By NEMS Daily Journal
Samir Husni, aka “Mr. Magazine,” is the director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism. He is also a professor and Hederman Lecturer at the School of Journalism. Considered a leading authority on magazines, Husni is the author of the annual “Samir Husni’s Guide to New Magazines,” which is now in its 25th year. He answered these questions from the Daily Journal last week.
Q: Which of today’s magazines do you consider successful and why?
A:Success is in the eye of the beholder, which is one main reason I do not attempt to define success these days by anything but survival. Staying in business these days is a success by itself. One magazine that emerged in the last three years and is not only surviving, but rather thriving, is Food Network Magazine. The magazine has been able to capture two basic addictions people have: food and celebrities. Folks who pick it up will not put it down until they start cooking.
Q:What do you consider the biggest magazine flops and why?
A:The history of American magazines is filled with flops and almost with no exception they all have one thing in common: the magazine was launched to satisfy the perceived needs of advertisers and not readers. Magazines that catered to what I call the concept of “counting customers rather than customers who count” have failed miserably. A few titles comes to mind: TV-Cable Week, which was published by Time Inc. in the 1980s, lost more than $47 million in less than a year, and Tina Brown’s magazine Talk in the early 2000s lost more than $55 million in a little over than a year. Both magazines had no connections with their audiences and were an “ivory tower” production, which leads me to conclude that the magazine that does not satisfy the needs, wants and desires of its readers first, no matter how much money is behind it, will not make it.
Q:Your office is full of magazines and other publications. How do you find time to go through them all?
A: I consider it a blessing from God that the gift He gave as a child – falling in love and creating handmade magazines from a very young age – has become my education and my profession. Not too many people can say when they are reading magazines in their office that they are doing their job. I can! If I am not at top of what is going on in the magazine world, I feel that I am doing my students and my university a disservice. The only way to serve my students is to stay on top of my field, and the only way I can do that is to make time for finding, buying and reading all the magazines that matter; and all of them do matter to me.