Mag Bag: Reader's Digest Turns To Grad Students

Reader's Digest Turns to Grad Students

Who says journalism school is pointless? Over the last few months, Reader's Digest solicited advice from graduate magazine publishing students at Northwestern University's prestigious Medill School of Journalism to increase the audience for its digital edition. The graduate students were asked to analyze the magazine's print and online properties, then produced their own parallel Web site for the publication, as well as a 56-page prototype magazine.

The students' youth and tech-savvy qualities were obvious selling points for the project, according to Bonnie Bachar, RDA's president of U.S. publishing. "We wanted some of the brightest and most promising journalistic minds to help us wrestle with what the future could look like for Reader's Digest magazine and rd.com. Medill's reputation and high-caliber students were a great match for us."

Bachar and Jackie Leo, the editor in chief of Reader's Digest, originally approached Abe Peck, Medill's chair of journalism and cross-media storytelling, in August 2006. After students expressed interest, the study and prototype development were undertaken as part of Medill's Magazine Publishing Project.

Medill grads conferred with Reader's Digest executives, performed their own research, and sat in on sales calls. Finally, they presented their prototypes to 30 executives at company headquarters in Pleasantville, NY. Samples of the prototype magazine are also being shipped to publishing industry players and Medill alums. Talk about extra credit.

National Geographic Launches Mag for Little Kids

There's a new member of the National Geographic family: National Geographic Little Kids--a sister title of National Geographic Kids--is set to launch this February, when its March-April issue hits the newsstands. There will be no advertising in the magazine, which will be published bimonthly with a subscription price of $15 a year. The 6.5 inch x 7 inch magazine will sell for $3.95 on newsstands.

With content appropriate for preschool children ages 3-6, the magazine is positioned as a teaching tool for parents and older children who want to share the fun with their younger siblings. It aims to cultivate pre-reading and early reading skills, logical reasoning and counting, and an awareness of different cultures. The magazine will fall under the editorial oversight of National Geographic Kids' Vice President and Editor in Chief Melinda Bellows.

To keep young children interested, the magazine will include a healthy helping of photographs and exciting stories about animals, as well as features on kids' favorite topics. For example, the first issue focuses on pandas and Chinese culture, and it's a safe guess that dinosaurs will make an appearance in the future. Kids will be able to collect "wild animal cards" dispensed at a rate of six per issue. The magazine is launching with a companion Web site that also offers content suitable for the age group.

Stack's Rate Base Stacks Up

Stack, a magazine targeting teen athletes involved in high-school sports, is upping its rate base to 400,000 on its second anniversary--up from an original rate base of 300,000 at its launch in February 2005. To date, Stack's advertisers have included Nike, Gatorade, U.S. Marines, Adidas, Under Armour, Sony PlayStation, MGM Studios, New Balance and Old Spice.

Inc. Hires Tim Callahan As Marketing Head

Inc. magazine announced this week that Timothy Callahan is joining the publication as a marketing director. Callahan, formerly the business development director for The Wall Street Journal, will lead development of new sales and partnerships, including the creation of integrated packages combining the magazine's various assets.

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