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Will Tablets Save Print Publishing? Slate’s Shafer Says Not Quite

magazinespic.jpgMagazine and newspaper publishers may have missed the boat when it comes to the Internet, but they are determined to be ahead of the curve when the tablet e-reader — or something similar — comes out. Esquire and GQ have already launched iPhone-downloadable versions of their magazines and Time Inc. and Bonnier Corp. have unveiled demos of their tablet-ready magazine concepts.

But‘s resident media watcher, Jack Shafer, says it might be too soon to hail the tablet as the savior of the publishing industry. Shafer compares the tablet technology to CD-ROM’s of 1992, using Newsweek‘s product, called Newsweek Interactive, as an analogy:

Newsweek President Richard M. Smith told the [New York Times] that his company’s early experience with the CD-ROM product would give it a valuable head-start on the competition.

A head-start to last place, I should add. The CD-ROM and its fellow technologies flopped for a variety of reasons. Too expensive, too cumbersome, too wedded to a propriety platform, and not much fun.”

Are all those publishers seeking to pump out tablet demos before the device is even released on a similar race to the bottom? We are excited to see what these new devices will mean to the industry — because they look pretty darn cool — but they’ll only be the hip new thing until something new comes along. As Shafer concludes:

“That’s not to say that the tablet has no future. It’s just if the past is any guide, the future of the tablet won’t look like the SI or Wired prototypes — any more than Pathfinder turned out to be the future of the Web. I find it more likely that some young people at a startup will figure out the highest uses of the tablet form before SI or even Slate does. As Newsweek‘s president ultimately learned from his CD-ROM debacle, not all head-starts turn out to be valuable.”

The Tablet Hype –Slate

Previously: Bonnier Debuts Plans For Highly Anticipated Tablet Device

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FishbowlNY’s 2009 Lists: The Biggest Launches Of The Year

modern2.pngNews of magazine closures was, sadly, pretty prevalent throughout 2009. But, although 428 magazines folded during the year, according to, 275 launched.

Launching a magazine or Web site in the midst of a recession is never an easy task. But we think there are a few new pubs on the block that will be around for awhile. Even got in the launching spirit, debuting four new blogs this year: WebNewser, MediaJobsDaily, BayNewser and eBookNewser.

As the year closes out, here’s a look at some of the biggest launches in print and online.

Much-anticipated travel magazine Afar celebrated its launch in August with an opulent party, pretty unheard of these days.

getmarried.jpgGet Married proved that there is still room in the bridal magazine market, despite the closure of Modern Bride and Elegant Bride this year.

And Modern added another design magazine to the mix.

Cookie may have crumbled, but Bonnier Corp. successfully split its parenting magazine into two editions, Parenting Early Years and Parenting School Years, later raising the rate base of School Years.

Other notable launches: Children’s Health, Organic Beauty, Women’s magazine VAIN and two Reader’s Digest Association launches, DIY mag Fresh Home and Rick Warren‘s Purpose Driven Connection, which folded later in the year.

After the jump, online magazine and blog launches

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Despite Naysayers, The New York Times Lives On

nyt2322.jpgThough it might be limping from staff cuts, proposed pay walls and taking papers like The Boston Globe off the market, somehow The New York Times Co. has managed to survive despite many media watchers’ low expectations this year, according to’s “Big Money” blog. Both The Atlantic and the blog 24/7 Wall Street predicted that the Times would fold in 2009, and now with only a month left, it looks like the paper’s got a reprieve for a little while longer.

Not only that, but there might even be some silver lining: revenues and profits have gone up for the company’s Internet division, although once Arthur Sulzberger Jr. decides to go all Rupert Murdoch on his free content, who knows if that will remain the case.

And there is more good news. Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson said today at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference that although ad revenues are down, the pace of their decline has waned for the first time this year. Robinson said the company expects print ad revenues to drop 25 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, while online ad revenues should increase by 10 percent.

Read More: Prediction: The New York Times Will Survive 2009 –Big Money

End TimesThe Atlantic

Previously: Times‘ Keller: Within Weeks Of Decision On Pay Wall, New York Times Staff Cuts May Come As Early As Next Week

Women’s Site Double X To Fold Into Slate

double x.pngOur sister blog WebNewser reports that spin-off Double X, which just launched in May, is folding into its parent Web site and becoming a separate section instead of a separate site.

Founders Hanna Rosin and Emily Bazelon said they now hope “to create a more intimate version of the community we have built, with many of the same voices and passions.”

