Archive for the ‘Innovation in print’ Category

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Print Smart Digital Proud: The Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 9 Experience Opens April 23

April 17, 2019

OXFORD, Miss. – A who’s who of the international magazine industry will be at the University of Mississippi from April 23 to 25, but it won’t be the movers and shakers of publishing who will be in the spotlight.

The real stars of the show, according to ACT 9 Experience founder and coordinator Samir Husni, are the Ole Miss students.

“There are a whole bunch of magazine conferences, but, to me, what makes this conference unique is the presence of the students,” said Husni, a UM journalism professor, Hederman Lecturer and director of the Magazine Innovation Center. “This conference brings together current industry leaders and the future industry leaders.”

More than 30 speakers from the highest ranks of magazine publishing will be on campus, and Husni places a priority on having students in the university’s magazine publishing and management specialization interact with those professionals.

“I assign students to shadow the speakers; they actually will pick them up from the airport,” Husni said. “I want that interaction. I want the students to have enough time to spend time with these leaders of the magazine industry.”

For junior Sarah Smith, the ACT 9 Experience serves as a chance to further her knowledge of the industry in which she wants to work, but also to meet people who will prove to be invaluable for her future career.

“This is the only opportunity I know of that you’re going to get a taste of worldwide magazine making anywhere near here,” said Smith, a journalism major from Mount Pleasant. “I expect to gain a lot of information about the next few years of magazine making.

“For media students, this is an unparalleled event where we can meet and mingle with industry leaders. This is a great chance to secure a summer internship or even a job after college.”

The ACT Experience, which stands for “amplify, clarify and testify,” is hosted by the Magazine Innovation Center at the School of Journalism and New Media. The event began in 2010 and has more than doubled in size in nine years.

The university has created a name for itself as a higher education hub for magazine publishing, and the ACT 9 Experience is the highlight of that achievement, Husni said.

“We have people from all over the world coming to this conference, coming to Ole Miss,” he said. “That’s why I tell people, when they say, ‘You need to have something like this in New York or you need to do something like this here or there,’ I’m like, ‘No, the ACT Experience is Ole Miss and Ole Miss is the ACT Experience.’”

The theme of this year’s ACT 9 Experience is “print smart, digital proud,” which Husni said emphasizes the ever-changing landscape of print publications.

“I want to focus on the integration between print and digital, that we are no longer an either/or industry,” he said.

Among the speakers for this year’s event are Linda Thomas Brooks, president and CEO of MPA: The Association of Magazine Media; James Hewes, president and CEO of FIPP, the network for global media; Michael Marchesano, managing director of Connectiv, a leading business-to-business magazine media network; and Jerry Lynch, president of the Magazine and Books at Retail Association.
Husni will moderate a discussion featuring these industry leaders.

“We will talk about some of the challenges facing the entire magazine and media industry locally and worldwide,” Husni said. “It should be fun to have those CEOs at the same place on the same campus in front of future industry leaders.”

The diversity and depth of the speakers makes the event unique, Smith said.
“Dr. Husni is a genius when it comes to magazines, and he puts his heart and soul into this event,” she said. “I think that the fact someone as successful and well-known as him puts his heart in it, always creates something genuine and fresh that you can’t get anywhere else.”

All lectures at the Overby Center are open to the public.

Activities begin Tuesday (April 23), with an opening gala for registered participants, featuring welcoming remarks by Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannenhill and UM Provost Noel Wilkin and keynote speaker Stephen Orr, editor in chief of Better Homes and Gardens.

Speakers will continue all day Wednesday and Thursday, and Thursday’s events for paid participants feature a bus trip and tour of the Mississippi Delta. The Overby Center for the Study of Southern Journalism and Politics will host the majority of speakers, and a full list of speakers can be found online.

Registration for the event includes all meals, sessions and transportation to and from the Delta. The Inn at Ole Miss is also offering special rates to ACT 9 attendees.

Click here to see the entire agenda.

Ole Miss Press Release BY JUSTIN WHITMORE

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A Mr. Magazine™ Moment: Recreating The Magazine Scene of March 1953…

April 16, 2019

A recent headline in The New York Times “Does Anyone Collect Old Emails?” started me thinking of the best way for folks to collect their memories and to relive the precious moments of their lives from the very beginning. It should come as no surprise to anyone to find out that Mr. Magazine™ is recommending magazines as the vehicle to relive those memories… So sit back, relax and watch the video below to relive Mr. Magazine’s™ birth month of March 1953.

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The New Republic’s New Editor Chris Lehmann to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “… I Think Print Is A Natural And Preferable Medium Of Ideas…” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

April 14, 2019

“Blaise Pascal said long ago that the entire problem with the world is the inability of a person to sit alone in a room. (Laughs) And reading a print magazine forces you to sit alone in a room and have an internal dialogue as you go. Do I agree with this writer, taking into account X point or the why objection. I think you get a closer reflection of the amorphous process of human thought, in my view, than online and digital experiences.” Chris Lehmann…

The New Republic has a “new” editor, though not new to the almost 105-year-old publication maybe, and certainly not new to the world of political journalism. From editor in chief of The Baffler to senior editor at Congressional Quarterly, and consulting editorial director at The New Republic, Chris is definitely known around the Washington D.C. arena and is a voice that brings an accomplished writer and editor in many forms to the legacy brand, from book author to columnist to hard-hitting journalist.

I spoke with Chris recently and it was a most delightful conversation as we tripped-the-political-forum-light-fantastic, talking about the past, present and future of the brand and the status of today’s political landscape. Chris will readily tell you he is not a “celebrity” editor and has no desire to be, and that the point of The New Republic is always ideas and advancing intellectual debate, political debate, policy debate, and that those things are not and should never be driven by celebrity.

And as a magazine that was once considered to be the inflight publication for Air Force One, Chris is proud of that piece of his brand’s history, but not bedazzled by it. In fact, he thinks it’s a bit dangerous if having your magazine read by an existing president is that vital to you, it’s more about the work itself, not the powerful person who is reading it.

Indeed, Mr. Magazine™ enjoyed this refreshing look at the world of politics and commentary, and certainly hopes that you do too. And now, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Chris Lehmann, editor The New Republic.

But first the sound-bites:

On how it feels to be editing a magazine that will soon be 105-years-old: It’s absolutely great. It’s an interesting question though as it’s a little bit of being intimidated and overwhelmed by The New Republic’s history, and me just hoping that I carry on the great legacy. I would read all of these back issues of the magazine going back to the beginning and encounter many of the editors whose work I was actually studying and I would feel like, wow, this is an amazing magazine. So, it’s an honor all these years later to be at least a part of this legacy.

On whether he feels we are having a free discussion in today’s media world as Walter Lippmann described the theory of a free press: Largely, no. That’s a good watch word for my working moving forward. I do think truth is always sort of provisional and contingent and does emerge out of honest argument and forthright exchanges of views. Right now we have many other problems. We have a media industry that is largely failing economically; we have weaponized propaganda happening in outlets like Fox News and Breitbart News. And it’s not confined to the Right either, there are plenty of false filtering organs on the Left and in the Center. So, one modest hope going forward is I think we can revive that vision of honest debate of the past realizing that kind of truth.

On editors being shy or not being shy with their points of view: I’m certainly not shy myself, if you look over my work I’m very vocal in expressing my beliefs and views. And I think that is healthy. The newspaper industry going back to the 19th century, when everyone sort of bewailed the partisan drift of the press today as a symptom of falling away from some ideal of objectivity and impartiality, but in point of fact, American journalism has always been robustly driven by political ideas. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; I think political ideas should be a part of the common conversation and debated openly.

On how he can ensure that The New Republic’s voice is being heard with all the noise that’s out there: You can’t. You want there to be an audience and you want them to be engaged, but there are no guarantees. I think it was George Seldes who said, the basic mission of journalists is to tell the truth and run. (Laughs) I think you have to trust that somehow, and this is not to say that we’re not mindful of the enormous amount of other voices and the glutted character of the information marketplace, but you just do that work that’s important to you and trust that an audience will follow.

On why commercial magazines always seem to do better than opinion magazines even with the money of millionaires and foundations behind them: To my knowledge I don’t think that The New Republic has ever made money; I don’t think The Nation has made money; there might have been a time during the Clinton impeachment period when The American Spectator made money, but that time came and went. To me it’s obvious, at a basic level of the business model there is a very limited amount of advertising you can count on to generate revenue for opinion magazines, sort of a built-in feeling based on the material you’re publishing for audience growth.

On whether he can envision The New Republic as being the inflight magazine for Air Force One ever again: I’m tempted to say, no, baby steps here, let’s first concentrate on electing a president who reads. I live in D.C. and I’m frequently in the company of people who are elbowing their way into positions of power and influence and saying they’re shaping opinion, and to be honest, I don’t share that impulse personally. Obviously, it’s flattering to your ego or vanity to think a powerful person is reading your work, but to me your work is the point. I don’t want to say that I wouldn’t care if a president read us again, but I think it’s dangerous to care too much if a president reads you. And I think to be perfectly honest that was part of the trap that the former New Republic fell into.

