Entries in Town & Country (1)
The Hearst Corporation hosted the opening activities at the Hearst Tower on the opening day of Blogfest 2011. They gave conference attendees unprecedented access to three of their top shelter magazines in a series of sessions. They also hosted a lunch, and an afternoon reception on the 44th floor. These are a few of my notes that I jotted during the opening session.
During Blogfest 2011, participants had an opportunity to hear from the editors of several of America’s most prestigious shelter magazines, all published by Hearst. Beth Greene moderated a discussion featuring Mark Rozzo of Town & Country, Newell Turner of House Beautiful, and Dara Caponigro of Veranda in the Hearst auditorium. They all shared their insights on the current state of their respective magazines.
Veranda, acquired by Hearst in May 2002, is one of the world's most exquisitely produced interior design magazines. Published eight times per year, Veranda is distinguished by its artful representation of interiors, gardens, table settings and floral arrangements.
Dara Caponigro said that the magazine's editors have many things in common. “We’re all lovers of beauty. We love new things, but we are not mired in being trendy. We’re all really nice; well that is a prerequisite for working at Veranda. And there is graciousness about the magazine that was set by our predecessor Lisa Newsom, a southern gracious lady. I think in this day and age that is more and more important, and we try to stay true to that.”
An avid reader of blogs, Ms. Caponigro appreciated the unique perspective that the medium could offer as opposed to print magazines. "What I think is cool about blogs is that they can be personal, what I mean is that they can be more personal than a magazine can be. A magazine is talking to a broad audience. With a blog you can really get a person’s point of view, and it is special in that way."
Her final advice to the 125 bloggers in attendance reminded the writers that authenticity is important when approaching work. "Be true to yourselves. Do something that you are passionate about, and have a point of view. Sometimes you are the most creative when you have the most parameters.”
Founded in 1896, House Beautiful is the oldest continuously published shelter magazine in the United States. Newell Turner, the magazine's editor-in-chief, said that he liked blogs that have a really strong personality.
“I think that those are the most interesting blogs, and I think that’s what gives you a real place in the blogging world. I like blogs that have a strong point of view and approach. I like to be stimulated by people and things. To find blogs that discuss what we are all thinking, and talking about is exciting to me.”
Mr. Turner had many praises for bloggers, comparing them to the beat reporters of the past. He appreciated the hyper local nature of some design blogs, which offered an on-the-ground perspective about trends and events happening in cities, where many magazines may not have a continuous presence.
While blogs do not have the formal word limits of magazines, Mr. Turner felt that it was important for bloggers to restrict the size of their posts. “Edit, edit, edit. What we all do is a form of communication, and there is an art to communicating, and I think that we are limited (at the magazine) to a certain number of pages. It works to our advantage, because it forces us to really hone, and put together a package in a very specific way.”
Mr. Turner admitted that the blog world has even influenced House Beautiful's photography choices. He said that the magazine’s staff studied the New York Social Diary, a prominent lifestyle blog, for inspiration. He noted that the NYSD’s interior design posts, “captured moments that were less studied and formalized has had an impact on the way that we shoot stories at House Beautiful.”
House Beautiful also has a “send us a picture” feature where photographers and designers are asked to send project photos that are published in the magazine monthly.
Mr. Turner said that he had a blogger past of his own. “I’ve tried some blogging, and it takes a huge amount of work and we all realize that and applaud you for your efforts because I know you get up, and you start working and its like, another day, another entry, how do I do that? How do I pull that out of the air? And I give kudos for even existing.”
Founded in 1846, Town & Country has the distinction of being America's longest continuously published lifestyle magazine. It currently has a limited online presence and is strategizing ways to improve its web platform. Mark Rozzo, who has blogged in the past, offered his own advice. “If you want to be a blogger, it is also knowing about what you want to do. I like that blogs can operate with a certain type of velocity that often eludes us as print editors and writers. That intimacy can be really interesting.”
“Someone reading a magazine in this day and age is also someone who is probably reading a blog. A blog should be as readable as a magazine, practiced at the highest possible level.”