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Harvard Business Review: A Magazine That Readers Care About. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Adi Ignatius, Editor-In-Chief.

April 24, 2015

“When I’ve worked at legacy publications, we’d create this content that was basically designed to be an adjacency to advertising. Whatever, fine. Then the advertising disappears. Advertising definitely comes and goes; you have to make sure that you have a product at the end of the day that your readers actually care about, because the advertising dollar today will disappear tomorrow.” Adi Ignatius

Apr15 Cover 300dpi Focusing on areas such as leadership, finance, marketing and the art of managing people, among many other business-related topics, Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a magazine dedicated to improving all facets of management in today’s fast-paced world.

Adi Ignatius is editor-in-chief, or as he likes to refer to himself, the balancer-in-chief of HBR. He came to the magazine in 2009 from TIME, where he was deputy managing editor, helping to oversee the week-to-week editing of the magazine and was also responsible for many of TIME’s special editions, including the Person of the Year and TIME 100 franchises.

After coming onboard at Harvard Business Review, Adi set about reinventing the academic read into more of a consumer-type magazine, one that has seen circulation growth and subscription prices increase since his joining the team.

I spoke with Adi recently and the discussion was both fun and informative. He has definite opinions on where HBR is heading and the future of magazine media in general.

So, I hope you enjoy this conversation with a man who believes in the timelessness of his brand and the collectability factor he thinks all magazines need today, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Adi Ignatius, Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Business Review.

But first the sound-bites:

Adi Ignatius On the transition he had to make in 2009 when he came to HBR right after the Market crash: When I came on in 2009, Harvard Business Review hadn’t written a word about the recession and that seemed odd. I understood that the magazine always wanted to be timeless in everything it did, but it seemed that this was a different period; readers were desperate for information about the worst economic situation that we’ll all hopefully face in our lifetimes. Luckily, the people who run this place wanted somebody who had that kind of metabolism, someone who could bring a sort of timely sensibility to the timeless tradition and deal head-on with some of the topics people were worried about.

On the advice he would give media leaders about the future of print today:
I think getting past the sense of a lot of things that we thought were traditionally important like print, front pages, home pages, viewing yourself as only a destination site; I think you have to let go of these assumptions and really follow where the market is going and where readers are going. And make sure your content is unique and valuable and make sure you are maximizing every possible connection and platform that you could be on.

On some of the stumbling blocks that would prevent magazine media from implementing his common sense advice:
We all know where this plot line is heading; we all know that we are moving rapidly toward a more digital, or even fully digital, future. The problem is we’re in the present. And the present is still in some ways attaching more value to the print part of our operations than is likely to happen in the future. So, it’s very difficult to handle that transition when we’re still relying on print for the bulk of our revenue and ad revenue, in some cases. It’s very hard to forego the short-term revenue that we all depend on to make the sort of long-term future digital.

On whether he thinks publishers are placing too much dependence on social media these days:
We used to depend on LinkedIn for a huge amount of traffic, but when LinkedIn realized they weren’t simply a place for people to search for jobs, they decided to have content and stickiness, and a lot of that content was HBR. Then they sort of realized that they could be developing their own content and didn’t really need partners. So, that was a moment of panic, but I think as long as you’re creating content that’s valuable to your audience, whether it’s a big or a niche audience, you can adapt to these things.

On whether he can ever see a day when HBR will not have a print component: In theory, yes; it’s not a part of any of our plans at this point. I can imagine a reduction in print, in the number of print copies, and I would say that’s probably likely for us. And that would be driven by two main things: the decline in print advertising, which is real and profound and we see no sign of that being reversed, and more interestingly, a kind of shift in consumption habits.

On the cover price of HBR: Yes, we are higher-priced, but this magazine is for people who love ideas and you’ll find ideas in this publication that can improve your company and your career, well beyond what we’re charging. That’s essentially our value proposition.

On whether the collectability factor is important in magazine media today:
I think we’ve all realized the value of the archives. We have an archive that goes back 25-30 years and subscribers get full access to anything that we’ve published during that time. And we tested that a couple of years ago and found out that subscribers were willing to pay significantly more when they realized they had access to that archive.

On anything else he’d like to add:
That was a reinvention in 2010 and by any measurement that you could use, it worked. Our circulation has risen and is now at a record level, about 300,000. We have to do this again. We have to reinvent the business model again for all the reasons that our colleagues in the industry are doing it.

On what keeps him up at night:
Our situation is a little more complicated because we also need contributors to feel like we’re the best place for them to publish their ideas. We’re this hybrid; we’re somewhere in between a normal magazine and an academic journal. And that sometimes keeps me up at night; whether I can keep that balance intact, while still driving the business forward. That’s what I do; I’m balancer-in-chief.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Adi Ignatious, Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Business Review.

Samir Husni: You’ve been at Harvard Business Review since 2009, so you had just come onboard when the Market crashed. Can you describe how the transition for you was during that precarious time?

Adi Ignatius: I interviewed for the job in 2008, so when I came on in 2009, Harvard Business Review hadn’t written a word about the recession and that seemed odd. I understood that the magazine always wanted to be timeless in everything it did, but it seemed that this was a different period; readers were desperate for information about the worst economic situation that we’ll all hopefully face in our lifetimes. And a publication like Harvard Business Review could provide insight.

Luckily, the people who run this place wanted somebody who had that kind of metabolism, someone who could bring a sort of timely sensibility to the timeless tradition and deal head-on with some of the topics people were worried about.

We took that opportunity to kind of reinvent the magazine, the website and set out a path for growth from that.

Samir Husni: If you were going to apply the same formula that you did for the Harvard Business Review on its business side to magazine media today, in 2015; what type of magazine would you create to help magazine publishers and editors adapt to all the changes that are taking place and what advice would you give those media leaders about the future of print today?

Adi Ignatius: I wouldn’t necessarily get hung up on print. I don’t think the answer for all of us is finding out a way to maximize print; some of us will be print; some of us will be digital, and then some of us will be a hybrid.

I think getting past the sense of a lot of things that we thought were traditionally important like print, front pages, home pages, viewing yourself as only a destination site; I think you have to let go of these assumptions and really follow where the market is going and where readers are going. And make sure your content is unique and valuable and make sure you are maximizing every possible connection and platform that you could be on. That’s obvious maybe, and the hard part might be actually implementing that. I guess that would be my first bit of advice.

Samir Husni: What do you think are some of the stumbling blocks that are stopping people from implementing that common sense solution?

Adi Ignatius: I guess some of them you’re probably very familiar with. We all know where this plot line is heading; we all know that we are moving rapidly toward a more digital, or even fully digital, future. The problem is we’re in the present. And the present is still in some ways attaching more value to the print part of our operations than is likely to happen in the future. So, it’s very difficult to handle that transition when we’re still relying on print for the bulk of our revenue and ad revenue, in some cases. It’s very hard to forego the short-term revenue that we all depend on to make the sort of long-term future digital. And we all think that we can manage that transition and jump from one to the other and do it at the perfect time versus our knowledge of a company like Kodak, which knew very well the digital future was coming, didn’t handle the transition well at all. And that’s what happens if you don’t.

But I think one big problem is simply the fact that print remains hugely important for most of our business models and, as I said, it’s very difficult to forego the short-term revenue.

The second thing is just the landscape is moving so quickly. If you look at social media, the Harvard Business Review is very successful in social media. We have a huge number of shares and a huge number of followers; we generate a lot of traffic through social media. What will our relationships be with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others in a few years; it’s impossible to know. Probably very different from what they are now.

There’s a fundamental uncertainty that means we’re all experimenting a lot, but it’s somewhat difficult to have as much confidence in precise, future digitally-focused plans because it’s such a moving target.

Samir Husni: Do you think we’re making the same mistake as we did when we put all of our dependence upon advertising, because now we’re trying to depend so much on social media? What if Facebook decides to listen to the rumors I’ve been hearing and becomes an enclosed website, where it won’t take you to your website?

Adi Ignatius: I think we have to be open to that possibility. I think the most important thing is not to panic. There will be surprises like that. We used to depend on LinkedIn for a huge amount of traffic, but when LinkedIn realized they weren’t simply a place for people to search for jobs, they decided to have content and stickiness, and a lot of that content was HBR (Harvard Business Review) and I think HBR was some of the best performing content on that site.

And then they sort of realized that they could be developing their own content and didn’t really need partners. So, that was a moment of panic, but I think as long as you’re creating content that’s valuable to your audience, whether it’s a big or a niche audience, you can adapt to these things. So, we don’t have the same kind of relationship with LinkedIn now, but we’re working on developing other relationships with LinkedIn. Facebook and Twitter are great referrals to our site. If they’re cut off, we’ll figure something else out. A good brand with good content just has to be nimble. And if some of these things happen, we’ll figure something else out; I really do believe that.

Samir Husni: Can you foresee a day when HBR will not be in print?

Adi Ignatius: In theory, yes; it’s not a part of any of our plans at this point. I can imagine a reduction in print, in the number of print copies, and I would say that’s probably likely for us. And that would be driven by two main things: the decline in print advertising, which is real and profound and we see no sign of that being reversed, and more interestingly, a kind of shift in consumption habits. The challenge for us is to truly make digital a long-form reading experience that is as effective as print is now. And that involves new personalization, new utility, kind of a reinvention of what a long-form article is online, which is what we’re doing.

You talked about advertising before; the trap that many legacy publications have fallen into over the years is the pursuit of advertising at the expense of the relationship with the reader and the creation of quality content.

Nowadays, native advertising is viewed as a panacea for a lot of publications and a lot of native advertising solutions are great. We at HBR haven’t plunged into that yet, but we will and that’s fine. But I worry when I see some legacy publications, when they talk about what they’re doing; all they seem to be able to discuss is native. And my only feeling on that is advertising comes and goes, that is fact.

When I’ve worked at legacy publications, we’d create this content that was basically designed to be an adjacency to advertising. Whatever, fine. Then the advertising disappears. Advertising definitely comes and goes; you have to make sure that you have a product at the end of the day that your readers actually care about, because the advertising dollar today will disappear tomorrow. And there will be a new model, fine, you just have to make sure that you’re creating content that people actually care about and that isn’t just being created or advertising dollars.

Samir Husni: Somebody recently told me that the magazine industry doesn’t have an ink on paper problem; it has an advertising problem. Do you agree?

Adi Ignatius: Meaning what, exactly?

Samir Husni: That advertising is disappearing from print.

Adi Ignatius: Well, yes, that’s true. There are other models; some of the magazines that you and I love most are essentially subsidized by, I don’t know, a wealthy benefactor, maybe, something like that.

Samir Husni: (Laughs)

Adi Ignatius: And that’s also a good model. At HBR, just so you know; we’re not subsidized by the school, quite to the contrary. I’ve worked at Dow Jones and I’ve worked at Time Inc. And at HBR, we’re as commercially focused as any other publication that I’ve ever worked at. And we have to be successful on the bottom line and we have to be significantly profitable and the money that we make goes back to Harvard Business School to fund its case studies and research.

So, we’re very much in the real world and we’re very aware that advertising dollars have disappeared, but we’re a premium-priced subscription. Advertising is an important revenue source for us, but subscription is a more important source. What we’ve been able to accomplish in recent years is to increase circulation and increase the average price of a subscription and we want to keep doing that. So, I think there are ways if you have the right model and a target audience.

Samir Husni: With the price of the newsstand edition for just one copy, you can buy a year’s subscription to other magazines.

Adi Ignatius: Yes, that’s true. But I think if you get a subscription offer from Time magazine for $20 for a year and a half, it feels a little like the magazine is saying this publication has no value, please subscribe. And that’s not our approach. Yes, we are higher-priced, but this magazine is for people who love ideas and you’ll find ideas in this publication that can improve your company and your career, well beyond what we’re charging. That’s essentially our value proposition.

Samir Husni: One of the things that you mentioned earlier in our conversation was the need to create this timely, yet timeless, content. Do you think this is the future of print, that the printed word has to have a collectability factor and that it can’t be something described as disposable?

Adi Ignatius: I think we’ve all realized the value of the archives. We have an archive that goes back 25-30 years and subscribers get full access to anything that we’ve published during that time. And we tested that a couple of years ago and found out that subscribers were willing to pay significantly more when they realized they had access to that archive. And I think other publications are doing the same thing and unearthing archival ways that are proving valuable, informative and fun. I think in that sense, a smart curation of archives is a way to prove the timelessness of some of the ideas that we publish. And we want to do more of that.

