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ACT 7 Experience at Meek School is a magazine industry success

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by ldrucker

John Harrington @nscopy shares what he learned in his 40 years of single copy sales #MICACT7.

The magazine business has changed radically over the past two decades, and John Harrington has learned a lot.

Harrington, a partner of Harrington Associates, and the former editor/publisher of The New Single Copy, spoke Thursday afternoon in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s Overby Center auditorium on the topic: “Why I’ve Learned: A Personal Perspective.”

“Everyone here knows that magazines (industry) have undergone a shocking transformation in the last decade,” he said. He said leaders who work in traditional magazines now seem focused on developing new forms of media other than print.

“Their mission is to find ways to exploit, leverage .. their valuable magazine brands on these new media formats, and or platforms, such as mobile, video and other forms of apps,” he said. “Truthfully, as indicated, I am unqualified to offer predictions or guidance in any of those areas. However, all of these expanded magazine extensions will contain content, editorial, and hopefully that content will contain journalism.”

Harrington was one of more than 50 speakers who shared his thoughts about the magazine industry during the ACT 7 Experience at the University of Mississippi.

The conference, hosted by the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media from Tuesday to Thursday (April 25-27), focused on the revival of the magazine industry in terms of publishing, advertising, creating content and distribution. The event also allowed students to network with industry professionals.

Inside the Act 7 Experience.

Posted by Meek School of Journalism and New Media on Thursday, April 27, 2017

Created in 2010 by Samir Husni, Ole Miss journalism professor and Magazine Innovation Center director, the conference featured more than 50 speakers and 50 other attendees, including CEOs of major magazine and marketing companies, publishers, editors-in-chief and other industry leaders. Students were paired with industry professionals throughout event to learn directly from them.

Harrington addressed students at the conference:

“To the students, as your careers unfold, many of you will not necessarily be involved in writing in journalism contained in the future’s many multimedia formats, whether it be print publications like magazines and newspapers, or internet, … sites, apps or even presently unimaginable platforms,” he said. “However, whether you are in sales, in production, or in audience development, a.k.a. circulation and distribution, you will still be involved in journalism, which is what I always felt I was involved in for the past 40 years – first as the leader of a trade group, then as a publishing consultant, then as the publisher of a newsletter about the business.

“An ethical journalist acts with integrity and ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists,” he said. “The guidelines should not just be the goal of those who are essayists, writers, novelists, or writers of any kind. It should be a standard of all of you to be part of the machinery that produces the journalism and makes it available to the public.”

In this age of challenges, such as the blurring of church and state, political spin, alternative facts and fake news, Harrington said future journalists face enormous challenges.

“I would like to think that I followed this concept during my 40 years involved in magazines, but I also admit that it is not always easy,” he said. “The pressures and choices are not always clear. Often, they are very subtle. And few of the veterans of this experience can say we were always pure.

“However, let me praise the Magazine Innovation Center, the ACT 7 Experience, and magazine journalism students,” he said. “ACT has done much more than educate future generations of journalists. By exposing me to the creativity and energy of its students, it has given me a greater recognition of the significant role that our business, no matter what our contribution to it is, plays in a free society in our democracy, and in our responsibility to be true to its values. For that, I think the school and the students as well.”

Husni said there is no other event that involves this collection of experts with future industry leaders, our students.

“When they see students in the audience, they tell us stuff from the heart, and it creates an intimate atmosphere,” Husni said in a news release. “CEOs and freshmen students are on the same level of communication.”

All conference lectures were in the Overby Center Auditorium. They were free and open to the public, thanks to the support of industry leaders and their sponsorships.

Husni tells his students to leave an impact on the industry professionals they shadow, and some have.

At last year’s conference, Austin Dean, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Hammond, Illinois, shadowed Jim Elliott, president of the James G. Elliott Co. By the end of the conference, Dean was offered an internship at the company and spent his summer in New York working in the industry.

“For me, the benefits have been spending one-on-one time with publishers, editors and distributors, getting to know them and making reliable connections with them,” Dean said in a news release. “Dr. Husni does a great job at putting together this collective group of people and makes sure each of his students have someone they want to shadow.”

