Media Magic

 

20140906_222835Rebecca Nicolasa Mbanugo is a student in Pace University’s MS in Publishing program, and is currently enrolled in Magazine Production and Design, taught by Andrea Baron. 

 

A short walk away from Rockefeller Center and Time Inc. lies a facility of the second largest magazine printer in the world, Quad Graphics Media Solutions Center. Professor Andrea Baron’s Magazine Production and Design class visited Quad at its Manhattan location on October 14th, 2014.

After receiving our visitor name tags at the reception desk, we were ushered into an impressive and well-lit conference room where a pleasing array of refreshments and complimentary pens and pencils bearing Quad’s name awaited us. Between bites of cookies and sips of soda and water, we pored over the pages of Quad’s portfolio and examined finished copies of some of the popular publications Quad works with, including Vogue, Seventeen, and Entertainment Weekly. Over the course of our nearly three-hour visit, our two presenters, Imaging Operations Manager Steve Stoma and Media Solutions Sales Representative Eric Johnson, took us on a visual and walking tour of the varied forms of media magic that Quad specializes in.

Quad is a national network of facilities that offer its clients a range of print, digital, and video-based media solutions, including dynamic imaging and augmented reality (AR). Emphasizing high quality and fast turn-around times, it operates according to three tenets: create, optimize, and connect. After the publisher creates artwork such as magazine layouts and covers, Quad takes that product and optimizes its content, enhancing color to achieve the best possible reproduction quality. Quad also connects content to the physical and digital channels of tablets and the Web. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Quad processes over 200,000 images and 90,000 pages of content annually.

The majority of the properties handled at the Manhattan location are magazines, many belonging to such publishers as Condé Nast and Hearst Magazines. We saw firsthand that the work of transforming each title into the alluring, polished products we encounter at the newsstands is quite a fascinating and meticulous process. Specific calibrations for color are checked on a daily basis and color-controlled monitors and booths equipped with proper lighting are used to view images. It is not uncommon for the teams in the customer service and retouching departments to work well into the night, checking hard and soft proofs for color, and digital blue lines for content layout. Continuous rounds of correction occur until each client is fully satisfied. Indeed, like the mythical elves at Santa’s workshop, the staff at Quad works diligently, seeming to fashion magic out of thin air.

Having had an enjoyable glimpse behind the scenes, we left Quad armed with new knowledge and a few souvenirs.

Faculty in the Spotlight: Professor Andrea Baron

Magazines, books, travel – Professor Andrea Baron has done it all! She is a graduate of Pace’s MS in Publishing program and has not only held positions at very well-known and renowned magazines for twenty years, but has also been a professor at Pace for the last ten years. When Professor Baron is not working for Condé Nast or The New Yorker or teaching about magazine circulation, she enjoys traveling. Most notably, she greatly enjoyed participating in the Pace University China publishing exchange program through which she lectured and helped establish a relationship between Pace University and Shanghai Normal University.

Professor Baron is extremely well-versed in the publishing industry, and her knowledge and experience make her a wonderful resource and asset to the Publishing program. The following is a piece written by Professor Baron, showcasing some of the publishing professionals that she has brought into her classroom and the wise words they have to offer.

Keeping Connected

In the magazine industry’s rapidly changing landscape of content, design, digital formats, production methods, multi-channel publishing, revenue streams, paywalls, and business models, we find that without constantly updating the content of our courses, there’s no way we can adequately prepare our students to find and keep jobs in publishing.

One of the ways I do this is to help my students make direct connections with industry leaders. As I’ve developed the new Introduction to Magazine Publishing course this year, in addition to my classes in Magazine Production & Design and Circulation, I’ve reached out to a broader range of magazine professionals to bring an added dimension to the material we discuss in class. Furthermore, they provide news on the latest direction of the industry, insight into the actual jobs the students will one day have, and excellent networking opportunities.

The people who come to speak invariably enjoy meeting the students and thank me for giving them the chance to hear their ideas and reactions. Here are some of the people who have generously shared their insights and experience with my students over the past year:

Gregg Hano, VP of Bonnier Publishing, is a leader in digital magazine publishing. Hano spoke about the new formats that Bonnier has been very successful in using to extend their content and their brands, including websites, tablet apps, and mobile formats.

Casey Tierney, Director of Photography, Real Simple magazine, explained the photo and design process at a major consumer magazine, touching on the importance of focusing on the magazine goals and audience, collaborating with editors and marketers, and finding inspiration in many places.

Robert Perino, Art Director, Budget Travel magazine, described the day-to-day operation of the design department, the different approaches for the variety of magazines he has worked on, and the many career options that are available for designers in the magazine field.