The Harvard Business Review in the past was only about timelessness and I think the brand has proven adaptable enough that now, particularly on the web, we do things that are really timely.

Samir Husni: On a personal level with the magazine; what has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Adi Ignatius: When I came in 2009, we decided that we were going to reinvent the magazine. The company had just hired a consultant who had done focus groups and research and who had talked to people and concluded that the way we used to produce our covers, I don’t know of you remember it, but HBR used to be like an academic journal or like National Geographic in the old days, where the table of contents was fully listed on the cover.

And the consultant concluded that the table of contents on the cover was as iconic for Harvard Business Review as the red border is for Time magazine. And that you mess with that at your own peril. And I wasn’t sure that I bought that. (Laughs) And I saw the focus groups and heard what they were saying, things like, yes, I’m a marketing guy and I can see the table of contents, check out if there’s anything for me and if I’d really like to read it.

But to me that meant they were looking at the table of contents and if there wasn’t anything that appealed to them, they weren’t even going to open the magazine or even tear the plastic covering off, so all that work that one does to produce a magazine, the photos, the layout, the headlines and callouts; they weren’t even going to see any of that.

And our readership was pretty much going to decide that they should just go online and research what they wanted and buy articles there and they weren’t even going to subscribe.

So, we decided to do nothing that was revolutionary, but basically remake HBR more like a magazine. Maybe it was late in the era of print magazines, but it was still very important to us to create more of a personalization. HBR articles are hard going, so we wanted to make them somewhat more accessible, in terms of the art, headlines and presentation, because that’s it, right? You want people to read the articles they didn’t think they wanted to read from the table of contents, but they’re drawn into it for some reason and realize how interesting it really is.

Samir Husni: Anything else you’d like to add?

Adi Ignatius: That was a reinvention in 2010 and by any measurement that you could use, it worked. Our circulation has risen and is now at a record level, about 300,000; our newsstand sales, even in this climate, basically have risen every year from 2010 onward, we average about 40,000 on the newsstand at $17.95, so by any measure, that’ s been successful.

We have to do this again. We have to reinvent the business model again for all the reasons that our colleagues in the industry are doing it. We’re kind of in the process of a strategic rethink to redefine what it means to be a subscriber, a member who belongs to Harvard Business Review. And I believe we’ll have some pretty interesting things to talk about in a few months.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Adi Ignatius: (Laughs) Business thinkers often say that you need to focus on one audience primarily and that would be readers, focus on your readers and keep your eye on them. But our situation is a little more complicated because we also need contributors to feel like we’re the best place for them to publish their ideas. We’re this hybrid; we’re somewhere in between a normal magazine and an academic journal.

And maintaining that sweet spot requires us to play this game of wanting HBR to be more accessible, but it also needs to sustain its level of rigor so that we remain true to who we are, but we also remain the place for the kind of authors that we want, who come up with the great ideas and that we remain the place they want to publish them. And that sometimes keeps me up at night; whether I can keep that balance intact, while still driving the business forward. That’s what I do; I’m balancer-in-chief.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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‘Riding Out The Storm’ With Innovation, Creativity & A Firm Hope For The Future Of Regional Magazines – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Fred Parry, Publisher, Inside Columbia Magazine.

April 22, 2015

“People still want them (Magazines). If people didn’t want those magazines, basically our business model would fail. While it’s been reduced; I think there’s still a market for that. Print is still credible; people still want that tangible experience and they still want to have that quiet time with a magazine. And I also believe there are times when people want to be on a digital diet, they want to be away from all of those devices. They just want some quiet time.” Fred Parry

Cover-4ee185aaNever let it be said that Mr. Magazine™ misses an opportunity to pick the brain of a magazine publisher. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Fred Parry, publisher of Inside Columbia magazine, as he was visiting Oxford and the University of Mississippi on a private visit.

Upon receiving word that Fred was in town, I invited him to attend my early morning magazine service journalism class at Ole Miss and then afterward we went back to my office for an in depth discussion of the future of city and regional magazines and what innovations and mind sets he has put into place at Inside Columbia (Missouri). As a University of Missouri – Columbia graduate myself, my ears were attuned to the many wonderful and inspired thoughts he had on the industry, and the city and regional category in particular.

From his opinion that traditional advertising is no longer a sustainable model for magazine publishing to the fact that he believes custom content and sponsored advertising is the new path in the woods that magazine media should take; we had a lively and informative talk that raised important questions and also answered some that have been broached over the years.

I hope you enjoy this heart-to-heart with Fred Parry, Publisher, Inside Columbia magazine, as much as I did participating in it, but first the sound-bites.

Fred Parry On whether magazine publishing has recovered from the 2008 crisis: We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think we’ll ever see the revenue levels and the level of activity that we saw in 2008 before the Market crashed. I think for the first few years we all hoped things would get back to “normal” or what we were used to, but I believe we’re all slowly waking up to the fact that advertising is no longer a sustainable model for magazine publishing.

On how he sees the transition from print to digital and going from a monthly to an hourly publication: I think it’s pretty clear that people want an hourly publication. I think people want content updated as frequently as we’re willing to do it, so that’s a real transition for us and a paradigm shift certainly.

On whether he believes that people will pay for custom content or that the status quo of our Welfare Information Society will remain intact: We have done ourselves a great disservice by creating that Welfare Information Society and I think that it’s going to be almost impossible to teach people that they have to pay for content. Somebody will hopefully find a way to do it.

On whether he thinks we can sell a publishing future to consumers without a printed product: Absolutely, by selling sponsored content. I think that’s where the revenue model is.

On the fact that we live in a digital age, yet we’re continuing to produce magazines in the same way as we did in 2007: People still want them. If people didn’t want those magazines, basically our business model would fail. While it’s been reduced; I think there’s still a market for that. Print is still credible; people still want that tangible experience and they still want to have that quiet time with a magazine.

On how Inside Columbia magazine has changed over the years: One of the things that have changed for sure is that our magazines are much smaller than they were in 2008. And I think that we’re probably more in tune with our target reader and what his/her needs are.

On whether the future of city and regional magazines appears brighter now than for the rest of the industry: I think it’s brighter because we’re smarter than we were six years ago; it’s brighter because we’re much more efficient; we’re spending money much more cautiously and really, for most of us, there is a better return on our investment. We’re leaner and meaner, and I think we’re poised to sort of ride out the storm.

On the main stumbling block Inside Columbia and other city and regional magazines are facing today: It’s the traditional advertising model. Trying to go out and sell paid advertising and display advertising gets harder every single day. Six or seven years ago advertising revenue was 92% of our revenue. Today, our core magazine might be 50% of our revenue.

On what keeps him up at night: I think that it’s always a struggle to try and figure out what our advertisers are thinking. There’s always something shiny and new that comes along and steals the attention of the traditional marketers that have supported us over the years. So, I think the thing that keeps me awake is trying to figure out how to stay a step ahead; how to outsmart these “innovators” that come in with these latest and greatest ideas that nine times out of ten are not sustainable.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Fred Parry, Publisher, Inside Columbia magazine.

Parry and Husni Samir Husni: As the publisher of a city and regional magazine; where do you see the future of that genre’ heading? And have we recovered from the crisis of 2008? Are you still seeing black clouds or are there rays of sunshine peeping through?

Fred Parry: We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think we’ll ever see the revenue levels and the level of activity that we saw in 2008 before the Market crashed. I think for the first few years we all hoped things would get back to “normal” or what we were used to, but I believe we’re all slowly waking up to the fact that advertising is no longer a sustainable model for magazine publishing. And I think the sooner that we can break ourselves away from the addiction of advertising revenue, the sooner we’re going to make that transition into being really content companies versus magazine publishing companies.

As we look at ways to distribute the content that we produce every day, whether it’s through a daily e-newsletter or some type of Smart newspaper or Smart magazine that you described in one of your recent blogs, I really believe that is our future and as soon as we embrace that, we’ll stop wasting time and money trying to make the advertising model work.

Samir Husni: How do you view the transition from ink on paper to digital? And also going from a monthly publication or six times per year to say an hourly, if not a by the minute type publication?

Fred Parry: I think it’s pretty clear that people want an hourly publication. I think people want content updated as frequently as we’re willing to do it, so that’s a real transition for us and a paradigm shift certainly.

But I think there are still going to be people who want that tangible reading experience, whether it’s in the bathroom or on the beach, there will be a need for that magazine. It will just become a very small percentage of our annual revenue model.

And the custom content, the way that’s evolving; the lines between editorial and promotional content have become so blurred, and there doesn’t seem to be much of an effort to defend those lines any longer. People tend to find as much value in promotional content as they do in editorial content.

So, those of us over the age of 30 in the magazine publishing business are still scratching our heads. And the real innovators are the people who are figuring out that john Smith wants to read about wine, baseball and Manchester United Soccer, and until we are able to provide custom content for John Smith, we’re going to lag behind.

Samir Husni: Do you think if we’re able to do that, and I know that technology makes it easy for us to provide that custom content; do you think that people will be willing to pay money for that or do you think they’ll expect the free ride of digital to continue and the Welfare Information Society to remain status quo?

Fred Parry: We have done ourselves a great disservice by creating that Welfare Information Society and I think that it’s going to be almost impossible to teach people that they have to pay for content. Somebody will hopefully find a way to do it.

We’re spending a lot of time in the publishing business right now; I’ve been to three magazine conferences in the last month and the one common thread that is being woven through all of these conferences and what publishers are talking about today are these universal or integrated audience data bases, where every engagement a reader has with our magazines; we need to capture that engagement.

So, if John Smith is reading about wine in our magazine or online, we need to somehow note that engagement and to know that the next time we have some content about wine, we need to alert John Smith that there is an article coming out in next month’s magazine about wine and we think that he’d enjoy it. Or let readers know that we just posted this on our blog or on our website. Being able to capture intelligence about our readers’ preferences and being able to say we know that reader 6279 is interested in these 15 verticals, these 15 categories of interest.

There are a couple of companies that are helping publishers capture that information; it is high-minded; it is something that’s very difficult for those of us that grew up in the traditional world of publishing to get our heads around, but I think it’s very clear that’s our future.

Samir Husni: Do you think that we can monetize that future without the printed product?

Fred Parry: Absolutely, by selling sponsored content. I think that’s where the revenue model is. Once we have the audience established; once we have a greater degree of confidence about the significance and validity of our data bases; I think that we can go to marketers and say, look, I can put you right in front of and help you interact with this small cluster. And maybe that small cluster is just 150 readers or maybe it’s 15,000, but they are uniquely interested in what you’re selling. And I can make it very easy for you to interact with them.

Samir Husni: And what if that advertiser or marketer tells you that they have the same capability of reaching them directly, why would they need you?

Fred Parry: They can’t produce the same kind of content that we’ll produce. They won’t have the same creditability that we do as a content provider. I think that’s going to be our only unique vantage point that we have the creditability and a reputation for generating quality content that people are going to be interested in.

As long as we can preserve our brands and keep building our brands, I believe we’ll have that advantage over the marketer.

Samir Husni: I think you’ll agree with me when I say we live in a digital age. Why are we continuing to produce magazines today like we did in 2007?

Fred Parry: People still want them. If people didn’t want those magazines, basically our business model would fail. While it’s been reduced; I think there’s still a market for that. Print is still credible; people still want that tangible experience and they still want to have that quiet time with a magazine. And I also believe there are times when people want to be on a digital diet, they want to be away from all of those devices. They just want some quiet time.

Maybe I’m just fooling myself, but I’m hoping that there’s still some desire for that physical magazine.

Samir Husni: Have you changed at all? If you compare a copy of Inside Columbia from the early years to a copy from today is there a major difference? I’m one of those people who say there’s not a problem with ink on paper, the problem is with what is being put on the ink on paper. Do I still need a local guide to restaurants in town or a list of all the attorneys in town in print, or should my content change to reflect the new realities of the digital age?

Fred Parry: One of the things that have changed for sure is that our magazines are much smaller than they were in 2008. And I think that we’re probably more in tune with our target reader and what his/her needs are.

