And they said print is dead. Janice Min turned around Us Weekly and now The Hollywood Reporter — transforming an ailing trade daily into a glossy magazine with new relevance for advertisers, the entertainment community and readers beyond.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Turning a publication around, especially a trade publication, is not easy. We're about to meet a woman who is known for making that happen. Her name is Janice Min, the chief creative officer of The Hollywood Reporter. Last night, she hosted an event in New York honoring the biggest names in media. NPR's David Folkenflik says she belongs among those names, too.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Janice Min received an unexpected endorsement last year.
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JANICE MIN: I'm here with Donald Trump in his office today. He's about to leave for New Hampshire, and we're going to ask him a few questions.
DONALD TRUMP: You're a legend. You've done a great job.
MIN: (Laughter) Thank you very much. Thank you.
FOLKENFLIK: Min took over The Hollywood Reporter six years ago and has won a lot of accolades since. The Ellies are basically the Oscars for magazines. The Hollywood Reporter was a finalist for the second year in a row for best magazine against the likes of The New Yorker and National Geographic. I met Min at her office a couple miles south of Hollywood.
MIN: Lots of content is cynically conceived. This is stuff millennials like, this is stuff that advertisers want. And really what it comes down to is creating stories people actually want to read and people will talk about.
FOLKENFLIK: The Hollywood Reporter has an affluent niche print readership, just 72,000 subscribers including influential players. It has a much bigger digital footprint, 15 million people monthly. Min hopes to appeal both to insiders and to readers with no ties to the industry.
MIN: Hollywood is an impenetrable club if you're an outsider. You don't know what really goes on here, how decisions are made. I think there's a misconception that it's a bunch of fools who sit around and put crappy superhero movies out and, in fact, maybe a fraction of that is true.
FOLKENFLIK: When Min arrived, The Hollywood Reporter's future was highly in doubt. Veteran reporter Stephen Galloway recalls the anxiety.
STEPHEN GALLOWAY: We had been the number two publication to Variety for decades, which meant they would get all the scoops. They'd get all the access. We'd have to chase for everything
FOLKENFLIK: Min had already revived the gossip magazine Us Weekly, setting higher standards for its journalism, taming reporters' behavior, pumping up headlines. At The Hollywood Reporter, Min shut down its anemic daily, created a more glamorous weekly and folded coverage of industry moves into a revved up website.
MIN: This is an industry that's built on both storytelling and visual representation, visual design. And everything that covered it looked terrible.
FOLKENFLIK: So Min commissioned high-end videos of conversations featuring stars.
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JANE FONDA: I took too much for granted when I was younger. You know, I didn't really want to be an actor. I didn't really love it.
FOLKENFLIK: In this chat, Jane Fonda was joined by Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winslet and others.
FONDA: I care much more about it now. I feel like a complete novice
KATE WINSLET: God, how lovely.
FOLKENFLIK: Chris Day is head of corporate communications for United Talent Agency. We caught him at a lunch party Min staged before this year's Academy Awards.
CHRIS DAY: She's proven that you can institutionalize the type of coverage that The Hollywood Reporter's become known for, which is a very savvy hybrid of business news and lifestyle news. And she's created a window into the industry that didn't really exist before.
FOLKENFLIK: The magazine's privately held parent company does not share profits and losses. Min says she's achieved double-digit revenue gains each year she's been there. And as Stephen Galloway says, harder hitting reporting is a crucial part of the mix.
GALLOWAY: There was a fear of the people who advertise. That's the studios, the networks who were paying a lot of money before she arrived. Where if we write that story, there's as sell censorship. Do I want to write this 'cause I know that they're going to pull ads?
FOLKENFLIK: A recent article showed TV casting directors apparently breaking the law by charging aspiring actors money for workshops that function as auditions. The company that produces the CBS show "Criminal Minds" immediately fired its casting director. Again, Janice Min.
MIN: I'd - I always said to the staff in the beginning, like, let's not have a self-esteem problem. Like, let's go for what we want to do and stick by it.
FOLKENFLIK: Reporting in Hollywood has historically been known for its give and take, often proving simply transactional. Janice Min is trying to change the way coverage works in a town dominated by mythmakers. David Folkenflik, NPR News, Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.