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East Bay Express Publisher Resigns Over N-Word
Stephen Buel will step down as publisher of the Oakland-based alt-weekly East Bay Express and sell its parent company following a "brief transition period," he announced this week after apologizing for using a racial slur in a June staff meeting.
After reading associate editor Azucena Rasilla's coverage of the three-day BottleRock Napa Valley music festival—in which, among other things, Rasilla expressed discomfort at hearing white festival-goers sing the N-word during rapper E-40's set—Rasilla says Buel called her, editor-in-chief Kathleen Richards, and managing editor Janelle Bitker into a meeting to discuss Rasilla's coverage, which Rasilla claims Buel felt was "racist against white people."
“You know, if a rapper puts it in his lyrics, it’s free game for anyone to say [the N-word]," Rasilla quotes Buel as saying in the meeting.
Rasilla says Buel later apologized for removing the articles in question without consulting her or Bitker, but not for his choice of words in the meeting. Rasilla resigned in protest, as did calendar editor Beatrice Kilat.
"While referring to hateful words subsequently reclaimed by the communities they once oppressed, I said a couple of those words aloud," wrote Buel in a post on the East Bay Express website Friday evening. "I should not have done so and am extremely sorry that my remark caused others pain."
The same evening, Richards—who has served as the weekly's editor-in-chief since last August—announced plans to resign at the end of the month. Buel followed up a day later by announcing his own resignation as publisher of Telegraph Media—parent company of the East Bay Express as well as Oakland Magazine, Alameda Magazine, The East Bay Monthly, and the dog-focused newspaper BayWoof—naming a longtime colleague, business development director and former editor Robert Gammon, as his successor and revealing plans to sell the Express.
This prompted a reversal from Richards, who tweeted Monday evening, "In light of Steve's resignation as publisher and plans to sell the paper, and with support from the staff, I have decided to remain as editor of the [East Bay Express]. Also, happy to announce I will be acting with full autonomy."
Buel, who served as editor of the East Bay Express from 2001 to 2010, was part of a group of investors who acquired the title from Village Voice Media in 2007, along with his wife, Judy Gallman, who serves as editor of East Bay Monthly, Oakland, Alameda, and Bay Woof. Buel and Gallman formed Telegraph Media after becoming majority owners of the publications last July.
Now, all five titles are up for sale, Buel tells Folio:, adding that he hopes to sell them all in one piece and that both he and Gallman intend to leave the company.
"I made a couple mistakes in the past month, and another one a decade ago, but the universe doesn't seem to believe in forgiveness at the moment," added Buel in a written statement provided to Folio:. "So I stepped down because that seemed like the best way to safeguard our company's journalism and jobs."
The mistake "a decade ago" is an apparent reference to the allegation brought by former Express publisher Jody Colley that Buel had inappropriately kissed her at a work event. Colley claims she was laid off last July, after a decade on the job, once Buel became the company's managing owner.
"Mr. Buel inappropriately kissed me at a work event," Colley wrote in a comment on Buel's apology post. "Though he was written up for the conduct, he never owned his actions, at least not at the time. I didn't know that was sexual assault."
"In 2008, at the end of a successful Best Of the East Bay Party that she staged, I gave Jody Colley an inappropriate congratulatory kiss," Buel replied in a subsequent comment. "I immediately realized the error of my ways and apologized."read more
17 Jul 2018 | 2:21 pm EDT
Utah Valley Magazine’s Founder on Understanding the Needs of Your Audience
Last month, Folio: celebrated the Top Women in Media awards and highlighted achievements made by over 100 women across the industry. From Up & Comers to Corporate Champions, these women have done everything from achieving new revenue streams for their companies to building new brands from the ground up, and Jeanette Bennett is no exception.
Founder, owner and editor-in-chief of Bennett Communications, Bennett followed her love of journalism and storytelling into establishing three regional magazine titles, a custom publishing business, an ad agency, and more, all from the profits of selling her family's home 18 years ago. Now, a pillar in the community, her company has grown and expanded in order to fill the needs of several of Utah Valley's markets and community members.
