Cover Couple

Menz  Max

Couple Cristiano Ronaldo and Irina Shayk grace the September and July/August covers of Men’s Health and Maxim.

Model Irina Shayk and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo both resemble something Photoshop and a 3-D printer would collaborate on in their spare time. You can see each one (tan and topless) for yourself on recent covers of Maxim and Men’s Health. If they’re not your type, then it’s no problem. Neither is single (surprise, surprise). In fact, they’re dating each other.

Shayk and Ronaldo, both a few seasons shy of 30, grew up poor in Russia and Portugal, respectively. They understood at a young age that moxie would get them further than their phenotypes. “Some people say I’m too serious on the pitch, not smiling and so on. It is because I’m focused 100 percent on every game, I always want more and more,” Ronaldo told Hampton Sides in Men’s Health. He scored 51 goals, a league best, this previous season for Spanish team Real Madrid.

Ronaldo is one of the most richly compensated athletes in the world, largely because his brand equity matches his scoring prowess. His combined salary and endorsements for last year made him $73 million, according to the article.

Shayk is just starting to emerge on the global scale. In 2011, she became the first Russian to grace the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover. She put her acting chops to work this summer in Hercules alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Still, amidst all the obvious perks of being a supermodel she remains pragmatic. “What’s the part I enjoy the most? The financial part. The independence,” she told Logan Hill at the Bowery Hotel.

Shayk and Ronaldo also share a family tragedy: the death of a father before his or her 21st birthday. Neither the loss of a parent, nor countless variables stopped them from finding their way. It’s hard to imagine anything shifting their course…except, maybe, each other.

Screen shot 2014-08-13 at 10.18.26 AM

“Strength, Drive, Focus,” by Hampton Sides – Men’s Health, September

Screen shot 2014-08-13 at 10.22.06 AM

“Shayk It Up,” by Logan Hill – Maxim, July/August

Posted by: Adam on August 13, 2014
Comments: Leave a comment Tags: , , , , ,

Vollmann Rising

Screen shot 2014-08-06 at 11.39.06 AM

A spread from the August 4 issue of The New Republic

This July, Viking released Last Stories and Other Stories, the twenty-second book from writer William T. Vollmann. In a review for Esquire, Mark Warren writes, “They are unlike anything I have ever read. They are unlike anything anyone else could write.” That quote is transferrable to almost any one of Vollmann’s twenty-one previous works, which include: Rising Up and Rising Down, a seven-volume, 3,298-page treatise on the ethics of violence; a trio of stories about sex workers, “based on documentary research with prostitutes,” said Vollmann in The New Republic; a personal account from his time embedded with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan; an ongoing fiction/non-fiction saga about the settling of the Americas called Seven Dreams; and Europe Central, a historical novel he won the National Book Award for in 2005.

Vollmann is neither your average writer, nor your average California resident. “Along with the Internet and e-mail, Vollmann also forgoes cell phones, credit-card use, checking accounts, and driving,” writes Tom Bissell in a profile of Vollmann for The New Republic. Bissell’s first encounter with Vollmann was the way most people are first introduced to him: through his writing. Bissell was a young editor when a manuscript of the aforementioned seven-volume treatise landed on his desk. Fast-forward twenty-seven years, and Bissell is in Sacramento interviewing Vollmann about his craft and career. By the end of the article, the two are painting a naked female model in Vollmann’s studio (he’s also a visual artist) with some fine whiskey.

Vollmann’s interests span a breadth of topics but his writing style is specific to a certain kind of reader. “You don’t go to Vollmann for structure or old-fashioned storytelling—you go to Vollmann for the sentences, the mood, the experience,” writes Bissell.

Vollmann is a published essayist, too. This past year, his piece “Life as a Terrorist,” was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in the Essays & Criticism category. Below is an interview Zinio conducted with Vollmann about the piece, along with a primer on the story. Click the links below to read the pieces in Esquire and The New Republic.

Screen shot 2014-08-06 at 11.55.45 AM

William T. Vollmann doesn’t shy away from the squeamish parts of society. He’s worked as a war correspondent in Bosnia and chronicled prostitutes in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. But nothing shook him more than the contents of his own FBI profile. In this candid essay, Vollman recalls his contentious detainments in the U.S. and his time as a Unabomber suspect—the latter a discovery he made from the one-fourth of his FBI profile released through a Freedom of Information Act request. Vollmann uncovers uncomfortable truths, such as the identity of people who tipped him to the cops, and how the bureau linked themes in one of his novels to possible terrorist motives in the real world. Referred throughout the piece as “Unamericans,” Vollmann’s concern with pervasive federal agents goes beyond his own experience. “I have no redress. To be sure, I am not a victim; my worries are not for me, but for the American Way of Life.” This article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

When did you make the decision to open your FBI profile to the public and weave a story around the events?

I was writing about privacy. The contents of my file were a surprise.

Only about one-fourth of your FBI record was released. Your CIA record was denied, and your NSA documents are still pending. Does the Freedom of Information Act, which you used to get your record, serve its purpose if only a fraction of information is released?

Well, without it I never would have known that I was the Unabomber.

John Steinbeck, who was also investigated by the FBI, shared your displeasure with these government attacks on the “American Way of Life.” Do you think the motives for assault on personal freedoms have changed between Steinbeck’s experience and your own experience?

The motives are always the same: a legitimate desire to “be safe,” fear and horror of divergent views, and creeping bureaucratic centralism—all facts of human nature.

You wrote, “Shortly before he (your father) died, in 2009, he told me: ‘I used to be proud to be an American. Now I’m ashamed.’” Do you share his feelings?

My feelings are mixed. But I love my country.

