Archive for October, 2014

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From Creators to Experience Makers: An ACT 5 Experience Panel Moderated by Tony Silber

October 21, 2014

On Oct. 9, 2014 a panel discussion at the ACT 5 Experience on the future role of editors was moderated by Tony Silber, Access Intelligence and Folio. The panelists included, Mike Goldman, Editorial Director, Boy’s Life, Scouting & Eagles’ Call Magazines, Boy Scouts of America, Elizabeth Y. Whittington, Managing Editor, CureMagazine.com and Cathy Still McGowin – Editor, Birmingham Home & Garden.

Click on the video below to watch the panel discussion.

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Innovation in Print: A Revealing Ad in Wallpaper*… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing.

October 21, 2014

It used to be said that change is the only constant in magazines and magazine media. Today, I reckon, innovation is the only constant. Here’s the latest example from the ad on the back cover of the November issue of Wallpaper* magazine. Click the video below to enjoy.

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Cultivating A Broader Audience By Expanding Content And Topics – The Fader Magazine Celebrates 15 Years Of Publication & Welcomes Back An Old Friend…The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Naomi Zeichner, Editor-In-Chief

October 20, 2014

“The Internet and print are not in competition and the way we work here at The Fader is when we’re pitching stories for web or for the print magazine, we do it in the same way.” Naomi Zeichner

Street-smart and dedicated to emerging music and artists whose stories haven’t always been told, The Fader magazine is celebrating its 15th year of publication with a new and improved attitude and a desire to expand its coverage of the music scene to many other facets of that community, from the culture of dance and comedy to the sometimes shadowy world of drugs and their usage.

At the helm for the christening of this new journey is Naomi Zeichner, who originally joined The Fader in 2010 as a music intern, and proceeded to work her way up to associate editor, and more recently senior editor, before leaving to join BuzzFeed as music editor earlier this year.

Coming back to The Fader, Naomi is passionate and excited about the direction the print magazine and its digital component is heading and was exuberant about sharing The Fader’s past, present and future with me.

So, sit back and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Naomi Zeichner, Editor, The Fader. You won’t be disappointed…

But first the sound-bites:

NaomiZeichnerOn The Fader’s fusion of print and digital: All of that is a part of what we’re going to do here, but I think that said, in my opinion, it doesn’t come into conflict with print; they go together very well.

On whether there will ever be a day when The Fader will not have a print component: I don’t think so, not anytime soon.
On what the audience should expect from The Fader’s new editor:
I think our readers should expect that we’re going to be doing more journalism daily. People used to look to The Fader and still look to The Fader, for the very special, reported stories that drop six times a year. And now I don’t think they’ll have to wait as long.

On why The Fader has survived for 15 years when others have failed:
I think it’s much like I said before; it’s that we really stay true to our mission, which is we tell stories in a way that people haven’t told them; we dig below the surface.

On the challenges The Fader has faced:
I think with any media organization a big challenge is just how quickly the web changes and how quickly the way we are able to tell stories changes and I actually think some of the most important people in journalism right now are developers and people who know how to code, they give journalists the best tools.

On whether the changes at The Fader will alienate the magazine’s core audience or expand their audience:
I think that if we did it in a wrong way, if I said, oh I’m just going to start posting recaps of scandals every week; then yes, people would look at that and say, what the heck is this?

On whether the magazine has a mentor or another website or publication it strives to emulate:
Yes, there are lots of places that I love. I wouldn’t say that I have one mentor or one particular place that I’m looking at for ideas.

On what keeps her up at night:
So what keeps me up at night is the idea that I have the responsibility to some of these people, whose music has changed my life and made it better, and to share them with the world and bring them maybe from a small audience to a bigger one, at least to the Internet.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Naomi Zeichner, Editor, The Fader…

Samir Husni: Most people are transitioning from print to web and digital, but you’re reversing the trend; are you a futuristic person and know something everyone else doesn’t?

Picture 16 Naomi Zeichner: Well yes, I do think that I’m a futuristic person, but no, to be serious, we’re not reversing the trend, I think we’re just going to go in both directions at once. It’s a big goal of mine here to expand what we do online, we hired a new video producer, and we’re working on potentially doing more coverage at night and on the weekends, bigger interviews and more features online, doing more of what we’ve always done in our magazine more often and the place to do that is of course on the web, and doing more news reporting and really trying to expand the type of journalism that we do on breaking news daily online.

