Innovators Defined the Industry

By Maurer, Rolf | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, December 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

Innovators Defined the Industry


Maurer, Rolf, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


THESE PIONEERS HELPED SHAPE, DEFINE AND THEN REDEFINE THE MAGAZINE INDUSTRY -AND, BY EXTENSION, THE WAY WE THINK OF OURSELVES.

In magazine publishing, true innovation often lies in knowing what an audience wants before potential competitors--or even the audience itself--knows. The people listed here each reshaped the industry in some way--introducing a new editorial approach, a new market, a new way of doing business. While not comprehensive, this group typifies the impact that such forward thinking has had on magazine publishing.

After founding the first U.S. teen fashion title, Seventeen, in 1944, Walter H. Annenberg bought television and cable stations when those industries were in their infancies and launched TV Guide in 1953. Considered an illconceived idea, TV Guide grew to become one of the world's topselling magazines.

Helen Gurley Brawn, author of Sex and the Single Girl, took over as editor of Cosmopolitan in 1966 and repositioned the failing publication away from its origins as a literary magazine (founded in 1886) to a magazine of feminine self-empowerment in the late 20th Century. Cosmo continues to define modernity for a generation of women.

In 1946, Norman Cahners laid the foundation for what would become one of the leading trade publishers by launching Modern Materials Handling, a civilian-side reworking of The Palletizer, a materials-handling magazine he had launched for the Navy during World War II. A pioneer in controlled circulation magazines, Cahners Business Information is now the largest U.S.-based b-to-b publisher.

With the launch of Hospital Management and Industrial Marketing (originally called Class & Industrial Marketing) in 1916, G.D. Crain Jr. planted the seeds for a newspaper and trade magazine empire. Crain Communications includes Advertising Age, which was the first journal of the growing advertising field to focus specifically on the latest news affecting it.

* With his company currently publishing some 138 magazines, directories, newsletters, books and marketing reports, as well as operating trade shows/conferences in 26 markets, Marshall Freeman, chairman of Miller Freeman Inc., demonstrated early on a gift for developing ancillary services or products around print titles, and produced a company whose diversified revenues were the envy of the industry.

* When he founded Playboy in 1953, Hugh Hefner recognized and led the changing sexual mores of America. A former Esquire circulator, Hetner started a men's title that took the "skin" formula to a more mainstream, well-rounded level with a blend of pictorials, articles and interviews, wrapped in an overall lifestyle theme.

* Following his successful entry into publishing with Negro Digest three years earlier, John Johnson, son of a sawmill worker, launched Ebony in 1945. With the addition of Jet and Tan, Johnson Publishing not only gave a voice to African-Americans but became the largest black-owned business in the United States. …

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