You have been detained in other countries, but you said it didn’t have the same lasting effect, “because in each case I was merely on assignment, doing something I knew to be dangerous and of limited duration, in a place that was not my place.” Did you ever get a sense of how those governments/law enforcers treated their own citizens?

Yes, and from that perspective I feel lucky to be an American.

What was your reaction when the story about Edward Snowden and the NSA scandal broke?

I considered him a hero, and still do.

Do you think spying on citizens and leaders of other countries is justified?

Probably some form of snooping on foreign leaders has always occurred. Is it justified? I don’t know. The fact that espionage is now more intrusive and pervasive than ever before is horrible. If you don’t like it, don’t use the Spiderweb!

Screen shot 2014-08-06 at 11.39.06 AM

“You Are Now Entering the Demented Kingdom of William T. Vollmann,” by Tom Bissell – The New Republic, Aug. 4

Screen shot 2014-08-06 at 11.47.39 AM

“The Ascension of William Vollmann,” by Mark Warren – Esquire, August

Virtually a Reality

Screen shot 2014-07-08 at 10.20.09 AM

Palmer Luckey in the April issue of Details Magazine.

Virtual reality has never been a reality for the average consumer. Since the first Sensorama—a multi-sensory machine that displays stereoscopic 3D images—in the 1950s, the technology has settled in arcades, NASA, medical fields, the military, and even Formula 1. Every commercial attempt at virtual reality, or VR, has failed. In 1995, Nintendo’s Virtual Boy lasted twelve months before the company discontinued it. Atari’s Jaguar VR followed the same trajectory a year later. Jaron Lanier, a godfather of virtual reality, saw his VR company VPL Research go bankrupt in 1990. “Every two or three years there’s another wave of interest in VR. What happens typically is that there is insane speculation that reality will be transcended or something like that,” said Lanier in Popular Mechanics. Enter Palmer Luckey.

As a home-schooled kid growing up in Long Beach, California, Luckey was obsessed with how to get more immersive gameplay in videogames. In his teens, he worked at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies’ Mixed Reality Lab and tested VR reserved for well-endowed institutions. The experience floored him. His fixation overflowed from work to free time and, to his account, he amassed a total of 63 VR headsets. Still, none of them reached his standards. So he tinkered.

Six generations of prototypes later, Luckey finally got something he was satisfied with. He named it the Rift. The news floated around online forums, and John Carmack, a legendary game developer most famous for the Doom series, got word. Luckey sent Carmack a deconstructed version of the headset. Carmack was so impressed that he demoed it at a popular gaming convention called E3. This was the watershed moment for Palmer Luckey’s invention.

The Rift sparked enough interest that Luckey sought out a leadership team and made a company, Oculus VR Inc. Next came a Kickstarter campaign. Luckey set a funding goal of $500,000, then he lowered it to $250,000 out of nerves. The company raised $2.4 million in hours. More people joined the cause, and more press took notice. Oculus added $75 million in Series B funding in December 2013. Then it went mainstream. On March 25, 2014, Facebook announced they acquired Oculus for $2 billion—a reported $400 million in cash and the remainder in stock.

The Facebook purchase irritated a number of original backers and the gaming elite. Oculus VP of Product, Nate Mitchell, asserts that the financial wiggle room is paramount in order to deliver a high-quality, affordable product. “Let’s say we’re trying to pack in everything we can for $300. If the device needs to be profitable, then the company couldn’t spend much more than $100 on hardware itself. But now that it doesn’t need to preserve its profit margin you can take all of that margin money, apply it to components, and still keep the price exactly the same,” he said in Wired UK. Luckey told PC & Tech Authority the goal is to have a consumer product that is roughly $300 by next year.

How did Palmer Luckey succeed when so many others stumbled? A good deal had to do with moxie. Mark Bolas, The Mixed Reality Lab’s director, said Luckey, “had a passion in his eye that is rare to fine,” in Popular Mechanics. The rest of the work relied on cheap and available modules. For early Rift prototypes, Luckey transplanted an iPhone’s screen, accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer—all inexpensive parts due to the ubiquity of smartphones. This process of using existing technology is not new in the gaming world. Gunpei Yokoi, the creator of Nintendo Gameboy, transferred LCD displays and semiconductors from cheap Sharp and Casio calculators to create Nintendo’s Game & Watch series, as explained in PC & Tech Authority. But the tinkering continues.

Oculus spends millions of dollars on milliseconds of improvements because VR is one of the few things that good, or even great, is not good enough. Only perfect will do. Otherwise, it will make you sick. The visuals must be crystal clear and low latency, meaning not smear or fuzz with the turn of a head, as a shaky image will induce nausea. The action must fill a full field of view in order to fully trick a brain that a gamer is present in an artificial world. The Rift uses an external camera to track and predict motion to shave milliseconds of latency, and they upgraded from LCD to AMOLED screens, which change color in less than a millisecond as opposed to 15 milliseconds for LCD.

And still, after all this, there is another variable: the games. No matter how impressive the Oculus Rift’s hardware is, if there are no games worth playing, then the Rift has missed its target audience. For developers, this means keeping in mind a new set of rules. “In many cases presence trumps game design; it’s much more important to have your game deliver a sense of presence than it is to conform to a given genre,” said SCE Research & Development engineer Anton Mikhailov in GamesTM.

In other words, feeling like you’re in a world is more important than your actions in the world. This is why Andy Tudor, creative director at British videogame company Slightly Mad Studios, believes sedentary experiences—roller coasters, driving games—are the most successful. More movement may bring more problems. “Less perfect perhaps is the VR suitability of gaming’s most pervasive and popular genre, the first-person action game, for whether seated or standing, unless invested and harnessed into a VR treadmill, gamers will have to be largely immobile. Meanwhile in the game world, legs and arms might be pumping away at the periphery and the disconnect between what players are seeing and feeling will work to reduce all-important presence,” wrote GamesTM.