At Inside Columbia magazine we have identified a 43-year-old female, named Lisa, as our target audience. And we have painted a picture of Lisa; we have a fictitious character that’s on a poster in our office. Our editors ask what would Lisa think about this; our advertising sales reps ask don’t you want to get this message to Lisa, so that’s one thing that’s changed since 2008. We’re a lot more in tune with what our reader wants and what our reader needs. We know what Lisa’s insecurities are and we know what her frustrations are; we know what keeps Lisa awake at night. If our magazine can somehow satisfy that concern and her needs; we’re really filling a nice void.

Probably more than anything, our magazine is Lisa’s connection to her community and to the real world. Lisa is pretty inundated right now with trying to get the kids to soccer and to school and trying to maintain the house, but also finishing that degree that she’s working on and working part-time somewhere. Lisa’s plate is absolutely full, but if our magazine can serve as that connection between Lisa and the world that she wants to belong to, the world that she wants to be engaged with, that’s probably the strongest benefit that we offer.

Samir Husni: Do you think that the future of the Lisa’s of the world and of the regional and city magazines is a little brighter than the rest of the industry?

Fred Parry: I think it’s brighter because we’re smarter than we were six years ago; it’s brighter because we’re much more efficient; we’re spending money much more cautiously and really, for most of us, there is a better return on our investment. We’re leaner and meaner, and I think we’re poised to sort of ride out the storm. And as the industry evolves and continues to change and be affected by technology; I feel like we’re going to be in a much better position to either innovate or jump on board.

Samir Husni: If you had to name one stumbling block facing the future of Inside Columbia and the future of city and regional magazines, what would it be?

Fred Parry: It’s the traditional advertising model. Trying to go out and sell paid advertising and display advertising gets harder every single day. Six or seven years ago advertising revenue was 92% of our revenue. Today, our core magazine might be 50% of our revenue.

And so we’re replacing that advertising revenue with custom publishing, which has been a big growth sector for us. We’re replacing that magazine revenue with events, digital newsletters, e-blasts and different projects that really have nothing to do with the magazine, other than the fact that we’re borrowing or trading on the goodwill of our brand. And that brand opens the door for us. Inside Columbia is a very strong brand, just like 5280 is in Denver or Boston Magazine. It doesn’t really matter what we’re selling, because we have the creditability of our brand behind us and people trust our brand. I think that’s probably where we have an edge over a lot of other people who are trying to produce content.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Fred Parry: (Laughs) I think that it’s always a struggle to try and figure out what our advertisers are thinking. There’s always something shiny and new that comes along and steals the attention of the traditional marketers that have supported us over the years. So, I think the thing that keeps me awake is trying to figure out how to stay a step ahead; how to outsmart these “innovators” that come in with these latest and greatest ideas that nine times out of ten are not sustainable. But they come in and they temporarily steal our milk and bread and it’s a disruption, to say the least.

I think the thing that keeps me awake is figuring out how to outsmart those folks; how do I go in and make my relationship with that marketer, with the person who’s paying the bills, so strong, that they’ll stop looking at other places and be as faithful to me as I am to them.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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“My Smart Newspaper”… From Dubai With Love: Tomorrow’s Print Newspaper. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Faisal Salem Bin Haider, CEO, Printing & Distribution Sector, Dubai Media Inc.

April 21, 2015

“By creating My Smart Newspaper, with its 16 pages, the reader will be able to spend 10 or 15 minutes to get a summary of everything that’s in the market today through a small, compact newspaper, and at the same time has the feel and look that only print can deliver. You are getting all the information with no waste whatsoever. No waste in paper and no waste of the readers time… it is a win-win situation.” Faisal Salem Bin Haider

Imagine It's 2020 Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Imagine it’s 2020, that was the theme of the 10th WAN-IFRA, the international newspaper association, Middle East Conference in Dubai, The United Arab Emirates. I was a speaker at, and an attendee of, the conference. One of the presentations, My Smart Newspaper, caught my attention and made me think: why wait to 2020 when the future here in Dubai seems to have started yesterday, if not yesteryear.

My Smart Newspaper is a project of Dubai Media Inc.’s Masar Printing and Publishing, an arm of the Government of Dubai under the leadership and vision of Shaikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

My curiosity got the best of me and I was fascinated by the idea of My Smart Newspaper and at the same time had tons of questions. For the first time during a media conference I was seeing and hearing someone considering the promotion of the future of print in a digital age. After all, when I started the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi in 2009, the tag line for the center was, is, and will continue to be, “Amplifying the Future of Print in A Digital Age.”

Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider, CEO, Printing & Distribution Sector, Dubai Media Inc.

Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider, CEO, Printing & Distribution Sector, Dubai Media Inc.

So, as soon the conference was over, I reached out to Masar Printing and Publishing and requested a visit and an interview with its CEO Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider, CEO of Printing and Distribution. My main conversation with him centered on the My Smart Newspaper project, but he was also gracious enough to fill me in on the history of Masar Printing and Publishing facilities that occupy a space of 50,000 square meters (almost 540,000 square feet), equivalent to 7 soccer fields…

After the tour of Masar’s very impressive facilities, I sat down with Mr. Faisal for this Mr. Magazine™Interview that I am sure you will find as informative, captivating, and delightful as I did.

But first the sound bites:

On the concept of My Smart Newspaper: I am sure that you know why we need to go to a smart platform today. We are bombarded with news, newspapers, magazines, digital platforms, etc.; in newspapers alone, each newspaper arrives with at least 80 pages daily. Add to that mobile news arriving every second of the day. We believe that the reader will go through only 10 or 20 pages max of useful information from any newspaper they receive, with the other pages of content going to waste. The readers’ time and interests are of an essence.

On how the transformation will help My Smart Newspaper: The idea starts with building the readers’ profiles and matching that profile with the wants and desires of the readers. We found out that there are four major areas folks are interested in: front page news, columnists, certain specific information and thumbnails of different newspapers.

On the goal of My Smart Newspaper: The goal of My Smart Newspaper is to match the reader’s profile with the content of the printed newspaper. My Smart Newspaper will also have your name and picture with all the pertinent information related to the reader’s profile.

On the fact that a printer came up with this editorial-type innovation: As you know, we are not only printers, but also publishers. We started with Al-Bayan newspaper where I started in 1990 working in the pre-press department. We are so tight with our publishers and we are always coming up with ideas to improve on the quality of the printed product.

On why they invested so much time and money on new printing machines: Today we are in a much better scenario than we were before. We started investing in 2007, before the crisis of 2008; we had already placed the order for the machines. At that time, yes, it was challenging. Many people in the market liked our business model, but as you know; we are in Dubai. In Dubai, we are always thinking ahead.

On whether it takes a lot of guts to swim against the current: Actually, on this subject, digital, most of us came from the IT side into this in the 1990s, so from the beginning we would like to go digital and we learned the offset on these traditional printing machines maybe a few years back. But we always believed that digital should succeed.

On when My Smart Newspaper will become a reality instead of a dream waiting in the wings: Soon, I think. It isn’t cheap. I recently briefed a publisher about the concept and he said, wow, that’s good. Key people in the government, this is what they want; all of them. The challenge will be with the publishers. Are they willing or not to team up to provide this service?

On anything else he’d like to add: The main thing about this technology is the possibilities. This is what has driven us. To make a change you have to really think out of the box. And this is something that we’re really working on and the technology helps us and the cost is becoming more reasonable.

On what keeps him up at night: (Laughs) I’m always thinking about our business.

And now for the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider, CEO of Printing & Distribution Sector, Dubai Media Inc.

Samir Husni: Would you please tell me about the concept of “My Smart Newspaper.”

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: I am sure that you know why we need to go to a smart platform today. We are bombarded with news, newspapers, magazines, digital platforms, etc.; In newspapers alone, each newspaper arrives with at least 80 pages daily. Add to that mobile news arriving every second of the day. We believe that the reader will go through only 10 or 20 pages max of useful information from any newspaper they receive, with the other pages of content going to waste. The readers’ time and interests are of an essence.

So, for that reason, and as you know, today we arrived to a very high-end digital printing machines with acceptable ratings and good quality. We do not believe that the newspaper will die, but we believe we have to become smarter in creating our newspapers.

The idea of My Smart Newspaper started with the simple premise: why don’t we create a paper as the reader would create the paper and not as a publisher. The days when the reader depended on the publisher to tell them what content they need to read are limited, if not gone. Today the reader has many different sources of information. Newspapers, TV’s, agencies, blogs; there are just too many to count. So we said, why don’t we curate all this information on paper, compact it, and produce a 16- page-newspaper on average in which the readers can get the daily articles and content that they prefer.

Digital printing has come of age. Today in Switzerland they’re installing a digital machine that will produce maybe 25,000 daily copies of a newspaper. They moved from web offset to digital. The trend is to move from offset to digital. Digital will make My Smart Newspaper real.

Samir Husni: Can you please explain a little bit more on how this transformation is going to help My Smart Newspaper?

The front page of the prototype issue of My Smart Newspaper.

The front page of the prototype issue of My Smart Newspaper.

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: Well, as print publishers and publishers of two major dailies, we asked ourselves why can’t we be different? What and how can we offer readers more in this digital age? What’s the readers’ preference? How can we put those preferences in a platform that the readers want.

For example, if a reader just wants to read the front page of a specific newspaper, the columns from another paper and the sports section of yet another paper, our idea is learn as much as possible about that reader, create a profile about that reader and create a physically printed newspaper. I know that some are offering such services on the web and on the tablet, but here we are more focused on the look and feel of the platform, and because we know the newspaper, and we know how to built it, the final product we will be a newspaper, however it will be my individualized newspaper. That look and feel can never be created on the internet.

So the idea starts with building the readers’ profiles and matching that profile with the wants and desires of the readers. We found out that there are four major areas folks are interested in: front page news, columnists, certain specific information and thumbnails of different newspapers.

Samir Husni: What is the goal of My Smart Newspaper?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: The goal of My Smart Newspaper is to match the reader’s profile with the content of the printed newspaper. My Smart Newspaper will also have your name and picture with all the pertinent information related to the reader’s profile.

By creating My Smart Newspaper, with its 16 pages, the reader will be able to spend 10 or 15 minutes to get a summary of everything that’s in the market today through a small, compact newspaper, and at the same time has the feel and look that only print can deliver. You are getting all the information with no waste whatsoever. No waste in paper and no waste of the readers time… it is a win win situation.

Samir Husni: What’s fascinating to me is you’re a printer; how did this whole idea of My Smart Newspaper come about? Rather than coming from a publisher, it’s coming from a printer. What’s in it for you?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: As you know, we are not only printers, but also publishers. We started with Al-Bayan newspaper where I started in 1990 working in the pre-press department. We are so tight with our publishers and we are always coming up with ideas to improve on the quality of the printed product. From utilizing our printing machines to their best capacity, to ensuring that we are meeting the needs of the publishers to create a competitive product without great cost or sacrificing the quality. So in short, we work very close with the publishers almost on a daily basis.

In the office of Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider with Hala Hatem, director, sales and marketing and Samer Sabri Abdel Qader, director, pre-press & digital

In the office of Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider with Hala Hatem, director, sales and marketing and Samer Sabri Abdel Qader, director, pre-press & digital

Samir Husni: I just took a tour of the printing plant and it looks as though you’ve invested a lot, in terms of new machines. Are you out of your minds? People tell us that print is on its way out; why are you investing so much in new printing machines, both commercial and newspapers?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: Today we are in a much better scenario than we were before. We started investing in 2007, before the crisis of 2008; we had already placed the order for the machines. At that time, yes, it was challenging. Many people in the market liked our business model, but as you know; we are in Dubai. In Dubai, we are always thinking ahead.

So, from the beginning when we studied the market, we built our list on the budget, which started maybe with $150 million as the initial fund to serve in the international market at that time. The international market based on a newspaper, as you know, and also in the commercial world of magazines and such. So, from that perspective we went big. Why? Let’s go one step back.

At that time, we studied the market, we found that there were maybe 500 printers in U.A.E., in small warehouses, one or two presses here and there, and they called themselves printers. So, we asked ourselves whether we should compete (Laughs) with this red ocean or should we go to the blue ocean.

From that moment on, we said that we would not go with the small machines; we’ll go with the big machines. For that reason we went with the, as you can see in the newspaper press, 16 towers at the same time. On the commercial also, we went with the big web machine, which can print and bind 48 pages in one stroke.

When we ordered these big machines, many people asked us what we were doing, but they don’t know the business. We have a faith that those big machines are good business and good for the business. From there, if we didn’t have these machines, we would not have survived during that time.

