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More on the Magazine Innovation Center in an Interview with Publishing Executive

March 13, 2009

Publishing Executive magazine’s on line weekly edition interviewed me for its INBOX section. The interview conducted by Janet Spavlik sheds more light on MIC and my plans for the center. Here is the interview as it appeared on Publishing Executive’s website earlier today.

A Center for Industry Innovation: Samir ‘Mr. Magazine’ Husni on his new, nonprofit venture and the role he hopes it will play in the future of print
By Janet Spavlik

In a posting on his blog, Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni announced last week his plans to create a center “devoted to the study of magazines in particular and print in general.” The Magazine Innovation Center (MIC), scheduled to launch Aug. 15, will serve the industry as a nonprofit organization with a mission to foster innovation in magazines and other print media through international collaboration.

“I have decided to devote the remaining years of my professional career to study the medium which I cherish, and trust that it still has a great future regardless of the doom and gloom that surrounds it in today’s marketplace,” wrote Husni.

According to Husni, the MIC will be headquartered in Oxford, Miss., at the University of Mississippi, where he serves as chair, professor of journalism and Hederman Lecturer.
“[It will be located] away from the ‘noise’ of the big publishing headquarters and big cities,” he says. “MIC will provide a calm and relaxed location that will help those who gather at the center to be able to think and innovate away from the everyday grinds of work.”

Husni spoke with Publishing Executive Inbox about his plans for developing the center and the overwhelming response he has already received from the industry.

INBOX: How long has the center been in development? Who are you collaborating with on it?
SAMIR “MR. MAGAZINE” HUSNI: I have been thinking about the center for years, but the recent “killings” of magazines that were deemed successful pushed MIC to the front burner of my thinking … . I will be working with anyone who is willing to help and support the center. It is not an exclusive club, nor is it limited to those who contribute and help. The center will collaborate with publishers, printers, distributors, manufacturers, paper companies, circulation folks, associations, b-to-b, consumer, custom publications — it is going to be international in scope … .

INBOX: What is the purpose of the center?
HUSNI: The short answer is to amplify the future of print — and that includes newspapers and other paper products.

INBOX: What will be the center’s goals and activities?
HUSNI: MIC will catalyze innovation in order to ensure a thriving future for magazines and the print industry. The center [will] offer a wide spectrum of perspectives inside and outside of print media. MIC will act as a think tank that will bring people together at the center to come up with solutions for some of the industry’s most pressing issues. We will deal with one issue at a time, and we will try to have a variety of people from a variety of demographics and clusters of work to come up with these solutions. We will have workshops, seminars and how-to sessions to help in the process of innovation and enhancing the power of magazines and other print products.

INBOX: Have you established a board of directors yet? Who will be involved?
HUSNI: The board of directors has not been established yet; however, I have a list of more than 150 people worldwide who have expressed interest in being on the board. I am more interested [now] in establishing the cornerstones of the center, the physical location, the offices, etc., before forming the board or even asking for contributions to raise the amount of money needed to pay for the cost of the center’s activities. My goal is to raise a million dollars this year and, as the economy improves, fulfill my goal of raising five million dollars to ensure that the center will continue for years to come. Only the interest from the money contributed will be used by the center, and it will only be used to run the activities of the center.

INBOX: When the center opens in August, what issue(s) will be its top priorities?
HUSNI: … The publishing model, which I believe is dead, is priority number one. Like I said in my column in [the March issue of] Publishing Executive, the publishing model is dead, not print. So coming up with a new publishing model will be priority number one. Other items will include finding new ways to reach customers, distribution methods, innovations in print, dealing with digital, and finding customers who count for our business … .

INBOX: How can interested magazine industry executives get involved?
HUSNI: … The majority of folks from the major media companies have e-mailed me and expressed interest in the center. I hope to hear from more as the idea of the center becomes more clear to people and as we release more information. I also hope that the industry associations will get involved. It will be such a small investment on their behalf in what will help and benefit our industry for years to come. The center will not compete with any industry or organizations — it will just complement what is out there and provide an independent outlet to help enhance research and solutions for the industry.

To learn more about the center or to be added to the center’s e-mail list, drop me an e-mail at samir.husni@gmail.com

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