The future of virtual reality is bright but unclear. Soon after Oculus landed on the radar Sony announced its Project Morpheus, a similar VR headset for gaming. Mark Zuckerberg has a grander vision for the technology, one of communications and learning platform—taking students inside a museum, or putting executives across the world into one boardroom. Oculus even hired a director of film and television to cater to Hollywood inquiries. If Oculus and Sony can satisfy gamers’ infamous sky-high standards, then maybe VR has a chance at a bigger audience.

Click the links below to read the articles and buy the issues.

Screen shot 2014-07-08 at 10.31.19 AM

“The Inside Story of Oculus Rift and How Virtual Reality Became Reality,” by Peter Rubin – Wired UK, July

Screen shot 2014-07-08 at 10.29.42 AM

“Healing the Rift,” by Dave James – PC Format, May

Screen shot 2014-07-08 at 10.21.32 AM

“Oculus Rift DK2 Revealed,”PC Gamer (US Edition), June

Screen shot 2014-07-08 at 10.25.32 AM

“Ocular Shift,”GamesTM, No. 147

Screen shot 2014-07-08 at 10.24.37 AM

“Reality Check,” by Niall Magennis – PC & Tech Authority, July

PM

“Total Immersion,” by Jerry Beilinson – Popular Mechanics, June

Screen shot 2014-07-09 at 11.36.45 AM

“Through New Eyes,” by Mike Futter – Game Informer, May

Posted by: Adam on July 9, 2014
Comments: Leave a comment Tags: , ,

World Cup Fever

New rep

A spread from the June 9 issue of The New Republic

In 1950, Brazil played Uruguay in the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro. 200,000 people stuffed into the oversized lifesaver that is The Maracanã Stadium—Brazil’s holiest of temples. A game that was supposed to assert Brazil’s dominance turned into a national tragedy. The home side lost, 2-1. After the game, the Brazilians burned their jerseys, and the national team took a two-year hiatus from its adopted pastime.

Since that dance in the inferno, Brazil’s best kinesthetic artists have trademarked a playing style powered by samba and chutzpah to the tune of five World Cup trophies, Pelé, the original Ronaldo, this, this, this, this and countless amounts of these. It’s not until June 12, when the 2014 World Cup kicks off in São Paulo, though, that Brazil can begin to avenge the wretched ghosts of 1950 and make right a 64-year-wrong.

Soccer has not changed that much since Brazil played Uruguay over six decades ago—22 players, one ball, and two goals—although the tournament’s role as a bottled sports event for European and South American fanatics has evolved. In the U.S. alone the sport is the second most popular for the 12- to 24-year-old demographic. The 180,000 tickets bought by U.S. fans for this World Cup are the most of any non-host nation, according to “U.S. Against the World,” in Men’s Journal. A more globalized world and myriad fan base means more opportunities for brands to turn a profit.

One person who is well aware of this is Pelé. The sport’s poster child since his debut at 17, he signed his first endorsement after the 1958 World Cup in Sweden with packaging company Tetra Pak. In the 70s, he was the second most recognizable brand in the world after Coca-Cola, according to a survey. Now, all his deals are worth some $73 million estimated one of Pelé’s business partners.

Pelé’s “money machine,” as S.L. Price coined it in his Sports Illustrated piece, “Everybody Wants a Piece of Pelé,” stops at nothing. Pelé will happily construct a façade of the pure joy he showed as a player for book signings, team endorsements, or the yellow and green of Subway. You can even buy diamonds with carbon from his hair. As S.L. Price writes, “the timeless nowhereness of personal endorsements makes details such as one’s home country secondary. The product is king.”

The campaign to bring the World Cup back to Pelé’s homeland was as much political as it was emotional. The World Cup, along with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, was meant for Brazil to shake off the buzzed aura of a perennial bridesmaid and prove it was a focused country ready to compete with the economic muscle of the U.S., Europe, and China. Things didn’t go to plan.

To spread the wealth to more areas, organizers expanded the event from the mandated eight sites to 12 sites. Their ambition backfired, and half-finished airports and media centers are to show for it, as detailed in “Pitch Imperfect” from the May 17 issue of The Economist. In the end, they proved Esquire UK’s Andrew Downie correct. “Brazilians are world leaders in cobbling things together at the last minute, but they can’t for the life of them plan ahead,” he said in an article detailing the ramshackle world of domestic soccer leagues in Brazil.

Since Brazil won the rights to host the tournament in 2008, public approval has dropped from 79% to 48%. Protestors took to the streets during the 2013 Confederations Cup, a warm-up tournament, angry over high transit prices and poor education as the government flipped the bill for the 30-day-sporting event. For “Trouble Funk” in Esquire UK, Bruce Douglas traveled to Rio’s poorer neighborhoods in the wake of rolezinhos—a form of youth protest where rowdy crowds blast music and throw parties in public places to show their displeasure with bureaucracy. A phenomenon, “manifest by the sheer waste and incompetence released by its (the government’s) dysfunctional attempts to deliver 12 new stadiums for the 2014 World Cup,” concluded Douglas. The opposition’s argument, basically, is that FIFA is more important to the political elite than the needs of the citizens.

Regardless of government ineptitude and citizen unrest, the show must go on. 732 players from 32 nations have endured years of qualifying matches for a chance to turn childhood dreams into a dizzying reality. The New Republic understood the narrative potential and compiled “The Literary Eleven ” for the highbrow fan to ponder. Distinguished writers flaunted worthy players with a slew of adjectives and verbs to grasp the athletes’ presence on the field. An Argentine winger doubles as Kafka; a Spanish midfielder moves in musical cadences; a shifty Dutch forward channels his inner Sir Patrick Stewart; and a Portuguese defender embodies Kurt Vonnegut’s idea of a villain.