Ashlee Johnson, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Monticello, Arkansas, enjoys the intimate aspect of learning from both the guest speakers and Husni.

ACT 7 Experience attendees talk before the next presentation begins.

“Even people that work with these professionals don’t get to know them like we do,” Johnson said in a news release. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s good for professional development.

“Another great part of this conference is watching Dr. Husni interact with the speakers. He is so well-respected in the industry. He’s a hidden gem in Mississippi, and we’re lucky to have someone who cares so much about their students as a mentor.”

Students accompanied guest speakers on a trip through the Delta to experience magazines, music and Mississippi. The group traveled to the B.B. King Museum, Dockery Farms Historic District and Delta Blues Museum before ending the evening with dinner at the Ground Zero Blues Club.

Dinner on the Meek School grounds #MICACT7 serving the famous Taylor Grocery catfish.

“When I started the Magazine Innovation Center, it was at a time when everyone was saying print is dead and new media is in,” Husni said in a news release. “It’s not an either/or situation. Print, broadcast, digital, mobile, social media – it’s all journalism. The necessity will never change, regardless of the platform.”

“When magazines hire, they want writers,” he said. “The other stuff is great, but journalism is still what’s important.

“Magazine industry leaders are experience-makers. Reading a magazine is unlike reading something online. It’s an experience packaged together in your hand.”

To see a Storify of some of the event’s social media activity visit: https://storify.com/lareecarucker/act-7-experience/ 

Meek School set to welcome magazine industry leaders to the ACT 7 Experience April 25-27

Posted on: March 22nd, 2017 by ldrucker

Speakers during the ACT 6 Experience last year.

If you are a magazine leader who is still publishing like you did 10 years ago, you should rethink your business strategy.

“I tell people if you are still publishing your magazine as if it is still 2007, there is something wrong with the picture,” said Samir Husni, Ph.D. “We have to reinvent our content. We don’t have a problem with magazines or newspapers as an income paper entity. We have a problem with what we are putting in those entities and the business model.”

That is one of the issues the ACT 7 Experience will address this year. The 2017 theme is Magazines Matter, Print Matters.

Husni, who is known internationally as “Mr. Magazine™,” is a professor with the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media and director of the Magazine Innovation Center

The MIC was founded in 2009 at UM. It is an international collaboration linking the best thinkers in publishing, marketing, printing, advertising and distribution. The MIC works to ensure a thriving future for magazines, magazine media and the print industry. It also introduces future industry leaders (students) to  current industry leaders (magazine and magazine media makers).

Future and current industry leaders will meet April 25-27 during the ACT 7 Experience at UM. ACT stands for amplify, clarify and testify about the future of print in a digital age. The number of attendees is limited to 100 in addition to speakers and students who are part of the Experience. One student will individually shadow each speaker and sponsor during the entire event.

The ACT 7 Experience will feature a variety of speakers who will discuss three major themes: magazine launches, magazine reach and power, and the future of magazine distribution.

Panelists and speakers will share stories of new magazine launches. Information will be provided for those who want to start a magazine, and organizers will offer a look at magazine launches throughout history.

The Experience will also focus on ways to ensure that magazine leaders continue to make money in print. The third theme will imagine magazine distribution and newsstands in 2020. Industry leaders will discuss the old ways, new ways, what is working, what is not and offer solutions.

Husni

“Some magazines are still making a lot of money,” Husni said, “and they are finding new ways to make money. We know the business model is broken. We know the distribution model is broken. So what can we do?”

Despite the fact that many magazine leaders have been forced to rethink business strategies, Hunsi said print is not dead.

“Some of them are still publishing as if it’s 2007,” he said. “And that’s why we hear that their sales are going down, and that they are dying. But you know how many television programs have come and gone? Did you ever hear anybody saying ‘TV is dead.’ If a magazine dies, no matter how big the magazine is, it doesn’t necessarily mean the industry is dead or there is something wrong with the platform.”

