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New, Old Media Meeting Offline

July 23, 1998|PAUL D. COLFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Comedian Jon Stewart surveyed the sweaty New York crowd and said: "I'm glad to be here because I'm being paid in Yahoo! stock."

He should be so lucky.

Yahoo!--the wildly popular Web search engine and a platinum Internet stock these days--is also a brand-name partner with Ziff-Davis Publishing behind the monthly Yahoo! Internet Life, which announced its first annual Online Music Awards last week.

In these breakout times, as the Internet increasingly becomes a mass medium offering text and video as well as sound, Yahoo! Internet Life is nicely rooted to take advantage of the surging interest among consumers. The user-friendly magazine, which launched in September 1996 and covers the Internet and its wonders the way that Entertainment Weekly samples the wide world of show biz, plans to raise to 600,000 copies the circulation that it will guarantee advertisers. That hike--in February--will represent a doubling of its so-called rate base since last summer.

Its number of ad pages through the July issue is up 30.5% over the first seven months of last year.

Despite a few casualties in the category, including the demise last year of NetGuide magazine and the shutdown in February of Web Magazine, the success of Yahoo! Internet Life is but one striking example of how new media continue to feed and lure the old media of print. Another example: Conde Nast Publications Inc., publisher of such familiar gloss as Vanity Fair and Vogue, recently bought Wired magazine for a reported $75 million.

Meanwhile, two new publications are expanding the cybergazing category.

The Industry Standard, which calls itself the Newsmagazine of the Internet Economy and targets Internet business leaders, launched in April. Punchy, informative and cleanly designed, the magazine is led by editor-in-chief Jonathan Weber, a former technology editor with the Los Angeles Times, and carries columns by new-media pioneers Carl Steadman and Michael Wolff. Wolff is the author of a new click-and-tell memoir, "Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet" (Simon & Schuster), and was added this week as a biweekly contributor to New York magazine.

Business 2.0, a new monthly magazine that is less news-driven than the Industry Standard, explores the people and ideas shaping the new Internet economy. It debuted on newsstands earlier this month from Imagine Media Inc. in Brisbane, Calif., picking up where a predecessor, the Net, left off.

Imagine folded the Net last summer. Although the shutdown was attributed to lagging ad revenue, Business 2.0's premiere issue does not appear to lack for business (from BMW, Northwest Airlines and other blue-chip advertisers) as the magazine enters a field of monthlies also occupied by Wired, Upside and the Red Herring.

"A Chinese 'Angela's Ashes' ": That's how literary agent Elaine Koster describes a memoir she sold this week to Random House. And judging from the $400,000 that the publishing house has agreed to pay writer Da Chen for North American rights, his book may have the same kind of commercial potential.

Like Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes" (Scribner), a best-selling memoir of an impoverished childhood in Ireland, Chen's account will recall a boyhood struggle. Chen, now 36, grew up amid the tumult of China's Cultural Revolution before coming to the United States and studying at Columbia University's law school. He since has worked in mergers and acquisitions.

Random House edged out three other publishers to obtain the book, which has the working title "Colors of the Mountain."

Admissions of Fakery: Rolling Stone reveals in its Aug. 6 issue that two long pieces written for the magazine by former New Republic associate editor Stephen Glass "contain anonymous quotes and incidents that we now know to be fabrications."

One of the articles that, Rolling Stone says, Glass has admitted doctoring appeared in the fall and focused on questionable efforts by nervous colleges to look good in the influential college guide published annually by U.S. News & World Report.

In "The College Rankings Scam" (Oct. 16), an eye-catching piece that was singled out at the time by this column, Glass wrote about a secret meeting of college admissions officers at which one of the topics was "what to do about the U.S. News rankings."

"Glass now acknowledges that the secret meeting, [and] certain unattributed quotes from 'admissions officers' . . . were all fabricated," Rolling Stone managing editor Robert Love writes. "We apologize to our readers and to all concerned for these fabrications. And we vow to be ever more vigilant in our fact-finding and editing procedures."

In May, the New Republic fired Glass after evidence indicated that he had fabricated material in the political magazine. A deeper review by its editors determined that a total of 26 pieces he wrote contained "at least some fabricated material," the magazine said.

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