For the less bookish, more tactically minded fans, Men’s Fitness contributor Noah Davis delved into coach Jürgen Klinsmann’s updated approach to Team USA’s fitness for “American Hustle.” The Americans have no problem with running. In the 2010 World Cup the team averaged a tournament high 73.6 miles per game. Klinsmann’s goal is to make sure they are economical athletes, not just endurance bots, that focus on ball movement as much as cardio.

Then there are the few transcendent players who warrant a full profile. At only 26, Lionel Messi has the odd distinction of laying a decent claim to being the best player ever, but still being the second best player in his native Argentina. Thanks to Diego Maradona, the stocky playmaker who is lionized in his country for delivering a World Cup trophy in 1986, Messi doesn’t get the same love on home soil as he does from club FC Barcelona in Spain. But public taste has begun to shift.

ESPN The Magazine’s Wright Thompson traveled to Buenos Aires and found a new generation of Argentines that equate more with Messi’s composed dominance than his predecessor’s cavalier showmanship in “Shadowed by the Hand of God.” Maradona’s magic on the field during oppressive regimes “purged the shame of the country,” wrote Thompson, but he’s used his post-playing days as a field test for his invincibility: drugs, prostitutes, rehab, and stuff like this. No matter how much cocaine he does, Maradona can never snort his way out of Argentine folklore. Messi must seize his chance to win a World Cup and reach mythical status. At 26 and in his prime, now is his best chance.

For players like Messi, every World Cup means new gear—from Puma’s micro-massaging Italian jersey to Adidas’s official Brazuca ball, which has thermal bonded panels and divots like a golf ball for a less disruptive, more controllable flight, as explained in Science Uncovered’s “The Science of the World Cup.” Yet, the biggest advancement at this World Cup has nothing to do with what the athletes are wearing or kicking.

While players’ apparel continues to push science to its fiction point, officiating technology is stuck in prehistoric times. The set up of one main referee and two linesmen has not changed since 1891. As a result, goals were scored that didn’t count, shots that didn’t cross the line were awarded, and one player scored with his hand. All blatantly obvious to the millions watching but missed by the three people deciding the call.

After pressure on FIFA, soccer’s governing body will debut goal-line technology to aide officials. The system, operated by a German company called GoalControl, uses seven cameras on each goal to capture 500 images per second and track the ball within five millimeters. In case the official chooses to ignore the information a 3D image of the ball’s flight is beamed to screens in the stadium. Referees should remember to double-check all calls when Brazil is playing. If they make a wrong decision against the home side, then it may reignite the throes of 1950.

There you have it. A primer on the 5,760 minutes of the 64 games over 30 days. For free articles covering the World Cup, check out Zinio’s website and mobile apps. For full World Cup preview issues click these links to ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Esquire UK, FourFourTwo UKWorld Soccer and ESPNFC. Full-blooded soccer fans should download a copy of the summer issue of Howler Magazine. To get you started, below are four in-depth articles that cover different patches of the beautiful game. The tournament begins on Thursday when hosts Brazil play Croatia.

Portrait of

“Portrait of a Serial Winner,” ESPN The Magazine, June 9

No matter how many goals Luis Suarez scores, he can’t shake his bad-boy image. The Uruguayan striker has bitten opponents on two occasions, been labeled a racist for a slur murmured at a defender, and simulated fouls throughout his career. Wright Thompson headed to Uruguay to pinpoint the headbutt that started it all. He unearthed a wild story, full of a botched hit-and-run and corrupt league officials, but he never found the referee Suarez allegedly assaulted as a 15-year-old boy. Instead, he begins to understand why Suarez—a poor kid from a broken family—looses his cool when the stakes get raised. “Basically, the theory goes, anything that threatens his ability to score, and win, isn’t processed in his subconscious as the act of a sportsmen but, rather, as an act of aggression against his wife and children.”

5.7.82

“5.7.82,” Esquire UK, June

In 1982, Brazil broke the shackles off the ugly style of play that plagued them under years of military dictatorship to reveal one of the most freewheeling teams of all time. A seven-year-old Tim Lewis was so mesmerized by the team on TV that his parents’ divorce hardly registered on his conscience. Brazil danced through their opening games until they met their kryptonite: an obtrusive Italian team that deployed the antithesis of Brazil’s exuberant play. Brazil lost, and the team’s most prominent players, Zico and Sócrates, described it as, “the day football died.” In this memoir, Lewis recalled the emptiness when Brazil exited the tournament but years later he arrived at a different conclusion than the star players. “That afternoon in Barcelona was not a simple question of athleticism trumping creativity, but the realisation that now the best teams would combine both.”

Brazil Devil

“Brazil’s Dance With the Devil,” The Nation, June 9

The public protests in Brazil against the World Cup have been well documented in the news. Dave Zirin, The Nation’s sports editor, expanded his reporting into a book of the same name to shed a brighter light on the forces at work. One thing is for sure. Support for the cause is dwindling. “The word ‘FIFA’ is about as popular here as ‘FEMA’ in New Orleans after Katrina,” another journalist told Zirin. Most coverage has been reactionary, but Zirin’s words take a cautionary approach. “If we get swept up in the World Cup but forget the nobodies who are swept away, then we should not be surprised when FIFA or the IOC comes calling in our towns, and we find ourselves branded nobodies.”