The first ACT Experience was held in 2010 just after the MIC’s 2009 creation. Husni, who is responsible for organizing the entire event with assistant Angela Rogalski, said the first ACT Experience was a great success and continues to be.

“We have more magazine media and industry leaders in one place paying their own way than any conference I know of,” he said. “That’s why we don’t call it a conference. We call it an Experience because of the engagement with current industry leaders and future industry leaders. What differentiates this conference from all other conferences and experiences is to integrate the two groups of industry leaders – the students and the ones who are actually working.

“I’ve heard from more than one CEO telling me the reason they enjoy this conference more than anything is that when they see these future industry leaders, they let down their guard, and they start telling people things that they don’t talk about when they go to other industry conventions.”’

Throughout the year, Husni works to secure funds for the ACT event and the MIC. When magazine executives come to Oxford, Husni said they experience magazines, Mississippi and music.

“We go to the Delta for half a day, and the students have an opportunity of a lifetime sitting next to a CEO on a charter bus for an entire half a day,” he said. “I tell the students if you can’t leave an impression on a magazine publisher, editor, advertising director, or CEO of a marketing group in two and a half days, you should quit the industry. You don’t belong.”

Husni said the ACT Experience usually results in many jobs and internship opportunities for students. It’s also about finding solutions for magazine industry issues. One of those is a shift from an advertising-driven business model, where 90 percent of the revenue comes from advertisers, to a circulation-driven business model that depends on paid subscribers.

“The majority of the new magazines that are coming to the marketplace are charging a very high cover price for them to get money from their customers rather than the advertisers,” Husni said. “We see now that the norm in new magazines, the average cover price, is almost $10. As you know, for $10, you can get a whole year from some of the established magazines.”

In the process of reinventing the business model, Husni said he’s seeing much creativity among industry leaders. He’s also noticed a trend in recent years with the popularity of food, crafts and hobby magazines.

“There has been a steady increase in the number of titles devoted to food,” he said. “Food has become the sex of the 21st century. There are so many titles out there.”

Husni said Brian Hart Hoffman, of Hoffman Media, will talk about his new magazine Bake from Scratch. Husni also recently interviewed the editor and chief of Cooking Light magazine that has been published for 30 years.

“I tell all of my clients ‘audience first,’” he said. “Do not fall in love with the platform. Fall in love with the audience. We are all about the audience. The minute we forget about our audience, the minute it’s our downfall …

“The first assignment I give students in any of my classes is to humanize your magazine. If you tell me you are in the content business, that’s not enough because anybody who can put out 140 characters can be in the content business. We have to go beyond content and become experience-makers. The journalist of the future must be an experience-maker.”

Husni said journalists must give their audiences a reason to read a publication.

“How are you going to engage me?” he said. “A lot of our magazines have no content. Are you kidding me? You are asking me to pay $12, and you don’t give me anything to chew on. You want to fill me up with the appetizers and desserts.”

The ACT 7 Experience will begin Tuesday evening, April 25, with a gala opening dinner in the Ole Miss Ballroom.

On Wednesday, three CEOs will talk about adding value to your brand before you sell it, and they will discuss making more money for magazines. In the afternoon, the group will travel to the Delta and visit sites including the B.B. King Museum, Dockery Farms Historic District, the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, and they’ll dine at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale.

Thursday is devoted to distribution. Speakers will talk about new ways to put magazines in the hands of the audience. Many people who started new magazines last year will speak Thursday.

“Whether you are a CEO, whether you are a publisher or an editor, the ACT Experience is not an appetizer or a dessert,” Husni said. “The ACT Experience is the whole meal.”

Husni said his ultimate goal is to help students secure an internship or a job. “I don’t care what they take away, as long as they actually create a relationship that will lead them to a job,” he said. “… I tell the students, this is their golden opportunity. This is their golden ticket in the Wonka’s chocolate bar.

“Even if you are working for Hearst, chance are you are not going to be able to speak with the president. Chances are you’d never interact with that person, yet you have access to that person for two and half days. If you don’t use this and benefit from it, you don’t belong in our business.”

