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February 20, 2020

Publishing News

Time Special Issue, VR Experience Commemorate 1963's March on Washington
MediaPost: "Time is set to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech through a high-tech immersive project and special issue. "The March" blends VR and AI film-production processes and machine-learning techniques to bring King’s speech and the events in Washington to life. The project was co-created by Time’s Mia Tramz and immersive storyteller Alton Glass. Viola Davis served as executive producer and narrator. King’s likeness and the events of the march were created with support from Intellectual Properties Management, Inc., licensor of his estate, and Time’s journalism. Work on The March began three years ago"...

Hearst, Union Committee Meet for First Time
WWD: "Hundreds of [Hearst] taffers across 24 brands, including Cosmopolitan and Esquire, revealed their intention to unionize in November with the Writers Guild of America, East, but only on Tuesday did executives, who are yet to voluntarily recognize their efforts, finally sit down with the organizing committee. Chief content officer Kate Lewis and her deputy Brooke Siegel initiated the meeting, according to a WGAE letter sent to staffers seen by WWD, in a move that could be viewed as a change in strategy as an election date approaches. That’s because it’s understood that the committee asked to meet with executives when they first revealed their union plans, but Lewis and her boss, Hearst Magazines president Troy Young, declined the invitation. Notably, though, Young was not present at this week’s meeting. Instead, Hearst initially appeared to adopt a hard line, including setting up an anti-union web site. Eventually, relations between executives and the WGAE became so bad that the latter filed an unfair-labor-practice charge against the former with the National Labor Relations Board, which it is currently investigating. Among other methods, the charge accused executives of “unlawfully” engaging in surveillance of employees’ union activities and solicited, encouraged and provided assistance to employees to withdraw union authorization cards.But at Tuesday’s meeting, which the WGAE described as “positive” on the whole, Lewis and Siegel stressed that whatever happens going forward, they see the entire workforce as partners in the company, and they “remain committed to that relationship no matter what.” Lewis also explained that the corporate floor has plans to deal with various issues at the company, which the union has previously stated include uncertainty around compensation packages, job remits and career paths.For their part, committee members responded that the union’s agenda will be based on the priorities set by the workforce and will be the subject of its negotiations when it has a seat at the table with management. It also shared examples from contracts other unions have negotiated at other media outlets and made clear that it will all be working toward a contract that is beneficial to both the union and the company. “Bargaining and ratifying a contract that guarantees working conditions and benefits will involve the participation of all of us across brands, through surveys, the election of the bargaining committee, and the vote to ratify a contract,” it said.For now, the two sides are currently waiting for the NLRB, which gets to decide when an election happens since Hearst did not voluntarily recognize the union, to announce a date. Originally, the union had expected it to take place in January.Hearst had been hoping that the NLRB wouldn’t let supervisors vote, as per an incoming April law, but the federal body ruled that they can prior to the change.The NLRB still has to decide on the size and the number of bargaining units and also reveal the results of its investigation into claims of an already existing union"...

Hearst Fires Columnist Who Accuses Trump of Rape
E. Jean Carroll, the longtime Elle magazine advice columnist who last year accused Donald Trump of raping her more than 20 years ago in the dressing room of an upscale NYC department store, says she was fired by the publication because of Trump’s repeated insults against her. Elle publisher Hearst declined to comment. 
NY Times (paid sub req.)