All of that is a part of what we’re going to do here, but I think that said, in my opinion, it doesn’t come into conflict with print; they go together very well. And the way I think about our magazine; our reader reads online every day, every minute on their phone and they follow everything with Fader and it’s giving and telling them information and it’s exciting, but it’s nice also at the end of a couple of months to have a yearbook of it, a little digest that gives the reader an update on everything, with what’s happened in the world over a couple of months and gives you something to keep and remember it by. And to capture that history, because I think for young people right now the world is moving so quickly, especially in The Fader’s market, which is emerging music and I think music moves very quickly today.

We have the resources to do wonderful journalism. A lot of the artists we cover, other people don’t do substantial interviews with them or there isn’t other photojournalist’s covering those scenes, so because we have the resources to do that we’re really creating a historical record with our print magazine. Also, it’s beautiful and fun to read, so we think of the magazine as an archive of all the work that we’re doing online for history, but also a gift of entertainment to our readers and something special for them to keep.

Samir Husni: Are you saying that you’ll never see the day where The Fader will not be in print?

Naomi Zeichner: I don’t think so, not anytime soon. I’m not a psychic (laughs), but for now, for the next year and the foreseeable future, we’re very committed to print.

Samir Husni: Tell me, with the experience that you gained from working with BuzzFeed and your history with The Fader; it’s my understanding that you started there as an intern…

Naomi Zeichner: Yes, that’s true.

Samir Husni: What are your plans; what should your audience expect from the new editor at an established magazine like The Fader?

Naomi Zeichner: I think our readers should expect that we’re going to be doing more journalism daily. People used to look to The Fader and still look to The Fader, for the very special, reported stories that drop six times a year. And now I don’t think they’ll have to wait as long.

Many of the people who work at The Fader, including myself, didn’t go to school for journalism and are not necessarily traditionally-trained journalists, but that’s that. Everybody here is very intelligent, creative and we all work well together, so a part of my goal is that our whole staff will become more aggressive, thorough and tenacious journalists. I think that’s a big part of it, breaking news and investigative stories that matter about the musicians we cover and also the culture surrounding them.

I also want to expand our cultural coverage, both online and in print. We already do a wonderful job of covering music, but I also want to dig deeper into the culture surrounding them, so things like comedy, dancing culture and drug culture; just an array of topics and just the things that matter to young people in America. Books, writers and television, things like that. So we’re going to work to expand our coverage of those things.

I really don’t have any big plans for a dramatic change. I think The Fader is wonderful and that’s why I wanted to come back and be a part of it. It’s survived for 15 years because the people that it covers really care about it and love to read it. And coming back here, I was so thrilled by how many people reached out to me, writers, friends and musicians because The Fader means so much to them and I don’t think that people necessarily feel so personal toward a publication as a whole anymore, so their caring means a lot. I think we’re just going to continue creating strong content that our readers trust.

And we’re going to continue to grow the partnership programs that we do and making sure that when we team up with Vitamin Water or whoever, that we do really amazing stuff.

Samir Husni: Why did The Fader survive where others failed in this genre of magazines?

Picture 17 Naomi Zeichner: That’s a very good question. I think it’s much like I said before; it’s that we really stay true to our mission, which is we tell stories in a way that people haven’t told them; we dig below the surface. I believe that in emerging music, like I said, a lot of these artists are not covered by general interest magazines or by newspapers and they’re certainly not covered by newspapers before they’re covered by The Fader. We’ve always been game on spending money to send reporters to travel, to send photographers places and really uncover new things. And for that reason I think The Fader is indispensable. While other people were sort of picking up what was already in air and working on expanding what they were doing online by aggregating things; The Fader was sticking true to its mission to tell reported stories.

Also, The Fader has just stayed cool. Artists really, even though we might have a more intimate audience, they want to work with us because they see The Fader as a place that’s really going to show their truth and make them look good. So I believe that’s part of the reason we’ve survived.