Shootout

“Shootout,” Bloomberg Businessweek, May 19 – 25

“Nike wants soccer, Adidas needs it,” wrote Brendan Greeley in Bloomberg Businessweek. The two apparel companies spend millions to court players, carve out markets, and turn Facebook “Likes” into dollars. To get a taste of the head-to-head battle, he went from discussions with cleat designers at Adidas’s headquarters in Germany to the unveiling of Nike’s World Cup line at a castle in Spain. Adidas still trumps Nike by about half a billion dollars in soccer revenue and owns lucrative sponsorship deals with FIFA and UEFA, but Nike has ample skin in the game. “Nike’s new ad also shows what the company has always done best. It hints at an event, owning it without ever having to pay for it.”

Posted by: Adam on June 11, 2014
Comments: Leave a comment Tags:

Time for More

Time Spread

A spread from Time’s recent “100 Most Influential People” issue, May 5.

Zinio is excited to announce the expansion of Time Inc., the largest magazine media company in the world, on our award winning web and mobile platforms. In addition to standout titles already offered, such as Wallpaper, Sunset, and NME, Zinio has added the eponymous publication, Time, and blue-chip brands People, Sports Illustrated, Essence, Golf Magazine, InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, and Money.

Time began in 1922 when Henry Luce and Briton Hadden left The Baltimore News and raised $85,675 to start their own news venture. Since then, Time’s reliable brand of journalism has documented and shaped landmark events over the past 92 years. In June 1969, Life Magazine brought the visceral emotion of war to people’s doorsteps. The audacious issue entitled “The Faces of The American Dead in Vietnam” showed portraits of the 242 young men killed over one week in the Southeast Asian country. The injustices in the American South during The Civil Rights Movement led to more bold reporting decisions to sway public opinion. Longtime editor Dick Stolley concluded, “In The Civil Rights struggle our objectivity slipped. Thank God. You couldn’t be neutral on this.” Aside from exhaustive coverage of lengthy events, Time was there when the news broke. It was the first news organization to obtain the rights to perhaps the most incendiary images of the 20th century: the Zapruder film, which captured Kennedy’s assassination. Decades of news and stories contributed not only to an encyclopedia worth of text, but new vocabulary in the English dictionary. Over the years, Time reporters coined such terms as racketeer, socialite, televangelist, and World War II.

Since the roaring 20s, Time Inc. has grown to include 95 publications worldwide and a number of prestigious events, such as the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Specialty issues, like “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition,” “Fortune 500,” and “Time’s Person of the Year,” remain some of the most coveted lists and covers in the industry. Amid the company’s growth across different channels, each publication remains dedicated to tried and true journalism.

The best example of this staying power is “Assignment Detroit.” In the summer of 2009, Time Inc. bought (yes, purchased) a house in Detroit to cover the economic and social condition of the city over the course of a year. Writers and editors from a number of the company’s publications passed through, overlapped, and exchanged ideas as they published stories for their respective titles. Few magazines devote those resources, let alone an entire company. After 92 years, Time Inc. shows no signs of slowing down.

Stay tuned to Zinio and Ziniophile for more from Time Inc. Click the covers below to subscribe to the publications.

Screen shot 2014-05-16 at 11.16.31 AM Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 9.45.17 AM Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 9.34.47 AM Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 9.46.26 AM

Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 9.44.02 AM Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 9.48.48 AM Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 9.48.04 AM Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 9.53.52 AM

Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 9.37.29 AM Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 9.38.34 AM Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 9.33.34 AM

Posted by: Adam on May 16, 2014
Comments: Leave a comment Tags:

Bear Necessities

Ted Alvarez breaks down his 2014 ASME nominated report, “The Truth About Bears,” from Backpacker Magazine

Bears

“The Truth About Bears,” a 22-page dossier on the state of bruins in the U.S., is Ted Alvarez’s way to prepare and equip readers for that elusive wilderness treat: a bear sighting. Complete with comprehensive density maps and cutting-edge information on deterrents (hint: bring bear spray, and use it), the Backpacker Magazine feature goes well beyond statistics. Alvarez headed into the wild himself and accompanied a group of scientists at the end of a three-year quest to locate grizzlies in North Cascades National Park in Washington. No blond beasts were sighted, but mankind’s primal desire to encounter bears will continue to drive humans to the backcountry. “Bears breed fear, and fear breeds humility—a humility that makes our wilderness memories burn brighter,” wrote Alvarez. The story ran in the March 2013 issue of Backpacker. Zinio talked with Alvarez over the phone. This interview has been condensed and edited.

How did a package focused on bears get started?
It started out just as a narrative hook around the grizzlies of the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington. Many people thought these animals were pummeled into extinction, but in 2010—a month after I moved to Seattle—a hiker spotted one in a fairly well trafficked area. It renewed hope that the grizzlies were out there in the wilderness. As I researched more, I expanded it to cover this push by scientists to locate grizzlies, new forms of bear deterrents, and updated maps of bear data.

Bears are a hot button issue at Backpacker. For our readers, seeing a big, scary bear in the wild is something to check off their bucket list. At the same time, we are careful not to over do it and force people to ask, “Why are we talking about this again?” The last bear-centric piece we did for the magazine was a couple of years ago, so the time was right to revisit it.

What is the intangible quality of a grizzly?
Grizzlies capture the entire imagination. We wouldn’t be able to pull off a wolf or cougar package in the same way. The grizzly is simply the biggest, baddest thing out there, and they’re eerily like us. The Cascade grizzly, especially, has this boogeyman aura; it disappears for decades just to get cited again. And the ironic thing is that the Cascades are an ideal habitat for grizzlies—better than either Yellowstone or Glacier National Parks. Grizzlies have rebounded big everywhere else. The Cascades are an under-trafficked, underused ecosystem.

In what ways are they eerily like us?
For one, our ancestors competed for cave space with them. But there are also morphological links. Bears, unlike most animals, stand flat-footed like humans. Bill Gaines, the lead scientist of the group I trekked with, explained how dental maps of humans and bears are almost identical. They both have different types of molars and teeth but they contain the same quantity.