Today when we have one of our customers spending his week working on what emotions they want to do, the art work, whatever, but when he’s ready to create and print his content, he wants it to be in the market in one hour…(Laughs)

This big commercial press gives them an advantage. They can get 50,000 copies in one hour in the market. So, this machine can produce a 48 page magazine in one stroke. That is the advantage and that is the reason we decided to go big.

Today, we are celebrating the success. Everybody now knows that was the right move from the beginning.

Interviewing Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider

Interviewing Mr. Faisal Salem Bin Haider

Samir Husni: When I started the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, the tagline was “Amplifying the Future of Print in a Digital Age.” And you are a prime example of that. You are actually working on amplifying the future of print using all the digital technology and the latest in the printing technologies that are out there. Does it take a lot of guts to swim against the current?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: Actually, on this subject, digital, most of us came from the IT side into this in the 1990s, so from the beginning we would like to go digital and we learned the offset on these traditional printing machines maybe a few years back. But we always believed that digital should succeed.

Since 2008 in Drupa (Drupa Print Media Fair) we were seriously working on that. From that time when the digital machines’ makers were invading Drupa, people would come to us and say that they believed we had a big setup and we would like to put our machine on your premises and share the revenues.

In that time it was good news, something given as though a gift. What’s next? If the machine is here, that’s good, but can we sell that type of printing to our clients? At that time, we were doing the visibility studies about digital and digital printing at that time, the answer was no no, we cannot, sell that type of digital printing.

We continued studying this market until we reached 2014 and then we knew it was the time. The time had come when we could successfully implement this business.

Samir Husni: When do you think we’ll see My Smart Newspaper a reality, rather than a dream waiting in the wings?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: Soon, I think. It isn’t cheap. I recently briefed a publisher about the concept and he said, wow, that’s good. Key people in the government, this is what they want; all of them. The challenge will be with the publishers. Are they willing or not to team up to provide this service?

Today, most of the online content is lifted from its original providers and it seems nobody can do anything with the digital theft. We can’t be like digital. We have to ensure we have permissions to republish the articles, columns, pictures, etc. Some people say this is a crazy idea, but we believe that sometimes out of a crazy idea, a great one is coming.

Yes, today we are telling publishers that the machine is real; we are here to help; let’s sit together and see how we can build this together.

What I think is it will be something like the Newspaper Direct; if you want to read a daily newspaper from anywhere in the world, you can read it online or you can print it. This is the same concept that I’m thinking about today. Today we can build this in Dubai. We will build the portal. In this portal, any reader can build his preference. Then we will have another printer, another hub, in any city; in all of those cities we will have it. This is what we believe; this business model will start penetrating this market. The reader will have all his preferences on his card, think of it as an airline’s frequent flyer card with all your preferences stored in it, from the type of food you like to the seat preference. So, this is his newspaper. When he’s on the plane he can get his Smart newspaper.

Samir Husni: The more I think about it; people go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, they know she’s there, but then they get surprised by all the other beautiful treasures. So, you have your preferences with the Smart Newspaper and then you surprise them with other areas that fit that same preference.

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: I’ve always thought the sky is the limit. If you are traveling to a different city, maybe something may come with some dynamic information from that city.

Samir Husni: NewspaperDirect was amazing to me. When I was speaking in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I checked into the hotel, they gave me a list of all the newspapers so I could choose which newspaper I wanted at my hotel room door in the mornings. So, I picked one from Lebanon. But you are taking this concept one step further. I love the idea of the airline frequent flyer card and all the preferences. We know you like Real Madrid and politics from this region and…

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: Yes, they will have your account on the portal. The hotel chains can use this portal, so all you’ll have to do is give them your account number, and then they will use your account to produce your newspaper. All the information is there.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: The main thing about this technology is the possibilities. This is what has driven us. To make a change you have to really think out of the box. And this is something that we’re really working on and the technology helps us and the cost is becoming more reasonable.

To make the dream come true, when we went through this project, we bought an excellent machine, a very fast machine, 300 meters per minute. Then on the finishing part, we were thinking should we go cheap or average. So, there were some options on the printing side. But we went with the high-end; it’s very expensive, the only fold-up that can do inline finishing, the gluing and stitching; everything. We decided to go with the speed of the machine if we want to present this idea of commercial on the hardware side.

We asked ourselves what is the core business of our initiative; it is the portal. The portal could be smart and dynamic. And we want the person who will use the portal to be able to understand the newspaper. We want to keep the feeling of the paper; I want the reader to say this is a paper, not online. So, for that reason we worked with a specialized company out of Lebanon, Layout International, they are international and dominate a big market share with most of the content management systems for newspapers. Today all our newspapers in Dubai are using their system. We told them this is what we want; we can easily get information from online, but we want to have a full page. This is why we need to work closer with the publisher. And today they’re working with us too and we all want to make this business successful.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Faisal Salem Bin Haider: (Laughs) I’m always thinking about our business.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Magazines As Informers. The Social Role of the American Consumer Magazines. A Blast from Mr. Magazine’s™ Past: Dissertation Entries Part 8

April 17, 2015

Magazines as Informers
1983

Mr. Magazine™ in his official role as a professor and educator.

Mr. Magazine™ in his official role as a professor and educator.

In a country such as the United States, media critics claim that mass communication media should have a social responsibility toward the audience it is serving. In the case of magazines, for example, Roland Wolseley argues that they should have the obligation “to provide the people with a fair presentation of facts, with honestly held opinions, and with truthful advertising.” This obligation was obvious in the case of Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts where the court penalized the Saturday Evening Post for not taking more time in checking its story on coach Butts. The Magazine Advertising Bureau agreed that magazines have more obligations than other mass media because they “do not have the spot news function of either the newspaper or the radio. With the advent of television and its role in entertaining, magazines began to focus more on informing people about different matters that help them with their daily living. This new focus covered a broad base of information. Topics such as how to prepare food better, or to cope with rigors of living, or even how to survive a nuclear war, are but a few examples of this new focus.

The role of magazines as informers is chiefly detected through the news they print, the meanings they give to events, and the descriptions used to identify those events. Benjamin M. Compaine divided this role of magazines into two parts: passive and active. The passive information, he said, is information intended for the reader’s entertainment or for his general knowledge. On the other hand, active information is intended for specific use. Compaine gave an example of each type. Passive information might be an article on the life of Billie Jean King, while active information might be an article on how to cure tennis elbow. Compaine also noted that the special interest consumer magazines deal with active information and that general interest consumer magazines deal with passive information.

Whether active or passive, the role of magazines as informers witnessed no basic change through the years. “There are just as many people who turn to magazines primarily for information,” the study found. “People regard magazines as an excellent way of keeping abreast of trends, keeping informed about new products, and securing information about individual and special interests and activities such as hobbies, decorating, family care, and fashion.”

John Tebbel went a step further in discussing the role of the magazine as informers. He said, “Among the consumer magazines, the informational function is preeminent, no matter what audience is being reached…We live in an Age of Information, and certainly magazines are the prime carriers of it.” Magazines carry information that is far different from that found in other media. This information, especially in the newsweeklies, has helped, according to John Hohenberg, to “fill an indefensible gap in the reporting of national and international affairs by less qualified daily newspapers of the nation and the bulletin-type coverage of radio and television.” This gap would only be filled by magazines in their roles as informers by offering the readers something quite different from that of newspaper or television information.

To put it in the words of Louis M. Lyons, then curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, this information should “give the readers something to chew on, to mull over, something to stir his imagination, to reflect about, not only to broaden his awareness of current issues but to lead him to consider matters that are not now and may never be current issues, but should engage the attention of the questing mind.”

The above information was written in 1983 and is taken from a portion of my dissertation when I was at the University of Missouri-Columbia where I obtained my doctorate in journalism. And while the majority of the material still holds true, things have changed drastically in some areas.

Magazines as Informers
2015

passive reeseactive cover

While many facets of magazine media have changed drastically over the years, this is one area that has not. In fact, I still stand behind every word that I wrote in 1983 concerning magazines as informers.

The voices remain status quo as well. In 2015, the passive information exists and so does the active. Examples today of Compaine’s observation could be: passive – Reese Witherspoon on the January 2015 cover of Glamour, offering a look inside her personal life with the statement “I don’t do regret,” and active – February’s Muscle & Fitness, which compels you to ‘Pump up Your Gains with a Proven Workout.’

Magazines inform on many levels: political, epicurean, fashion and beauty, science, celebrity, health, fitness, and the list goes on and on. The words of Louis M. Lyons have never been truer than they are today, the information one finds within the covers of a magazine should “give the readers something to chew on, to mull over, something to stir his imagination, to reflect about, not only to broaden his awareness of current issues but to lead him to consider matters that are not now and may never be current issues, but should engage the attention of the questing mind.” And without a doubt, they do.

Next week Mr. Magazine™ begins the journey of The Commercial Role of magazines then in 1983, and now in 2015.

Until next week…stay ‘informed,’ pick up a magazine.

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Travel With A Purpose: Smithsonian Embarks On New Journeys (The Magazine, That Is). The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Publisher Steve Giannetti And Editor-in-Chief Victoria Pope

April 15, 2015

“I’m very excited about this part of our business. I was brought up in print and I do believe that it’s the role of print and how it plays in the overall world of our media. You see it as much as I do; now we’re seeing digital-only plays that want to get into the print business and so, isn’t it right that we should actually start with the median and grow it the other way? That’s where I see the future going, creating content that can be deeper and articulated in different ways in the world of publishing.” Steve Giannetti

“I believe very much in the importance of the commercial side. I don’t feel successful without being successful.” Victoria Pope

SJ If you love to travel and you love to learn about the places and destinations you’re traveling to, then Smithsonian’s new magazine, Smithsonian Journeys is for you. The magazine could easily have the tagline, “Travel with A Purpose.” Of course, the one it has bodes well for it too, “Seeing the World in a New Light.”

Steve Giannetti is the chief revenue officer and Victoria Pope is editor-in-chief and the two together have a collaborative bond that is apparent throughout the pages of the sleek magazine. The editorial is wonderful and the ads are dynamic and only add to the energy and flow of the magazine.

I spoke with Steve and Victoria recently and they praised their new baby as only parents could and should, without ignoring the inherent pitfalls of growing up that every infant has. The power and beauty of print was a driving factor behind the powers-that-be of the Smithsonian’s decision to launch a new title. And by the deep, enriched feeling you get from just flipping through the pages, I would say they made a stellar decision.

So, sit back and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Steve Giannetti, Publisher and Victoria Pope, Editor-in-Chief, Smithsonian Journeys.

But first, the sound-bites:

On why Smithsonian decided to launch a print magazine in a digital age: What a great opportunity to create a tangible, tactile, beautiful product that is able to take all of our travel resources and put them together in one place. (SG)

On why Paris was the city of choice for the first issue: Honestly, when I came into the job, I could do whatever I wanted, but within a very short period of time. And I wanted to pick a place that I felt I knew on the ground a bit. I knew a little bit about Arab culture there; I had read a lot about black American culture historically there, so I felt like I had a strong starting point. (VP)

On whether the history of the city or region chosen will play an integral part of every issue: That’s the idea. We’re in the midst of doing an issue now that will be on what’s called the “Inca Highway,” the countries of the Andes, so Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile. Again, it’s trying to create a rounded, curated view of that region. We have a piece on what’s called “Astro Tourism” in Chile, which is to say it’s going to be a story on the southern night sky and about stargazing. (VP)

On whether anyone told Steve that Smithsonian was out of its mind for launching a print magazine today: I can tell you that exact quote was said to me several times. I was asked why we would do it and I explained to them that if you look at the magazine business today, Samir, where is it resonating the most? With high quality, beautiful, tactile publications and that this is far more than just a magazine print launch. And I also said wait until you see the issue.

On where Steve sees the future of print: There is no doubt the future of print, I think, is creating products that are more a part of a larger medium mix, it’s not just print alone. It’s now the launching point of a content platform that we’re going to be expanding, so I see this more as print’s role in the entire medium mix and I see us growing in, and I don’t want to call them niches, because that’s not the right word, but I see us growing in areas that can create content that is deeper and more easily articulated in other platforms. And I think consumers will pay for that. And if consumers pay for it, advertisers will follow.

