There has been a lot of talk about the power of the media and an occasional suggestion that media people sometimes confuse themselves with the events they cover, but now someone is doing something about it -- capitalizing on it.
A new entry in the sweepstakes of the Me Decade, which already has brought forth People and Us magazines promises to remove any lingering doubts about the newsworthiness of the news business.
A new monthly magazine, Media People [it's spelled that way, with a slash through the middle "e"], is to begin publishing in September, and promises to deliver exactly what its name says it will, stories about the storytellers.
"The movers and shakers. The doers. The controllers. The power people. That's what media people are," it proclaims in its first subscription appeal. "Maybe a few thousand people controlling the lives of millions is very bad. But, good or bad, that's the way it is."
Actually, it's more like 1.6 million people. By Media People's editor and founder Charles Mandel's count, that's the total national media work force, and, by his account, they are signing up to read all about themselves. "Our subscription list reads like a Who's Who of Media," he said in an interview.
Mandel is also convinced that the outsiders, people not in the media, have a hunger for more news of how media work.
The diet Mandel plans to feed subscribers won't get Media People confused with the Columbia Journalism. Review.
He once tried to buy the failing magazine of media criticism, More and drew comments that he wanted to popularize it too much.
"I didn't know it was bad to make things popular," Mandel said. "It's not that I think media people take themselves too seriously. I think all people take themselves too seriously."
Mandel, his publisher, Jeffery Lawenda, and managing editor Helen Irwin plan to divide their magazine about evenly between humorous and serious articles. "We want to be gossipy, irreverent and intelligent about the wonderful world of media," Irwin said.
"I learned a lot more about politics from Will Rogers than I ever did from Lyndon Johnson," Mandel said.
Mandel is starting Media People ["With that logo we're safe. We can attack anything if we can make fun of ourselves"] after a successful career as an advertising salesman and publisher of Madison Avenue magazine.
Earlier, he was a producer and director of a number of forgettable and mostly forgotten movies. His first was titled "Ax of Horror."
"It was a marvelous grand Guignol script, and I destroyed it," Mandel said. "It was, without a doubt, the worst movie ever made." It was also an enormous money-maker.
At Media People, the distinction between its business and editorial operations is blurred.
"One of the reasons we get ads is because when we visit business people they think we're on their side and when we talk with writers they think we're on their side," Mandel said.
The magazine has sold more than 200 pages of advertising, enough for its first four issues. One of Mandel's innivations is that he offer only one price, $2,000 for an ad.
For that, the advertiser can have a full page or less, and color or black and white. Not surprisingly, all the ads so far are full pages.
The wonderful world of media appears to be rally around. Mandel said that more than half the ads sold have been bought by other media companies. "Everyone we talk to uses a survey of one," Mandel said. "He thinks 'I would buy this magazines,' so I better advertise in it." After all, if Mandel's view is accepted where better to reach the power people?
The power people aren't going to find the magazines for and about them a chore to read. Media People will use a lot of photographs and graphics to spare any reader pages of black and white words. Articles will be kept short. "I want people to go through the magazine comfortably. I don't want this piled up on anyone's window sill," Mandel said.
If the Me Decade keeps booming, and gossip-guzzling stays in style, Mandel's magazine could be a harbinger of a new publishing phenomenon. If Media People fluorishes, can Dental People, Real Estate People and Insurance People be far behind?