Folio: sat down with Bennett to discuss what it took to establish her lifestyle publication, Utah Valley Magazine, nearly two decades ago, the challenges and highlights she faces as a leader in the space, and advice she has for entrepreneurs who want to pursue a similar path.
Folio: What inspired you to start your own magazine?
Jeanette Bennett: Actually, It was motherhood that inspired me to start my company. I had a background in journalism, but when I became a mom, I was trying to figure out how to combine everything that I loved. That was really the inspiration behind it, was wanting to be in control of my schedule and be in control of my dreams.
Also I’ve always been a storyteller. That’s what I was trained in in college, but then also I think that’s just who I am in my soul. I’m really interested in people, I’m a good listener, I like being a good cheerleader, other people’s success excites me, so I’m able to tell those stories in the magazines we’ve created.
Folio: What made you decide to expand Bennett Communications to not only include Utah Valley Bride Magazine and Utah Valley BusinessQ Magazine, but also house custom publishing, digital content creation, and ad agency divisions?
Bennett: We didn’t actually see all of that from the beginning. When we started Utah Valley Magazine, that’s all I really saw. I was so busy and it was such a big dream at the time that I didn’t envision the other pieces. We were doing a business section in there, we had a wedding section in there—we were really trying to be all things to all people. Then, I remembered in my first communications class about how there’s a sender and a receiver. You have to tailor your message to the receiver, and it just felt like we needed to define our audience better.
It just made so much sense to start a publication for an audience that the advertisers could benefit from as well. The bridal advertisers in Utah Valley Magazine were hitting people that weren’t going to be planning a wedding and we wanted to give them a really efficient place to market. Then the business magazine, BusinessQ, same thing. Those three publications, although they serve the same geographic area, they have different audiences and different topics, which gives our advertisers a vehicle in each of them.
Folio: What were some of the major challenges you faced when building your magazine, and later your company?
Bennett: When I started the magazine, my thoughts were on content only. I thought creating good content equals revenue, but that’s not entirely true. Some of our very best issues were low revenue generators. It’s an interesting industry in that way.
The hard part is the business model of it. We’re primarily a print company in a digital age, and that’s been challenging, but we’ve found ways to adopt technology and not fight it. Another challenge is that advertisers don’t always pay their bills, and even when they do, they often don’t pay them on time. So there’s a cash flow cycle that we didn’t plan on when we first started the magazine.
We didn’t take any investment money. We sold our first home to print the first issue, but I kept producing magazines and meanwhile trying to collect the advertising revenue from the last issue and the one before that. We have a good system now with our processes, but that was a challenge that I didn’t anticipate.
Folio: Is there anything that is currently worrying you about your company or the trend of the industry?
Bennett: I truly believe in print or I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. But I do want to be aware of all the trends and be smart as the industry continues to evolve. I want to be one of those people that follows the trends and doesn’t bury my head in the sand. I have concerns, but I’m very optimistic also about the future of this industry.
I also see a swing back of people liking print and liking a slower delivery method. I see parents concerned about their families’ reliance on devices and being on technology too much. We’ve seen our clients come to us for print for exactly that reason. They’ve been doing e-newsletters, they’ve been doing their website and social media, and they realized they actually do need a magazine that is part of that family of communication that people trust. The pendulum is going to swing back to print.
Folio: How has your experience been as a female leader in the publishing space?
Bennett: To be honest, I find that being a woman has opened more doors than its closed. There are many times that I’ve been invited to sit on boards or to speak at conferences and I am the only woman and I know that my gender had something to do with them asking me. Instead of feeling offended or like a token female, I see it as a great opportunity to show them that a woman is capable, a woman can be a big contributor on the table or at the microphone, and I do my best to represent all of the women who would like to be there or who hope to be there someday.
When I was a college student, I had a business minor and I went to business conferences and business lecture series, and I heard from very very few women. I didn’t see a woman living the life I wanted to live. I wanted to have a family and a career and I wanted some good examples of that and I really didn’t see them. So I try to take every opportunity I can to be that person for other young women to see that it is possible to have a dream and to go after it.
Folio: What advice do you have for women who want to build their own brands?