Risa Aronson, Advertising Director, The New Yorker magazine, discussed the impact of their very successful tablet app for The New Yorker and how it fits into their unique magazine content. She explained the increasing appeal of the digital formats to advertisers and readers.

Sara Hart and Steve Stoma, Imaging Directors, Quad Graphics provided a tour of their state-of-the-art New York Imaging facility and an explanation of the digital workflow, including design, retouching, proofing, and quality control used to bring beautiful magazine pages and artwork to print and digital displays.

Marshall Corey, VP, American Express Publishing, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure magazines presented the world of branding and marketing products to develop revenue streams and enhance magazine circulation. Corey gave students many tips for entering the marketing field.

Kim Kett, VP of Marketing, Texterity Inc., gave insight into one of the main digital magazine marketplaces, which provides the technology that large and small magazines use for their digital formats. This technology is also utilized to gain the all-important metrics and feedback on the usage of their titles.

Tom Mastrocola, Director of Subscription Acquisition & Database Marketing, American Express Publishing, explained the rapidly changing field of audience development for subscriptions as well as the challenges of changing technology and rising costs.

Ed Mayhew, nationally-known postal consultant and veteran of the US Postal Service, is an expert on magazine postal issues, working with publishers to find ways to reduce the cost of subscription delivery and to maximize the opportunities for marketing and advertising through the mail.

David Garcia, President, LB Graph-X Printing, gave students a tour of a digital and offset print facility and a first-hand look at the technology and print methods that are rapidly changing our production workflow and personalized marketing methods.

I encourage my students to treat these meetings as a chance to not only gain insight, but also impress the speakers with their commitment to the industry, and several have taken the opportunity to make contacts that have helped them get internships and jobs.

Among the speakers in the works for the upcoming summer semester is David Andelman, editor of World Policy Journal, previously the American executive editor at Forbes.com and a reporter for The New York Times, based in New York, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. Andelman is eager to share his experience and insights on magazine writing with our students.

Students Visit Quad Graphics for Class

Students from Professor Baron’s Magazine Production and Design class had the opportunity to attend a tour of Quad Graphics last Monday. Employees of Quad Graphics, who print for companies such as Condé Nast, J Crew, and Victoria Secret, had the opportunity to show students the job of the scanner, retoucher, and account manager.

The scanner showed Pace publishing students how he took conventional art and scanned it on either a drum or flatbed scanner, allowing an image to be converted into digital art. However, he also explained this process is rarely used with the advancement of digital photography. Next students took a look at the intricate job of a retoucher. The retoucher’s job, whose job is to provide technical assistance and detail to digital images, can be very time consuming because they take care of complex requests that customers’ design departments don’t have time to do. And finally, students ended the tour with the account manager, whose job consists of managing the entire process; from images to the printing.

Considering the decline in magazine jobs, some production students were excited at such an opportunity, as it showed other career avenues in magazine production. “By being the account manager for Vanity Fair for instance, you seem to be just as much in touch with the production and workflow of the magazine as you would be if you were working on the publisher’ side. You almost share the same responsibility of getting the magazine to press in time,” says Louise Blomberg, a MS in Publishing student. “You still get very close to the product (the magazine) and play a big part in having it produced.”

Founded in 1971, Quad Graphics’ mission includes being a “value driven company committed to [their] clients, employee owners, shareholders, communities and the environment.” They also aim to grow profits within the company by being a “high value, low-cost producer”.

What was interesting about Quad Graphics was their ability to being a magazine and catalogue’s one stop shop destination. Not only is Quad Graphics able to print the magazine and catalogue material, but they are also able to do retouching. From adding and deleting images within a page to accentuating a product color, Quad Graphics really focuses on the needs of customers, even if it takes all night. At Quad Graphics, we have a steady 24/7 workflow that allows our company to be available whenever our customers need us. Some of our customers have very close deadlines they must meet and are submitting work to us as early as 8 a.m. or as late as 1 a.m.” says Karrie Cornell, an account manager at Quad Graphics. “With shift rotations, we can ensure our customers that their work isn’t sitting and that we’ve got labor to provide quality turnaround material in a timely fashion.”

Overall, even with the decline in pages printed, Quad Graphics isn’t worried. “At Quad, we’ve ramped up the ‘aggressiveness’ of ink on paper; making it live and breathe in real time by strategically applying data to create targeted, relevant print messages and then connecting those printed messages with other forms of media,” said President and CEO Joel Quadracci in a company press release. “Our technology allows you to send the right type of message to the right people at the right time.” According to Quadracci, the goal of Quad Graphics is to print marketing material that is “targeted…versus generic copies”.