On the major stumbling block Victoria felt they had to face while launching the magazine: Of course, you have to start small and by that I mean small budget as well. For me, it’s been quite an issue to find the kinds of contributors that I want in a foreign venue. I have to start from scratch basically when it’s a place far away. I don’t have the budget to send people from the states and I’m not even sure that’s the model that I want to follow.

On Steve’s opinion of the biggest stumbling block: The biggest stumbling block was really in convincing people that we were creating a beautiful product that no one had ever seen before, but tell them also that they were going to have trust and take that ride with us.

On whether Steve believes pricey magazines and consumer-driven revenue may be the new business model for magazines: As the chief revenue officer and I’m also in charge of consumer marketing as well, so yes, I don’t want to be reliant on just sponsors and advertisers, so the answer to that question is yes. We do feel a product has to be paid for, or at least somewhat paid for or monetized through the consumer.

On the human being Victoria feels the magazine would become if struck with a magic wand that could turn Smithsonian Journeys into a person: It’s Victoria, but it’s also the Smithsonian Journeys traveler, frankly. I spent a lot of time talking with the people on the travel side about the people they’ve met on the trips, who they are and what they are, people who are autodidacts, who are very interested in all kinds of subjects. Then I try to incorporate my personality and the things that I’m interested in and the visual sense of the art director, in with those people, so truly it’s rather a cohort of people.

On what motivates Victoria to get our bed and look forward to going to work: I really love the process of figuring out how the magazine is going to look with the art director.

On what motivates Steve to get out of bed and look forward to going to work: Having been in this business for a long time, what I really love about getting up today is that we’ve created a new product that’s amazing. I’m sitting here with the editor-in-chief, right? I believe in church and state, but what I really love is that we’ve created this arm-in-arm, not me telling Victoria how to write the edit or what to write, but us constantly talking about how we can make it better and sharing what we think about every facet of the magazine.

On what keeps Steve up at night: What keeps me up at night is very simple right now. It’s that I know we’ve created a great product, but is the consumer going to think it’s great.

On what keeps Victoria up at night: I’m kept awake by the many needs to move very quickly ahead and whether I’ll be able to make something as good as I want it to be. There really isn’t a lot of time between issues, it seems that way, and that keeps me up.

And now for the lightly edited transcription of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Steve Giannetti, Publisher, and Victoria Pope, Editor-in-Chief, Smithsonian Journeys.

Samir Husni: Why did Smithsonian decide to launch a new magazine in print in today’s digital age?

Steve Giannetti Photo Steve Giannetti: There are a couple of reasons why and the first one is that travel is in the DNA of the Smithsonian brand and our travel division is called Smithsonian Journeys. Smithsonian Journeys is a place where you can book a trip to virtually any place in the world and when you go on one of our trips a Smithsonian expert is with you. This has been around for about 30 years and it’s a really robust business for us.

From a commercial standpoint, travel has been a really large part of our advertising and sponsorship and the Smithsonian consumers love to travel; we know that from our business; they have money and they have time.

We felt with all these areas coming together; what a great opportunity to create a tangible, tactile, beautiful product that is able to take all of our travel resources and put them together in one place. That was really the genesis of this idea and then we brought Victoria on, who used to work at National Geographic, and she’s just brought a whole new perspective. As we say on the cover: seeing the world in a new light is exactly what this publication is about.

Samir Husni: Victoria, that leads me to the question, why did you choose the city that never ceases to delight and fascinate Americans, Paris, for the first issue?

Victoria Pope: (Laughs) Doesn’t that say it all? Honestly, when I came into the job, I could do whatever I wanted, but within a very short period of time. And I wanted to pick a place that I felt I knew on the ground a bit. I knew a little bit about Arab culture there; I had read a lot about black American culture historically there, so I felt like I had a strong starting point. I also just wanted a place in which we could follow very vividly the template that I think is important in this kind of journalism, which is taking history and bringing it into the modern and bringing it alive. Paris is a city that does have those connections everywhere, so it was a good model location for us.

Samir Husni: Victoria, what was your position at National Geographic?

Victoria Pope Headshot Victoria Pope: I had several positions. For most of my nine years there I was deputy to the editor-in-chief, so I was number two at the magazine.

Samir Husni: When I flipped through the pages of the first issue, I felt as though you were a curator of Paris. If someone is interested in Paris and its history and how it relates to Americans; you’ve done a great job with that curation. Is this what we’ll see with every issue’s topic?

Victoria Pope: That’s the idea. We’re in the midst of doing an issue now that will be on what’s called the “Inca Highway,” the countries of the Andes, so Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile. Again, it’s trying to create a rounded, curated view of that region. We have a piece on what’s called “Astro Tourism” in Chile, which is to say it’s going to be a story on the southern night sky and about stargazing.

Then there will be a piece on La Paz on the ways in which superstition infuses everyday life. Charles Mann, who is the author of 1491, is going to be looking at the ecology of the region and how that ecology really gave it the possibilities of becoming a great civilization back at the time of the Incas. And several stories deal with Incan civilization.

What we do know with each issue is that we want to follow the kinds of subjects that are most important to the Smithsonian readers, meaning Smithsonian in a general sense, the Smithsonian partaker, if you will, the people who go on tours and who like the museums in the magazine. And we’re always going to try and have one science story; we’re always going to have history, whether it be deep history, like archaeology in the case of the Andean countries, or in the case of Paris, we went back to the 17th century.

So we know that these two elements will be in each issue and then also a certain amount of food history, but also some contemporary food reporting. We feel that people care about this a lot and we’re trying to do everything a little bit deeper than it is in most travel publications because I personally find that most travel magazines don’t give me enough of what I want.

I was a foreign correspondent for over 10 years and I remember that when people would visit me, tourists and friends, they really wanted to know about the places; they really wanted to know more than just what they could find out quickly in a list of places to see, such as monuments and restaurants, and that’s what we’re trying to cater to.

Samir Husni: Steve, this is a print publication in a digital age and as the chief revenue officer, you had the responsibility of trying to sell this magazine to advertisers. Did anybody tell you that you were out of your mind to bring another print publication into this digital age?

Steve Giannetti: I can tell you that exact quote was said to me several times. I was asked why we would do it and I explained to them that if you look at the magazine business today, Samir, where is it resonating the most? With high quality, beautiful, tactile publications and that this is far more than just a magazine print launch. And I also said wait until you see the issue.

The initial response was that, but after a bit it was more of, I’m really happy you’re doing this and that you’re staying committed to a platform that is very important. And as you can see, we were very successful in bringing in a quality group of advertisers to the magazine and we hope to bring in more.

Samir Husni: The whole “print is dead” marching band has dissolved and now the new group’s mantra is “print is in decline.” Where do you see the future of print?

Steve Giannetti: There is no doubt the future of print, I think, is creating products that are more a part of a larger medium mix, it’s not just print alone. It’s now the launching point of a content platform that we’re going to be expanding, so I see this more as print’s role in the entire medium mix and I see us growing in, and I don’t want to call them niches, because that’s not the right word, but I see us growing in areas that can create content that is deeper and more easily articulated in other platforms. And I think consumers will pay for that. And if consumers pay for it, advertisers will follow.

I’m very excited about this part of our business. I was brought up in print and I do believe that it’s the role of print and how it plays in the overall world of our media. You see it as much as I do; now we’re seeing digital-only plays that want to get into the print business and so, isn’t it right that we should actually start with the median and grow it the other way? That’s where I see the future going, creating content that can be deeper and articulated in different ways in the world of publishing.

Samir Husni: What was the major stumbling block that you had to face during this launch process and how did you overcome it?

Steve Giannetti: In terms of advertising or in general?

Samir Husni: In general, or in terms of what you consider the major stumbling block from the point of conception to the point of birth of Smithsonian Journeys?

Victoria Pope: Of course, you have to start small and by that I mean small budget as well. For me, it’s been quite an issue to find the kinds of contributors that I want in a foreign venue. I have to start from scratch basically when it’s a place far away. I don’t have the budget to send people from the states and I’m not even sure that’s the model that I want to follow. I felt finally, when I did get the freelancers that I wanted in Paris to contribute that I would be much happier that I had people who were based in Paris doing it than sending people that I knew from National Geographic or some other place to go over, but it’s very tricky to do that and also not have a very big budget or lead time.

Those are the typical kinds of problems of a start-up and you work on fumes a lot of the time. I’m just very pleased that the first issue has turned out well and I think the second issue will be very good too and we’ll probably be able to grow and put more resources quickly into it.

Steve Giannetti: And that’s the word: resources. The biggest stumbling block was really in convincing people that we were creating a beautiful product that no one had ever seen before, but tell them also that they were going to have trust and take that ride with us. There are going to be bumps from a budgeting standpoint, and I from the chief revenue officer’s standpoint said, we’re going to bring more advertisers into this as well. Hopefully, Samir, what we’re going to find is that it won’t be just travel advertisers, but we’ll get more advertisers that are in the travel genre.

And once we overcame that and people started seeing the magazine being created and seeing it as it grew, internally here at the Smithsonian it’s become a fulcrum of “I want to see this.” I’m in D.C. and I’m carrying a copy and keeping it close to my vest so people don’t steal it from me.

It took a while to get over that first hump, but once we got there and people saw what we were creating and the type of advertising that we were bringing in and the product itself, everybody called and said let’s do it. And you get that with a lot of start-ups.

Samir Husni: I noticed that the cover price is $13.99, for one issue, while you can get almost an entire year of Smithsonian for that price. Is this the new model? Are we going to see more consumer-driven revenue generation from print than from advertising?

Steve Giannetti: As the chief revenue officer and I’m also in charge of consumer marketing as well, so yes, I don’t want to be reliant on just sponsors and advertisers, so the answer to that question is yes. We do feel a product has to be paid for, or at least somewhat paid for or monetized through the consumer. To be successful in the future, Samir, I think any print publication has to look at that model, absolutely.

Samir Husni: The new magazine that National Geographic just launched, National Geographic History, the cover price is $9.99 and published 6 times per year, so we’re starting to see these high cover prices, which to me is sending a signal that if you really like what you see, you will pay for it.

Steve Giannetti: That’s exactly right and remember, Smithsonian Journeys is all original editorial, while some launches are able to use and take into consideration refurbished editorial. So nobody has seen this before. And we felt if we were able to create this unique editorial, it would be great. And this is unique, not only in terms of the content, but also in the view that we’re looking at traveling, and I think this is something that consumers will pay for. And the consumers will talk, so knock on wood, Samir; I’m hoping you’ll buy 200 copies. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) Victoria, if I give you a magic wand and you strike Smithsonian Journeys premier issue with it and a person, a human being, appears in place of the magazine; who would it be and how will that person, male or female, engage with the audience?

SJ Victoria Pope: It’s Victoria, but it’s also the Smithsonian Journeys traveler, frankly. I spent a lot of time talking with the people on the travel side about the people they’ve met on the trips, who they are and what they are, people who are autodidacts, who are very interested in all kinds of subjects. Then I try to incorporate my personality and the things that I’m interested in and the visual sense of the art director, in with those people, so truly it’s rather a cohort of people. I try to bring all of that into this person who represents the magazine. And I think if that’s successful, then I’ve reached a large enough readership. We don’t need to be huge; we just need to be…

Steve Giannetti: …loved. (Laughs)

Victoria Pope: By a subset of people who love to travel and like knowing about places and like the idea of reading several stories about a region or a city at once. And I have to say, I think quite a few people fit that.

Steve Giannetti: If you were going to go to Paris and you read this magazine, I think you’d have a huge head start on seeing the city in a way that probably you would not have experienced in a first-time journey. And that’s what our people want. The traveler from Smithsonian; the cultural traveler wants to learn about things that are new. Not new in the fact that they’re brand-new, but they’re uncovered. They like to discover and they’re curious and that’s the type of person that we want to read this. The ability to take this content and grow it out is something that I’m excited about as well.

Samir Husni: What is the initial launch; can you share some numbers?

Steve Giannetti: We’re putting out 150,000 on the newsstand and I have some alternate distribution going into some cruise lines as well. So, it’s probably about 170,000 altogether.

Samir Husni: Will the magazine have subscriptions or be strictly on the newsstands in the beginning?

Steve Giannetti: Good question. What we did, Samir, was a pre-launch email exchange with some of our list to see if they would buy the magazine in advance. And the response has been very robust, so that’s good. And we have a card in the magazine that asks the reader if they’d like to receive it, I want to get that feedback. I would love to grow it, but right now I think you have to establish the beat ship with the fact that if it works on the newsstand, I would love to grow it, yes. But we have to wait and see what the consumer says here first, if that makes sense.

Samir Husni: Most good magazine launches considered the newsstand as their acid test; if it worked on the newsstand first, then they could go from there.

Steve Giannetti: That’s exactly right. We’re confident that this is going to work, that’s why we’ve committed to four of these.

Samir Husni: Victoria, would you think it was a horrible nightmare if Steve came to you and said let’s do this magazine monthly?

Victoria Pope: (Laughs)

Steve Giannetti: (Laughs too) Yes, the answer is yes.

Victoria Pope: Definitely. (Laughing) That would be an impossibility, but we do need to grow in a lot of ways. We need to grow both in having more editorial products, whether they are specials that come out of Journeys or other things. I have lots of ideas of things that we could produce. I want to spend my free time that I’ll someday have, building up our digital extensions, because I feel there is so much that I could do to help them. We want to make at lists of eating, for example, with the feature that we have on food and the history of food, a very regular and important feature digitally, so I’m trying to get people every week to write something on the subject of food history. We have many things to do beyond the print location.

Steve Giannetti: So, the growth process is to not necessarily increase frequency, it’s increasing the engagement with the consumer in different areas of this great content. And I think if we can do that, frequency will become part of it, but that’s really not going to be our barometer of growth. You don’t want to be just pumping out magazines that don’t have the quality that we have with the Smithsonian. Quality is something we always strive for, whether it’s the magazine or anything else we do. We always ask the question, is this going to represent the brand that we have to represent?

Samir Husni: Anything else either of you would like to add?

Victoria Pope: When you have time to settle down and read it; I’d love to have your thoughts about how we could make it better. Maybe it’s unfair to ask that of you, but I’d love to have your practiced eye to tell us what you think might be missing because it’s evolving; it’s definitely going to evolve.

Samir Husni: I’ll be more than happy to do that.

Samir Husni: Victoria, what makes you get out of bed in the mornings and motivates you to say, wow, I can’t wait to get to work?

Victoria Pope: I really love the process of figuring out how the magazine is going to look with the art director. I have, for probably the fifth time in my life in journalism, probably the perfect partner in my art director because we’re able to bounce ideas off of each other and we often agree about things and that to me, being able to create a product that’s so visual and written that is in harmony, where the visuals are exciting and help to bring people into the storytelling, is really wonderful.

Samir Husni: And Steve?

Steve Giannetti: Having been in this business for a long time, what I really love about getting up today is that we’ve created a new product that’s amazing. I’m sitting here with the editor-in-chief, right? I believe in church and state, but what I really love is that we’ve created this arm-in-arm, not me telling Victoria how to write the edit or what to write, but us constantly talking about how we can make it better and sharing what we think about every facet of the magazine. So, it has really re-jazzed me and reenergized me to say that I’m in a business that has a lot of growth areas.

We’re working together now and I really love that. Years ago, the church and state chasm was so big that it just didn’t work. But now, being able to collaborate on something new and come out with a great product, that’s really energizing, even for an old guy like me.

Samir Husni: (Laughs) Steve, since you mentioned the old guy and I did not, my typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Steve Giannetti: (Laughs too) What keeps me up at night is very simple right now. It’s that I know we’ve created a great product, but is the consumer going to think it’s great.

Samir Husni: And Victoria?

Victoria Pope: I’m kept awake by the many needs to move very quickly ahead and whether I’ll be able to make something as good as I want it to be. There really isn’t a lot of time between issues, it seems that way, and that keeps me up. I still have two assignments to make for the next issue.

Let me just say something about the collaboration with Steve. It’s been really nice. I remember the very first day we met on my fifth day on the job and I said, I think that we’re going to have to stream these quarterlies; it’s going to be better if we just, instead of covering the world every four months, we narrow it down to cities and regions. And Steve immediately picked up on that and was able to reinforce what I was thinking editorially from a business standpoint. And that meant a lot to me.

I believe very much in the importance of the commercial side. I don’t feel successful without being successful.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Rodale’s Organic Life: The Story Of A Perfect Magazine Launch from Conception to Delivery. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Editor-in-Chief James Oseland And Publisher Ellen Carucci.

April 13, 2015

“There is something very particular about the act of physically holding a magazine in one’s hand and flipping through it slowly, then placing it aside onto your nightstand or coffee table or kitchen counter and returning to that same thing that you placed aside an hour later or even a few days later. The way that our minds and indeed our bodies interact with printed matter, it’s simply not the same.” James Oseland


“I almost think there is sort of a rebellion against people’s screens right now. I was reading books on Kindle until a couple of months ago; I’m hearing that hardcover books are having resurgence. I think people want something in their hands, they spend so many hours on their screens for work, I think they’re looking for an opportunity to disconnect and have their own personal time.” Ellen Carucci

Rodale's Organic Life Sub. J.I. Rodale founded Rodale in 1930. His granddaughter, Maria Rodale, delivered the dream that her grandfather envisioned 85 years ago. That vision is encapsulated between the covers of the premiere issue of Rodale’s Organic Life magazine. Under the watchful eye of Editor-in-chief James (Jim) Oseland and the marketing skills of publisher Ellen Caruuci, the first issue of the magazine delivers 158 hefty pages from which 54 pages are advertising pages.

From the moment of conception, to the hour of delivery, this is the story of a perfect magazine launch in 2015. I spoke with Jim and Ellen separately and I tried my best to reconstruct the organic launch story of a magazine that in fact has been 85 years in the making. The dream of J. I. Rodale has been fulfilled and as he looks down from above, you can hear him tell the team, ” a job well done.”

So, I hope you enjoy these interviews with two people who know how to live an “Organic Life” and are ready to help all of us do the same.

But first the sound-bites:

On James’ description of the moment of conception for Organic Life:
It was an exhilarating moment, the promise that the concept held just immediately got my creative juices flowing.

On Ellen’s description of the “pregnancy and delivery” for Organic Life:
I think relatively painless.

On James’ opinion of what Organic Life is all about: Organic Life is a new brand for the very many of us who are striving to live better, to consume and shop responsibly, to raise and interact with our families responsibly, and to tend to our living environment very mindfully, but do all of the above with a kind of gusto and vibrancy as well.

On whether Ellen heard the phrase you’re out of your mind to launch a print magazine in a digital age:
I didn’t hear it often. I heard it maybe once or twice and people didn’t phrase it as are you out of your mind, it was kind of like, wow, you’re brave. But my feeling is that for a magazine that has lush photography, that has a very artisanal feel to it; there will always be a market for that.

On any stumbling blocks James felt he had to face:
You know, it’s the strangest thing, Samir, there weren’t any. I mean, there were a couple of small banana peels along the way, but in my now almost four decades of making things, from being a filmmaker in my twenties, to my years of association with Saveur until now; I have never encountered a creative process so easy and so inspirational; I kid you not.

On Ellen’s opinion of the magazine’s competitive set:
That’s an interesting question and I actually just heard from an agency in Minneapolis recently where the lady said, wow, there really isn’t anything like this in the marketplace. Figuring out our competitive set is going to be a little bit tricky.

On why Ellen believes there has been this sudden reemergence of print with major publishers:
I almost think there is sort of a rebellion against people’s screens right now. I was reading books on Kindle until a couple of months ago; I’m hearing that hardcover books are having resurgence. I think people want something in their hands, they spend so many hours on their screens for work, I think they’re looking for an opportunity to disconnect and have their own personal time.

On James’ thoughts of what J.I. Rodale would think about Organic Life:
That’s a really beautiful question. We had a launch toast just yesterday here in Emmaus (Pennsylvania) for the entire Emmaus staff. Roughly, 400 people gathered together and Maria gave a really beautiful short speech at the beginning of the toast answering that exact question. I think she’s far more the appropriate person to answer that question than I would be and what she said was, she felt that what we had created had harnessed her grandfather’s and her father’s aims and ideologies, the things that thrilled them most about the possibilities of what human beings can do in a very grateful and eloquent, beautiful and true way.

On Ellen’s thoughts of what J.I. Rodale would think about Organic Life:
I think he would say that at last the rest of the world has caught up.

On what makes James click and tick:
The idea that I am the luckiest person in the world because I get to spend every day of my adult life making beautiful and smart things. I feel very privileged to be able to do that.

On what makes Ellen click and tick: I believe that I’m working for a company that is so different from any other magazine company out there because I think this company walks the walk and talks the talk and the whole mission of well-being and wellness is so core to Rodale.

On anything else Ellen would like to add:
I think the one point that I want to make is this is a magazine that’s a very inclusive brand and I don’t want people to be scared off by the fact that we have organic in the title, because we’re organic with a small “o.”

On what keeps James up at night:
I tend to be someone who is restless with my own sense of perfection and so I’m always wanting to do better and go farther and though we might have moved mountains during the course of any particular day, I have a hard time letting go at night of my mind figuring out other ways in which that mountain could have been moved, perhaps even better.

On what keeps Ellen up at night:
What keeps me up at night is there is simply not enough hours in the day for me to get to all the places where I need to get to.

James Oseland And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ conversation with James Oseland, Editor-in-chief, Organic Life & Ellen Caucci, Publisher.

Samir Husni: Jim, first, congratulations on the new magazine, Rodale’s Organic Life.

James Oseland: Thank you.

Samir Husni: You wrote in the editor’s letter of the first issue: magazines are slow foods, made to be lingered over, but the internet is also a keen resource for organic living; your Smartphone is the library of Alexandria; a symphony hall, and a weather station in your pocket; how amazing is that. Jim, how amazing is that?

James Oseland: Yes, it’s very amazing. The odds of all this constant 24-7 accessibility to information; I can be driving on a Lebanese country road and curious about an unfamiliar species of coniferous tree and get to the bottom of that species, from its name to its lifespan to its growing requirements, within minutes. It’s mind-blowing, the access to information about all aspects of life on earth that are literally at our fingertips. The only times that information isn’t accessible is when we’re out of range, but most places on planet Earth these days, at least the inhabited ones, you’re very in range.

It’s very easy to decry the internet and maybe some of the less lofty information streams available on it, from celebrity-plastic-surgeries-gone-wrong galleries to even sillier stuff, but the fact is it’s just an extraordinary tool. Internet accessibility is an extraordinary tool if one uses it mindfully and conscientiously.

That being said, there is something very particular about the act of physically holding a magazine in one’s hand and flipping through it slowly, then placing it aside onto your nightstand or coffee table or kitchen counter and returning to that same thing that you placed aside an hour later or even a few days later. The way that our minds and indeed our bodies interact with printed matter, it’s simply not the same. I’m not a scientist and I can’t precisely put my thumb on what the physiological ramifications of that action or process is, but I just know that as a human being it’s just not the same thing. I know how I read on my Smartphone or on my laptop or even on my desktop, it has nothing to do with the way that I react and interact with a print magazine.

I think the fact is, what a fantastic moment we’re living in when we’ve got on the one hand, this accessibility of infinite information and on the other hand this sacred, simple and very satisfying reality of having a print magazine. I see it as a best-of-both-worlds moment.

Samir Husni: As an editor of a brand new magazine; the first issue is out on the newsstands on April 13, can you recreate that genesis; that moment when you first sat down with the Queen of Organic, Ms. Maria Rodale, and found out Rodale was going to do this new magazine, Organic Life? Can you describe that moment of conception?

James Oseland: Sure. Maria and I are old friends going back to when I worked on Organic Style with her. We had spoken directly, and largely indirectly, about doing something else at some vague point in the future; however, what we’d spoken of didn’t take this specific form until roughly winter 2013.

And when she presented the specific construct of Organic Life, it wasn’t called that yet, it was, I can honestly say, absolutely and truly one of those rare moments that come along where it was nothing short of a lightning bolt or an epiphany; it was, “yes, I get that. I see that, so absolutely and so vividly. Why hasn’t this existed before? Let’s get on it.”

So, it was an exhilarating moment, the promise that the concept held just immediately got my creative juices flowing.

Samir Husni: For those who don’t yet have a copy of the first issue in their hands; can you briefly tell me what Organic Life is?

James Oseland: Organic Life is a new brand for the very many of us who are striving to live better, to consume and shop responsibly, to raise and interact with our families responsibly, and to tend to our living environment very mindfully, but do all of the above with a kind of gusto and vibrancy as well.