Bennett: Be prepared to work really hard and don’t worry about the hours or the revenue right away. Bring your work ethic and bring your passion, and meet as many people as you can. Every person you meet, it’s like you’re planting a seed. It might take time for some of those seeds to grow, but over time, all of those people will start connecting to help you build your brand.
I would also say study good brands. Study their personalities, and figure out what the personality of your brand should be and be consistent with that from your start. I think the brands that are the most successful have a similar kind of personality to the founder themself. That helps you be more consistent when it’s your true personality and brand.
Love what you do and let people see that and you’ll grow. You might not grow as fast or as big as you want, but you will grow when people see your passion and you will gain success.
The post Utah Valley Magazine’s Founder on Understanding the Needs of Your Audience appeared first on Folio:.read more
17 Jul 2018 | 12:52 pm EDT
Access Intelligence Acquires VMA Media
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The company will be housed in AI’s marketing communications division, whose portfolio also includes Chief Marketer, Event Marketer, Multichannel Merchant and LeadsCon, under senior vice president Kerry Smith.
Nicole Healy, VP of operations, Chelsea Walker, VP of sales, and Jeremy Walker, senior manager, brand and agency relations, are the three VMA Media employees that will be joining AI, according to a staff memo from AI CEO Don Pazour.
“Video content is the common denominator across all channels of marketing, so VMA’s events are a natural fit with our properties serving the marketing community,” said Smith in a statement.
Based out of San Francisco, VMA Media holds the annual Videonomics Summit, which is held in Los Angeles in November, and is designed to provide executives from brands, agencies and media companies with advancements in the video marketing and advertising industries, as well as discuss relevant topics within the space.
"Videonomics events help marketers solve for video’s explosive growth and assist in the ever-growing need to connect with partners in the space,” said Healy. “By joining with AI, we will now be able to serve the community in an even more robust way.”
In addition to the Summit, VMA Media also puts on roundtables in Chicago and New York City, which provide a platform for the industry executives to come together and address challenges and opportunities across the spectrum. The Summit and roundtables will join AI's portfolio of events, including Experiential Marketing Summit, Esports Business Summit and EventTech, that works to serve the various spaces within the marketing industry.
“We’re excited to leverage the strong relationships and market knowledge of the VMA team to explore additional expansion opportunities, while providing the full weight of AI’s marketing and event management resources to propel the growth of VMA’s events,” said Smith.read more
16 Jul 2018 | 11:22 am EDT
Plenty of Blame to Go Around in the Latest Conservative Columnist Dust-Up
A media outlet with a considerably large platform hires a conservative columnist. It mostly goes under the radar, as there's nothing inherently controversial about hiring a conservative columnist, until the conservative columnist wades into controversial waters. The media outlet receives blowback from the left and promptly pulls the column and/or dismisses the writer in question before reaffirming a commitment to its editorial processes and standards. The media outlet receives blowback from the right and accusations of censorship.
That's essentially how the latest vapid media controversy has played out, given the news today that columnist Daniella Greenbaum has emphatically resigned from Business Insider after the outlet rescinded her column defending Scarlett Johansson being cast as a transgender man in the upcoming film "Rub & Tug."
First things first: there is a sensible conversation to be had about the ramifications of casting a female actress in such a role, but by advancing a straw-man argument that displays a total unwillingness to embrace the nuance of the subject, the value of Greenbaum’s column existed only in the page-view count below its headline, not its contribution to the debate.
“Johansson’s identity off the screen is irrelevant to the identities she plays on the screen,” writes Greenbaum, which begs the question as to whether that same free-for-all logic would extend to a white actor donning blackface for a role. If Greenbaum’s argument is that the performance should be judged on its own merits, and not preemptively condemned for the actress’s off-screen identity, calling out the “social-justice warrior mob” in the first sentence of the column was probably not a tactful approach.
Despite a resignation letter that reads like a manifesto, decrying Business Insider’s “capitulation to the mob,” Greenbaum is not a victim of a coordinated campaign aimed at silencing her. She’d be incredibly naïve to assume the column would be met with universal adulation.
