Mag Bag: Branded Event? How About Hundreds?

Smithsonian and TIAA-CREF Sponsor Free National Museum Day

Smithsonian magazine is partnering with TIAA-CREF to sponsor free entry to almost 500 participating museums across the country for the magazine's 2 million subscribers and their friends on September 30, which they are declaring "Museum Day." The event--the second of its kind--is a perfect fit for the brainy, earnest magazine and the financial services firm, which oversees retirement funds for millions of professionals in academia, teaching, and cultural fields.

Jill Harnick, vice president of public affairs and brand management for TIAA-CREF, drew attention to the highbrow factor: "TIAA-CREF is delighted to partner with Smithsonian magazine... In serving the magazine's readers, we honor our 87-year tradition of working on behalf of those in the academic and cultural fields." Museum Day is also a subtle reminder that the main Smithsonian museum itself in Washington, D.C., is free of admission--an egalitarian nod to its reputation as the "nation's attic."

Museum Day cards are downloadable online. A full list of participating museums is available at www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday.

Cracked Returns

After two years on hold, humor mag Cracked is back, re-launching with new writers from "Chappelle's Show," the "Daily Show," and "Saturday Night Live." New York lawyer Monty Sarhan purchased and repositioned the title, shedding the ultra-juvenile schoolboy schtick of earlier incarnations and aiming a little higher with the re-launch. Just a little.

Targeting men 18-34, the 48-year-old magazine now describes itself as a "humor/satire magazine for adults." Gone are the MAD-style cartoons, replaced by hot babes in skimpy attire, in a style consciously aping industry leader Maxim. In an interview with ABC News, Sarhan explained: "It's not so much that I modeled the style after Maxim, it's that I modeled the style for today's tastes." The first press run of 100,000 went on sale this Tuesday for $3.99 an issue.

Most Trusted Name in Print--But It's Not a Magazine

A new study from the PewResearchCenter suggests that magazines, while entertaining, are not viewed as trustworthy in comparison to leading newspapers by Americans. Indeed, coming in first place for honesty and accuracy in Pew's 2006 Biennial Media Consumption Survey was The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the sober organ of the nation's financial overclass, which received a 4 out of 4 from 26 percent of respondents asked whether they "believe most or all" of the paper's content. Notably, the WSJ received high marks across partisan lines, with a small apparent dip due to ideology: 29 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of Democrats approved of its reporting.

L. Gordon Crovitz, executive vice president of Dow Jones & Company, crowed: "The Pew survey validates what we've always known: The Wall Street Journal offers the most trusted news and information available."

In general, however, the Pew report concluded that "no outlet stands out as most reliable"--and indeed the fact that the WSJ leads, with under a third of respondents saying they "believe most or all" of what they read doesn't speak very well of the news industry overall. Time and U.S. News and World Report limped behind with 21 percent giving them a "4" for credibility; Newsweek garnered the rating from 18 percent; and People trailed with 8 percent. The WSJ beat out TV news broadcasters as well--with 25 percent giving FoxNews a 4, 23 percent saying the same for NBC, and 22 percent each for CBS and ABC.

Time Says It's Time to Change Time's Timing

Time magazine will begin delivering issues on Friday instead of Monday this coming January, the magazine announced yesterday, on the belief that pre-weekend delivery will capture more of readers' leisure time. In addition to drawing extra readers to the print edition, execs hope Friday delivery will expose them to Time content while they're more likely to engage in extended Web surfing, which would benefit the magazine's Web site as well. In a statement, the company said Friday delivery will "reformulate the magazine and Time.com...as a continuous 24/7 experience." In making the shift to Friday delivery Time follows the example of The Week -- a small but feisty competitor in the news arena that delivers a "best of news" summary in its weekly edition, in coordination with a substantial Web presence.

Edward Menicheschi Named VP and Publisher of Vanity Fair

Conde Nast Publications announced this week that Edward Menicheschi has been appointed vice president and publisher of Vanity Fair, a flagship title. Menicheschi succeeds Alan Katz, and comes to the position from his previous role as president of WWD Media Worldwide. According to Conde Nast president and CEO Charles Townsend, Menicheschi has "extensive relationships across the global fashion, beauty, and entertainment communities which makes him well suited for this position at Vanity Fair."

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