Was it hard to embed with the Cascades Carnivore Connectivity Project?
I wasn’t the first one on the block to address this issue. Both The New York Times and High Country News wrote stories but they have different readerships. The Times is focused on a broad, general subscriber base, and High Country News is geared toward conservationists. I wanted to build on those by embedding with Bill Gaines and his group.

Scientists doing research like this have a dream job in backpackers’ eyes. Along with the nitty gritty science there is the glamour of the landscape to enjoy. Nonetheless, it was an intense experience with a high crucible. They weren’t going to alter anything for my sake, so I had to take the drudgery along with everything else. All in all, they were open to letting me in.

Did they put you to work?
I was part of the team, not part of the science. This was federally funded research. It’s a meticulous job to collect fur samples and not contaminate the DNA. I wasn’t going to screw with that.

Did you feel obligated to keep the places you hiked a secret? You had a unique opportunity to go off marked trails in dense wilderness.
Backpacker trudges line between sharing places and not blowing secrets. Honestly, though, with the Internet there is not much left to reveal. The selfish part of me wanted to keep it a secret, but there are two reasons why it’s good to share them. One, if there is no love, there is no advocacy. The scientists I joined echoed the sentiment that it is best to advertise if you want to take care of the land. Exposure keeps it safe. Two, the barrier to entry is high. We did a lot of climbing and burly work. Even if you knew the route, it’s not easy.

You explained how grizzly populations help the entire ecosystem. What exactly do they do to positively impact it?
Grizzlies are a keystone species that affect everything. They dig up meadows more than black bears, which adds oxygen to the soil and tills it. Grizzlies also eat more salmon. The fish carcasses they pull inland add to the vitality of the terrain. In short, more grizzlies mean more flowers and biodiversity. They are a key species in the trophic cascade.

Since the story went to press, has the group’s data produced any evidence of grizzlies in the Cascade region?
The chances were small to begin with. It’s a wilderness area the size of Maryland that ambitious people say has 20 grizzlies, but a conservative estimate puts the total around five. This is the last year of funding for the project’s three-summer survey. So far, there has been no grizzly hair found in the samples. But since a month or two ago there were still some samples to go.

There is still plenty of bureaucratic stuff Bill Gaines and his colleagues must go through, like showing what reintroduction of bears will look like for the community. The 2010 photo was a silver bullet for the Cascade grizzly cause. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Screen shot 2014-04-30 at 3.53.56 PM Click here to get the March 2013 issue of Backpacker on Zinio

Posted by: Adam on April 30, 2014
Comments: Leave a comment Tags: ,

Down to the Bone

Ted Conover responds to his 2014 ASME nominated report, “The Way of All Flesh,” from Harper’s Magazine.
Harp
To research how cattle get from farms to plates, Ted Conover spent two months as an undercover USDA meat inspector at a slaughterhouse in Schuyler, Nebraska. Day in and day out, Conover sliced through carcasses to assess the meat’s quality for human consumption. He found a near watertight assembly line, reinforced to catch problems at multiple checkpoints. He was shocked, on the other hand, by what he discovered about antibiotics given to livestock. After a chat with a representative from Eli Lilly, Conover realized that antibiotics the pharmaceutical giant administers to livestock are intended to make animals sick, and may taint the food we eat. “Somehow this was worse than seeing shit on the meat or ingesta leaking out of a ruptured stomach. It wasn’t contamination from an isolated mishap: it was deliberate, systematic contamination of the food chain,” he wrote. His reporting continued outside the Cargill meat plant. Conover, who rented an apartment in Schuyler for the length of his stay, joined colleagues for beers and pool after work to fully understand who and what goes into red-meat production. “The Way of All Flesh,” is nominated in the reporting category. The story ran in the May 2013 issue of Harper’s Magazine. Zinio connected with Conover over e-mail.

Did you have any prior experience with the meat industry or slaughter plants before embarking on the story?
One summer in college I worked a line job for Embutidos Pamplonica, S.A., a sausage maker in northern Spain. Animals weren’t slaughtered at that factory, though.

What was the process like to become a USDA inspector?
You can qualify with experience in the meat industry, or with a four-year college degree. I had the latter, but several months after I applied they informed me I lacked sufficient math and science credits (apparently I miscounted!). So I took a distance learning math course at the University of Illinois. A few months after that, I was offered a post inside the Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Schuyler, Nebraska.

You did not tell your coworkers or supervisors that your motive was to write a story. Did you have any ethical qualms about that?
I think there are two important tests for this kind of research. First, is the subject of urgent public interest? And second, is there another way to get the story?

Meat production pretty clearly meets the first test. Citizens have a huge interest in knowing how our food is made. There are important questions around both humane slaughter and the wholesomeness of meat, two of the reasons that no American meat processor can operate without federal inspectors present.

Cargill and other meatpackers occasionally provide a journalist with a guided tour of a plant. But that’s like having an announced inspection–by a person who doesn’t even know what he’s looking at. I wanted to understand normal, everyday operation. I also wanted to document what it feels like to work at a place like that. I did tell my coworkers that I had written articles and been a teacher. When I left I told some of them about my plan to write about the experience I’d just had. Some later helped with the factchecking.

Was it a challenge to document everything? I don’t imagine you walked around with a pad and pen taking notes.
No, especially not with latex gloves on! But we had three good breaks during every shift, during which I could take notes. And when I returned to my apartment in town every afternoon, I would fill in all the gaps in those notes.

The scenes of you working on the line and inspecting the meat are detailed, step-by-step descriptions. Can you describe your tone and style goals with the prose?
I wanted the reader to know what it felt like, all the sights and smells. I wanted them to hear the jokes inspectors told and understand some of the pain that comes from using a meat hook and knife all day long.