And The Fader has always been very bold; it has never shied away from doing a topic that’s very experimental. The result of that is a lot of people are looking to The Fader. I always say that Drake, a very famous rapper, I think is reading The Fader to decide who he’s going to work with next. It’s not just the younger readers who are looking at us, but it’s the artists as well and it creates a community and the community is able to participate in our events and because we created that whole world, not just a news organization, but an actual cultural service to everyone, that’s another part of why the magazine hasn’t gone away.

Samir Husni: You sound as though you are painting a very nice picture of a rose garden (laughs); what are some of the thorns that you have encountered or expect to along the way? What stumbling blocks do you anticipate having to face and how do plan on overcoming them?

Naomi Zeichner: I think with any media organization a big challenge is just how quickly the web changes and how quickly the way we are able to tell stories changes and I actually think some of the most important people in journalism right now are developers and people who know how to code, they give journalists the best tools. And I think about that all the time; how do we make our CMS really nimble and I think that’s a challenge, but it’s not a challenge just for The Fader, it’s a challenge for everyone.

I think change is always hard for everyone. If we at The Fader can make our authors feel free to try new things, new ways of telling stories; maybe instead of doing an interview as just a normal Q & A, doing a longer report or making it more like a list, we will continue to grow. Just experimenting with different types of storytelling and that’s something readers expect now, they want to read new and exciting things. I think the readers are more experimental than ever and get their content from many different types of media. And that can be a challenge for any writer, to always be trying to grow and do new things. As I said earlier, a lot of the writers here at The Fader don’t come from traditional journalistic backgrounds and they’re people that love music and are a part of the culture. And that’s another challenge for us as a team, to always help each other become better writers, reporters and journalists.

Samir Husni: You mentioned earlier that you are going to expand the coverage of The Fader to have more than music; you’re going to include culture, books, drug culture, you name it. Do you envision any problems with doing that, such as losing your die-hard, core audience who for 15 years have loved the magazine the way it is? Or do you think the expansion will help you gain more readers and a larger audience?

Naomi Zeichner: I think that if we did it in a wrong way, if I said, oh I’m just going to start posting recaps of scandals every week; then yes, people would look at that and say, what the heck is this? I could get this anywhere else. But if there’s a comedian that really matters to all Fader readers that is a part of the same culture that the musicians are a part of and we want to do a reported feature on them or put them on the cover, I don’t think anybody would blink an eye.

Musicians today and how they promote themselves and how they think about themselves, they’re just as much cultural figures as they are musicians and sometimes who a person is and the story they have to tell is just as important as the music they make. Knowing that, I think we’re all very eager to cover other figures in this world. People who are Internet celebrities or Internet poets and people who design programs have the same stories to tell as people who are making music. And they’re all interacting with each other on the Internet anyway and they’re all being talked about on our Twitter timelines, so I think we’re just true to telling the stories of the people who we really think matter that haven’t been told elsewhere.

Samir Husni: There is nothing new in our magazine media world; what do you look at to get new ideas? Does The Fader have a mentor, another publication or website that you look to and strive to emulate?

Naomi Zeichner: Yes, there are lots of places that I love. I wouldn’t say that I have one mentor or one particular place that I’m looking at for ideas. I love how Billboard engages their charts, I think they do a great job at really explaining them and I love the fact that they cover so many different genres with the same respect. That’s something I love.

I love how Bloomberg Businessweek looks in print, it’s amazing. I don’t follow the stock market, but I can read Businessweek cover to cover. I love New York magazine and how they blend print and online seamlessly, even though they’re two very different projects for them and I think that’s something that The Fader can aspire to. I love stuff like Adult magazine, it’s not print only, but it’s like an art-type, print-only publication. I love sitting down to read something like that.

But I read stuff from all over the web. Readers today are not married to any publication; they’re married to a good story. So aggressively, online and in print, we’re going to work really hard on good stories.

I believe there are so many great publications out there right now. And I feel very lucky as a young editor, but also as a person who grew up loving magazines and loving the Internet that we’re actually at such a healthy place right now. There is a lot of bad news in media, but there’s a lot of good news too.

Samir Husni: And which side do you think you lean toward more; the bad news or the good news?

Naomi Zeichner: The good news.

