Posted By joe rusz on 12/29/2008 9:19 PM
Dang it, now you're making me work harder than I wanted. OK, the process I explained relates to Road & Track, a car magazine where I worked for 30 years before semi-retiring. Although there are some evergreen items (stories that are not time sensitive) most of what we report on are new cars, products, and racing news. You can't plan an issue when the car hasn't been released yet. Nor can you say, in February, how so-and-so won the Indy 500, which was to take place three months later. We try to review new models as soon as we get our hands on them, but the process of putting the whole package together--with a relatively small staff--takes time.
One other factor which I didn't mention: most major magazines such as Road & Track and probably GR, are printed at a plant that's generally not near the homes of subscribers (unless you happen to live there). For example, R&T is printed Tennesse and the magazine is distributed from there to the rest of the country. This explains why some folks get their copy before others.
Newpapers are essentially printed right in their own back yard. The Long Beach Press Telegram, where my wife was managing editor, was once printed right below the newsroom, but since they were bought out by Media News a few years ago, all of the printing for the P/T and Media News other LA area papers is done in Valencia (where Magic Mountain is located). Presses roll probably around midnight, and the papers are then trucked to Long Beach where the carriers deliver them to your door. The process is pretty direct and immediate: news happens, story gets written (ASAP) typeset (kinda), printed and delivered. Distance from printing plant to the average subscriber's home is up to 60 miles.
Weekly news magazines like Time and Newsweek with huge a circulation base and deep pockets, print issues in several major cities (LA, New York, etc), so getting the publication into the readers' hands quickly is not a huge problem. Unfortunately, R&T and GR don't have those luxuries.
As for the date that's on the cover, I guess you could put anything on there. But when I guy wandering through O'Hare or Borders is looking for magazines, he/she wants to know that he is buying the latest issue.
jIyajbe' (-- No I don't understand.)
Oh boy! I never been able to get someone to work harder than they wanted... I'm so proud.... uh-oh I'd better be careful, I might fall down ("Pride goeth before a fall", ya know!)
Anyway, I said that the situation may require one to shift critical dates.
I could add that they should also know their process and how long it takes, whether it is hours, days, weeks or months and make allowances for it in knowning when the magazine is being delivered, and label it accordingly.
It is my experience that magazine issues delivered before, or in the early days of, one month tend to be labeled for the month yet 2 or 3 months into the future and that strikes me as being a bit silly AND a reflection on the intellegence of the publisher or the publsher's idea of MY intellegence. I would not trust a newspaper with the day after tomorrow's date on it... or I'd be looking mighty hard at the lottery numbers and stock quotes! (What was that TV show about the fellow that got "tomorrow's newspaper today" and went around changing events?)
As it is, if I am wandering though O'Hare or past a newstand someplace in January, I have no idea what issue is the "latest", it might be February, or maybe March, or even April... If I am seeking the "latest" news that the magazine covers I have to seach the rack for all issues and pick the newest date, but that is no guarantee that it is the "latest"... maybe that issue is sold out and the one I find is "last months" (even though it is labeled for "next month").
If I wish to refer to an old magazine to find something I have read, I have to say, "Let's see, I was reading it in January so it must have been in, hmmmm... the March or April issue."
To compound the questions of journalistic integrity that the confusing issue dates causes, I sometimes get notifications that my subscription will end with the March issue delivered in January. Doesn't that sound "silly" to you? It makes me question whether I am getting all the issues I paid for. It is bad enough to get renewal notices 9 or 10 months in advance... on a one year subscription!... but, I have gotten a renewal notice on a new subscription to a quarterly magazine BEFORE I ever got the first issue!... "Your subscription will end with the Winter issue to be delivered in July or August." What do the publishers think I do, leave the magazine in the plain brown wrapper until the Winter Solstice?
I'm sorry, if a newspaper can deliver today's paper with today's date then a magazine should be able to deliver this month's issue with this month's date on it... and just think, that all the confusion (you mentioned in your first post) with what issue you are working on would be reduced by, well, one or two months!