Annual Meeting Assesses State of Magazine Industry

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PHOENIX ( -- An estimated 500 attendees arrived today as the American Magazine Conference kicked off its annual four-day event at a sumptuous desert resort.

That number is down a bit from last year's conference, according to

Photo: Arizona Biltmore
The Biltmore is a sprawl of lush desert gardens and Frank Lloyd Wright architectural concepts.
Ronni Faust, Magazine Publishers of America vice president for communications. Last year's conference was moved at the eleventh hour from Phoenix to New York City following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attendance is also down from peak levels of approximately 700, which was more the norm just two years ago.

One attendee, an executive who puts together deals buying and selling media companies, predicted a subdued conference.

Attendees gathered at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa seem genuinely glad for the respite from relentless ad page declines of the past year. The magazine industry watched from the sidelines as broadcast TV scooped up a fair share of media budgets in this year's TV market upfront, leaving less on the table for others. Aegis Group's Carat North America CEO David Verklin addresses the conference on Monday to lay out the future of media buying, and how it will affect the magazine industry.

Goddess of respite
At the Biltmore, a recurring symbol around the grounds in sculpture and painting is the Water Goddess, which represents the restoration of the mind and body and is a symbol of the escape from everyday life. Here, surrounded by desert,

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the magazine industry hopes to find ways to rejuvenate itself.

Michael Clinton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Hearst Magazines and chair of the conference, asked attendees in his welcoming letter to "join hands to strengthen the role of our medium and to propel our magazines forward." The theme of the conference, "Ahead of the curve ... What's next?" echoes the thoughts of many publishers, who are indeed asking what the next year will bring and hoping its an improvement over 2002.

But despite the difficult year, some bright lights managed to forge ahead and capture both an increase in readers and advertisers.

A-List Magazine of the Year
Advertising Age unveiled its inaugural Magazine A-List tonight, naming Time Inc.'s Real Simple as Magazine of the Year. The A-List identifies the 10 best magazines, including magazine of the year, editor of the year, publishing executive of the year and launch of the year honors.

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