You wrote, “I wanted to learn not only how meat is inspected, but how slaughter works. The demographic side of things also intrigued me.” Do you think you got the full range of the operation after two months of work?
I’m sure not. I couldn’t access the view from the executive suite, nor the lives of regular workers, mainly Latino, who perform the vast majority of repetitive line jobs. But as an inspector I was able to walk around pretty much the whole plant. I spoke with lots and lots of people, often in Spanish. And outside of work, I would talk to them in town, buying groceries or playing pool. It added up to a lot of great material.

One motif you noticed among locals was displeasure with city policy affecting country life. You summed up a coworker’s argument as; “urban consumers with little knowledge of animal husbandry or the food industry could influence the whole rural economy simply by hopping on some politically correct bandwagon.” Do you think these were justified complaints?
Sometimes. I remember vividly a fellow inspector’s rant about the kind of labels that seem to impress urban consumers. She asked, “What does humanely treated even mean? Do you take them into a barn every night? Do you brush them and sing ‘em a song? No cattle are raised that way! It’s some city person’s fantasy!”

On the other hand, my supervisor, a veterinarian, offered a robust defense of the safety of so-called “pink slime,” the controversial filler that is one of the things made at the plant. He knew people who had lost their jobs due to bad publicity. But there is science behind some of that publicity—not all of it is political correctness.

The most disturbing part of the story—aside from some visuals on the kill floor—was your epiphany about antibiotics used in livestock. Did you reach out to Eli Lilly or any other pharmaceutical company for a comment?
I did. They did not respond.

Screen shot 2014-04-29 at 11.16.19 AM Click here to get the May 2013 issue of Harper’s Magazine on Zinio.

Posted by: Adam on April 29, 2014
Comments: Leave a comment Tags: ,

Zinio Acquires Audience Media

blog post AM smjpeg

We’re excited to announce that Zinio has acquired Audience Media, the leading developer of mobile app solutions. The acquisition will help Zinio continue to improve our top rated apps and expand our footprint in digital publishing services by offering branded apps to publishers.

By helping publishers make the seamless transition from print to digital with the best tools in the industry, we hope to give millions of consumers access to high quality content. Publishers who have struggled to address the software challenges and cost implications of the move from print to digital, will now have a seamless way to manage their content with Audience Media’s cross-platform editorial content management system (CMS) capabilities. This creates an opportunity for publishers who otherwise found the cost of producing mobile apps too prohibitive.

Digital magazines now represent a $11 billion dollar industry* and the digital magazine is anticipated to represent 25% of total circulation by 2016. Whether consumers choose to access over 5,000 magazines on the Zinio app or use individual branded newsstand apps from their favorite magazines, Zinio will now be part of the experience for both.

We’re eager to deliver the best mobile experiences for consumers and look forward to what the future brings.

Happy Reading,
Beth Murphy

EVP Product & Chief Marketing Officer

*Source: Alliance for Audited Media

Posted by: Beth on
Comments: Leave a comment

South Side Story

Daniel Shea examines his 2014 ASME nominated photo story, “Chicago Fire,” from The FADER.

FDR 1

To shoot his nominated piece for feature photography, “Chicago Fire,” photographer Daniel Shea spent five weeks in notoriously violent neighborhoods of Chicago. A former inner-city teacher, Shea focused his lens on a wide array of subjects—a 19-year-old amputee in Englewood; a clique in New Block City; anti-violence workers; and a peace march for a slain six-month-old. Shea documented Chicago rapper Chief Keef and the drill music scene for a prior issue of The FADER. Zinio chatted with Shea over the phone. This interview has been edited and condensed.

For Issue #81 of The FADER you shot Chicago rapper Chief Keef. This collection juxtaposes his lyrics and persona with a place like the one he grew up in. Is that a fair assessment?
Yes, the idea stemmed from us wanting to pull back the curtains on the hyperbolic language of hip-hop. A characteristic of the drill scene and Chief Keef is lyrical content that focuses on growing up in violent areas of Chicago. For this follow-up project, we wanted to find specific narratives to help carry a story through these places. It was meant as an “on the ground” approach instead of an analytical treatise. The first big hurdle was choosing a place and a topic. Of course there is the music route, but we didn’t want to limit the scope and leave out people in the neighborhood unconnected to the art form, or organizations like CeaseFire.

How did you start contacting people to begin?
I honestly didn’t know where to start. On the Chief Keef shoot I met a guy who produces a lot of the drill scene’s hip-hop artists. He introduced me to a clique, which is a group of people from the same block that are smaller than a proper gang, called the Blockheadz in New Block City—one of the oldest housing developments in Chicago. CeaseFire is a well-known anti-violence organization in the area that got me access to difficult places. Eventually I formed a loose network of people. I had five weeks to shoot the story, which is a gracious timetable as far as magazine commissions go.

Were you linked to these communities in anyway before the project?
Not directly, but I developed a perspective over time through public education. I’ve done arts curriculum for the city of Chicago, and I worked as a teacher in inner-city schools. There was somewhat of an emotional connection for me since my former students were involved in a lot the things happening in these areas.

Were people opened to you documenting their lives?
At most, there was a healthy amount of skepticism. I went around with copies of the Chief Keef story to show people where I was coming from. If people were hesitant, it was because past interviewers turned their words into vapid crap for quick, digestible stories. Overall, the subjects I found were receptive and generous with their time.

What did The FADER offer over other publications?
The FADER is known to have a pulse on the urban music beat. I’m not sure too many of the people I talked to saw the Chief Keef story The FADER ran, but Chief Keef is more than a celebrity in these parts of Chicago. Coming from that angle framed the story as unique against more mainstream pieces on violence and crime.