On whether he thinks this is the era of the celebrated editor rather than the celebrity editor: I have zero ambition to be a celebrity, (Laughs) so if the era of the celebrity editor is over, then that’s very good for me personally. I think you do have to have a certain kind of whatever, business model and perhaps, let’s just say, an enormous ego of certain proportions to think that your vision of a magazine somehow conquers everything. I’m just not put together that way and I’ve worked for celebrity editors and I hated the experience, so if anyone catches me behaving like one, I hope they strictly fire me. (Laughs) The point of The New Republic is always ideas to me, and advancing intellectual debate, political debate, policy debate, and those things are not and should never be driven by celebrity.

On whether he feels the role of the editor is changing from five or ten years ago: The role of the editor is always changing. It’s kind of the nature of the job, you are harnessed to a medium that is responding to dramatic, yes technological changes, but also political changes and cultural changes. I can’t even remember where I was ten years ago, probably Congressional Quarterly, and that was a time during the second Bush administration where in many respects the political outlook was, let’s just say, not sunny. (Laughs) And I remember feeling and talking to people at the time that it couldn’t get any worse than this, and look where we are today.

On the role he feels The New Republic plays in print in today’s digital world: I’m old-fashioned, I think print is a natural and preferable medium of ideas and requires a level of patience and inwardness, I would say, toward the reader that you don’t experience in the same way online. Blaise Pascal said long ago that the entire problem with the world is the inability of a person to sit alone in a room. (Laughs) And reading a print magazine forces you to sit alone in a room and have an internal dialogue as you go. Do I agree with this writer, taking into account X point or why objection. I think you get a closer reflection of the amorphous process of human thought, in my view, than online and digital experiences.

On returning to a weekly frequency: These are all questions of money and I’m the word person, not the money person, but I am always for greater frequency. At the same time, I recognize constraints and we do have a website that updates multiple times a day and also features our print content. This is another thing about the digital piece of it, our print content runs online and occasionally we will adapt an online piece to work in the print magazine. Even though I have been saying that there is something special about print, there is also crosspollination that I think is good and beneficial to readers and editors and writers alike.

On whether someone will be able to see his imprint on the magazine after editing it for one year: I hope so, yes. I’m certainly aware that we’re changing a lot over a very short period of time that I’ve been on the job. And I think readers will be the best judges of that, but I do feel like I could point to examples, yes. But I don’t want to spoil it for your readers. I want them to read the magazine and decide for themselves.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: That’s an interesting question. I’m not really sure what kind of conceptions that people have of me in the first place because I’m not a celebrity editor, but hypothetically I think people probably think that because I do have a sharp, polemic voice in my own writing, they probably think that I’m more ideologically rigid than I actually intend to be. I think that would probably be chief among the misconceptions.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I do love to cook; I do love to read, fiction that is not at all related to my day job. And I play music when time permits, which is sadly not much these days. And I have two step-children and two dogs who are a big part of my daily life. So, all of that.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: Cultural critic, something like that, but I’m drawing a bit of a blank. (Laughs)

On what keeps him up at night: The fate of the country question, and I did just take on a big, new job, so I often think about that. And family stuff is always part of what I’m thinking about.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Chris Lehmann, editor, The New Republic.

Samir Husni: Congratulations on the new title of editor. You’ve been a consulting editorial director at the publication for some time, but now you’re officially the editor. How does it feel to be editing a magazine that in November will be 105-years-old?

Chris Lehmann: It’s absolutely great. It’s an interesting question though as it’s a little bit of being intimidated and overwhelmed by The New Republic’s history, and me just hoping that I carry on the great legacy. I would read all of these back issues of the magazine going back to the beginning and encounter many of the editors whose work I was actually studying and I would feel like, wow, this is an amazing magazine. So, it’s an honor all these years later to be at least a part of this legacy.

Samir Husni: As I was preparing for this interview, I found a quote from Walter Lippmann, one of the founders of the magazine, who said, “’The theory of a free press is that the truth will emerge from free reporting and free discussions, not that it will be presented perfectly and instantly in any one account.” Do you feel that we are having a free discussion in today’s media world?

Chris Lehmann: (Laughs) Largely, no. That’s a good watch word for my working moving forward. I do think truth is always sort of provisional and contingent and does emerge out of honest argument and forthright exchanges of views. Right now we have many other problems. We have a media industry that is largely failing economically; we have weaponized propaganda happening in outlets like Fox News and Breitbart News. And it’s not confined to the Right either, there are plenty of false filtering organs on the Left and in the Center. So, one modest hope going forward is I think we can revive that vision of honest debate of the past realizing that kind of truth.

Samir Husni: Recently, Anna Wintour was reported as saying, it’s about time for editors to take a position or share their opinions, and the more I look at the history of American magazines, editors were never shy, whether it was The New Republic or The Nation.

Chris Lehmann: Yes, I’m certainly not shy myself, if you look over my work I’m very vocal in expressing my beliefs and views. And I think that is healthy. The newspaper industry going back to the 19th century, when everyone sort of bewailed the partisan drift of the press today as a symptom of falling away from some ideal of objectivity and impartiality, but in point of fact, American journalism has always been robustly driven by political ideas. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; I think political ideas should be a part of the common conversation and debated openly.

Our present political moment is, among many other things, a failure in basic civic education. People don’t know how to handle political ideas or disagreements and they retreat into conspiracy theories, victimhood, grandiose ideas about making America great again, let’s say. And the perverse thing is, those are all advanced in the service of ideological agendas that people don’t recognize. So, I think the way to guard against that contamination of our information culture is to be an educated, honest broker in the marketplace of ideas.

Samir Husni: As editor of The New Republic, how do you think you can ensure that your voice is heard with all the noise that’s out there?

Chris Lehmann: You can’t. You want there to be an audience and you want them to be engaged, but there are no guarantees. I think it was George Seldes who said, the basic mission of journalists is to tell the truth and run. (Laughs) I think you have to trust that somehow, and this is not to say that we’re not mindful of the enormous amount of other voices and the glutted character of the information marketplace, but you just do that work that’s important to you and trust that an audience will follow.

Samir Husni: Why do you think, with almost no exception, all of our opinion-driven, politically-driven publications, from the very beginning have been supported by moneyed individuals or organizations? The New Republic was founded by a multimillionaire woman and her husband back in 1914, and the same thing as Foundations are supporting a lot of the opinion magazines to continue to thrive or to survive, yet the commercial magazines always did better than the opinion magazines. Why do you think that’s the case? Do you think our public is not interested in opinion publications?

Chris Lehmann: I think that’s probably overstating it. To my knowledge I don’t think that The New Republic has ever made money; I don’t think The Nation has made money; there might have been a time during the Clinton impeachment period when The American Spectator made money, but that time came and went. To me it’s obvious, at a basic level of the business model there is a very limited amount of advertising you can count on to generate revenue for opinion magazines, sort of a built-in feeling based on the material you’re publishing for audience growth.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but people are motivated to support and finance opinion journalism out of other than financial motives. And I think you can see what happens when you’re driven purely by financial motives, Facebook happens. (Laughs) Fox News happens. Breitbart happens. I don’t think there is any correlation between market success and truth value, let’s say.

Samir Husni: If we go back, The New Republic, which was made even more famous by the movie “Shattered Glass,” has been described as the inflight Air Force One magazine. President Kennedy had a copy of the magazine with him, reading it on Air Force One in the early sixties. Do you envision The New Republic as being the inflight magazine for Air Force One ever again?

Chris Lehmann: I’m tempted to say, no, baby steps here, let’s first concentrate on electing a president who reads. I live in D.C. and I’m frequently in the company of people who are elbowing their way into positions of power and influence and saying they’re shaping opinion, and to be honest, I don’t share that impulse personally. Obviously, it’s flattering to your ego or vanity to think a powerful person is reading your work, but to me your work is the point. I don’t want to say that I wouldn’t care if a president read us again, but I think it’s dangerous to care too much if a president reads you. And I think to be perfectly honest that was part of the trap that the former New Republic fell into.

Samir Husni: As an outsider looking in, I think we are seeing a big changing of the guard in almost all of the magazines, where the era of the celebrity editor is moving out and the era of the celebrated editor, like yourself, is moving in. Am I seeing things differently or would you say that the brand is once again becoming more powerful than the person behind the brand?

Chris Lehmann: I have zero ambition to be a celebrity, (Laughs) so if the era of the celebrity editor is over, then that’s very good for me personally. I think you do have to have a certain kind of whatever, business model and perhaps, let’s just say, an enormous ego of certain proportions to think that your vision of a magazine somehow conquers everything. I’m just not put together that way and I’ve worked for celebrity editors and I hated the experience, so if anyone catches me behaving like one, I hope they strictly fire me. (Laughs) The point of The New Republic is always ideas to me, and advancing intellectual debate, political debate, policy debate, and those things are not and should never be driven by celebrity.