We strive to be a magazine that celebrates the idea of doing better and that empowers all of our readers, whether they are die-hard, fully immersed people in the world of organic, or those that are just discovering it for the first time. We want to welcome everybody to the table with a beautiful, immersive print magazine, which in certain respects is a kind of throwback to the glory days of the magazines of my youth. I think of Life and Look, Time and Newsweek with their comprehensiveness and their beauty; their power and ability to transport readers to someplace else, to edify and enthrall me with beauty. We’re striving to do nothing less than that and I realize that might sound like a really tall order, but to my mind we’re ready for it.

And as I was referencing a moment or two ago, it’s odd that such a title in this particular set hasn’t existed before. So, that’s largely a very, very thrilling concept that it hasn’t. It’s a kind of wonderful, glorious open-field moment for those of us who are creating it.

Samir Husni: From that moment of conception to the time of birth, were there any stumbling blocks during the pregnancy and if so, how did you overcome them?

James Oseland: You know, it’s the strangest thing, Samir, there weren’t any. I mean, there were a couple of small banana peels along the way, but in my now almost four decades of making things, from being a filmmaker in my twenties, to my years of association with Saveur until now; I have never encountered a creative process so easy and so inspirational; I kid you not. From start to finish there was this kind of subconscious knowledge inside of me and the very wonderful team that we put together, that no, we’re doing the right thing here and everything just flowed. I’ve never encountered such an easy situation putting together something, especially from scratch.

Samir Husni: Do you think the reason for that easy pregnancy was the concept of the magazine or the people you have surrounded yourself with?

James Oseland: I think both. You know, it’s just something, energetically speaking, where it all just came together. And who knows, it might have something to do with the fact that our terrific business manager, our general manager, Cindy Carter, is also a Reike practitioner. (Laughs) But I think in addition to Cindy’s absolutely proven, magnificent powers, the rest is just something so right and so accurate and so pure about this construct that it just flowed.

Not to mention the fact that there is something about the kind of purity and earnestness of Rodale itself that created this wonderful safety net as well as a source of automatic inspiration for what we’ve done. To my knowledge there is no other media company on earth that has the true physical heart and psychic soul of a 300-plus acre, experimental organic farm just a 20-minute drive from the home office. To be able to plug into all that means is almost like Rodale-the company did a significant amount of the work for us just by the very nature of the company, if that makes any sense.

Samir Husni: If the premier issue of Rodale’s Organic Life could be delivered to the founder of the company, Mr. Rodale, in his other life, what do you think his reaction would be?

James Oseland: That’s a really beautiful question. We had a launch toast just yesterday here in Emmaus (Pennsylvania) for the entire Emmaus staff. Roughly, 400 people gathered together and Maria gave a really beautiful short speech at the beginning of the toast answering that exact question. I think she’s far more the appropriate person to answer that question than I would be and what she said was, she felt that what we had created had harnessed her grandfather’s and her father’s aims and ideologies, the things that thrilled them most about the possibilities of what human beings can do in a very grateful and eloquent, beautiful and true way, and when she said that it was, for me, a very misty-eyed experience. I had not heard that specifically from her before and it was very gratifying to hear.

Samir Husni: What makes Jim tick and click every morning? What makes you get out of bed and motivates you to start your day?

James Oseland: The nice bowl of Muesli that I made the night before with all sorts of wonderful oats and wheat germ and chopped fruit. (Laughs) And the idea that I am the luckiest person in the world because I get to spend every day of my adult life making beautiful and smart things. I feel very privileged to be able to do that. There are lots of people who don’t have it so lucky and I don’t forget it for a second.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

James Oseland: I don’t think this is a contradiction to what I just said about what jumpstarts me every morning; I think it’s part and parcel, and all a part of this kind of strange and fabulous and sometimes infuriating miracle of the creative life, but I tend to be someone who is restless with my own sense of perfection and so I’m always wanting to do better and go farther and though we might have moved mountains during the course of any particular day, I have a hard time letting go at night of my mind figuring out other ways in which that mountain could have been moved, perhaps even better. It’s a kind of restlessness, but it’s a fire inside that I’ve just learned to accept and work with, rather than be consumed by.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

And now the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Ellen Carucci, Publisher, Rodale’s Organic Life magazine…

Samir Husni: As I just asked Jim, since the moment of conception to the moment of birth; how was the pregnancy?

Ellen Carucci 2013_rev Ellen Carucci: I think relatively painless.

Samir Husni: As a publisher, when you went to talk to the ad agencies and the advertisers; did you often hear the question: are you out of your mind launching a print magazine in this digital age?

Ellen Carucci: I didn’t hear it often. I heard it maybe once or twice and people didn’t phrase it as are you out of your mind, it was kind of like, wow, you’re brave. But my feeling is that for a magazine that has lush photography, that has a very artisanal feel to it; there will always be a market for that. It’s not like we’re publishing a newsweekly where the information is already days old by the time the magazine hits subscribers’ mailboxes.

So, I think this is a very, very different kind of magazine. It’s a magazine that’s very lush; it’s got great photography, great production; it’s a fascinating read; it’s a brand that you want to curl up with. And I think that there will always be a place for that kind of print, at least for the rest of my lifetime.

Samir Husni: And when you’re told that there’s nothing like it in the marketplace; what can or could you compare it to?

Ellen Carucci: That’s an interesting question and I actually just heard from an agency in Minneapolis recently where the lady said, wow, there really isn’t anything like this in the marketplace. Figuring out our competitive set is going to be a little bit tricky.

In some ways, we look at Real Simple as kind of a magazine that we admire a lot. Our prototype for people who ask what kind of metrics they should use as far as MRI, we’re actually recommending a two-thirds Better Homes and Gardens and one-third Real Simple, but I also think that Martha Stewart and Oprah have affinities for the brand.

We’ll still have gardening, but it’s become a much less important content pillar than it obviously had been when we were Organic Gardening, because fine gardening is something we could look at, but certainly not for our media competitive set. But I think part of that is going to depend on the marketplace’s response.

Samir Husni: And so far I know that it’s just a first issue; how has the marketplace’s response been to you?

Ellen Carucci: The marketplace response has been phenomenal. Don’t forget that we’ve only had the issue in our hands for the last week. We had a prototype that we had on the marketplace in early January and the reception to the prototype was fantastic, but I’m in the wonderful position of saying that the real product has blown the prototype out of the water. People absolutely love it; they think it’s gorgeous and they think it’s beyond their expectations.

There is an element, and I think this is something that Jim intended right out of the gate; there is an element of surprise, delight, whimsy and of the unexpected that really rings through on every single page.

Samir Husni: Why do you think it was easy on you; you said it was an easy pregnancy; is it because you’re part of Rodale or can anyone create a magazine similar to Organic Life and have the response you’ve had from the ad industry?

Ellen Carucci: I could have scripted your question; thank you for asking it. It’s interesting, because J.I. Rodale said in 1942, when he was launching Organic Gardening and Farming; he said one of these days the public is going to wake up and be willing to pay more for eggs, meat and vegetables according to how they are produced. The fact that our founder said that in 1942, when people thought that we were better living through chemicals that were going to solve world hunger, gives us I think the authority and the authenticity to launch this, where no one else could have the same permission to do it.

And given the sidebar that the first advertising partner I told about the re-launch was Subaru, because they’ve been a very loyal organic gardening advertiser for many years, and they were thrilled and said they thought we were moving in absolutely the right direction and that they loved what we were doing with the brand. They also said that no one would believe how many magazines come in and pitch them with: oh, we’re green too; we’ve got this great green message. One of their ad directors said that we (Rodale and Organic Gardening) were green when the rest of the world was black and white. Rodale invented the category.

So, I think that being part of Rodale does give us the permission to do this and everyone knows that our roots are deep and that we’re so authentic in what we’re doing. It’s not like we decided to do this to jump on a bandwagon, we started the trend.

Samir Husni: I asked Jim if the magazine could arrive at the heavenly gates and Mr. Rodale could get a copy, what he thought his reaction would be. He told me what Maria said at the event you had recently, celebrating the launch with the team. If you were able to take J.I. Rodale with you on your sales calls; what do you think he would say to the advertising people?

Ellen Carucci: I think he would say that at last the rest of the world has caught up.

ROLnewsstands Samir Husni: Tell me, Ellen; this is a new launch, yet I know it’s rooted in Organic Gardening. Rodale tried Organic Style and it didn’t work; now with Organic Life everyone said it was so easy. Are you telling me that there were no stumbling blocks on the road of this new launch?

Ellen Carucci: Surprisingly few. I think the one difficulty might have been that there is always going to be that handful of advertisers who say, it sounds very interesting, send us the first issue. Those people who can’t make the leap of faith or they have a policy where they don’t do launches.

But a lot of people did take the leap of faith. So, I don’t think that there were any recurrent stumbling blocks that came up that we couldn’t easily overcome.

Samir Husni: How many ad pages did you end up with for the first issue?

Ellen Carucci: There are 54 ad pages in the first issue. And what I’m very excited about is that we have every main content well-represented. We’ve got food, home, garden and well-being.

Samir Husni: What makes Ellen click and tick? What makes you get up in the morning and motivates your day, making you glad to head to work?

Ellen Carucci: I believe that I’m working for a company that is so different from any other magazine company out there because I think this company walks the walk and talks the talk and the whole mission of well-being and wellness is so core to Rodale.

I’m also an organic gardener myself and a composter. I believe in sustainability, so I’m working for a magazine that’s mission I believe in so completely and I’ve also been in this business a long time and I’ve never worked with an editor that I’ve clicked with more than Jim. I think he’s a visionary, as well as one of the nicest people that I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.

I feel like this is my dream job. In all my years of publishing, to work for a magazine that’s mission is so in tune with, not only what I believe in, but also I feel is a magazine that’s so in the right place at the right time and hitting on so many key society trends that I think this is going to be a homerun. So, I am so jazzed to get to work every day. I’ve never been prouder in my career, frankly.

Samir Husni: Put your futuristic cap on for a moment, if you would; if I’m speaking with you a year from now, what would you like to tell me about Organic Life?

Ellen Carucci: That it did indeed become THE launch of 2015, as we had hoped. And that the circulation goals are exceeding our expectations. And that we have broken most of our target accounts, although there were a few tough nuts to crack, but that I think it’s an extraordinary success and will continue to be so. And I would like to say that in a year, we would have hit every one of our key metrics.

Samir Husni: What’s your circulation base now?

Ellen Carucci: It’s a 300,000 rate base. And what I’m very excited about is that Organic Gardening had fantastic content that was very hard to find on the newsstands. And you asked the question about starting a print magazine right now, but I also don’t want to leave out our beautiful website, which launched April 1. We are truly a multiplatform brand, so I don’t want to overemphasize just our print product.

In this day of newsstand consolidation, when we approached 98 different retailers and every one of them agreed to carry the magazine that told me that we’re on the right track. We’re going to be in every Whole Foods, the organic section of Wal-Mart; we’re going to be in every major grocery chain, whether it’s Kroger, Wegmans, Winn-Dixie, Safeway; we’re also in CVS and Rite Aid and in Lowe’s So, I think even our retail sales department was blown away by the positive response.

We’re going from having a newsstand draw of 15,000 copies per issue to 200,000. I believe the ability of new consumers to sample this is going to be phenomenal. We’re going to see where the circulation goes; it’s not like we have an artificial cap that we’re working toward, like we want to be at 450 by mid-2016, but we have high hopes that the circulation is going to grow.

The appeal for this magazine is going to transcend age and gender and I think it’s going to have enormous appeal to millennials, just because of the inherent value and sense of authenticity and artisanal qualities of the magazine. And the fact that it’s a fantastic and very unexpected read.

Samir Husni: It seems that suddenly, especially this month in April, this is around the fifth magazine coming to the marketplace from a major publisher. Meredith launched Parents Latina, Bauer launched Simple Grace, Smithsonian is launching Smithsonian Journeys, National Geographic launched National Geographic History and Rodale is launching Organic Life; why do you think there’s this sudden reemergence of print in this digital age?

Ellen Carucci: I almost think there is sort of a rebellion against people’s screens right now. I was reading books on Kindle until a couple of months ago; I’m hearing that hardcover books are having resurgence. I think people want something in their hands, they spend so many hours on their screens for work, I think they’re looking for an opportunity to disconnect and have their own personal time. And I think that’s part of what’s driving it.

