Marty Edelston’s Idea Factory
In 1992, when my wife, Peggy, and I took over a seriously faltering Target Marketing magazine, we had two goals in mind: to create content that would help readers make money, and to convince suppliers and vendors that professionals were reading the magazine and that it was well worth the investment in advertising.
The first thing I did as president and editor was to travel the country and attend trade shows, where I talked to potential advertisers to learn about their businesses. After all, these were the folks whose products and services were going to make my readers rich.
An advertiser—or potential advertiser—could not buy a story in our magazine. But if a company had a product or service that was valuable to the readership, I wanted to know about it—and possibly do a story on it—whether or not that company advertised.
To hell with the Chinese Wall, was my outlook. We’re in this business to make money for our readers and ultimately for ourselves; let’s figure out how to do it. In tough times—when you have to save a company—the Chinese Wall artifice is a pile of crap.
Peggy and I saved the magazine.
In 2007, Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell coughed up $315 million, borrowed $8 billion more, and bought the sinking Tribune Co. With circulation and advertising way off and debt service through the roof, Zell is currently sliding down the razor blade of life.
To try and right his ship, Zell has eliminated hundreds of jobs in newspapers all across the country. Long Island Newsday is about to be put on the block, as is the Chicago Cubs baseball team. In his April 7 story in The New York Times, “Sam Zell: A Tough Guy in a Mean Business,” Richard Pérez-Peña wrote about America’s newest wannabe Charles Foster Kane: