: 46
  • median HHI: $108,440
  • 57% male
  • top managers and executives

Editorial

Fortune is blessed with good writers and good story concepts. The writing is satisfying and the sidebars are relevant. Fortune dares to take on some of the big companies, even including an article on why you shouldn’t buy Apple stock.

Design

The design of Fortune is a little clunky occasionally. In general, the color palette is simple, masculine and bold. The illustrations are good, and the sidebar/chart treatment is pleasing. The photography throughout is very strong. But the clunkiness of the headlines is distracting. That font wasn’t cool decades ago and it isn’t cool now.

What’s Best

  • Chunky nuggets: Fortune capitalizes on readers’ short amount of time to read by breaking the copy into bite-size morsels that still actually tell you something or mean something. The charts are attractively simple, the stats are interesting, and the information is concise.
  • Content: The storytelling in Fortune is very human. Even though the audience is businesspeople, the stories are relatable to a broader group of readers. The editorial ranges from interviewing skills to stock prices to leadership to answering questions like “Should I accept my employee’s friend request?”
  • Corrections: I love a good correction. We all jack stuff up sometimes, and it’s how we handle it when we do that matters. I enjoyed Allan Sloan’s correction: “In my last column I wrote that President Obama wants to increase taxes on dividends for the ‘rich’ to 39.6% from the current 15%. That’s wrong … Sorry for the mistake. But I stand by my original point that tax rates don’t drive the market.”

What’s Worst

  • Headline font: Many of the headlines are typed in a thick, black Italic font that reminds me of magazines from the ’70s. It’s heavy and hard to read.

Overall Opinion

This magazine is a good read and could hold my attention for a solid hour. Its online component adds even more value, with video and searchable content. But the business magazine market is saturated, and other contenders, like Forbes, BusinessWeek and Inc., are more visually breathtaking and have a better online presence. I give Fortune a B for its good content but lack of a wow factor.

I invite your comments! Check out the magazine or its website and tell me what you think of it.

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

Forbes recently unveiled a redesign, one that its leader called a “re-architecture” of the magazine and the website. One of the main changes Forbes points out is the addition of reader commentary in the margins of stories in order to add more voices to the magazine. What struck me the most of the new design was the use of white space and the stripping out of color. The redesign issue also happened to be the special Forbes 400 edition, so some, if any, of the changes may only be part of this current issue.

So, here goes! In all photos, the older issue (Sept. 27, 2010) is on the left, and the redesign issue (Oct. 11, 2010) is on the right. You can click on any photo to make it larger. Each section below is ruled a Fail, Pass or Win.

Cover

Forbes fills its cover with big personalities — both before and after the redesign. Forbes makes its readers feel important because they get to read intimate portraits of important people. Nothing on the cover indicates that this is a redesign issue, but that’s really problematic to say because the Forbes 400 issue is also a special issue and gets different treatment. We’ll have to wait until the next issue comes out to determine that. Regardless, I give it a pass because newsstand magazines like this one take great care to appeal to the newsstand crowd, so I’m sure the powers that be know what they’re doing here.

Cover Ruling: Pass

Contents

The contents pages are the first place the reader can start to see a shift in the design, to a more retro, almost newspaper look. The harsh reds and large photos from the previous contents are gone; subdued colors and an abundance of lines are introduced here. The new fonts are very pleasing; the titles stand out, and the designers use a lot of white space on the two pages of contents.

Contents Ruling: Win

Editor’s Note

The Editor’s Note, like the contents and like all the departments after it, showcase the new use of white space, margins and black-white-sepia tones. Steve Forbes goes from being the columnist (shoved up tightly in the corner) to being the main visual. No other photos appear on his two-page column, and the playfulness is removed from the second page on which restaurants to visit. The previous “playfulness” was color, which was stripped away by the designers. It’s almost like this new version is saying, “We don’t have time for silliness. We’re here to work.” If you don’t like the look that’s in the contents and editor’s note, you won’t like the rest of the magazine. It borders on plain, but it’s also more sophisticated, less busy.

Editor’s Note Ruling: Win

Departments

Entrepreneurs is another section in which the move away from color and toward white space is obvious. Some of the design elements are so subtle (for instance, the double lines above and below the section head, the dots coming from each side of the section head) that they make the pages feel elegant, even though stripping the color out seems like it would make the pages drab. Even the folios are simpler and more succinct.