What stylistic choices did you make for the shoot?
With a big photo story like this you need to commit to a consistent aesthetic. I wanted to shoot it similar to the drill scene report in order to thread a connection between the two. I tried hard not to make it feel ostentatious, so I stuck to natural light and used no flash. I did it in the vein of a photojournalist—more descriptive shots than formal portraits—as opposed to a more artistic presentation.

What surprised you most about the shoot?
The media tends to either glorify or villainize rappers and hip-hop. After spending five weeks on the south side of Chicago, I became more sympathetic to their situation. For some of these kids, music is an avenue out. Hip-hop is the universe of hyperbole; the stuff that Chief Keef and others rap about are things they actually lived. Intuitively, you blame problems in these areas on social and economic problems, but it is impossible to boil it down to one issue—poverty, lack or resources, access to education, etc. We didn’t want to add to the noise, so to speak, so we focused on a narrative arc instead of just statistics.

Did any criticism shock you?
No, I agreed with almost all of it. What it means for a music magazine to hire a privileged white kid to shoot a story like this; it’s worth talking about that fact. I asked myself if I was the correct person. After the story ran, I hand delivered the magazine to everyone I interviewed. They all felt it was a fair portrayal.

Screen shot 2014-04-25 at 2.49.19 PM Click here to get Issue #18 of The FADER on Zinio.

Posted by: Adam on April 25, 2014
Comments: Leave a comment Tags: ,

Baby Panic Averted

Dr. Jean M. Twenge discusses her 2014 ASME nominated article, “How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby,” from The Atlantic.

Screen shot 2014-04-24 at 12.18.10 PM

For her first article in a national publication, Dr. Jean M. Twenge is off to a good start. “How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby,” which ran in the July/August issue of The Atlantic, is nominated in the public interest category, which, “honors magazine journalism that illuminates issues of national importance.” Dr. Twenge is a psychology professor at San Diego State University, but she is no stranger to more mainstream audiences. She’s penned three books, including The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant. For her nominated piece on female age and natural fertility, Twenge was driven by the media’s recklessness when reporting scientific data. The popular narrative, according to Twenge, drew on antiquated statistics and in vitro fertilizations that gave mothers-to-be an unrealistically negative view of pregnancy past age 30. Dr. Twenge concluded that fertility does decline with age, but not as steeply as once thought, and “a vast majority of women in their late 30s will be able to get pregnant on their own.” Zinio chatted with Twenge over the phone. This interview has been condensed and edited.

How did the article get published in The Atlantic?
My relationship with The Atlantic began around 2010, when deputy editor Don Peck interviewed me. Since then I wrote a piece for their website about my own research and my book The Impatient Woman’s Guide. The Atlantic has a strong tradition of writing about research and women’s issues, so I pitched Don the idea for the article. It took a while to get into print, I think the first draft was written in June 2012, but in that time more data on natural fertility became available, which really added to the article.

In the article you wrote that fertility data is, “one of the more spectacular examples of mainstream media’s failure to correctly report on and interpret scientific research.” Was this just benign neglect on the media’s part, or was there a different motive?
I don’t think we can know for sure. The majority of it is probably benign neglect, as you say. There are common statistics that get covered over and over, such as a third of women ages 35 to 39 won’t get pregnant after a year of trying, that people assume come from a study of modern women. It doesn’t. The data is based on birth records from 16th century France. It’s a glaring example of how original sources simply do not get identified.

The media goes both ways with statistics, often highlighting the extreme cases. There’s the constant drumbeat of how women in their late 30s will have trouble getting pregnant, and then on the other hand, a story will run about a 48-year-old celebrity having a baby, yet they’ll fail to mention she used donor eggs. The truth is never on the extremes. It falls somewhere in the middle.

Are there other fields that face a similar problem with the media’s coverage of scientific data?
Yes, it is not exclusive to fertility data. And it’s not just journalists; academics make these mistakes, too. My experience with my own research being covered in the media has mostly been positive, but I know a number of academics that forgo interviews because they fear they will be misrepresented.

Research and data get simplified and lost for two main reasons. One, the people covering it do not have training in statistics and, two, they lack training in the scientific method. There’s a tendency to present science as politics, where there are two opposite but equal viewpoints. This is hardly ever the case. The two most glaring examples of this are the climate change and evolution “debates” – which aren’t debates. There’s an enormous amount of scientific evidence for both, yet articles still quote the “other side” as if it had equal merit.

Was there any negative feedback from the article?
Almost everything was positive. Some comments about my own experience such as, “she got lucky, now she thinks everyone can do it” did annoy me. That was not the point of the article, and they clearly did not read it thoroughly. The point was that my experience is supported by the data, and is not an exception to it.

You mentioned that friends and associates were astounded when you mentioned one particular statistic drew data from birth records from 1670 to 1830. When you talked to doctors in the field, were they equally surprised of these findings?
I didn’t interview fertility doctors, per se. My main sources did research on fertility and had expertise in natural fertility. They had conducted the research I thought was better – that on modern populations of women who were trying to get pregnant. In some cases it was hard to get people on record (going back to the reasons academics don’t interview for media). They’re busy people. One source was very open, and another took a couple of e-mails to draw answers.

Your personal journey to motherhood is at the forefront of the article. Was that an important element to connect with readers on an emotional level?
My training as an academic says you take yourself out of the equation and start with the data. For a magazine piece, though, it’s better to start with a narrative that illustrates the principles. My story represents the journey of many women and couples. Deciding when to have children is an emotional and personal thing. Bringing emotion into the story helps convey the data in a way that numbers can’t.

Atlantic July:August Click here to get the July/August 2013 issue of The Atlantic on Zinio

Posted by: Adam on April 24, 2014
Comments: Leave a comment Tags: ,
Older Posts »