People Led Magazine Audiences in December
MPA has turned over the production of the Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report to auditor Alliance for Audited Media. The first AAM-produced report, for December 2019, covering 93 magazine brands and 21 publishing companies, shows Meredith's People logging the largest magazine audience across platforms. The magazine brand audience report, previously monthly, will now be released quarterly, in February, May, August and November, and include data on the prior month. This first AAM report includes data from December 2019, compared to year-ago 2018 data, for print and digital editions, web, mobile web and video. People (93.5M), Allrecipes (79.4M) and Good Housekeeping (60.5M) had the largest brand audiences across platforms for December 2019. O, The Oprah Magazine (58.5%), Inc. (50.8%) and Good Housekeeping (49.7%) experienced the largest gains in audience compared to December 2018.To be included in the AAM report, brands must be tracked for print audience in GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer (print and digital editions), or the Ipsos Affluent Survey USA. Brands must also be measured for digital audiences by ComScore for web or mobile visitors. MPA’s last brand audience report examined June 2019 data. ESPN The Magazine, People and WebMD had the highest total audience that month. The brands with the most total audience growth compared to the same month a year prior were: Architectural Digest (113%), AFAR (54%) and Magnolia Journal (50%)."

High Times Parent Awaits Date for Public Trading
MediaPost: "High Times is preparing to begin company trading across public markets following a notification from FINRA stating it has been granted a trading symbol.Dubbed Hightimes Holding Corp., the company will trade under the ticker symbol HITM with a planned listing date yet to be announced.“This is a big step for the company and the High Times brand. The listing of the company’s stock will give us a trading currency that will assist us in furthering our acquisitional goals. There is no better time to roll out this next evolution as we enter the cannabis retail space,” stated Adam Levin, executive chairman of Hightimes Holding Corp. The notification follows High Time’s Regulation A+ campaign, in which more than 23,000 investors bought a stake in the company. The campaign is still open for participation. “We’ve proven the strength of our brand, and of the community we represent. We’re excited for this next step,” Levin stated. Over the past year, High Times has worked to expand its licensing, ecommerce and retail reach. In January, the brand announced it will open dispensaries across Los Angeles and Las Vegas."

Glamour UK 'Self Love' Issue Features 11 Covers, Including One With Bearded Lady
Daily Mail: "Glamour magazine has released 11 covers for its February digital issue showing the changing faces of beauty, including a model with a monobrow and a woman who grew a full beard aged 16. All the models on the cover of the magazine's 'Self Love' issue for February styled themselves, in the way the wanted to be perceived, and spoke to the magazine about what beauty means to them.Acid attack victim and activist Katie Piper, was among the faces photographed as well as up-and-coming model Jeyza Gary from North Carolina, who has a rare condition that makes her skin shed every two weeks. Meanwhile, body image activist and writer Stephanie Yeboah from London revealed the prejudices she encounters as a black, plus-size woman"...


Retail News

Retail Warning Signs of Possible Consumer Spending Downtrend
MBR cites a Bloomberg piece reporting that " unimpressive sales and profit numbers from the likes of Walmart and Target are leading to some fears that consumer spending -- the "lone consistent driver" of American economic growth -- could be softening, which could spell trouble for an expansion that now has lasted more than a decade.v"There have as yet been no real signs in the broad data of that changing, with unemployment, housing and gas prices remaining supportive." But, at least some economic advisors are starting to ask questions. "Consumer spending is helping prop up the economy at the moment while other areas, like manufacturing, have softened," Bloomberg writes. "So any weakening there is another sign that first-quarter U.S. economic growth could cool from the previous period’s 2.1% pace, a rate that’s below the Trump administration’s 3% goal for full-year growth. The end of interest-rate cuts, the looming U.S. presidential election and fallout from China’s coronavirus outbreak could also weigh on consumer confidence, analysts have said, jeopardizing a record-long economic expansion." Link to Bloomberg piece is also below.

Grocers Wresting Control of Display Space from CPG Giants
WSJ: "Grocers are relying on their own proprietary research to decide how and where to shelve certain products, rather than relying on companies that sell well-known brands to tell them what to put on what shelf at what price. The shift is resulting in less space for traditional supermarket staples from companies such as General Mills and Clorox in favor of niche items and store brands that deliver higher margins and are often in higher demand.“Our retailers have better information now,” General Mills Chief Executive Jeff Harmening said. “So more of our conversation is about ‘How do we drive growth together?’"...
Wall St Journal (paid sub req.)

