NEW IN THE PARENTHOOD

By: Lisa Granatstein

Dow Jones, Hearst Give Birth To New Mag



(Mediaweek) At a time when parents are faced with a dizzying array of
lifestyle choices and financial pressures – when forking over $14,000
per year for private school is not unheard of, and siblings fight over
the PC instead of the TV – the team behind SmartMoney is banking on
Offspring to help set moms and dads straight. The spinoff from Hearst
Magazines and Dow Jones & Co. will launch this week with a 200,000-

circulation rate base and a bimonthly frequency.



‘There are some very good magazines focusing on the basics of
parenting, and others like Family Fun about playing with your young
kids and Family Life about playing with your older kids,’ says Steven
Swartz, president/editor in chief of SmartMoney and Offspring. ‘What we
[have] is a smart service magazine using all the journalistic tools
available to us – profiles, narratives, aggressive service stories – to
truly make a different type of parenting magazine.’



Offspring was inspired in part by a 1997 SmartMoney single-topic issue
devoted to financial planning for parents. Hearst/Dow Jones expect the
magazine’s readers to skew 70% female and have a median age of 34 and
annual household income of $75,000.



Rather than tackling the developmental issues of a child’s first few
years – the purview of traditional parenting books such as Gruner+Jahr
USA Publishing’s Parents and Time Inc.’s Parenting – Offspring will
take on a broad spectrum of topics concerning children of all ages. And
unlike SmartMoney, Swartz stresses that Offspring is not all about
investing. ‘There are financial aspects that are dealt with,’ he says.
‘But the first words that come out of my mouth [in describing the
magazine] are education, development, and technology … and the social
and economic issues that surround being a parent.’



In the premiere, several features explore the emotional aspects of
parenting, such as ‘When Good Friends Make Lousy Parents’ and ‘The
Accidental Activist,’ a profile of antigun activist Suzann Wilson, who
lost her daughter in a school shooting.



The cover story, ‘The Wired Childhood,’ offers a guide to the best
computers, software, and Web sites for children 6 months to 16, along
with a look at how PCs are revolutionizing the way kids learn. There is
also the requisite feature on saving for college, with tips on long-
and short-term investment strategies. Departments cover subjects
including health, personal finance and education.



The back of the book has a ‘Time Out’ section offering suggestions on
family travel destinations and a ‘Joint Project’ (how to keep a
goldfish alive for more than a day). The closing page features
playwright Wendy Wasserstein ruminating about her relationship with her
mother.



Offspring will try to catch on in a segment that includes Disney’s
Family Fun, a 1.3 million-circulation book published 10 times yearly;
Time Inc.’s 550,000-circ Family Life, published 10 times per year; and
Meredith Publishing Group’s Family Money, a 500,000-circ bimonthly. But
some media buyers see the Internet as the most formidable competitor
for Offspring.



‘I’m skeptical of the whole parenting category right now,’ says Carol
McDonald, DDB/Needham vp and print media manager, who has bought ads
for client Lands’ End in upcoming issues of Offspring. ‘Magazines that
are information-driven, as opposed to aspirational, are going to have a
run for their money from the Internet.’ Type ‘potty training’ into a
search engine, and the Web coughs up 500 stories immediately, McDonald
notes.



Swartz counters that parents use magazines to find out what the best
Web sites are. ‘And if you look at the kind of issues that we’re
tackling, I don’t believe they are the kind that can be handled easily
on the Internet,’ he adds.



Offspring’s first issue has 60 ad pages, primarily from fashion and
automotive clients including Volvo, Toyota, and Tommy Hilfiger, along
with several dot coms. Hearst/Dow Jones hope to publish 10 issues of
the title next year.



Another new entry in the category is Dads, a 200,000 paid-circ
bimonthly due on newsstands June 5. The independent title will take aim
at fathers with a median age of 35 and income of $57,500. ‘We want to
reach men who are self-aware, ambitious in their careers and want to be
just as successful and connected with their families,’ says Dads
managing partner/editor Eric Garland, a former Money senior editor and
editorial director of Adweek Magazines (which owns Editor & Publisher).
‘It will have a range of stories on parenting, child development and
relationships, but written in a language and tone for dads.’



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(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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