Samir Husni: As an editor driven by debate, do you feel the role of the editor, and this isn’t your first editorial job, nor is it the first time you’ve been an editor, do you feel the role of the editor is changing, say from five or ten years ago when we only had print and now we have print, digital and whatever is going to be invented next?

Chris Lehmann: Yes, the role of the editor is always changing. It’s kind of the nature of the job, you are harnessed to a medium that is responding to dramatic, yes technological changes, but also political changes and cultural changes. I can’t even remember where I was ten years ago, probably Congressional Quarterly, and that was a time during the second Bush administration where in many respects the political outlook was, let’s just say, not sunny. (Laughs) And I remember feeling and talking to people at the time that it couldn’t get any worse than this, and look where we are today.

So, it’s always a moving target and that’s part of the challenge of having the job of editing a timely news-driven publication that speaks to the present moment. You have to change, you have to take into account different platforms, different technologies, and different ideas continually as you go.

Samir Husni: Having the multiplatform now, and being in print only ten times per year instead of 40 times per year, what do you think the role of print plays today with a magazine like The New Republic and how do you differentiate that role from the website or digital presence?

Chris Lehmann: That’s a good question. I’m old-fashioned, I think print is a natural and preferable medium of ideas and requires a level of patience and inwardness, I would say, toward the reader that you don’t experience in the same way online. Blaise Pascal said long ago that the entire problem with the world is the inability of a person to sit alone in a room. (Laughs) And reading a print magazine forces you to sit alone in a room and have an internal dialogue as you go. Do I agree with this writer, taking into account X point or the why objection. I think you get a closer reflection of the amorphous process of human thought, in my view, than online and digital experiences.

Samir Husni: So, do you see yourself one day having a conversation concerning maybe one day going back to the original frequency; The Nation is weekly, why not The New Republic?

Chris Lehmann: These are all questions of money and I’m the word person, not the money person, but I am always for greater frequency. At the same time, I recognize constraints and we do have a website that updates multiple times a day and also features our print content. This is another thing about the digital piece of it, our print content runs online and occasionally we will adapt an online piece to work in the print magazine. Even though I have been saying that there is something special about print, there is also crosspollination that I think is good and beneficial to readers and editors and writers alike.

Samir Husni: If you and I are having this conversation a year from now and I ask you to show me your fingerprints on The New Republic; you’ve been editing it for a year, will I be able to visually see your imprint on the magazine?

Chris Lehmann: I hope so, yes. I’m certainly aware that we’re changing a lot over a very short period of time that I’ve been on the job. And I think readers will be the best judges of that, but I do feel like I could point to examples, yes. But I don’t want to spoil it for your readers. I want them to read the magazine and decide for themselves.

Samir Husni: What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about you?

Chris Lehmann: That’s an interesting question. I’m not really sure what kind of conceptions that people have of me in the first place because I’m not a celebrity editor, but hypothetically I think people probably think that because I do have a sharp, polemic voice in my own writing, they probably think that I’m more ideologically rigid than I actually intend to be. I think that would probably be chief among the misconceptions.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Chris Lehmann: I do love to cook; I do love to read, fiction that is not at all related to my day job. And I play music when time permits, which is sadly not much these days. And I have two step-children and two dogs who are a big part of my daily life. So, all of that.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Chris Lehmann: Cultural critic, something like that, but I’m drawing a bit of a blank. (Laughs)

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

Chris Lehmann: The fate of the country question, and I did just take on a big, new job, so I often think about that. And family stuff is always part of what I’m thinking about.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Texas Monthly Magazine: Keeping Texas Stories Alive And Kicking – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Dan Goodgame, Editor In Chief, Texas Monthly Magazine…

April 8, 2019

“The mission won’t change very much from what it was when it was founded 46 years ago, and that’s an amazing number to me; you think about how many publications have risen and fallen over 46 years and Texas Monthly is running strong. And the reason is that it has always set out to provide the best storytelling about Texas and the best-informed advice about how to enjoy everything the state has to offer.” Dan Goodgame…

Veteran journalist Dan Goodgame has served as editor of Fortune Small Business magazine and was also the Washington bureau chief for Time magazine. He comes to Texas Monthly after nine years as vice president for executive communications at Rackspace, a San Antonio–based cloud computing company, but also with over 30 years of newsroom experience. Suffice it to say he knows a thing or two about how to tell a good story. In fact, his vision for the legacy brand includes continued storytelling with a new emphasis on scoops and angles on stories that may have lived already, but haven’t been told in the way a new point of interest can highlight them.

I spoke with Dan recently and he enlightened me to many things about Texas Monthly, one of which is a new online-first strategy that will feature stories in a different way than the print magazine and allow him to see the metrics and see just how the piece works first online. And while he is a firm believer in the power of digital, he is also a tried and true print believer as well and plans to continue the 46-year audience relationship with the ink on paper magazine that has served the distinctive state for almost half a century.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a man who is a Rhodes scholar, has interviewed and profiled six U.S. presidents, as well as former secretary of defense Robert Gates, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, Apple founder Steve Jobs, media titan Rupert Murdoch, former secretary of state Colin Powell, golfer Tiger Woods, and former Iraq president Saddam Hussein, and who is now editor in chief of Texas Monthly, Dan Goodgame. And Mr. Magazine™ might add one heck of a storyteller.

But first the sound-bites:

On his plan as editor in chief to protect and promote the brand going forward: The mission won’t change very much from what it was when it was founded 46 years ago, and that’s an amazing number to me; you think about how many publications have risen and fallen over 46 years and Texas Monthly is running strong. And the reason is that it has always set out to provide the best storytelling about Texas and the best-informed advice about how to enjoy everything the state has to offer.

On whether we’re going to see the combination of politics and business from his background seeping into the pages of Texas Monthly: Yes, you will. Texas Monthly has almost always emphasized the coverage of politics, particularly I would say of power, all the way from fast express to the often real power behind a particular decision in the legislature among the congressional delegation, which can be wealthy people who hand out a lot of campaign contributions; it can be a really influential church in a particular congressional district, so we’re interested in all of that.

On the secret sauce that’s keeping the print edition growing, while also expanding into digital with podcasts and all of the other platforms: We’ve faced challenges financially as a business that are similar to those faced by others who deliver journalism across platforms, across online, print, live events, podcasts, and video, but we have some advantages they don’t. First of all, there is such a strong Texas identity. As a Mississippi native I thought we had a really strong identity, but I have to tell you after nine years of living here, Texas has even more of that. And folks in Houston are interested in relatives and college friends who live in San Antonio and Dallas and Midland. So, they’re interested in what happens throughout the state in a way that you don’t really find in a lot of other states.

On whether he has a plan that one particular story is for print and one for digital or is everything for every platform: That’s a great question, and what we’re gradually transitioning toward. We started this as soon as I got here and it’ll probably take us another couple of months, but we’re going fully web first, and I’ve done this other places that I’ve worked as an editor, where every story will go up first on the website. As soon it’s ready, it will go up on the website. And it will be presented differently there than it would be in the print magazine. And we will have an idea that a certain story would probably be good for the print magazine, but one of the things that online journalism gives you is a lot of metrics, so we’ll get to put that story up, watch it and see how it does.

On the possibility of having the same audience that has read a story online then read it in the print magazine: It’s a great question and we have studied the overlap between print and the entire website and it’s only about 15 percent. And I had experience with this with the magazine I edited most recently at Time Inc. when we went web first, and we really didn’t get any complaints. They’ll read some of the stories that we put on the website, but they’re not going to read everything, they’ll always be surprised by something that’s in print that they didn’t catch on the website. And then they love the holding of it, the tactile experience of it, and the way the pictures jump out of the page in a way that they still don’t quite as much when you’re reading from a screen.

On how he views the role of the magazine cover in today’s digital age: To me, it’s the equivalent of what you put into the window of your shop. It is what identifies you: is it a hat shop, a women’s clothing shop, a chocolate shop. So, the mix of things that we put onto the Texas Monthly cover tells people who we are, again there are 1,100 visitors a day who are arriving and asking what is this? Is this one of those things put out by the Chamber of Commerce or is it more intuitive than that, will I be able to read interesting profiles of people I might want to meet, moving to San Antonio or moving to Dallas? So, it’s really important to have a good mix of things on the cover.

On whether he feels there will always be an ink on paper version of Texas Monthly: I think and hope that we will always have a print magazine as part of our platform, it may end up being a smaller circulation; it may be an opportunity for us to use a better paper, something that has much more of a value and would be something that you’d want on your coffee table. And while it will really be up to the readers, we’re kind of agnostic about that, we want to deliver great storytelling and great informed advice about how to enjoy Texas on any platform the readers want to receive it on.