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

Naomi Zeichner: Just that the Internet and print are not in competition and the way we work here at The Fader is when we’re pitching stories for web or for the print magazine, we do it in the same way. The only big difference is the content in the magazine is on a more rigid schedule and more hands touch it, because literally the printers touch it, but the editing and thinking processes are exactly the same. For me, they’ve just never been in competition. I believe we’re very lucky here to have owners who believe in print and let us do a really fun thing that we are really proud of. And we feel very proud every time we publish a story

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

Naomi Zeichner: (Laughs) I’m thinking about how to introduce new templates to my website so we can build crazier types of stories. I’m thinking about how my writers can write the best headlines. I’m thinking about all the new songs that are going to come out tomorrow or the mixed tape that I downloaded today that I love so much. I’m thinking about how much I would like to talk to the producer of a song that I love. I’m thinking about how excited I am to come into work and see what my coworkers are wearing.

I’m thinking about a lot of things, but I came back to The Fader because it’s a very exciting place. I stayed here a long time and we all worked very hard, very long days on a small team, but I’m genuinely excited to walk into this building every day and I also feel that the artists we cover are looking to us to tell their stories. So what keeps me up at night is the idea that I have the responsibility to some of these people, whose music has changed my life and made it better, and to share them with the world and bring them maybe from a small audience to a bigger one, at least to the Internet. And that’s what keeps me up at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning Newsletter On the MPA’s Magazine Media 360…

October 20, 2014

47f2c200-4792-4bad-b35c-16e67276465c2e99a7c8-4530-4e4a-8c9d-f77f366556985a98a86c-a913-4c00-aeff-b1c333a08b2308afe121-18cc-4206-bedb-e669387d0d922172e2d4-49eb-437f-a90d-8735912093ae… And Service Journalism in a Digital Age, the story of AFAR, the Changes in Consumer Reports, and an archival interview with the late Roberto Civita of the Abril publishing group in Brazil.
To subscribe to the free Monday Morning newsletter, click here.

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From Creators to Curators and Experience Makers: The Changing Role of Editors. Brian Hart Hoffman’s ACT 5 Experience Presentation.

October 19, 2014

Brian Hart Hoffman, EVP/ Chief Creative Office of Hoffman Media, delivered his keynote presentation at the ACT 5 Experience on Thursday Oct. 9. Click below to watch his presentation at the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi.

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Advertising & Marketing: Tough Solutions For Tougher Problems. An ACT 5 Panel Presentation

October 19, 2014

On Thursday Oct. 9 a keynote panel ACT 5 Experience presentation titled “THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE: THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE TOUGH SOLUTIONS FOR EVEN TOUGHER PROBLEMS,” took place at the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi. James G. Elliott, of the James G. Elliott marketing and advertising company was supposed to be the moderator of the panel discussion. An illness kept him away from the Experience. Robert “Bob” Hanna, co-founder of Burst Media replaced his role as a presenter to that of a moderator. Joining him on the panel were: Alysia Borsa – SVP, Data & Mobile, Meredith Corp., Steve Davis- President, Kantar Media’s SRDS and Katriina Kaarre – Publishing Director, Octavamedia Ltc., Helsinki, Finland. Click on the video below to watch the panel discussion.

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Expanding Into the Digital World Without Ignoring Print: Bonnier’s Jens Henneberg. An ACT 5 Presentation

October 17, 2014

The series of presentations at the ACT 5 Experience themed The Future of Digital Begins with Print continued on day three of the Experience. Jens Henneberg, Executive Vice President & Editorial Director of Bonnier Corp., Denmark, delivered his keynote address titled “Expanding Into the Digital World Without Ignoring Print.” Click the video below to watch his presentation that is preceded by a math quiz delivered by Roy Reiman, founder of Reiman Publications.

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Going the Distance: The Story of AFAR as Told by Its Co-Founder/CEO Greg Sullivan. An ACT 5 Presentation.

October 17, 2014

Greg Sullivan,Co-founder/CEO of AFAR Media, publisher of AFAR magazine delivered the second keynote of day three of the ACT 5 Experience. You can view his Oct. 9 presentation by clicking the video below.

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A New Conversation With Consumers: The Revamping Of Consumer Reports. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Editor, Ellen Kampinsky & VP General Manager, Brent Diamond.

October 16, 2014

“A lot of the changes were designed to do two things: create a contemporary magazine, because readers are used to getting their information from a variety of media, particularly from contemporary, sophisticated magazines and we wanted to make our mission very obvious and clear.” Ellen Kampinsky

Consumer Reports-1 There is one rule of thumb for most any board game played; you have to roll the dice if you plan on moving around the board to win. Sometimes in the world of magazine media, the rules aren’t any different.