But she’s also not the only party in this story to wield a platform irresponsibly.
Days after the article was taken down, reports The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani, Business Insider editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson assured staffers that steps would be taken to avoid similar missteps in the future.
“Culturally sensitive columns, analysis, and opinion pieces,” Carlson said, will be reviewed by executive editors prior to publication.
“Editors should make sure we are not publishing shallow, ‘hot takes,’ but instead, fully thought-out arguments that reflect and respect the opposing view,” Carlson added, per Tani.
If Business Insider’s editorial standards are such that a column must be taken down, not because it frivolously misses the point of the subject it purports to address, but because it includes phrases like “social justice warrior,” who the hell was monitoring this stuff before?
Were potential red flags not heralded by Greenbaum’s prior “hot takes” about Maxine Waters helping to “destroy the fabric of our nation,” or Rihanna’s papal-inspired Met Gala outfit signifying further proof that “leftists arbitrarily decide which cultures are and are not worth protecting?”
(Actually, she’s got a point on that second one. Despite my best efforts to be a good Catholic boy, I often leave my papal tiara at home when attending Sunday mass. Please, don’t tell my mother.)
I have sufficient confidence in the American public that most of us can recognize that an opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of the outlet in which it appears. By retracting the column entirely, without any explanation until prompted, Carlson only increased its visibility. At press time, the story occupies front-page real estate across Breitbart, the Daily Caller, the Federalist, the Washington Examiner, and the Washington Free Beacon, and Greenbaum herself has found a bit more prominent of a soapbox—the Washington Post, ever heard of it?—from which to bemoan "the predatory mob" and the way it's "slowly normalizing the policing of speech and opinion."
No, this is not a capitulation to the PC police; it’s a realization, by an outlet that built an audience by prioritizing speed over substance, that it needs to guard its platform a bit more responsibly. It sets a dangerous precedent when the act of editing is so easily misconstrued as censorship, and publishing a poorly reasoned and ill-defended column only to rescind it in response to public pressure undermines the importance of editorial discretion in the first place.
The road to scale is paved with occasional missteps. Instead of enduring a weekend of online criticism, Business Insider created another martyr in the culture war.
— Daniella Greenbaum (@DGreenbaum) July 16, 2018
The post Plenty of Blame to Go Around in the Latest Conservative Columnist Dust-Up appeared first on Folio:.read more
12 Jul 2018 | 1:48 pm EDT
Nylon’s Gabrielle Korn on Transitioning to Digital and Building a Dream Team
Known for its avant-garde take on fashion and beauty, Nylon magazine served as an edgy alternative to a newsstand full of fashion glossies. However, when its print edition closed in October of last year, former digital director turned editor-in-chief Gabrielle Korn knew that Nylon needed to embrace the transition and listen to what its digital audience was asking for.
Not wanting to completely abandon the legacy of the magazine, Korn decided it was vital to carry over the cover story, monthly themes and the editor’s letter to give the website a personal feel. She then overhauled the monthly themes and integrated inclusive titles such as June’s Pride Issue, which had formerly been the Music Issue, and February’s Black History Month Issue, which had previously been a fall preview, and worked to feature cover stars that accented each issue.
Now, Korn is hiring across the board and leveraging talent in order to prepare for her biggest project—a complete site relaunch and expansion, which is scheduled for this fall.
Folio: sat down with Korn to discuss leading her publication into a digital-only model, creatively expanding Nylon’s website to deliver the best of what the magazine had to offer, and building her digital publishing dream team.
Folio: What have you done so far as an editor-in-chief to put your stamp on Nylon?
Gabrielle Korn: I feel like I’ve been putting my stamp on Nylon since I started. I came on as a senior editor in 2014 and there were only three of us on the digital team, so it was a really amazing opportunity to create what we thought the Nylon brand online should be. Something that was really important to me from the start was the idea that digital content should not be less than magazine content. I really believe that the same care that goes into magazine stories should go into digital stories. So that’s what we did when we folded the magazine.