Husni offers the following tips to students who plan to attend the ACT 7 Experience:

  1. Research the speakers and industry leaders.
  2. Be yourself. Be honest with them. Tell them you are seeking advice. Tell them you are a future industry leader in the making. Ask them for tips.
  3. Make the other person feel more important than you, and make sure you are appreciative that they are offering their time.

Space is limited to 100 people. All the lectures are free for students on a first come, first serve basis. Meals and other activities are not. You must be a registered or invited guest.

“I’ve never looked at my job as a job,” said Husni. “I’ve never looked at my students as students. They are journalists. I don’t care if you are in journalism or IMC, you have to learn everything from a journalism point of view. And the first thing you learn as a journalist is audience first. Falling in love with the audience is what we need to do.”

To see the full schedule of the ACT 7 Experience, visit http://www.maginnovation.org/act/agenda/ 

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor

From Millionaire Businessman to Magazine Founder

Posted on: October 25th, 2012 by alysia

Roy Reiman, who started 14 national magazines in his career, looks on as new magazine founder Jeramy Pritchett describes his publication Blindfold at the ACT Experience, Oct. 25, 2012. Photo by Deb Wenger.

Imagine making millions of dollars and just walking away from it all one day. That’s what Jeramy Pritchett, co-founder of Blindfold Magazine, says he did with no regrets.

“I was making a lot of money, but it wasn’t what I wanted,” said Pritchett, who says he got in on the ground floor of the dot.com boom and then went into mortgage lending before that industry blew up.

About a year ago, he decided to radically change his life and launched a magazine. Blindfold is what Pritchett calls “socially conscious.” Published in Boca Raton, Fla., Blindfold hit the newsstands in March and now issue No. 4 is in the works.

“Barnes and Noble bought the first issue for every store,” said Pritchett. He said the latest publication went to all Whole Foods stores and is nearly sold out.

The magazine and its focus is very much influenced by Pritchett’s years growing up. For example, one reason that Blindfold is visually rich, is that Pritchett was captivated by photos as a child.

“That became my first love: photography- a movie inside a picture,” said Pritchett.

And why the socially conscious theme? Pritchett says he went through a phase where he wanted to be Gandhi, even dressing like the man on Halloween and sometimes giving up food.

“I fasted for all of three hours and I would tell me parents I wouldn’t eat until they bought me a toy,” said Pritchett with a laugh.

Pritchett was speaking at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media as part of the ACT Experience. The conference is sponsored by the Magazine Innovation Center, founded by Dr. Samir Husni.

Pritchett says his magazine fills a niche for those who are interested in changing the world. The Blindfold theme of the magazine fits with that goal of raising the audience’s social consciousness.

“We always make the last picture in our magazine someone with a blindfold still on. It symbolizes that a lot of people are still blind.”

This story was crowd sourced by students in JOUR 102 Introduction to Multimedia Writing. Contributions by Nick Finch, Frances Phillips, Victoria Mekus and Drew Moak.

Watch the ACT III Experience Opening Reception

Posted on: October 24th, 2012 by alysia

Just under 150 magazine publishers, writers, faculty and students took part in the opening reception for the ACT III Experience at City Grocery on the Square in Oxford. The reception is part of a three-day conference that focuses on re-inventing print publications in today’s digital world.

You can view the reception on MCast.

Tony Silber, Folio Mag, Praises Students and ACT Experience

Posted on: October 27th, 2010 by alysia

‘The Future Does Not Exist’

Tony Silber

Reimagining the Future conference offers a mosaic of opinion and perspective.

BY TONY SILBER


That phrase was the title of one of the presentations at Samir Husni’s recent conference, called “Reimagining the Future (While We Still Have Time),” and held at the Magazine Innovation Center in Oxford, Mississippi. The presentation was made by Thomaz Souto Correa, the vice president of editorial at The Abril Group in Brazil. And while Correa discussed many things, there is a particular idea in that title worth thinking about.

Perhaps the future doesn’t exist because no one, and I mean no one, knows what it’s going to look like even two years from now. Think about one of the biggest debates of the last few years—whether to charge for online content.