But I have a question for you now. I know you have a copy of the magazine and I’m not sure how much of a chance you’ve had to dig into it yet, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Samir Husni: I read it cover to cover, including the Almanac. I loved it. I felt so close to the earth with it and an immediate connection. It gives you this pleasant, joyful feeling, which I don’t think any other medium besides a magazine can give you, especially if it’s a magazine that relates to your everyday life: food, gardening and your general well-being. It was very pleasant and I could see the pages of Organic Style and I could think that’s what went wrong with Organic Style, it never felt really organic like Organic Life does.

Ellen Carucci: I think the element of joy, whimsy, surprise and connection to nature that you feel on almost every page is obvious. Maria’s column, which was her talking about raising children and that even though she may not have made her own baby food and used disposable diapers for the first child, she said the number one organic ingredient that you can give your children was unconditional love.

And even in Jim’s editor’s letter; I think it’s so in touch with what people need to hear right now. It may sound kind of hokey, but that old chestnut is true: your body is a temple and sometimes that means yoga, but sometimes it means chocolate cake too.

I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by the joyousness and the whimsy of this magazine. I think it’s going to be a lot more fun than people may have expected.

Samir Husni: Yes, and that was the biggest surprise that I received from reading it too, the fun part. And that’s why I asked Jim how it felt to work with the Queen of Organic, so I’ll ask you the same question; how does it feel working with Maria?

Ellen Carucci: Maria is the loveliest, most down-to-earth person in the world. I love her self-deprecating humor. She comes across so personally, especially in the column that she’s written for the first issue. She’s a force of nature and she has a big legacy on her shoulders and she wears it beautifully.

Samir Husni: It seems that what I hear from almost everyone who knows Maria or who works at Rodale, that there is this connectivity, even among the team at Organic Life. I guess all your feet are grounded in the soil and then you’re heads are above the clouds.

Ellen Carucci: There is truly a sense of shared missions here that I’ve never felt any other place that I’ve worked.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Ellen Carucci: I think the one point that I want to make is this is a magazine that’s a very inclusive brand and I don’t want people to be scared off by the fact that we have organic in the title, because we’re organic with a small “o.” We don’t really think of ourselves as organic; we don’t think of the USDA terminology of organic; we don’t think of growing without pesticides, if you look at the Webster’s Dictionary definition of organic; it means systems more closely aligned with nature.

So, I want people to know that no matter where they are in their journey, even if they don’t compost, even if they don’t like kale; they’re welcomed to a seat at our table. Whatever small stages; whatever life changes they’re making right now to live better, healthier lives, we embrace that and we’re happy to help people on their journey and we’re not hardcore; we’re not militant; we’re not preachy and I think that’s an important takeaway that we want people to know.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Ellen Carucci: What keeps me up at night is there is simply not enough hours in the day for me to get to all the places where I need to get to.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Forbes’ Chief Product Officer Lewis DVorkin To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: The Magazine Business Does Not Have An Audience Problem; The Magazine Business Has An Advertiser Problem. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview.

April 9, 2015

“I think that the pendulum always swings back and forth and I think the pendulum, which had swung pretty much to digital, now may swing, while not all the way back, certainly somewhat toward starting the comeback a bit, because there is a recognition that audiences do like their magazine products.” Lewis DVorkin

Lewis DVorkin at the Magazine Innovation Center, The University of Mississippi

Lewis DVorkin at the Magazine Innovation Center, The University of Mississippi

If you sell it and the public buys it; it’s a product, according to Lewis DVorkin. And it’s very hard to argue with his straightforward logic. And why would anyone want to? Lewis DVorkin is chief product officer for Forbes and believes whole-heartedly in his brand as a valuable product worth selling, and with the across-the-board success of the Forbes brand, obviously worth buying to the consumer.

Lewis is the one-and-only chief product officer in a legacy media company and knows something about platforms, strategies and the power of print integrated in a digital world. With impressive style and intuition, Forbes has done powerful things with native advertising, both within its pages and on its covers.

I spoke with Lewis recently during his visit to Meek School of Journalism and New Media where he was the opening keynote at the 2015 Ole Miss New Media Conference at the University of Mississippi. After his speech Lewis and I visited in my office at the Magazine Innovation Center and engaged in a conversation about print, digital, the small screens that we consume our information on and how they seem to be getting even smaller, and we talked about the future of devices in the world of magazines and magazine media. His answers were succinct and informative.

I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Lewis DVorkin, Chief Product Officer, Forbes magazine; I know you’ll be very enlightened by his answers.

But first the sound-bites:


Lewis DVorkin at the Magazine Innovation Center, The University of Mississippi[/caption] On the role he believes print plays in a digital world:
Obviously, we’re big believers in print. Audiences love, and I can’t speak for newspapers, I’ve been out of that business for a while, but I can say audiences love magazines. They love the identification they have with a magazine; they love the tactile part of the magazine; they love getting it, whether they buy it or it comes to them; they love the storytelling; they love the photography, and they love what a magazine offers. The magazine business does not have an audience problem; the magazine business has an advertiser problem.

On whether he believes the industry will have to continue to depend on advertisers for survival or will it ever make money on its customers:
There is something more to it than the size of the audience, there is also what are the new kinds of products and features that you’re developing for your print product, and as you probably know, we have native advertising in Forbes magazine and we’ve done some dramatic things with second covers and placing a native ad on the cover of Forbes.

On the fact that we’ve moved from a big screen to a small screen and with the Apple Watch coming out, an even smaller screen: Devices will get smaller and smaller. It’s what I was mentioning before; so what’s the kind of content that you consume on these devices and how do we produce content for these devices? It’s difficult enough to figure it out on the Smartphone and there will be a time when we need to figure it out on these wearable devices, but I would also caution you to remember however many years the iPad has been out, maybe four or five years now, that was going to change everything and it really didn’t.

On why he refers to Forbes’ platforms as products:
People are buying it. When you buy something; you’re paying for a product. And if you’re paying to buy this collection of 200 pages or 250 pages, it is a product. If you’re going to a mobile website to look at advertising; it’s a product that houses the advertising.

On the major stumbling block he’s had to face:
Technology is hard. Technology is really hard to move fast enough for the change in consumer behavior. Consumers move faster than advertisers; they move faster in some ways than publishing technology; this is not about us; it’s about the industry and I think that we’re always finding ourselves just stumbling over the question: how do we move fast enough with the technology that we have?

On what keeps him up at night: I generally sleep really well, but I do think a lot about the notion of websites and apps, browsers and apps. It’s very difficult and since I’m a chief product officer; if we can’t make money, that’s not a good thing. And the app world is a difficult world to make money in, but more people are on their Smartphones than ever. So, how do we monetize our users on a Smartphone and when apps are not, so far in the news business, great revenue-drivers and we struggle with that.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Lewis DVorkin, Chief Product Officer, Forbes magazine.

Lewis DVorkin and Samir "Mr. Magazine™" Husni at the Meek School of Journalism, Ole Miss.

Lewis DVorkin and Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni at the Meek School of Journalism, Ole Miss.

Samir Husni: You told me that anytime you hear the word start-up, it gives you a rush. Today, there are a lot of new start-ups being launched in print and also a lot of digital entities. What do you think is the role of print in today’s digital age?

Lewis DVorkin: Obviously, we’re big believers in print. Audiences love, and I can’t speak for newspapers, I’ve been out of that business for a while, but I can say audiences love magazines. They love the identification they have with a magazine; they love the tactile part of the magazine; they love getting it, whether they buy it or it comes to them; they love the storytelling; they love the photography, and they love what a magazine offers. The magazine business does not have an audience problem; the magazine business has an advertiser problem. And advertisers are now trying to move to where they believe their new audiences are, which certainly is digital.

It was interesting; Martin Sorrell recently talked about how magazines have been undervalued or not valued enough by marketers, so I think that the pendulum always swings back and forth and I think the pendulum, which had swung pretty much to digital, now may swing, while not all the way back, certainly somewhat toward starting the comeback a bit, because there is a recognition that audiences do like their magazine products.

Samir Husni: At Forbes, you’re one of the few entities in your space that digital actually brought more readerships to your print. How can you monetize that? Will there ever be way where we can start making money from our consumers, our customers, the readers; or will we have to continue to depend on advertisers for our survival?

Lewis DVorkin: You know, the number that I talk about is an MRI number and advertisers do buy on MRI numbers, so the fact that our MRI numbers have risen is a good thing and our salespeople go out and sell our magazine.

But there is something more to it than the size of the audience, there is also what are the new kinds of products and features that you’re developing for your print product, and as you probably know, we have native advertising in Forbes magazine and we’ve done some dramatic things with second covers and placing a native ad on the cover of Forbes. And those new products and features have attracted a lot of advertisers to us who are interested in being able to participate.

So, again, when I say that print has an advertising problem, we’re trying to find solutions to that. And one of the solutions is the integration, clearly labeled, of marketing content in our magazine in powerful ways. And I think that’s going to have a significant impact on the revenue of the magazine.

Samir Husni: Tomorrow, the preorders for the Apple Watch will begin; the Apple store will start selling the Apple Watch, which based on what I’ve read can actually replace the mobile phone. So, we’re moving from a big screen to a smaller screen and then to an even smaller one.

Lewis DVorkin: As I told someone, what I want is a chip in my ear and all I have to do is tweak it and I can talk, or turn it off or whatever. I mean, devices will get smaller and smaller. It’s what I was mentioning before; so what’s the kind of content that you consume on these devices and how do we produce content for these devices? It’s difficult enough to figure it out on the Smartphone and there will be a time when we need to figure it out on these wearable devices, but I would also caution you to remember however many years the iPad has been out, maybe four or five years now, that was going to change everything and it really didn’t. Smartphones were going to change things.

So, I think the recognition is that everybody (has a device); you have a six-plus; I have a five; some people have watches; some have desktops; there will be many different form factors, and I think the challenge for journalism is that each form factor will require a different kind of format of content. It’s not going to be 3,000 words on a watch, nor is it going to be on a watch what it will be on a Smartphone. That’s a big challenge and we’ll figure it out.

Samir Husni: You took the unprecedented step of getting the title of Chief Product Officer and you identify the magazine and the digital devices as products. Some people in the industry think that we are much more than products; we are the journalists and the marketers; what’s your answer to that? Why do you refer to the magazine, the app and the website as products?

Lewis DVorkin: People are buying it. When you buy something; you’re paying for a product. And if you’re paying to buy this collection of 200 pages or 250 pages, it is a product. If you’re going to a mobile website to look at advertising; it’s a product that houses the advertising. It doesn’t feel as glamourous or as professional perhaps or as romantic. I go back to the days when journalism was a public trust, but all of those things were still on the TV shows, which were products.

And I think that what we have to recognize is that these things are things that make money and are being sold and we need to treat them as something different than just stories. They need to be treated differently than that. And I think that if you pay attention to that, then you will be able to deliver the journalism in a more effective way.

Samir Husni: What has been the major stumbling block that you’ve had to face in recent years and how did you overcome it?

Lewis DVorkin: Technology is hard. Technology is really hard to move fast enough for the change in consumer behavior. Consumers move faster than advertisers; they move faster in some ways than publishing technology; this is not about us; it’s about the industry and I think that we’re always finding ourselves just stumbling over the question: how do we move fast enough with the technology that we have?

And when you combine that with again, consumers are moving faster than the advertising business, and working with marketers and agencies is a little difficult stumbling block on the Smartphone device as well.

So, these are sort of industry-wide stumbling blocks; I don’t think that there is anything specific to Forbes, but they’re really hard.

Samir Husni: And my typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Lewis DVorkin: I generally sleep really well, but I do think a lot about the notion of websites and apps, browsers and apps. It’s very difficult and since I’m a chief product officer; if we can’t make money, that’s not a good thing. And the app world is a difficult world to make money in, but more people are on their Smartphones than ever. So, how do we monetize our users on a Smartphone and when apps are not, so far in the news business, great revenue-drivers and we struggle with that. We have some ideas, but they’re early. Those things, if I do worry about anything, would be it. We have built a very big desktop presence, with very big revenue. How do we achieve the same on the Smartphone devices? That’s probably where I spend the majority of my time, so that’s where I have the majority of my worries. But I can really sleep OK.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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