Amazon Asks Delaware for $4.5M Tax Grant
Philadelphia Inquirer: Amazon, "which made $1B per month in after-tax profits last year, is asking Delaware for a $4.5M state taxpayer grant “to establish its operations in Wilmington.”The Delaware Economic Development Authority’s Council on Development Finance plans to review a brief proposal for the Delaware Strategic Fund money on Monday. Amazon already employs more than 2,500 full-timers — plus part-time and seasonal workers — at three Delaware sites: the company’s original East Coast warehouse on Delaware Route 273 near New Castle; its truck yard, also near New Castle; and its warehouse and delivery center in Middletown. The company operates extensive warehouse networks in upstate Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Dermody Properties is the Nevada-based developer that built a 1M-sq.-ft. “LogistiCenter” for Amazon in Logan Township, Gloucester County, two years ago. It has applied to build a 5½-story, 3.83M-sq.-ft. LogistiCenter, with more than 900 trailer parking spaces and more than 1,900 for cars, on the 142-acre site of the former General Motors auto assembly plant on Boxwood Road west of Wilmington.Amazon intends to occupy that center, according to two sources familiar with Amazon’s plans,,, “Amazon is proud to call Delaware home,” and “we are constantly exploring new locations,” but “are not yet commenting on any specific operations plans in Delaware. Stay tuned,” Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said in an email. She did not address a question as to why the company wanted taxpayer assistance"...

SpartanNash Posts 15th Straight Quarter of Sales Growth
PG: "Last year's acquisition of Martin's Super Markets gave SpartanNash a boost in the fourth quarter, helping the company achieve its 15th consecutive quarter of sales growth.For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 28, SpartanNash had net sales growth of 5.3% to $2B from $1.9B in the prior year quarter. Retail same-store sales increased 0.5%, the company's second consecutive quarter of positive comps."We are pleased with the progress that was made in the last quarter," said Dennis Eidson, interim president and CEO. "By focusing on execution, we were able to deliver positive retail comp store sales for the second consecutive quarter, reduce working capital and increase our free cash flow, while making improvements in our supply chain operations. As a result, we were able to deliver results consistent with the guidance we provided following Q3 and are optimistic about our future outlook. "Gross profit for the fourth quarter was $286.7M, or 14.4% of net sales, compared to $245.4 million, or 12.9% of net sales, in the prior year quarter. The growth in gross profit and improvement as a percent of net sales was primarily driven by the acquisition of Martin's and the resulting higher mix of retail sales.Adjusted earnings from continuing operations for the fourth quarter were $8.3M, or 23 cents per diluted share, and include $3.9M after tax, or 11 cents per diluted share, in transition costs. Adjusted earnings from continuing operations for the prior year quarter were $11.4M, or 32 cents per diluted share"...

Amazon Launches Healthcare Program
MNB cites a report by the Seattle Times that "Amazon has launched a pilot program to directly administer health-care services to many of its nearly 54,000 Seattle-area employees and their families." The story suggests that this represents Amazon's most ambitious health care-related effort, providing "on-demand chat and video consultations with medical professionals," and enabling "users to schedule in-person visits with clinicians at patients’ homes or offices. "When people pay for those services, they do so through - natch - Some context from the Times story: "Amazon Care clinicians are employed by Oasis Medical Group, which Amazon describes as 'a medical practice licensed in Washington State.'"Oasis, which does not have a website and appears to be in Amazon’s Prime building on Mercer Street, according to business filings, was founded in April 2018 by Dr. Martin Levine. Amazon hired Levine, a Seattle geriatrician, in January 2018 from health-care startup Iora, a leader in patient-centered care." Amazon already has made a move into the prescription business with its acquisition of Pillpack, an online pharmacy that provides per-sorted prescriptions to customers. And, it is working with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase on health care initiative the details of which have not been disclosed.While Amazon Care is limited to the company's Seattle-area employees for the moment, the Times suggests that, if successful, it could be made available to Amazon's more than a half-million employees around the country."


 Publishing & Retail News 

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