When Steve Brill and Walter Isaacson and Rupert Murdoch and others suggested that thestatus quo was unsustainable, the purveyors of the conventional wisdom came down hard. The cat’s out of the bag, they said. Stop thinking like it’s 1997. Start building a business for the Google economy. There’s no other choice.

Well, one thing none of those wizards thought of was how mobile apps and iPads would change the equation. Now, suddenly, there’s a path to paid content online, because there’s a significant migration away from the free Internet and in the direction of apps you have to buy. Or apps from which publishers sell subscriptions to their content.

The point here is that as the media world changes, what seems dominant today may turn out to be yesterday’s news in short order. Remember CompuServe, AOL, etc.? I could go on, but you get the point.

So while the “Reimagining the Future (While We Still Have Time)” conference provided no real visionary solutions, because that’s impossible, it did offer a mosaic of opinion and perspective, when combined into a whole, provided a good look at where the industry is now and where it needs to go.

The future doesn’t exist because we haven’t built it yet.

And even more important, the students at the University of Mississippi were full participants. Anyone who spent a few days with the young journalists at that conference couldn’t help coming away with a new confidence about the future of the profession. These people are bright, energetic, savvy and ready to take the reins. Here is a list of some of the student participants. I wanted to acknowledge each of them by name, because they were all so impressive.

Undergraduate Journalism Students:

Natalie Dickson
Kirby Sage
Elizabeth Pearson
Alex Pence
Maggie Giffin
Markus Simmons
Katie Williamson
Ja’juan McNeil
Rashell Reese
Addison Dent
Houston Cofield
Ren Turner
Nick Toce (also event photographer)
Alex McDaniel (also event coordinator)

Courtesy of Folio Magazine

ACT Experience

Posted on: September 24th, 2010 by alysia

Re-imagining the Future While We Still Have Time

Is there a future for print? Is there a future for digital, or is digital the future? Can the advertising-driven magazine publishing model survive? What role will design, marketing, branding and distribution play in the future of magazines?

These questions and many others will be answered at  “Reimagining Our Future While We Still Have Time,” the first Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT Experience taking place at the Magazine Innovation Center located at The University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media in Oxford, Miss. on Oct. 20, 21 and 22, 2010. The experience, which will be conducted by some of the very top leaders in the media industry worldwide, will have a very limited number of participants and very high concentration on the future of the magazine and print industry. 

The Experience Makers include Thomaz Souto Corrêa, Editorial VP, Editorial Committee, Abril Group, Brazil; Baird Davis, Circulation Consultant and former Ziff-Davis Executive; Stephen Duggan, President, Athlon Media; James G. Elliott, President, James G. Elliott Company, Inc.; Roger Fransecky, CEO, The Apogee Group,; Bob Guccione Jr., Founder, Spin and Gear magazines; John Harrington, Partner, Harrington Associates; Lisette Heemskerk, Managing Director, Mood for Magazines, The Netherlands; Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Director, Magazine Innovation Center; David McDonald, CEO, Sunshine Media Group; Bob Sacks, Founder & President, Precision Media Group; and Haines Wilkerson, Chief Creative Officer, Morris Visitor Publications.
 
Dr. Fransecky will give a welcoming keynote on Wednesday, October 20, titled “Re-imagining the Future While We Still Have Time.” The first ACT Experience will include five tracks, and will be divided into three days of think-and-do activities. The experience will continue Thursday with presentations by all keynote Experience Makers, followed by a tour of the Mississippi Delta, which will include authentic Delta blues music and food.

The focus will shift to tracks dealing with the participants’ interests on Friday, October 22. The five tracks featured are editorial, consumer marketing, successful magazine launching, advertising and marketing, and the digital future. Participation is limited to 18 individuals per track. 

The three-day experience will include a visit to the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of the Blues and a visit to Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner. The price of registration includes all the Experience Making events and meals for the three days.

Those interested in registering, please visit www.maginnovation.org/actexperience_registration.html.
To become a sponsor of the event, contact Dr. Samir Husni at  samir.husni@gmail.com.