On Texas Monthly being not just a state magazine, but a bit of a national one as well: Yes, we call it the National Magazine of Texas, it kind of harkens back to the status of Texas at one time as an independent republic and a lot of people still think of it that way. And a good bit of our web traffic comes from out of state, it’s hard to measure with any precision, but it’s more than a third. People outside of Texas are very interested in this place and I think that’s an actual opportunity that we can take more advantage of.

On Texas today being a majority of ethnic minorities and whether he will be casting a wider net with the magazine or targeting it toward a specific audience that has made an impact on the brand over the years: We want to cover the changing Texas; we are I think covering the changing Texas in all of its wonderful diversity. We want to become more diverse geographically, I think it’s fair to say that the magazine has overemphasized Austin, we’re based here and we’re all trained observers and we come up with certain ideas from things we hear and people we know. I had a conversation recently with one of my editors who was thinking of moving back to the city where he and his wife are from and I encouraged that, and will help with that. There are a couple of our top writers here who are thinking of moving to other cities and I want us to get out and put the whole state geographically in and all of its ethnic diversity, all of its interests.

On whether he feels the role of editor has changed a lot over the years: I think a lot of the main things and the parts that I enjoy the most are still there, a good bit of everyday editing stories, one person or the other usually providing notes or guidance on the frontend of the story. I also try and get out, starting with Austin because while I’ve been in Texas for nine years I was in San Antonio, so there are a lot of folks that I need to meet in Austin, in state government and in other parts of the city. And soon I’ll start doing that in other cities. The biggest thing that’s changed I’d say is our editors and others feel pulled across many platforms. It’s different editing a print magazine than editing a website that’s changing every few minutes. And it’s different yet again developing live events and figuring out which of your journalists are good at condensing their story to an eight minute lively pitch on a stage. Some people can do that and some people can’t.

On anything he’d like to add: A couple of things. One of the challenges that we face is what is a Texas Monthly story online, a news story? When news breaks, what distinguishes a Texas Monthly story from something that might be on Public Radio or in the Texas Tribune or from what one of the newspapers might do? And it’s really not enough for us to report the news, we need to be on the news, but one of the biggest challenges we face is that when the news breaks, the way I like to describe it is we take the attitude, and what’s implicit in our value with the reader is, of course you’ve already heard this news item, but here’s an angle that you haven’t read about and you might be interested in.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: I have no idea. (Laughs) I’m just somebody who has been out of the game for nine years when I was working for Rackspace, so I’ve been welcomed as an experienced journalist and as somebody who has kept up with what’s happening with journalism online and at live events and podcasts and that sort of thing by what is a much-younger staff, so that was a concern I had. But people have been very welcoming and I try and be very transparent about what I don’t know and ask a lot of questions and people have been willing to teach me things.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I’m an evening workout guy, so I work a pretty long day. And depending on what time you came, I might have a business-social engagement like a business dinner I would have to go to, but usually I go to the gym and then get something small and quick to eat and then read. I just have a lot to learn about Texas and about the different subcultures here, there are some cities I know way less well than others, and so just reading both in print and online to try and learn more for the job. And I actually don’t think of that part as work, that part is just fun for me. I’ve always been a learner and have enjoyed learning new things and reading.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: Storyteller. I think that’s the way many of my friends would describe me. I love hearing stories; I had the great good luck to grow up in a family of enthusiastic storytellers and yes, southern storytellers and that kind of rambling, funny discursive way. That’s one of the other things I do socially with friends, is encourage people to tell stories and swap those with them. So, I think that’s what people would say and I’d be happy to have that on my gravestone.

On what keeps him up at night: I’d say it’s are we making the transition? As our readers move from print to other platforms, primarily the website, are we making the transition rapidly enough and well enough to sustain quality journalism financially? Because as you know, even as the readers move, even as Texas Monthly has way more readers than it has ever had in its history when you combine print and online and the other platforms, the advertisers do not move quite as easily.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Dan Goodgame, editor in chief, Texas Monthly.

Samir Husni: Texas Monthly is a very well-known brand and in fact recently was on the morning news referring to the statistics that Texas Monthly provided about the immigrants coming to the country. As the new guardian, the new editor in chief of the magazine, what’s your plan to protect this brand and to promote this brand going forward?

Dan Goodgame: The mission won’t change very much from what it was when it was founded 46 years ago, and that’s an amazing number to me; you think about how many publications have risen and fallen over 46 years and Texas Monthly is running strong. And the reason is that it has always set out to provide the best storytelling about Texas and the best-informed advice about how to enjoy everything the state has to offer.

So, we’ll have the same broad mix of narrative stories and those will be about everything from crime to medical research, personality profiles, investigative pieces, on the one hand, and then on the other hand great stories about travel, music, style, design, hunting, fishing, food, and of course barbeque. One thing I’m very proud of about this job is to be the editor of the only magazine I know of in the world that has a dedicated barbeque editor.

Samir Husni: You bring to the job a political background, you were the Time magazine Washington correspondent for years, and a business background, you were the editor in chief of Fortune Small Business, are we going to see this combination of politics and business from your background seeping into the pages of Texas Monthly?

Dan Goodgame: Yes, you will. Texas Monthly has almost always emphasized the coverage of politics, particularly I would say of power, all the way from fast express to the often real power behind a particular decision in the legislature among the congressional delegation, which can be wealthy people who hand out a lot of campaign contributions; it can be a really influential church in a particular congressional district, so we’re interested in all of that.

I think there was a brief period when one of our editors was at least quoted as saying, Texans aren’t interested in politics and I think he was being provocative and what he was trying to say was that they’re interested in issues behind politics. We’re definitely interested in politics; we have Congressman Will Hurd on the cover of the current issue, and we were way ahead on Beto O’Rourke, including an award-winning podcast called “Underdog” about him, and the hilarious Fake Beto Diaries during that period when he was trying to find himself and decide whether to run. One of our young writers here has written just a hilarious series of Fake Diaries from Beto on the Road.

But yes, I think that’s something that in recent years we haven’t covered as much as Texans would like. You think about the topics on which Texans’ interests over indexes people in other areas, I think business and entrepreneurship would definitely be two of them, and I do think of those two things separately. We have more Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Texas than has ever been in New York and that’s what people here call “Bigness” and that’s big companies, including iconic Texas companies like Southwest Airlines and American Airlines.

Then you have such energy and vitality in Austin, around technology and also San Antonio increasingly around technology and Dallas. A whole lot of different kinds of technology around medicine and biotech in Houston and San Antonio in particular. And then the technologies around oil and gas extraction, fracking and then new ways of recycling the frack water, reducing the environmental impact. So, I think there are a lot of stories there for us to cover.

Samir Husni: You mentioned that the magazine is almost 50 years old and still going strong, it’s almost 170 or 180 pages in print; what do you think is the secret sauce that’s keeping the print edition growing, while also expanding into digital with podcasts and all of the other platforms?

Dan Goodgame: We’ve faced challenges financially as a business that are similar to those faced by others who deliver journalism across platforms, across online, print, live events, podcasts, and video, but we have some advantages they don’t. First of all, there is such a strong Texas identity. As a Mississippi native I thought we had a really strong identity, but I have to tell you after nine years of living here, Texas has even more of that. And folks in Houston are interested in relatives and college friends who live in San Antonio and Dallas and Midland. So, they’re interested in what happens throughout the state in a way that you don’t really find in a lot of other states.

And we have newcomers arriving at the rate of 1,100 a day here, so there are a lot of people who are moving here and want to learn about the place and find the right neighborhood for them, and where are the best swimming holes, places to hike, restaurants, that growing potential audience here. We now have four of the top 11 largest U.S. cities, our economy would be ranked number 10 in the world if it were its own country.

I think we’re also the place a lot of the rest of the country is watching as cutting edge in several ways. Two-thirds of the school children in Texas are Hispanic, Black or Asian, it’s what used to be called minorities but the schools will soon be, in long-term trends, a minority state, and how that’s being handled is a very interesting story for Texans and I think people outside Texas as well. So, those are the advantages we’ve got and we’re in town taking advantage of them.

Our print subscriber base is decreasing slowly, but it’s decreasing as those arenas move online. Our website is growing rapidly and we set a record back at the time of Hurricane Harvey because we had excellent coverage of that. And in February we came within two percent of that record, in terms of unique visitors.

One of the most encouraging things as I dive into those numbers is not just the number of unique visitors, it’s the number of people who may come in on a news story and then their second read will be a 10,000 word long-form narrative piece by one of our award-winners like Skip Hollandsworth or Mimi Swartz, and they will stay six to ten minutes on that story, and you know how unusual that is.

Samir Husni: Once, you and I talked about the art of storytelling and that will never fade away regardless of the platform. When you make the decision that “this” is going to be my cover story, “this” is going to be on the web or on digital, do you have something as your plan when you meet with your staff that something in particular is for print or is everything for every platform?

