Where Do Editors Fit in at Miller Freeman Inc./CMP Media?

Where Do Editors Fit in at Miller Freeman Inc./CMP Media?

November 18, 1999
Notes By Rachel Markowitz

Without making too much of a sales pitch, Kurt Duecker (pronounced "decker") made it clear: Miller Freeman Inc. (MFI) is hiring editors. A quick glance at MFI's Web site confirms it: nine editorial jobs up for grabs.

Duecker, MFI's training and development manager, was quick to point out that the company is seeking mainly entry-level editors, but he added that entry-level employees at MFI are encouraged to take on lots of responsibilities and thus tend to move up the ladder quickly.

Duecker himself has benefited from MFI's upwardly mobile culture. He started working at the company 10 years ago as an editorial secretary for MFI's publication Pulp and Paper, then moved on to become copy production editor, then managing editor, then marketing/managing editor. Three years ago, he took his present position as head of training, for which he claims he had no experience.

As training and development manager, Duecker is responsible for training new people as well as developing the skills of existing workers. His duties include:

  • Holding roundtable discussions
  • Helping employees brush up on their public speaking skills (a particularly useful skill for an editor to have, he pointed out)
  • Sending editors to refresher courses at places like editcetera in Berkeley

We all know Miller Freeman is a publisher, but of what, exactly? Headquartered at 600 Harrison Street in San Francisco, MFI is one of the world's largest, oldest, and most diversified publishers of business-to-business publications-138 in all. These magazines are geared toward specialized markets ranging from apparel to engineering to health care to high tech, from music to paper to sports to travel. In MFI's glossy brochure, you'll find the hugely successful Pulp and Paper listed alongside titles like Fly Fishing Retailer, Bass Player, Architectural Lighting, 3D Design, BioMechanics, and Computer Telephony.

What may be less known among editorial folk is that Miller Freeman is also the largest organizer of trade shows and conferences worldwide. The trade shows are targeted to publication subscribers. The shows and the publications work in tandem, with the trade shows being the big moneymakers and the magazines, with their lower profit margin, being the more stable aspect of the partnership.

While MFI has managed to keep up with the times (it also runs 58 Web sites), the company is losing people to start-ups, mostly due to pay, Duecker said, since MFI is at the low end of the pay scale in comparison with other publishers. Among other topics Duecker discussed were MFI's recent acquisition of East Coast high-tech publishing giant CMP Media; his experience with editorial employees in a training/development context; and the present and future of editorial work at Miller Freeman.

While Duecker estimates that only 10 percent of the population at Miller Freeman is editorial, he believes writers and editors represent the foundation of the company. The downside is that this core of editors is generally slower to embrace the financial aspects of the business. The pinnacle of an editorial career at MFI is becoming a publisher, but that means in effect giving up words for numbers. Getting editors to make this switch presents a human resource challenge for Duecker.

Editors will continue to hold important roles at MFI in the new millennium, Duecker said. With the explosion of information on the Web and elsewhere, editors will be increasingly called upon to make sense of the overload, to whittle things down. But, he stressed, in order to grow with a multinational media company like MFI, editors will need to be willing to take an interest in "the books" of another kind.

 

 

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