When the magazine started, it was really created to be the alternative to other glossy magazines—really edgy, really cool, something different—and I wanted to keep that brand DNA the same. We just needed to figure out how to make it contemporary and keep it relevant. So, for me, that meant becoming really political and inherently feminist, anti-racist, body-positive, sex-positive—really aesthetically-oriented in the fashion and beauty space. But we need to be doing something more.
Folio: Who would you say is Nylon’s typical reader?
Korn: We know our reader is 75 percent female, we know they’re 18-30. Other than that, the information that really matters is that they are voracious consumers of culture.
Nylon magazine was a fashion magazine. It attracted a very specific, very cool fashion girl and we still have that reader, we still want her, but we’re so much more than that. We are attracting people who want to have a larger conversation. For example, one of our top stories from last month was a very smart think piece on body positivity. The fact that we had a think piece do so well is evident of the shift in our audience.
Folio: What's your advice to editors transitioning to digital only?
Korn: I think first and foremost, people need to think big with cover stars—just because it’s digital, doesn't mean you have to go b-list. And then the other thing is, embrace the creativity of the format.
One of my favorite covers that we’ve done was the Black History Month Issue this February. We picked five up-and-coming black models and we created basically a landing page for the story. Then you scroll through and you see the beautiful snapshots and this amazing introduction that Roxane Gay wrote, but then you can click each model and each model had a profile with a video and original content. Every model got a little video interview that we broke up further and then dispersed it.
I think that the digital format lends itself to such infinite creativity and so if anything, I would hope that magazine editors would be excited because a digital cover is limitless. You’re not confined by the size of the page, the weight of the paper, the cost, whatever. You can dream as big as you want and all you need is a really good developer.
Folio: How about when it comes to audience development?
Korn: I am constantly paying attention to what [our readers] like and what they don’t like and, without sacrificing the integrity of the brand, I’m trying to give them what they want. I’m not an audience developer, but it does kind of come naturally even just having Google Analytics open all day when you publish things really helps.
I have a new banned-words list. Things like “girl crush,” or “fashionista” and “songstress,” they might turn away a more sophisticated reader, and that’s something that we’re not doing anymore. Also thinking of our readership as a “they” instead of a “she” for gender neutrality has really helped a lot.
Folio: What sets you apart from your competitors?
Korn: Nylon isn’t about competing by doing the same thing that everyone else is doing. My mission is to give people a unique reason to come to us. In addition to participating in the conversations that people are having, we need to be the first, and we need to be jumping on things.
For example, the Hayley Kiyoko cover that we did in June, it was our first Pride Issue, it was Hayley’s first cover, and it was like this perfect Nylon moment where she is on the cusp of being a huge star. It turned out to be one of our most popular covers of all time because we provided content that her fans haven't really gotten before.
Folio: Let’s talk about your hiring process. How do you identify and recruit new talent?
Korn: Depending on the level of editor, I definitely look for someone who has already started to make a name for themselves so that they can bring people who follow them over here with them. I look for people who have super relevant experience but who might not be burned out on it.
Really strong writing is basically the core to my hires. Every single person on my team writes at some point, but at the same time, if it’s not a staff writer position, I need people who are really excited to do other things. With my social media team, I’m looking for people who live and breathe Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, and that should be evident from their own social platforms as well as their work history.
Folio: How do you inspire the people you work with?
Korn: I like to help them self motivate. I’m very transparent about how every individual’s work is contributing to our overall success. I meet with every single person on all of my teams once a week and we talk about what they’re working on and how it’s going, and then we talk about numbers—what their traffic is, what the views are, things that are working and not working.
I really look for people who care about the mission—people who are passionate about making fashion and beauty more feminist, more queer-friendly, more racially diverse. They become inspired by the success of that and that’s really beautiful to see. It doesn’t feel like people are coming to do a job, it feels like they’re coming to do a mission.
To learn more about how Korn and other media leaders created their powerhouse staffs, come to their session “Building a Publishing Dream Team” at The Folio: Show this October.
The post Nylon’s Gabrielle Korn on Transitioning to Digital and Building a Dream Team appeared first on Folio:.read more
12 Jul 2018 | 1:44 pm EDT