Dan Goodgame: That’s a great question, and what we’re gradually transitioning toward. We started this as soon as I got here and it’ll probably take us another couple of months, but we’re going fully web first, and I’ve done this other places that I’ve worked as an editor, where every story will go up first on the website. As soon it’s ready, it will go up on the website. And it will be presented differently there than it would be in the print magazine. And we will have an idea that a certain story would probably be good for the print magazine, but one of the things that online journalism gives you is a lot of metrics, so we’ll get to put that story up, watch it and see how it does.

It doesn’t necessarily have to bring in a lot of great page views, but if a significant portion of the readership is going deep on it, staying with it for six to ten minutes, that’s an important thing for us to know. And if it’s not getting either of those things, if it’s not getting a broad readership or an intense readership, then we need to rethink what we thought when we first assigned that story. Maybe that one doesn’t go online and then we’ll present them very differently in print than we did on the website.

One of the metaphors that we use is that we have this rigorous storytelling that we’re engaged in preparing across the state and the river flows first to the website and from that there are branches flowing to the print magazine, to our live events, which we’re expanding from two last year to six this year in major cities around Texas, and also to the podcast business that we’re just now getting into, but that we think is a really promising outlet for our storytelling.

Samir Husni: You mentioned the river, and a Greek philosopher once said that no one can cross the same river twice, because the water keeps changing. Can your readers cross the same river twice? If they pick up the magazine, what are the possibilities that you have the same audience that has read the story online, then why is it in the magazine?

Dan Goodgame: It’s a great question and we have studied the overlap between print and the entire website and it’s only about 15 percent. And I had experience with this with the magazine I edited most recently at Time Inc. when we went web first, and we really didn’t get any complaints. They’ll read some of the stories that we put on the website, but they’re not going to read everything, they’ll always be surprised by something that’s in print that they didn’t catch on the website. And then they love the holding of it, the tactile experience of it, and the way the pictures jump out of the page in a way that they still don’t quite as much when you’re reading from a screen.

Samir Husni: In this digital age, and it would take someone from Mars or Venus to not know we’re living in a digital age, how do you view the role of the magazine cover? What does the cover of Texas Monthly represent today compared to a few years back, pre-digital?

Dan Goodgame: To me, it’s the equivalent of what you put into the window of your shop. It is what identifies you: is it a hat shop, a women’s clothing shop, a chocolate shop. So, the mix of things that we put onto the Texas Monthly cover tells people who we are, again there are 1,100 visitors a day who are arriving and asking what is this? Is this one of those things put out by the Chamber of Commerce or is it more intuitive than that, will I be able to read interesting profiles of people I might want to meet, moving to San Antonio or moving to Dallas? So, it’s really important to have a good mix of things on the cover.

So, if you look at the two I have done since I’ve been here, the first one was about this iconic Texas business called Buc-ee’s, which is really hard to describe to people from outside the state, but the cities are far apart here and people drive a lot among them and Buc-ee’s are strategically located, giant convenience stores with lots of gas pumps, spotless restrooms, and custom-made jerky and lots of Texana products. And it’s thriving here and about to move into the rest of the south. So we thought that would be an interesting story for the cover. Texans who have been here for a while will be interested and newcomers will be interested too, which signals the kind of magazine we have. We will still be putting barbeque on the cover periodically, because that is something that Texans are hugely interested in.

Samir Husni: As you move forward and put your own imprint upon the magazine, do you feel that this web-first approach that you’re using will one day become the most dominant part of Texas Monthly, or will we always have an ink on paper version of the magazine?

Dan Goodgame: I think and hope that we will always have a print magazine as part of our platform, it may end up being a smaller circulation; it may be an opportunity for us to use a better paper, something that has much more of a value and would be something that you’d want on your coffee table. And while it will really be up to the readers, we’re kind of agnostic about that, we want to deliver great storytelling and great informed advice about how to enjoy Texas on any platform the readers want to receive it on.

And that’s why we’re still investing a lot in the print magazine, we’re standing rapidly on the website; we’re tripling the number of live events that we do this coming year where we bring the magazine to life with our journalists and our sources, even in the bands that we cover. And as I mentioned, we’re very encouraged by the prospects of doing podcasts.

Samir Husni: Texas Monthly is one of the few, if not the only, state magazine that is national in one way or the other.

Dan Goodgame: Yes, we call it the National Magazine of Texas, it kind of harkens back to the status of Texas at one time as an independent republic and a lot of people still think of it that way. And a good bit of our web traffic comes from out of state, it’s hard to measure with any precision, but it’s more than a third. People outside of Texas are very interested in this place and I think that’s an actual opportunity that we can take more advantage of.

Samir Husni: With the changing mix of Texas becoming a majority of minorities, how will that be reflected in the magazine, or will you be laser-targeting a specific audience that has left an impact on the magazine throughout the years?

Dan Goodgame: We want to cover the changing Texas; we are I think covering the changing Texas in all of its wonderful diversity. We want to become more diverse geographically, I think it’s fair to say that the magazine has overemphasized Austin, we’re based here and we’re all trained observers and we come up with certain ideas from things we hear and people we know. I had a conversation recently with one of my editors who was thinking of moving back to the city where he and his wife are from and I encouraged that, and will help with that. There are a couple of our top writers here who are thinking of moving to other cities and I want us to get out and put the whole state geographically in and all of its ethnic diversity, all of its interests.

We have a midterm report coming up, we do the best barbeque places every four years, and at the midterm we have the best new ones. And a lot of the new ones have an international flavor. There’s Korean-influenced barbeque, Japanese-influenced barbeque, German, you name it. And we want to cover that. Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the world and we want to cover that more carefully. And one of the things that’s going to require from us is becoming more diverse on our staff, because we’re woefully short on that. That’s a big challenge for us as it is I think for a lot of folks, but it’s more important for us than most publications just for the reason you cited, which is this state is becoming more diverse more rapidly than any other.

Samir Husni: You’ve been an editor for a long, long time; how is the job of an editor today different than when you were editor of Fortune Small Business? Are you still doing the same thing you did or do you feel that the responsibilities of today are much more than what they were back then?

Dan Goodgame: I think a lot of the main things and the parts that I enjoy the most are still there, a good bit of everyday editing stories, one person or the other usually providing notes or guidance on the frontend of the story. I also try and get out, starting with Austin because while I’ve been in Texas for nine years I was in San Antonio, so there are a lot of folks that I need to meet in Austin, in state government and in other parts of the city. And soon I’ll start doing that in other cities.

I have a visit to Houston coming up to do more of that, but I’m just sitting down with people and learning and getting to know them and trying to make sources, and it has already produced some story ideas. One of the scoops that we had recently on the website and then a version of that in the print magazine, was about the high stakes test that all of the school kids have to take in Texas. And it turns out that they’ve been giving the fifth grade test to third graders and the seventh grade test to the fifth graders, so that would help explain why some politicians like to wave around those test results and say that only 40 percent of Texas kids are reading grade level. Well, this appears to be a big part of the explanation as to why. And that just came out of a meeting that I had with someone who was explaining school finance to me.

And that’s an important part of the role of an editor too I think, is to develop sources and to develop story ideas. I reach out to several readers, people who have written into us or people who have been covering the magazine. I ask them what they think when they’re treated fairly; what they like about the magazine; what they dislike; what should we add, those parts of the job are very similar.

The biggest thing that’s changed I’d say is our editors and others feel pulled across many platforms. It’s different editing a print magazine than editing a website that’s changing every few minutes. And it’s different yet again developing live events and figuring out which of your journalists are good at condensing their story to an eight minute lively pitch on a stage. Some people can do that and some people can’t. Podcasts are a really different thing with the need for high quality sound gear and gathering ambient sound and editing the strips and having the timing of them. That’s one of the big differences, learning how to tell stories differently across all of those platforms and then helping the staff learn that.

Samir Husni: Once you are able to do all of these different skills, do they pay you four times what they paid you when you were just doing a few of them?

Dan Goodgame: (Laughs) I was working for a cloud computing company for a few years after 30 years in journalism and did that very happily, helping them tell their story in San Antonio, and I took a pay cut to come here and did so happily. It’s important work; it’s fun work, and it’s really an honor to be at a 46-year-old magazine with the storied history that Texas Monthly has. I’m not in this for the money and I think most people who work here aren’t.

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

Dan Goodgame: A couple of things. One of the challenges that we face is what is a Texas Monthly story online, a news story? When news breaks, what distinguishes a Texas Monthly story from something that might be on Public Radio or in the Texas Tribune or from what one of the newspapers might do? And it’s really not enough for us to report the news, we need to be on the news, but one of the biggest challenges we face is that when the news breaks, the way I like to describe it is we take the attitude, and what’s implicit in our value with the reader is, of course you’ve already heard this news item, but here’s an angle that you haven’t read about and you might be interested in.