Since 1936 Consumer Reports magazine has been the most trusted source for reviews and comparisons of consumer products and reports from in-house laboratory testing in the world. But with the November 2014 issue, some things are changing, in fact a lot of things are changing, however the mission and focus of the magazine are not changing. Looking out for the consumer hasn’t changed nor will it change, according to Brent Diamond and Ellen Kampinsky, two of the driving forces behind the powerhouse magazine.

But is this the biggest gamble in the history of the magazine? Have they rolled the dice too hard with the revamp of a trusted brand with loyal and committed customers? And is having feature stories in a magazine that usually reports statistics, lists and reviews something the audience can relate to?

I went to Ellen Kampinsky, Editor, and Brent Diamond, VP General Manager, to find out the answer to those questions and many more about the “new & improved” Consumer Reports. I think you’ll find their answers very enlightening.

So sit back and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Ellen and Brent and learn how a 78-year-old brand can be reborn into the 21st century.

But first the sound-bites:


On the reasons for the change:
Really the impetus for the revamp was to create a much more relevant and deeper engagement with our readers and secondly to highlight all the great things that we do on behalf of consumers.

On the reaction to the November issue (the first new edition released Sept. 30) from the magazine’s readers and others:
Yes, we’ve gotten more feedback than we anticipated. Both positive, and there have been some detractors; change can be hard for people, these are very, very loyal, long-term subscribers. So, we’ve gotten a lot of both types of reactions.

On whether they went too far or this change was needed:
A lot of the changes were designed to do two things: create a contemporary magazine, because readers are used to getting their information from a variety of media, particularly from contemporary, sophisticated magazines and we wanted to make our mission very obvious and clear.

On the magazine’s “Advocate” section:
Part of the role of an advocate section is to be involved in a dialogue with the readers. It’s there for them and a lot of the information in that section is generated by them.

On whether they’re worried the revamp will shrink or obliterate the magazine’s original DNA:
The part of our DNA that will likely never change is that what we really offer that other magazines don’t is tested, unbiased information for consumers.

On why their “no advertising accepted” business model works for them:
There are people, as much today as ever before, who will pay for valuable information that helps them make smarter and better decisions.

On whether they ever envision a day when Consumer Reports will be digital-only with no print edition:
I can foresee delivering the product in various and different ways, but I don’t think the mission and the core of what we do will ever change, whether there continues to be a magazine 20 years from now or not. I don’t know.

On whether more book-a-zine type products are on the horizon:
Where we start from all the time is a need in the marketplace or a need that consumers have and if there’s a need there, we’ll try and find a way to fill it.

On what keeps them up at night:
This is not a cliché, but what keeps me up at night is the thought of not evolving and not changing quick enough to match how consumers are consuming information today. (Brent Diamond)

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Ellen Kampinsky, Editor, and Brent Diamond, VP General Manager, Consumer Reports…

Samir Husni: Congratulations on the revamping of the magazine. And I know that it’s much more than just a redesign. Can you tell me why you decided now was the time for this and the reasoning behind the change?

Usage: Story: Brand: Model: Brent Diamond CU: Photographer: John Walsh Brent Diamond: I don’t know if you recall, but well over a year ago I had a brief conversation with you and that was just as we were exploring and really trying to decide where to go.

So what we have done is a fairly in depth analyses of our business and in the end a couple of things were highlighted: our subscriber base was pretty flat for the past six years. For every new subscriber that we brought in, we were losing a subscriber, so we were just maintaining and going along status quo.

Really the impetus for the revamp was to create a much more relevant and deeper engagement with our readers and secondly to highlight all the great things that we do on behalf of consumers. And we felt that if we combined those two things we could have a much more meaningful relationship with our customers and therefore we could find more customers and keep them. In a nutshell, that’s what we’re trying to do.

Samir Husni: I know the new issue has only been on the newsstand for a few days; what has been the reaction? Have you been bombarded with people sending you emails crying, “What have you done?” or have you been hearing the opposite, “Wow! We love it?”

