Monday, November 24, 2008

Pondering Past and Future for Women In Media

Entrepreneurs from all over the tri-state area gathered in droves at the NY Xpo For Business 2008 last week, held at the cavernous Jacob Javitz Convention Center. WCBS sponsored the Working Women's Business luncheon at midday and had media mogul Cathie Black as a keynote speaker (I snagged a picture with her at the end, see below...apologies for my cellphone camera's fuzzy resolution). Ms Black, who is busy doing the speaker circuit promoting her now book, Basic Black, gave us some interesting anecdotes on Helen Gurly Brown, who paved the way for women in media by becoming editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and staying on the job for an impressive 32 years. Ms. Black, who oversees Cosmo as president of Hearst Magazines, told us how HGB, who is now in her late 80s, still goes into the office and writes letters to the editors around the world.

While we munched on roasted chicken and vegetables, she recounted the story of how back when HGB started out, corporate America was like an episode of Mad Men. There were absolutely no opportunities for women to advance their careers. As a secretary at an advertising agency, part of her job was to deliver her boss's itinerary every day to his home, and she would fill it with personal notes and light-hearted comments. As luck would have it, her boss's wife noticed her clever scribblings and asked him to give her a chance. That's how she got a job writing copy, and rose through the ranks to become one of the highest paid copywriters in the 60's. This original "sex in the city" girl also wrote various books - her first was Sex and the Single Girl - and was a big champion of women's sexual liberation.

As a blogger, I see myself as a pioneer of sorts as well, as social media is rapidly transforming the webosphere and we're still in the early stages of change. So during the Q&A I asked Ms. Black how her magazines, which include O, Harper's Bazaar and Esquire, were embracing user-generated content. Unfortunately she really didn't answer my question, but she did say that she spends 80% of her day on the digital side, and every one of their titles has their own site with blogs, video and games. Although not all of their digital properties are yet profitable, she sees profitability by the second half of 2009. The future, she says, is about "engaging the reader when they want it and where they want it".
What I was curious about was, when it comes to magazines, what is the future for bloggers? Forbes has created a Blog Network where they feature hundreds of blogs on their site and shares advertising revenue with the bloggers. MTV is doing the same thing except theirs is much smaller and more exclusive. Will Hearst follow suit?

Finally, a plug for fellow blogger Nichelle Stephens, whom I met at the table. She pens the Keeping Nickels blog and who also wrote a post about the luncheon. That's her on the left, with the glasses.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


brianna said...

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Helene said...

hello, this is a great did really inspire me to do more and I did finally take a step to enter into social media becasue I was intrigued by your Mogelette MeepUps...I do have a blog, but it needs work...hope to meet you soon and will follow up by communicating on this site. BTW, thanks for all the tips.