For example, when the Feds began freezing property along the Southern border to build the Wall, that was a news item, when the first eminent domain notices started going out, others had reported that, but we looked back at some of the politicians in Texas who were raising hell with those eminent domain issues in the Red River Valley are now suddenly silent when it’s happening at the other end of the state. So, it’s providing that kind of angle. And where that comes from is I think two places, one is context; we have good expertise in quite a few areas but more importantly there are Texans on our staff. And then there are areas where we lack expertise and where we need to find it and develop it. So that context comes as soon as the news breaks and someone knows that here’s an angle that hasn’t been covered, here’s what Texas Monthly is doing on this.

And then the second thing is just having better story systems that everybody else. The beat system has broken down at a lot of newspapers and there’s a great opportunity for us to go back to that, to go back to great beat reporting and just developing deep expertise and deep sourcing so that we can add something to every story that breaks. So, that’s a big challenge.

And we put a fresh emphasis on scoops and we’ve had several in the short time that I’ve been here that have gotten us noticed and have been picked up in the Washington Post and The New York Times and other places where we were competitive with them on stories and worked through the weekend to get a story done. I’ve been very pleased with the staff’s response to that and their interest in being competitive. Our attitude is Texas is our gym. The New York Times does not get to come into our gym and win a game. Of course, occasionally they will, but that’s our attitude. We’re supposed to win here.

Samir Husni: What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about you?

Dan Goodgame: I have no idea. (Laughs) I’m just somebody who has been out of the game for nine years when I was working for Rackspace, so I’ve been welcomed as an experienced journalist and as somebody who has kept up with what’s happening with journalism online and at live events and podcasts and that sort of thing by what is a much-younger staff, so that was a concern I had. But people have been very welcoming and I try and be very transparent about what I don’t know and ask a lot of questions and people have been willing to teach me things.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Dan Goodgame: I’m an evening workout guy, so I work a pretty long day. And depending on what time you came, I might have a business-social engagement like a business dinner I would have to go to, but usually I go to the gym and then get something small and quick to eat and then read. I just have a lot to learn about Texas and about the different subcultures here, there are some cities I know way less well than others, and so just reading both in print and online to try and learn more for the job. And I actually don’t think of that part as work, that part is just fun for me. I’ve always been a learner and have enjoyed learning new things and reading.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Dan Goodgame: Storyteller. I think that’s the way many of my friends would describe me. I love hearing stories; I had the great good luck to grow up in a family of enthusiastic storytellers and yes, southern storytellers and that kind of rambling, funny discursive way. That’s one of the other things I do socially with friends, is encourage people to tell stories and swap those with them. So, I think that’s what people would say and I’d be happy to have that on my gravestone.

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

Dan Goodgame: I’d say it’s are we making the transition? As our readers move from print to other platforms, primarily the website, are we making the transition rapidly enough and well enough to sustain quality journalism financially? Because as you know, even as the readers move, even as Texas Monthly has way more readers than it has ever had in its history when you combine print and online and the other platforms, the advertisers do not move quite as easily.

And so we need to achieve a certain volume online; our advertising is growing very rapidly, above target, over the last couple of months, which has been a nice surprise, but we have to have that happen pretty rapidly to be able to sustain quality journalism, so that’s one of the concerns I have.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

MJ Lifestyle: The Magazine Elevating The Feminine Voice… – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jennifer Skøg, Founder, Editor & Chief Creative, MJ Lifestyle Magazine…

April 4, 2019

“I am a photographer by trade, so I have been a fan of print for almost my entire life. If it’s stuck in a computer it’s not going to be seen; we have so many files that are just stuck in the Worldwide Web, but not necessarily something beautiful that you can touch and feel and experience. And so because of my background with fine art and high-end photography, that gave me one option for my magazine, and that was to be finely printed on ecofriendly paper. I believe that imagery often teaches people things; people feel things from imagery sometimes more than reading. So for me, imagery was a big part of getting people to understand and educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis.” Jennifer Skøg…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

A luxury cannabis publication that not only respects the plant and educates readers about its much-touted benefits, but also empowers women to be strong leaders in their chosen lives and careers, MJ Lifestyle strives to showcase real women from all cultures and ethnicities, believing in the diversity of the world in which we all exist. The magazine is not a “stoner” title, but instead is one that chooses its partnerships carefully in order to maintain the integrity that Founder Jennifer Skøg is determined it will display.

I spoke with Jennifer recently and we talked about the magazine and its compelling imagery and editorials. Jennifer is a photographer by trade that specializes in intimate feminine photography, so making women feel comfortable while empowered in front of the camera is something that she is passionate about. Just as she is about her own personal usage of cannabis, a plant that she respects and is an advocate for when it comes to the many health and wellness issues the plant can address. And Jennifer realized that modern day women were not being properly represented in the space, so MJ Lifestyle was born. With an all-female team that she credits as being incredible, Jennifer is determined to elevate the female voice in the world of cannabis.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a woman who is a magazine entrepreneur, a professional photographer, and a soccer mom, all rolled into one delightful person, Jennifer Skøg, MJ Lifestyle magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On why she chose print for MJ Lifestyle magazine in this digital age: I am a photographer by trade, so I have been a fan of print for almost my entire life. If it’s stuck in a computer it’s not going to be seen; we have so many files that are just stuck in the Worldwide Web, but not necessarily something beautiful that you can touch and feel and experience. And so because of my background with fine art and high-end photography, that gave me one option for my magazine, and that was to be finely printed on ecofriendly paper. I believe that imagery often teaches people things; people feel things from imagery sometimes more than reading. So for me, imagery was a big part of getting people to understand and educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis.

On the concept of cannabis and feminism behind the magazine: Really, when I first got into the industry I was just starting to shoot for brands and helping to elevate imagery for those brands, and what we quickly realized was that women were not properly represented in the cannabis space, real professional women. It was typically more of a stoner culture type of thing and not a positive light for cannabis at all. I have actually been a consumer for most of my adult life and have definitely hidden my consumption from my professional world for fear of being judged or missing out on work, people not hiring me.

On how she came up with the tagline “For Women With High Taste”: That was actually our first tagline and it’s funny because we were switching back and forth between “For Women With High Taste” and “For Women Of High Taste.” There’s a big difference between “with” and “of” and some of our women of color thought Women With High Taste were born with it and Women Of High Taste was something that you accumulated overtime or something you gave yourself. We were trying to connect, obviously women, with having high-end values and aspirations and taste. But we’re actually changing that; we don’t know exactly what we want to do yet, but it’s really about elevating your feminine voice.

On the magazine selling out so quickly on its website and whether she feels she was right on target with seeing a need for the magazine in the marketplace: We weren’t expecting it to sell out so quickly; we actually got a really big order that was unexpected, which sold us out almost immediately. And that was really exciting and we’re still very excited, but also the hard part for us is marketing and advertising. And right now, because our magazine has to do with cannabis, we’re not able to advertise anywhere basically. So, we’ve had to get really creative with influential type stuff, social media, and just building an audience. So, yes we sold out online, but right now our biggest thing is we’ve got 400 stores that we still need to sell the magazine out in. We’re definitely trying to continue raising awareness.

On the concept of romancing the plant, merging photography, women, nudity, and art, all between the pages of MJ Lifestyle: As I mentioned, I’m a photographer by trade; I actually teach and one of my specialties is intimate photography of women. Over the past 20 years of doing this, that’s been singlehandedly the most rewarding thing that I’ve done. Almost every time I’m able to photograph a woman and have her feel comfortable in front of the camera and it’s like opening her world up to a type of self-love she’s never known before. So, that’s been easy to weave in because we are talking about self-love so much. We’re talking about caring for ourselves, caring for our families, and making those educated decisions. And so for us yes, we are romancing the plant, but there’s a very fine line between glamourizing it and obviously, kind of paying tribute to it.

On the wide diversity of the magazine and whether that was intentional: Oh no, it’s intentional. It’s absolutely intentional. And that’s the thing, especially with what our world is going through with racism right now, and social justice being a huge thing that we have in our cannabis space too, social equity and social justice, and so it’s a big thing for us to make sure diversity is key. I am a white woman and grew up with a somewhat privileged lifestyle, I’ve worked very hard, but I’ve also, because of the color of my skin, things have probably come easier for me than most other people of color. So, the only thing I can do is use my privilege to make sure that we’re raising awareness for everybody and including everybody.

On whether launching the magazine was a walk in a rose garden for her or has she faced any challenges along the way: It’s been very, very difficult. Not just entering into a new industry of cannabis, but also a new industry of magazine publication. Lots of things that I didn’t know before, but also things internally. Not every single woman can work with every woman and we have definitely had some trimming of the negative energies, so it’s been a bumpy ride, just trying to make sure we have the right team with us. We have recovered significantly from it, and we are very grateful.