Departments Ruling: Win

Back Page

On the pre-redesign Thoughts page, the quotes just flowed, one into another, with nothing driving the reader to each one. I imagine many readers scan just to see if there are any names they’re interested in. If not, they read the first item or the one just under the photo and then close the book. In the redesign, though, the page draws the reader in on each item because all the quotes have something distinct — type size, leading, color, length. Fewer quotes are on the page, but each is markedly more readable.

Back Page Ruling: Win

Feature from Before the Redesign

Overall

Forbes is made up of big personalities — untouchable by the masses, but brought to you, the reader, courtesy of the Forbes brand. In the previous design (see photo), President Barack Obama was the lead story. In the new design, it was Warren Buffett and Jay-Z. The subjects didn’t change with the redesign; only a bit of the presentation. The change was subtle but pleasant, retro but current, simple but sophisticated.

Overall Ruling: Win

Have you seen the new Forbes? What do you think? This redesign has gotten a lot of attention: You can read an interview with Lewis D’Vorkin, who led the redesign, with Talking Biz News, a preview of it in Business Insider, or the announcement about it on Forbes.com.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Florida Trend (www.floridatrend.com)

Issue reviewed: August 2010, Vol. 53, No. 5

  • Published in St. Petersburg, Fla., by Trend Magazines Inc.
  • Circulation: 150,000; Monthly website hits: 80,000
  • Average issue reading time: 72 minutes

Audience

  • professionals and executives in Florida
  • HHI: $295K; half are millionaires
  • average age: 54
  • travel and dine out 1.5 times per month

Overall Editorial

The content is strong. It focuses on business and leisure throughout Florida and is very readable and reader-friendly. Copy blocks are short, even in longer features, and the subject areas are so diverse that almost anyone could enjoy this magazine for a quick read. In the opening pages, it toots its own horn a little (which is perfectly fine when deserved!) and points out that it has just won nine awards from the Alliance of Area Business Publications, including best regional business magazine in the nation. That sounds like quite an honor!

Overall Design

The design is simple and beautiful. Throughout, the color palette is black, red and light gray with occasional pops of color. The sidebars are neatly separated by a black bar, and the longer sidebars or sections have a folder tab top as well.

Cover Design and Blurbs

The cover design is clever. The special section for this issue is Florida’s Best Companies To Work For 2010, and the cover is a bold red background with a coffee cup with the special section name on the side of the mug like a logo. (The coffee has cream and syrup or cinnamon in the shape of a smiling heart.) To go with the theme, bullet points about the section are listed next to the mug (Keeping Employees Happy, Unusual Benefits, etc.). Two of the blurbs at the top of the page are intriguing (Oil in the Court and Thanks, Celine). Trendsetters is not.

Editor’s Note

This one I have to do twice because it’s the publisher’s note in the beginning (Up Front) and the editor’s note in the back (Editor’s Page). The publisher, Andy Corty, wrote Thanks for Asking, is a straightforward assessment of the State of the Magazine, basically, one of the most talked-about topics in the industry. Corty says industry people keep asking him if Florida Trend will survive this monumental change in the media that’s rolling in like a large wave that you could see from a great distance. Speaking to his business readers, he addresses the current circulation, content, advertising and digital topics that make up the business, and he only quickly glosses over “While our revenue has nudged down…” However, his point is taken, which is that the company is boosting the digital size of the business and working to make sure the print side remains strong, despite the industry’s woes. His New Year’s Resolution Update, that I assume he runs at the end of each month’s column, is personable and very likely helps hold him accountable: It’s the dreaded go-to-the-gym-and-lose-weight resolution, which he tackles with honesty. He only made it to the gym four times.

On the Editor’s Page, executive editor Mark Howard discusses What I Learned on My Summer Vacation. The title led me to believe he was talking about his current summer, but he’s jumping in the wayback machine to discuss his first summer job in the late 1960s. This column likely resonates with the Florida Trend audience, which is mostly made up of people who were coming of age in the ’60s and ’70s like he was and who likely had similar feelings about racial injustices at the time, which he only alludes to but sets the tone for the whole article. His article is simply a collection of stories of people he met and worked with back then, but these people come to life on the page. Excellent storytelling. I will go to bed tonight thinking of the man who threw himself on the dud grenade and hoping he has had an amazing life.

