Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Morning Brief: WIRED Magazine cover celebrates 20 years of publishing; L.A. law firm launches new media consulting division; Bonnier CEO tries to reassure the troops following sale of its Parenting Group to Meredith

One of the first things readers notice about native digital magazines is that they often contain animated covers – in fact, animated covers have become a bit of a cliché already, though I think they can sometimes be quite effective. The problem with print magazines that wish to use animation on their cover is that they sometimes have to come up with excuses for the animation – a nice photograph that is used on a print magazine cover is sometimes animated simply by making the promotional headlines slide into place.

Other times, however, the print and digital cover are conceived on at the same time. A good example would he where a video is used for the digital edition and a still from that video used for the print edition.

But what to do when the print magazine cover is a concept cover? That is the dilemma faced this month with the digital edition of WIRED Magazine. The cover is meant to celebrate 20 years of publishing and will certainly look quite unique on the newsstand or in your mailbox.

But with Newsstand apps, the cover becomes the app's icon (should the publisher use the automatic updating function). As a result, the WIRED icon looks rather odd, and inside the iPad's Newsstand is hardly recognizable.

Of course, next month a new cover will appear and the issue becomes moot. But I imagine print art directors and those in charge of digital editions sometimes have lively discussions about covers that work in Apple Newsstand as well as the physical print newsstand environment.

The Los Angeles law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips is launching a digital media consulting division, Manatt Digital Media. The new company describes itself as "a disruptive new full-service digital media services business." The new firm will have its own venture capital fund.

The new company says it has its own team of "media insiders" though to be honest they look like a bunch of lawyers to me.

According Variety, the new firm expects to make 10 to 15 investments per year, with investments ranging from $15,000 to $600,000.

Like most investment firms, the company seems to be looking for a Facebook-like home run by investing early in video and social media start-ups. So don't look for much of their client's money being pushed towards media start-ups as blasé as digital publications, sadly.

Bonnier's sale of its Parenting Group to Meredith has to be a worrying development for the magazine company's staffers. The sale was for assets only so Meredith, the buyer, will be rolling up the titles into their own magazines. As a result the sale means the positions will go away.

"This divestiture, following last week's sale of the Mountain Group, should not be taken as the dismantling of the company," said Bonnier Chief Executive Officer Dave Freygang.

"As you may know, over the past several months Bonnier Corporation has made adjustments to our product portfolio. These moves are strategic calculations on our part to ensure that the company is in a position to grow revenues and achieve sustained profitability."

Meredith and Bonnier moved quickly to consolidate the titles as the Newsstand apps for both Parenting and Babytalk have already been pulled from the Apple Newsstand.