On having to be over 21 to click into the website content and if it’s the cannabis or the nudity that required that: It’s the cannabis. I think there might be minor nudity, but no, it’s the cannabis. And that’s the reason why we can’t advertise anything. And even the young twenties are not in our demographic. We’re definitely thirty and up, so we really don’t want this getting into the hands of younger kids.

On what she hopes to accomplish with the magazine one year from now: It’s really exciting and fun; we’re meeting and participating in a lot of events, so we’re getting out there in the field and getting to know women. And not just at cannabis events, but holistic events, yoga, or business events, women being empowered. We want this to not be stoner culture, we want this to be real life. So, we’re trying to bridge that gap between the stoner culture and real women. For us, it would be that we had evolved into a greater team, putting on more events, and having another couple of issues under our belt.

On anything she’d like to add: The other really difficult part for us is that we really are trying to respect the plant and so we have to be very careful who we are partnering with, because there are companies that don’t have the best intentions, or we have cut companies that are coming in and flooding the market with misogynistic type of marketing, with half-naked women, and on their billboards you’ll see women with bongs and it’s just not appropriate. So for us, that’s one of our biggest things, making sure that the people we are partnering with have good intentions, integrity; obviously they have a safe product to consume, but also we’re about business too, we’re not here saying money is money. We’re very much pride over profit.

On the biggest misconception she thinks people have about her: Probably that we have money. (Laughs) What most people think is that we have a pretty well-oiled machine, but we’re really just taking it one day at a time. And we’re working really hard, but at the same time we’re also trying to enjoy our lives.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Moms are busy. I pick up my kids; I do homework; I start dinner; I clean up after dinner, and by the time it’s 7:00 p.m., I actually go back to my computer and get to work. I take a couple of minutes to snuggle with my kids and if it’s been a really long day, I’ll fall asleep with them (Laughs) And falling asleep with them is the best ever. Sometimes I’ll consume some cannabis, but not until the kids are down or they’re away. I actually don’t drink a lot of alcohol, it upsets my stomach and that’s one of the reasons that cannabis has been my kind of “vice,” so to speak, for so long.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: Makes women feel amazing, feel beautiful, and powerful.

On what keeps her up at night: (Laughs) Work. I’m non-stop working; my office is in my house, so I’m literally on the desk. It’s sad because sometimes you’ll see that when all of my family wants quiet time, my husband is on his computer and I’m on mine and my kids are on their devices, it’s very techy. I am a great mom, but I’m also at my computer often.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jennifer Skøg, founder, editor, & chief creative, MJ Lifestyle Magazine.

Samir Husni: When I saw MJ Lifestyle, I was impressed by the size of the magazine and the fact that you call it the “fine print” magazine. Tell me, why are you doing a print magazine in this digital age?

Jennifer Skøg: I am a photographer by trade, so I have been a fan of print for almost my entire life. If it’s stuck in a computer it’s not going to be seen; we have so many files that are just stuck in the Worldwide Web, but not necessarily something beautiful that you can touch and feel and experience. And so because of my background with fine art and high-end photography, that gave me one option for my magazine, and that was to be finely printed on ecofriendly paper. I believe that imagery often teaches people things; people feel things from imagery sometimes more than reading. So for me, imagery was a big part of getting people to understand and educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis.

Samir Husni: Can you tell me the genesis of MJ Lifestyle, because you go beyond cannabis; you’re combining feminism and cannabis, can you expand a little on that concept?

Jennifer Skøg: Really, when I first got into the industry I was just starting to shoot for brands and helping to elevate imagery for those brands, and what we quickly realized was that women were not properly represented in the cannabis space, real professional women. It was typically more of a stoner culture type of thing and not a positive light for cannabis at all. I have actually been a consumer for most of my adult life and have definitely hidden my consumption from my professional world for fear of being judged or missing out on work, people not hiring me.

So, this was something for me, coming out of the shadows so to speak and opening up about this, it expanded my eyes as to how much not just the plant had been criminalized and stigmatized, but women in general all over the world have had to fight for equality, and we need to support each other. We’re in a world where women are competitive, we get catty and it would be nice if we didn’t have to compete. It would be nice if we could help each other out. All of us need help at times, it takes a tribe to do anything. Whether it’s raising kids or getting our jobs done completely or throwing out a brand new notion like cannabis is friendly. That’s why we’re mixing the two.

And we’re battling a lot of misogynistic brands who think it’s okay to completely expose women or undermine women and put us in a negative light, so to speak. So, we’re really wanting to bring that unity and sisterhood into the magazine as well.

Samir Husni: How did you decide on the magazine’s tagline, and I see it’s even on your business card: “For Women With High Taste?”

Jennifer Skøg: That was actually our first tagline and it’s funny because we were switching back and forth between “For Women With High Taste” and “For Women Of High Taste.” There’s a big difference between “with” and “of” and some of our women of color thought Women With High Taste were born with it and Women Of High Taste was something that you accumulated overtime or something you gave yourself. We were trying to connect, obviously women, with having high-end values and aspirations and taste.

But we’re actually changing that; we don’t know exactly what we want to do yet, but it’s really about elevating your feminine voice. And a lot of it is not necessarily about getting high, so we definitely want to try and get that kind of terminology out and be a little bit more professional and scientific health wise.

Samir Husni: I noticed on your magazine’s website that the second issue, which is now on newsstands, has sold out online, from the website. Do you think that your gut feeling that there was a need for this magazine in the marketplace was right on target?

Jennifer Skøg: As far as us selling out so quickly?

Samir Husni: Yes, and the need for the magazine. Evidently there is an audience for it or it wouldn’t have sold so quickly.

Jennifer Skøg: We weren’t expecting it to sell out so quickly; we actually got a really big order that was unexpected, which sold us out almost immediately. And that was really exciting and we’re still very excited, but also the hard part for us is marketing and advertising. And right now, because our magazine has to do with cannabis, we’re not able to advertise anywhere basically. So, we’ve had to get really creative with influential type stuff, social media, and just building an audience. So, yes we sold out online, but right now our biggest thing is we’ve got 400 stores that we still need to sell the magazine out in. We’re definitely trying to continue raising awareness.

But this hasn’t been done before. We had a thought in our minds and at first no one was able to understand what we were trying to accomplish, but now that the first two issues are out I think it’s beginning to click in people’s minds. We’ve actually had quite a few brands come to us recently, grateful that they can find us and looking for a way to have a more refined audience and a more refined way of educating potential consumers. A lot of people are trying to get away from the High Times and the adult magazines and have it be something more.

Samir Husni: As I flipped through the pages of the magazine, it’s like you’re romancing the plant with the imagery and the photography. Tell me more about that concept of merging the photography, the women, the nudity, the art, all between the pages of MJ Lifestyle.

Jennifer Skøg: As I mentioned, I’m a photographer by trade; I actually teach and one of my specialties is intimate photography of women. Over the past 20 years of doing this, that’s been singlehandedly the most rewarding thing that I’ve done. Almost every time I’m able to photograph a woman and have her feel comfortable in front of the camera and it’s like opening her world up to a type of self-love she’s never known before. So, that’s been easy to weave in because we are talking about self-love so much. We’re talking about caring for ourselves, caring for our families, and making those educated decisions. And so for us yes, we are romancing the plant, but there’s a very fine line between glamourizing it and obviously, kind of paying tribute to it.

In the beginning it was very hard for me because I don’t want to glamourize it; I have two small children, I don’t want them to think that it’s cool to be smoking anything. So, while we want it to be a very nonjudgmental space and inclusive and diverse, at the same time we’re trying to really show how we can be more safe about our consumption and not have smoking everywhere. But also loving ourselves, loving our bodies, being body-positive and just trying to create something we don’t have, empowering women to be their own leaders and founders in their space. And all of this just really fits together for us. I’m essentially my own target market. I’m a self-made soccer mom. (Laughs)

I’m literally a stay-at-home working mom, it’s a whole lot of jobs in one. And every woman is just trying to figure things out. So, this is a way that we can really give resources and support throughout our sisterhood.

Samir Husni: Talking about every woman and sisterhood, it seems to me that you have not left a single ethnic group or race out of the magazine. Was that intentional or you’re just casting the widest net possible?

Jennifer Skøg: Oh no, it’s intentional. It’s absolutely intentional. And that’s the thing, especially with what our world is going through with racism right now, and social justice being a huge thing that we have in our cannabis space too, social equity and social justice, and so it’s a big thing for us to make sure diversity is key. I am a white woman and grew up with a somewhat privileged lifestyle, I’ve worked very hard, but I’ve also, because of the color of my skin, things have probably come easier for me than most other people of color. So, the only thing I can do is use my privilege to make sure that we’re raising awareness for everybody and including everybody.

For me it’s really important that we do that; we don’t want just a bunch of white women everywhere. That’s not what our world is and that’s not what makes our world beautiful. So yes, for us, it’s extremely intentional that we’re trying to include every single culture, background, and group so that we can have everyone represented.

