Taking Care of Business
Your article “Change of Fortune” [Consumer Magazine Report, March 2] paints a misleading picture of the competitive positions of business magazines.
You erroneously suggest that Fortune experienced major growth in newsstand sales in the second half of 1997, while Forbes and BusinessWeek declined. In fact, Forbes’ newsstand sales for the second half of ’97 were at a record high, up more than 9 percent. And, for the record, BW was up as well, by 3.2 percent.
Newsstand figures are often cited to describe which magazines are the “hot books.” But the truth is that such sales constitute only a small portion of overall circulation in the business-magazine category–8.3 percent for Fortune, 4.3 percent for BW and 7 percent for Forbes.
Under managing editor John Huey, Fortune has actually lost subscribers–more than 60,000 since June 1996. In order to make rate base, they’ve had to resort to more bulk subscriptions. Forbes, meanwhile, has gained in circulation.
Then there are ad pages to consider. Forbes was once again the ad-page leader in the business-magazine category–for the sixth year in a row. Its growth has been consistent and steady. While Fortune had a decent rebound, its 1997 “triumph” of 3,600 pages is more than 1,000 shy of Forbes’ total–and 175 pages less than the 3,775 they ran back in 1989! In contrast, Forbes ran 3,906 pages in 1989 and 4,663 pages last year.
Finally, you seem to believe that Mr. Huey has added something of value in calling Darla Moore “a tough babe.” The real fact is that Forbes first wrote about Moore, wife of Columbia/HCA investor Richard Rainwater, two years earlier, in 1995. Another example:
Fortune’s recent piece on the underperformance of the Dow Jones simply explored the same terrain of a Forbes cover story five years ago.
These represent Texas-size differences between the two magazines. While Fortune trades on celebrity journalism, Forbes provides readers with trenchant business reporting. Mr. Huey’s recent promotion at Time Warner and his magazine’s improved advertising numbers made him a “story” in your eyes. He has certainly done an admirable job of bringing Fortune back from the abyss through brighter packaging. But, by all measures, his publication has miles to go.
Jeffrey M. Cunningham
Forbes, New York
For the Record
The Euro ad for Dresdner Bank
[Letter from Paris, March 23] was created by Rempen & Partner in D†sseldorf, Germany In the feature “The Installment Plan” [Creative, March 16], we said that DDB Needham in Chicago created the Budweiser frogs. In fact, the frogs were first hatched by D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in St. Louis In the credits for MasterCard’s “Reunion” ad [Best Spots, March 16], the correct spelling of the editor’s name is Jim Haygood of Superior Assembly.
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Taking Care of Business