Brent Diamond: One thing you should know is that newsstand is only about 7 % of our base of customers. And while that’s an important piece of our business, we’re more worried about the subscriber base. And yes, we’ve gotten more feedback than we anticipated. Both positive, and there have been some detractors; change can be hard for people, these are very, very loyal, long-term subscribers. So, we’ve gotten a lot of both types of reactions.

What we’ve done is invited the people who have expressed both the positive and the negative comments to join our advisory panel to help us to continue to shape and evolve the magazine.

Samir Husni: Ellen, as the editor it’s as though you’re taking this enormous cruise ship and trying to make a turn on a dime; do you think you’ve gone too far with the first issue or do you think you needed to make this drastic change?

Ellen Kampinsky Ellen Kampinsky: I think the magazine needed a couple of things to make it a successful, contemporary magazine. It needed some reorganization of the sections so that it was clear what the readers were seeing. We needed to highlight our mission; we added features that tell readers that we are working for them and tells them how they can get involved and be empowered. Some of these things are absolutely necessary I think, because we do something that no one else does; we’re there for the reader, not for advertisers, and I think it was really important to make that manifest. A lot of the changes were designed to do two things: create a contemporary magazine, because readers are used to getting their information from a variety of media, particularly from contemporary, sophisticated magazines and we wanted to make our mission very obvious and clear.

Samir Husni: And I noticed you’ve added an “Advocate” section to the magazine. So, are you going to be more involved than ever? The magazine has always had an advocacy role and a very consumer centric approach; how do you envision this new section adding to that existing role? Specifically because you’ve never had advertising and I doubt that you ever will and yet, you are one of the largest magazines in the industry.

Ellen Kampinsky: Part of the role of an advocate section is to be involved in a dialogue with the readers. It’s there for them and a lot of the information in that section is generated by them. And we get the intake on that, not just from the magazine, but also online and we recognize the reader is part of the media spectrum, so we ask them descending questions for the “Problem Solver” or “Ask Our Expert” and we ask them to get involved by signing a petition or by writing their congressperson or going online. We ask them to send in reader tips, either by mail or online and for the best reader tip we’ll pay them $100.

We just want this constant dialogue going on, this constant two-way street with the reader and that’s what the “Advocate” section is all about.

Samir Husni: Do you think that there’s a danger that you may have went too far and Consumer Reports is now competing with other magazines that focus on a single-topic cover story? I mean, do you feel that now the magazine is more in sync with the rest of the magazines that are available to the consumer? And how are you going to protect your DNA, which are the tests and the rankings that you offer your readers?

Brent Diamond: I think that particular issue (the first new issue) had fewer products in it than we normally have, that happened to be a fairly issue-oriented month for us and so while it might appear that we went a little too far, it was just the editorial make-up of that given month. I think you’ll see in the next issue that it’s much more heavily product-focused.

But the part of our DNA that will likely never change is that what we really offer that other magazines don’t is tested, unbiased information for consumers. So we have no problem telling you that this is a great product and you should buy it. On the other hand, we don’t have an issue with saying this really isn’t a great product and you should avoid it. And that will remain a very key component in what we do. And there is nobody else that does that.

Ellen Kampinsky: And the ratings will always be a part of our core product, the ratings and the listings. I mean, it’s a combination of product and services. And you’ll see a lot of that in the December issue.

Samir Husni: You are one of the few magazines left in the country that doesn’t accept advertising, not that you couldn’t get it, but you don’t take the advertising. Do you think this is a sustainable business model for 2014 and the future? And if so, why do you think other publishing houses aren’t going in your direction; you charge a hefty subscription price and you charge for your digital; why do you think it’s working for you and you’re unique?

Brent Diamond: There are people, as much today as ever before, who will pay for valuable information that helps them make smarter and better decisions. I can’t speak for why other publishers don’t do it, but for us it’s always going to be a value proposition for the reader, which really goes back to why we did all of this. We have to remain invaluable to all of these readers because that is our business and our revenue model. So the deeper we’re engaged with them, the more meaningful discussions we have with them, the more we’ve become a critical part of their lives, to the point where they don’t make big decisions without working with us.

And that’s what makes us different. I don’t know of another magazine or media company that really does that.

Samir Husni: Ellen, as an editor of a magazine that has no advertising; do you feel like you’re on cloud nine? Do you feel your responsibility is more or less?

