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Creativity, Innovation, Politics, In-Depth Reporting, Great Content, Excellent Design, Ink on Paper, Pixels on a Screen, and Ambition: That, in Short, is the New Politico Magazine. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Susan Glasser, Politico Magazine’s Editor.

December 9, 2013

“You know, you may serve audiences with multiple different kinds of approaches that work for them at different points in their day. They read and encounter The New York Times on their mobile phone and it’s different than the paper they consume in print in the morning over their coffee and it’s different than how they read it at work. And I think that’s a great thing.”
-Susan Glasser

politicomagcoverIt may be the “Launch Issue” of Politico magazine, but it looks, reads and feels like a 50th anniversary issue. It’s not everyday a new magazine comes along and captivates me like Politico Magazine did. It feels like an established magazine that has reached its prime. It is already on the top of the mountain.

However the question on how to integrate a print magazine that features long-form journalism and a broad spectrum of topics that appeal not only to the core Washington audience, but also international and non-political readers around the country, into Politico’s already successful repertoire remains editor Susan Glasser’s ambitious goal.

And she uses the word ambitious many times throughout our interview, and with good reason. Giving birth to a political print magazine that’s lofty goal is to become the leading, dominant news outlet for coverage of Washington, politics and power-at-large, is definitely ambitious, but certainly attainable, especially with the enthusiasm and dedication of Politico Magazine’s Editor, Susan Glasser.

So get ready for an uplifting and energetic conversation as Mr. Magazine™ interviews Politico Magazine’s Editor, Susan Glasser. And enjoy digital/print integration at its best!

But first the sound-bites:


Susan Glasser, POLITICO Magazine staff Nov. 7, 2013. (John Shinkle/POLITICO)On why it took the industry so long to discover digital and print can coexist successfully:
For too long people greeted the rise of the Internet and digital technology in a very zero sum way. The rise of the Internet meant the decline of print. And clearly we have seen the decline of print, but I think Politico is a good example of how we all need to be thinking in a much more – not platform agnostic way, but multiplatform way and reaching audiences in a variety of different ways.

On the genesis behind Politico Magazine:
If Politico’s transparent ambition is to own the Washington conversation and to be the leading, dominant news outlet for coverage of Washington, politics and power-at-large, to do so I think this kind of content is an important component of that.

On the most pleasant surprise since the magazine’s launch: You know I was very excited about Glenn Thrush’s cover piece in the first issue of the print magazine “Locked in the Cabinet,” a very ambitious piece of reporting with 7,500 words, probably one of the longest stories that Politico has ever run.

On the biggest obstacle the magazine’s launch faced:
Well, this was a very ambitious project that we’re doing with a very small start-up staff. It’s a terrific group of people, but it’s really small. We got this project up and running and we were adding people and throwing them into it as we were hurdling down the path toward launch.

On what keeps her up at night:
Issues number two through the rest of my life. It’s an ambitious project to keep going at this pace and I want for it to keep getting better and better.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Susan Glasser, Editor of Politico


Samir Husni: Politico was one of the first entities from the beginning that was both print and digital and now the magazine. Why do you think it took the industry so long to discover that the two can work together, rather than against each other?

Susan Glasser: I agree with the framing of your question; I mean I totally agree with it, as a matter of fact. For too long people greeted the rise of the Internet and digital technology in a very zero sum way. The rise of the Internet meant the decline of print. And clearly we have seen the decline of print, but I think Politico is a good example of how we all need to be thinking in a much more – not platform agnostic way, but multiplatform way and reaching audiences in a variety of different ways.

I think most publishing companies have moved in that direction and I’m delighted about that. You know, you may serve audiences with multiple different kinds of approaches that work for them at different points in their day. They read and encounter The New York Times on their mobile phone and it’s different than the paper they consume in print in the morning over their coffee and it’s different than how they read it at work. And I think that’s a great thing.

Samir Husni: Earlier in the year Politico Pro was launched and now Politico magazine; can you tell me what the idea is; what’s the genesis behind Politico magazine?

Susan Glasser: I do believe there’s a genuine opportunity after a number of years that people are definitely pulling back and retrenching and not producing as much great ambitious original journalism on big subjects. There’s certainly an opportunity to come in and set up the flag and say in addition to living in the 24 hour news cycle and aiming to drive the conversation there that there are opportunities to do longer, bigger, deeper report-to-projects and magazine articles that exist outside of that news cycle and that exist in a way to set the agenda as well as react to it.

