The American Magazine Conference has signed up a last-minute, Maga-Brand-new speaker: Supermodel Petra Nemcova, who will be presenting the ASME magazine covers of the year and ensuring that attendees feel too fat to actually eat any of Waverly Inn chef John DeLucie's signature truffle fries.
That's next Tuesday morning, the last day of the three-day AMC — so who knows how far-fetched the above-headlined scenario is (given that Petra has been known to party with the wonkerati in the past!). The lineup for this year's AMC is impressive and, more than that, looks like it could get interesting: Dan Rather handicapping the election with Mark Halperin? Who knows where the discussion might go if someone brings up Karl Rove? Given the branding theme of the event (The MagaBrand! It's a Mag! It's a Brand!), it might be interesting to hear Tony Snow's thoughts — real thoughts, as both a journo and a mouthpiece — on "Brand Bush," present as he was for the meltdown of same (what role does transparency have in building a brand? It's a good and fair question to ask a person whose job was so dedicated to the fine art of obfuscation. Too bad they didn't tap David Gregory as moderator).
The 500 or so attendees will mingling with 80+ more speakers including but not limited to the following: EIC-types like AdAge's Jonah Bloom, Business Week's Stephen Adler, Cookie's Pilar Guzman, More's Peggy Northrup, TONY's Brian Farnham, Glamour's Cindi Leive, and Field & Stream-cum-Gun & Garden's Sid Evans (plus event chairman David Zinczenko of Men's Health, who I can guess confidently is the first AMC honcho to appear dead last in the speaker list); biz types like Playboy's Christine Hefner, Dwell prez/publisher Michaela O'Connor Abrams, and Google sales head Eileen Naughton; alterna-platform speaker Beth Comstock of NBC Digital; various editors who are being likened to cephalods (oh, come on, that editor-cephalod meme is so tired!); and various CEOs like Robert Nardelli from Chrysler — interviewed by Forbes-cum-CNBCer Dennis Kneale, and apparently to be broadcast live from the AMC floor in the first-ever live broadcast and webcast. Woo hoo! Welcome to the digital age! Chairman Zinczenko says the lineup is "the strongest it's been in years," which he says reflects the fact that "magazines have more growth opportunities than ever before."
Yeah, about those growth opportunities: With such an impressive lineup of speakers ready to shepherd the MagaBrand into a new era of streaming, downloading, multi-platform digital wonder, I couldn't help but notice that the lineup is a little...old. Not only old media — and that it is — but there is a marked absence of young turks who came of age in the biz exclusively in new media. There are plenty of people on the list who have displayed forward-looking savvy in investing in their online platform — the digital-Ellie-winning, online staff-stocking Adam Moss comes to mind — but scarcely any who can talk about the day-to-day generation of raw content and how to make aggregation interesting and what are the hallmarks of a perfect post and what differentiates corporate bloggers from the obsessives who post from their LES studios and how they decide what to post on the fly and what's different about driving a website forward than, say, putting out a magazine once a month. (Though it is at this point that it bears mention that my boss and company namesake, Arianna Huffington, is a keynote speaker. And she knows blog!). But aside from Arianna and, say, Josh Quittner (blogging for bucks!) and Richard Glosser of CondeNet, the lineup is a little thin on the hands-on ground-up in-the-trenches perspectives that could cut through the Gordian knot of "getting it" that is still an obstacle for an industry still moving to new platforms).
Last month I wrote about the new-media migration to magazine online divisions, and how that demonstrated that a new group of blog-schooled new media mavens with a new type of skill set was being recognized. As magazines enter — and attempt to master — this brave new world of producing way more than one book per month on way more than glossy paper, it might have been illuminating to offer the viewpoints of those who had learned that side of the business while it was still being invented — and then graduated to reinventing it further. (Full disclosure - I know a panel like this was contemplated because my possible participation was discussed, but it didn't come to fruition. So, blog-curious, come find me! I'll be by wherever the snack station is. I am guessing that won't be where they're doing morning yoga).
But — I am reflecting my bias here, and obviously this conference is poised to offer a great deal to the industry about (a) mags and (b) branding, and how they might be blissfully fused into one endlessly-fun new word (that would be MAGABRAND!). Between the wandering EICs, columnists, biz dev types, CEOs and supermodels, there should be plenty to glean from all perspectives. Check this space for dispatches from the conference, including impromptu video snips from whomever we can corral (Robert Nardelli, we are SO seeing you at the bar) (Just kidding, we can't even drive! But we liked the Celine ads). Upshot: Expect some lively tidbits and interesting observations from panelists and conference-goers alike — but don't be surprised when we show up with some drunken video, because apparently we're meeting Petra Nemcova, Dan Rather and Tony Snow at the bar.
Alex Balk To Radar and the New Media Shuffle [ETP]