Ellen Kampinsky: (Laughs) I absolutely do feel like I’m on cloud nine. It’s so terrific to be able to call a spade a spade, this works, this doesn’t work. It’s freeing and it makes you appreciate what journalism can do at its best.

Samir Husni: If the November issue is an indication of the future; where do you think the point of differentiation will be between Consumer Reports in 2015 and Consumer Reports before then?

Ellen Kampinsky: I think taking into account the people who consume their information in various ways, that the visuals are as much a part of the information as the text, they work hand-in-hand, recognizing how smart our readers are, how varied their lives are, and then I think it’s just cranking it up another notch to create the ultimate, ultimate service magazine; we’re already in first place there anyway, but then taking it up to the next level of service.

Samir Husni: You are doing all of these changes, but I read one of your comments where you said that you would never put one of the Kardashians on the cover. (Laughs)

Ellen Kampinsky: (Also laughs) Are you asking am I planning to change that? Maybe Justin Bieber? No, I don’t think so.

Samir Husni: You’re investing a lot of money in the revamp of the print edition, but do you ever envision a day when Consumer Reports will be only online or digital?

Brent Diamond: I don’t know. I think the way we all consume media is continually changing, but will there be a day when you don’t get a print edition of Consumer Reports? I can foresee delivering the product in various and different ways, but I don’t think the mission and the core of what we do will ever change, whether there continues to be a magazine 20 years from now or not. I don’t know. As long as people continue to want to consume media that way, we’ll continue doing it. But I believe the point is, we’ll evolve with our readers and the way they consume information.

Samir Husni: Ellen, do you think it would be different editing a magazine that does not have a print edition from an editorial point of view, one that is digital-only?

Ellen Kampinsky: Yes, it would. I think there is always going to be a role for print and that’s what we’re trying to do, evolve our print edition in concert with all our other products online and offline, into the highest form possible. I mean, we look at the graphics as one of our multiple entry points, we look at different ways to engage the reader and I think that’s our job right now, finding all those entry points and all those engagement points for them, that makes the print magazine being in concert with everything else we’re doing absolutely essential.

Samir Husni: Brent, I noticed you’re adding to the roster of special editions and SIP’s, having just launched the Reliability Guide; are we going to see more spinoffs along the lines of book-a-zines and the SIPs on the newsstands, from Consumer Reports?

Brent Diamond: What we always look for are our needs for information, so an SIP and a magazine is only one way of distributing that kind of information. But I think what we’re trying to do is give consumers information in the way that they want to consume it. Rather than us make the judgment as to how people should consume it, we’re kind of letting them decide.

Where we start from all the time is a need in the marketplace or a need that consumers have and if there’s a need there, we’ll try and find a way to fill it.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else you’d like to add or focus on that we haven’t discussed yet?

Brent Diamond: Well, I believe what is really key here is that by involving the consumer so heavily, we, in theory, should never have to go through a major revamp again, because if we do this right and we are having an ongoing dialogue with our customers, we should be able to evolve and change based on their input and their usage of what we’re doing. I think that’s a key component of what we’re trying to do, involve them in the process and not just be the spreader-of-all-wisdom; we’re trying to involve them in this process.

Ellen Kampinsky: I think a key point that Brent made is, OK – we’ve revamped the magazine, let’s sit back, we’re done now. No. This will continue to evolve as the readers respond, as we seek new ways to make it better and better. And that’s almost as exciting as not having any advertising. (Laughs) Almost, but not quite. (Laughs again)

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

Ellen Kampinsky: What keeps me up at night? Well, there’s always another issue to put out. I think any editor would say the next issue always keeps you up at night. Is it going to be the best, are we going to make the deadlines and is it being done to the very highest degree that we can.

Brent Diamond: This is not a cliché, but what keeps me up at night is the thought of not evolving and not changing quick enough to match how consumers are consuming information today. I worry about that all of the time. We have to continually evolve and change to help them make better decisions. That’s key.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Magazine Service Journalism At Its Best: Dana Points, Content Director, Meredith Parents Network. An ACT 5 Experience Presentation

October 15, 2014

Dana Points, content director of Meredith Parents Network, was the opening keynote speaker of day three (Oct. 9) of the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 5 Experience. Click below to view her presentation.

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