And if Politico’s transparent ambition is to own the Washington conversation and to be the leading, dominant news outlet for coverage of Washington, politics and power-at-large, to do so I think this kind of content is an important component of that. And so it’s a platform for great outside writers and thinkers. The war of ideas is a big part of the daily combat of Washington. You need those outside writers and thinkers and that conversation existing under your umbrella. So that’s one aspect of Politico magazine.

Samir Husni: What’s a day in the life of Susan, especially since you’re updating the magazine every single day?

Susan Glasser: It’s a very ambitious project and we’re just getting used to keeping the plane in the air; now that we’ve built it, we have to fly it. And that’s definitely challenging.

The flip side is it’s great to have such a wonderful and adaptable new tool. I’m so thrilled about the magazine platform that we’ve built on the website. I think it’s beautiful; I think it’s a showcase for big impactful content and big stunning visuals and we’re really trying to signify to readers in every way possible that this is a different environment; this is a new kind of Politico for you to experience. In addition to – you came for all this great news and up-to-the-minute information and agenda-setting beat coverage of Congress, the White House or healthcare, but here is a space where there’s going to be a terrific cover story every day and three or four interesting things to go around it and I think that’s a cool model.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant surprise since you launched the magazine that came your way?

Susan Glasser: You know I was very excited about Glenn Thrush’s cover piece in the first issue of the print magazine “Locked in the Cabinet,” a very ambitious piece of reporting with 7,500 words, probably one of the longest stories that Politico has ever run.

And it turns out that that kind of great journalism filled with new information really cracked the code on the often opaque White House by coming at it from a totally different perspective, that of the cabinet. So I knew it was great journalism, but I was really delighted to see that it broke through as well and really took off with audiences and readers too. That is also one of the most read stories in Politico of the year, with over a million readers. I knew it was a great piece, but it was certainly a surprise to me to see how well it connected with people and how big it went.

Samir Husni: And what was the biggest obstacle you had to face?

Susan Glasser: Well, this was a very ambitious project that we’re doing with a very small start-up staff. It’s a terrific group of people, but it’s really small. We got this project up and running and we were adding people and throwing them into it as we were hurdling down the path toward launch.

Our art director, her very first day and week in the office, was the week that we did a lot of the key work in designing the website. Literally people were saying to each other, “Nice to meet you. What fonts were thinking about?”

So it’s been an incredible amount of work by all of our people.

Samir Husni: One of the things that struck me about the first issue is that it felt as an established magazine and not a newbie. Are you going to be able to maintain that?

Susan Glasser: Well, I certainly hope so. I think that this project is very much about power in politics and in that sense I think there should be an inexhaustible interest in it, not only from core Washington readers but from people around the country for whom these are subjects of great interest and internationally too. So I’m pretty bullish about the prospects.

I think also it’s a great complement to what Politico already does. It reaches not only its core audience, but also people who don’t need the 15 terrific updates about what’s happening in the negotiations in the middle of the government shutdown, for example. But they want to read one or two great pieces a day on that subject.

My hope is that we reach potentially millions of readers for whom, day in and day out, politics is an interest, but not necessarily a necessity and we can do it, while at the same time clearly serving the interests and the needs of our core Washington audience.

Samir Husni: Do you wish that you could have done anything differently with that first issue?

Susan Glasser: Sure, I wish I could have had twice as much time and space. It’s so humbling to have the chance to do something new and to work from the proverbial blank page. Because you immediately realize that could be a paralyzing opportunity. And we didn’t really have the luxury of doing the months and months long version of designing some ideal magazine.

So on one hand I’m sure we could have come up with something better, but on the other hand this was very much a learn-by-doing exercise. And I think the publishing we’re doing every day is fine.

And there are real benefits as well. Seeing what readers respond to, understanding a little about what works and what doesn’t. Being forced to make those millions of small decisions that come up when you actually sit down and go from your theoretical magazine to actually having to put it out. That’s when a lot of the real policy decisions get made, so I hope there was a benefit in just jumping in and getting started on this.

Samir Husni: What keeps you up at night?

Susan Glasser: Issues number two through the rest of my life. It’s an ambitious project to keep going at this pace and I want for it to keep getting better and better. So of course, I’m worried about how to do that.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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  1. […] the whole article Creativity, Innovation, Politics, In-Depth Reporting, Great Content, Excellent Design, Ink on Paper,… on the website Mr. […]



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