Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Some Ups and Downs

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Some Ups and Downs

Article excerpt

POST-SEPT. 11 WORLD AFFECTS FEATURE BIZ

Syndicates have experienced sales setbacks and successes since the terrorist attacks on America seven weeks ago

On Sept. 10, E&P ran a story about how recession-like conditions were hurting syndicates. A day later, the attacks on America dealt a new jolt to the economy.

So have things gone even further south for syndicates since then? Yes and no.

Universal Press Syndicate President Robert Duffy said Universal sales have dipped only "slightly" since Sept. 11. "The reason probably has more to do with editors having to turn their attention to the news of the day, rather than anything to do with budget or space," he added.

Some other executives said less budget and space for features has been a post-Sept. 11 issue. But, overall, things have not been totally negative for syndicates.

At King Features Syndicate, for instance, Editor in Chief Jay Kennedy reported virtually no client cancellations of content -- but few new sales. He said air travel was difficult for a while after Sept. 11, with salespeople only able to visit papers by car. "And, during a crisis, it's hard to get appointments with busy editors," Kennedy added.

Copley News Service Editorial Director Glenda Winders said Copley salespeople aren't phoning papers as much. "It just doesn't seem like the time to be in people's faces," she said, while noting that Copley still makes sales pitches in other ways (such as by e-mail) and continues to call potential clients to sell its holiday packages because papers are hoping advertising will start rebounding by then.

Speaking of the holiday season, the Washington Post Writers Group still plans to launch "Out of the Gene Pool" Dec. 31. WPWG Editorial Director/ General Manager Alan Shearer said attendees at the recent American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors meeting indicated they'd be willing to consider a new comic, especially one with a "diversity and acceptance" theme. "A dark- humor type of strip would have a tougher time these days," Shearer observed.

Some established features have done well since Sept. 11. For instance, the client list for Leonard Pitts Jr.'s Miami Herald column rose 10%, to more than 150 papers, said Tribune Media Services (TMS) Sales Director Doug Page. This came after Pitts wrote a widely praised Sept. 12 column about the attacks that elicited a stunning 26,000 e-mail messages.

King has seen increased sales for the "Defending America" column by ex- Army Col. …

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