But WebNewser is quick to point out that, although this move is being touted as a good thing, its result is less content produced for Double X, meaning layoffs are probably not far behind. Said WebNewser’s Chris Nerney:

“Sorry, but ‘a more intimate version of the community’ reminds me of Spinal Tap’s manager explaining that the smaller venues on the band’s latest tour mean ‘their appeal is becoming more selective.’”

We see Double X as a cautionary tale of online launches. Even if you have a good idea and readers, it’s not easy to make money to keep new launches alive — even when they’re backed by established brands like Slate and its owner The Washington Post Co.

Slate’s DoubleX Online Site For Women To Shut Down –WebNewser

Earlier: Online Women’s Mag Double X Launches

What Do You Think Of Slatest?

slatest.jpgThe New York Times reported last night that — starting this morning — is replacing its “Today’s Papers” aggregator with a new “Slatest” feature that will collect news three times a day.

Slate’s editor David Plotz told Brian Stelter that the “Today’s Papers” format was outdated and the online publication had started discussing a year ago how to change and update it:

“In an editorial meeting, Jack Shafer, the media columnist for Slate, observed that the news cycle had three distinct parts: an overnight shift led by newspapers, a daytime phase when other news media entities react to the overnight news, and an afternoon phase when, as Mr. Plotz put it, ‘the day’s news events break and are digested.’”

Today, Plotz wrote about the history of “Today’s Papers,” which says good-bye today, along with the site’s “In Other Magazine” feature. He also explains why the site decided to make the change. “‘Today’s Papers’ was hilariously backward by contemporary standards,” Plotz said. “The authors originally collected front pages by fax from newspapers that barely had online editions. (Our first ‘Today’s Papers’ didn’t even have links.)”

But despite the long-running column’s success and devotion from readers, “We saw a need for a new kind of aggregator, one that was intelligent, witty, entertaining, fast, comprehensive, and responsive to the new news cycle. So we created it,” Plotz said.

So we wanted to know, if you got your daily news round-up from Slate’s “Today’s Papers” how do you feel about the first reveal of Slatest?

What do you think about Slate’s new aggregator Slatest?(opinion)

SCOTUS Reporters Reveal Feelings About The Biggest Story They’ll Cover All Year

sotomayor hearings.pngFor the past couple days, the network and cable news channels have looked more like CSPAN, thanks to the nonstop coverage of Sonia Sotomayor‘s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Although the hearings have been rigidly structured, stuffy and sort of dry, there is always something to keep the media watchers watching.

On Monday we sat nervously awaiting new senator and former “SNL” cast member Al Franken’s opening remarks — and they were actually pretty good. And yesterday, we were riveted by Sotomayor’s rapidly blinking eyelids and serious note-taking, and we lost count of the number of times the judge was asked about nunchuks or her “wise Latina” comments.

But after Sotomayor is — seemingly inevitably — confirmed, we will all go back to our regular lives of reading Page Six and watching Kathie Lee drink too much on the “Today” show, while a handful of dedicated reporters who cover the Supreme Court of the United States will continue to track the movements of the High Court and the integration of its new member.

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Slate’s Emily Bazelon Confronts Twitter Impersonator — And Now They’re Facebook Friends

fail_whale.jpgEmily Bazelon, editor and founder of recently launched Double X, has an interesting way of dealing with people who impersonate you on Twitter: make them your Facebook friend.

Bazelon tells the story of how she dealt with her Twitter alter ego — discovered a few months ago by colleage and Twitter phenom John Dickerson. First she attempted to go about it the “right” way, contacting the Twitter people and using the Washington Post‘s legal power. But what finally pushed her doppelganger to stop tweeting was a simple strategy: Bazelon started using her own Twitter account. First tweet: “Well turns out the way to make me twitter is to get an impersonator to prod me.”

In the weeks that followed, Bazelon received an email from her Twitter impersonator, who turned out to be a male grad student in Ireland. They spoke on the phone. Then she made him her Facebook friend. It’s not a typical ending to a stalker story, nor is it recommended for everyone, but in the new world of social media — where impersonation can be mere flattery more than attack — maybe we’ll see more of this sort of thing happening.

As Bazelon sums up: “This is what social networking is supposed to be but rarely is, right? A haltingly warm one-on-one encounter between two people who would never have otherwise met. Twitter is the land of a million two-way streets. Now I follow my impersonator on it. And that, too, is a function of the new media map we’re just beginning to navigate.”