Departments and Columns

The departments are arranged into Florida Life, which is then divided into Lifestyles, Dining, Getaways, Icon and Trendsetters, and Around the State, which begins statewide and then delves into each region of Florida. A few other departments scattered throughout are the publisher’s and editor’s notes, a Tallahassee Trend section, and Of Counsel, a department that addresses state law. As discussed in the overall editorial and design sections, these departments are very readable and well-designed. You can easily slip in and then slip right back out if you’re not interested. A really cool sidebar treatment in the departments involves a triangle dip in the line, much like a heart monitor when your heart stops beating for a second then resumes. The Icon department is very nice: It’s a one page interview facing a full page photo of the subject. The interview skips the questions and only shows the reader the first person explanations he shared. In this issue, the interviewee was Ed Price, a former state senator and past president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Features

The greatest feature in this issue is the cover feature special section, Florida’s Best Companies to Work For 2010. The list part could absorb you for hours if you wanted: It lists the companies (divided by size) in order from the highest rank down, and it includes the number of employees, new hires, the industry and benefits, such as 401(k) funds and telecommuting options. After the three pages of Consumer Reports-type lists, it moves into related features, including Lessons from the Best, Practicing What They Preach and Best Practices. Possibly the best part is four pages of Why I Work Here, which is an employee’s point of view about what makes the company great. Each of these features focuses on teaching the reader better ways of doing business.

Use of Photography

Most of the photos are set-up shots, well-posed and well-lit. There are a couple of photos that are below par, a mugshot on page 40 and a stock photo on page 54. Those are two minor blips on an otherwise strong photography portfolio for a single issue. I especially like the photo, almost treated like a feature photo with a pull-quote in it, on page 20 of Larry Langebrake. It’s unusual to see that photo treatment in a department page.

Use of Illustrations

Florida Trend relies very little on illustrations, at least based on this one issue. I only found one, which was an artist’s rendering of a building, likely provided by the building owner. I will have to look for additional issues to see if the magazine uses them at all.

Relevance to Intended Audience

I imagine this magazine is well-targeted. It provides not only a strong focus on business across the state, but also leisure activities for its readers, who can likely afford the luxury. It talks numbers a good bit (demographics, property values, tax levies), but it’s not so heavy that one would call this purely a business magazine. It has a very human focus, punctuated with numbers that add credibility and speak to a businessperson’s sense of spreadsheet adoration.

Integration with Website

One great thing that FloridaTrend.com does is archive previous articles and sort them by industry and by region, so a subscriber can easily find the precise information he or she wants. Just to point out, though, you don’t have to be a subscriber to access these articles. Another good thing is that you can immediately see when you go to the website that it is the same issue you’re looking at in your hands — you’ll immediately recognize the cover and the Florida’s Best Companies to Work For 2010 logo. The left side of the page features headlines that are too recent to be included in the magazine, making the website relevant to the magazine’s audience on a more timely basis.

Flow, Story Hierarchy

The flow of Florida Trend is very smooth. I felt like I knew where I was going before I got there. The magazine opens with the publisher’s note, guides the reader into the Florida Life section, which eases the reader into the regional sections, which are easily skippable if you don’t feel they apply. By the time you get to the cover feature, you’re sucked in for 33 pages of related content, including targeted advertising, for the Best Companies section. Once you leave that special section, you only have the Tallahassee Trend spread followed by the state law single page and the Editor’s Page. It is this exact flow that a website cannot achieve because it cannot guide you through the different parts that make up the whole.

Paper Quality

Lastly, the paper quality was good. A little gloss, but not too much. The magazine is saddle-stitch, which is the best option for magazine with 80-something pages.

Overall Opinion

I give Florida Trend an A for readability, engagement and design. I will definitely pick up another copy, even though I’m not a member of the magazine’s target audience. It was interesting enough that I think I would find great nuggets of information in future issues. And I’ve bookmarked FloridaTrend.com because I feel like it will be a great resource as a fellow Floridian.

Did you agree or disagree with anything I said? Please comment. I’d love to hear from you!

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review