Samir Husni: I can hear the passion in your voice talking about the magazine and its audience; has it been a walk in a rose garden for you, so easy to put the magazine together, or have you faced some challenges along the way?

Jennifer Skøg: It’s been very, very difficult. Not just entering into a new industry of cannabis, but also a new industry of magazine publication. Lots of things that I didn’t know before, but also things internally. Not every single woman can work with every woman and we have definitely had some trimming of the negative energies, so it’s been a bumpy ride, just trying to make sure we have the right team with us. We have recovered significantly from it, and we are very grateful.

Really, we’re a small group of women, all of us have our own side hustles and I’m the main one putting all of the pieces together, but I have an incredible community of women where we’re creating resources right now. We don’t have public or private funding or any funding right now, we’re funding this ourselves. So, a lot of it is trading resources. I have women working with the magazines and then I’m helping them by photographing their products, helping them with their websites, giving them business coaching, anyway that we can evolve and grow each other is what we’re doing until we’re able to actually be profitable.

Samir Husni: I’ve noticed on your website that you seem to be positioning yourself as an adult magazine because you have to be over 21 to click into the website content; is it the cannabis or the nudity that required that?

Jennifer Skøg: It’s the cannabis. I think there might be minor nudity, but no, it’s the cannabis. And that’s the reason why we can’t advertise anything. And even the young twenties are not in our demographic. We’re definitely thirty and up, so we really don’t want this getting into the hands of younger kids.

Samir Husni: If we’re having this conversation a year from now, what would you hope to tell me you had accomplished with MJ Lifestyle?

Jennifer Skøg: It’s really exciting and fun; we’re meeting and participating in a lot of events, so we’re getting out there in the field and getting to know women. And not just at cannabis events, but holistic events, yoga, or business events, women being empowered. We want this to not be stoner culture, we want this to be real life. So, we’re trying to bridge that gap between the stoner culture and real women. For us, it would be that we had evolved into a greater team, putting on more events, and having another couple of issues under our belt.

We have one coming out this summer and it’s on policy and social justice. This is a huge issue coming out that we’re working on right now. It involves a lot of reaching out to people, a lot of interviews, and then me flying to go and do photos. (Laughs) It’s a crazy, busy life, but really exciting.

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

Jennifer Skøg: The other really difficult part for us is that we really are trying to respect the plant and so we have to be very careful who we are partnering with, because there are companies that don’t have the best intentions, or we have cut companies that are coming in and flooding the market with misogynistic type of marketing, with half-naked women, and on their billboards you’ll see women with bongs and it’s just not appropriate. So for us, that’s one of our biggest things, making sure that the people we are partnering with have good intentions, integrity; obviously they have a safe product to consume, but also we’re about business too, we’re not here saying money is money. We’re very much pride over profit.

Samir Husni: What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about you?

Jennifer Skøg: Probably that we have money. (Laughs) What most people think is that we have a pretty well-oiled machine, but we’re really just taking it one day at a time. And we’re working really hard, but at the same time we’re also trying to enjoy our lives.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; playing with the kids; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Jennifer Skøg: Moms are busy. I pick up my kids; I do homework; I start dinner; I clean up after dinner, and by the time it’s 7:00 p.m., I actually go back to my computer and get to work. I take a couple of minutes to snuggle with my kids and if it’s been a really long day, I’ll fall asleep with them (Laughs) And falling asleep with them is the best ever. Sometimes I’ll consume some cannabis, but not until the kids are down or they’re away. I actually don’t drink a lot of alcohol, it upsets my stomach and that’s one of the reasons that cannabis has been my kind of “vice,” so to speak, for so long.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Jennifer Skøg: Makes women feel amazing, feel beautiful, and powerful.

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

Jennifer Skøg: (Laughs) Work. I’m non-stop working; my office is in my house, so I’m literally on the desk. It’s sad because sometimes you’ll see that when all of my family wants quiet time, my husband is on his computer and I’m on mine and my kids are on their devices, it’s very techy. I am a great mom, but I’m also at my computer often.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Luckbox Magazine: A Definite Alternative To Depending On Lady Luck When It Comes To Decisions Of Money & Investments – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jeff Joseph, Publisher & Editorial Director, Luckbox Magazine…

April 1, 2019

“Ultimately, we have one objective; we did a lot of surveying of our audiences in the past, because that’s the only way you really measure if you’re engaging, and if your unique content proposition is resonating with your audience. So we measure that a lot, frequently, in the form of surveys with our audience. And the survey criteria that we’ve had in our prior financial publications that we aspire to achieve is that in the past, within sixty percent of our audience never threw out their print editions, ever. They kept them as a permanent library. That specific metric of engagement really drives us and motivates us. It means that we are providing a library of resource to our audience that they go back to and refer to over and over again. That means that they like the look and feel and texture, and the magazine is aspirational to them. And that it provides a value beyond the first read.” Jeff Joseph…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

With investment experience from floor trader to institutional asset management, and venture experience as well, Jeff Joseph has the expertise needed to bring a financial magazine, such as the new title Luckbox, to great success and bring even greater informational strategies to lead readers from chancy risks to skilled decisions when it comes to their investments. And as chief content officer and publisher of Modern Trader magazine, he knows a thing or two about the publishing industry as well, although he’ll tell you he is a financial wiz much more than a publishing tycoon.

I spoke with Jeff recently and we talked about the new magazine Luckbox, which he and his team are developing and publishing for TastyTrade, one of the fastest growing online financial networks in the world. Partnering with TastyTrade on this endeavor, Jeff said that the magazine started with an already embedded audience that allows him to do what he wanted to do, allocate resources for content. In Jeff’s opinion, it’s all about the content. And with TastyTrade as owner of the magazine and Jeff as its publisher and editorial director, the magazine about probabilities and content is a sharply designed, extremely smart new publication that takes the “what ifs” and the “might happens” and quantifies those probabilities when it comes to making money on investments. It’s a magazine for investors who want to take control of their money and make their own decisions.

So, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. magazine™ interview with a man who talks magazine as fluently as he does money – Jeff Joseph, publisher and editorial director, Luckbox Magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On starting another print magazine in this digital age: I’ve always agreed with your premise, that it’s not a magazine if it isn’t print. But at the same time there is something else that I believe is true, and that is that a magazine has many forms. And in the long run a magazine is still about content. I’m agnostic as to what platform our readers choose to access our content. I prefer it to be in print, because I agree with you, that it’s a beautiful, tactile, engaging experience, but for those who prefer to access our content through digital platforms, that’s fine.

On the idea for Luckbox and how the magazine was born: Luckbox is a partnership with a financial services firm that is a content marketing firm that understands the importance of content marketing to engage with a larger audience and is all about the idea of giving information to be able to create goodwill and customer engagement and customer loyalty. And it had the marketing means and the audience size that would immediately allow this new publication, Luckbox, to reach even larger audiences.

On the concept of Luckbox and how that applies to the audience he is attempting to reach: We’re very focused on a step-by-step process that defines our unique content position, and then ultimately measures the engagement of that content and the scalability to larger audiences. So the unique content proposition is like every publication, you have to have a very clear idea of what you are and what you stand for, and that idea should drive all of your editorial decisions. In our case, it’s about life and money broadly speaking, but narrowly speaking, our publication is really about probabilities. And the key word in unique content proposition is “unique.” What’s the differentiator?

On were there any stumbling blocks or challenges along the way: I think my distinctive advantage as a publisher and also as the editorial director is that I have subject matter expertise and domain expertise, first and foremost. I come from finance and trading and the investment industry, the decades of my professional career have been in that area. I’ve been a publisher for only five years, although those five years seem like twenty years, but it’s the content knowledge and domain expertise.

On having a partner with this venture and why he felt he needed one: To be clear, this publication is owned by the financial partner Tastytrade, this is their publication and we’re developing it for them. And the reason is, to answer your question, is scale. It’s that simple. As you know the economics of print are still predominantly focused on subscription revenue or advertising revenue. And they feed each other, the larger your subscription base, the larger your ad revenues. There is that third level of event revenue, but you first have to focus on brand development and audience building before you can go down that event path.

On the probability that he will be having this conversation one year from now: (Laughs) That’s a great question and that’s exactly the business concern that I have been most focused on. So unlike a publisher that would be launching a new magazine that has to deal with all of the business issues, when you have an embedded audience from day one, that probability rises materially, so I would tell you right now, go on the record as saying there is a 95 percent-plus probability that next year we are talking about how we’re expanding our audience and that Luckbox is looking at is next phases of evolution.

On anything he’d like to add: You know what it’s like out of the gate, there is just so much to do. You just want to focus on trying to get better and better. I’ve never been happy with any issue we’ve ever produced. I have a really smart and knowledgeable team, with great editors that are willing to shake up the conventional way of looking at things. Our parent company is very provocative in the manner in which they work, they have their own marketing voice. And that makes this all just a lot more fun.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: I guess that I’m a publisher. Again, my background is first and foremost in the financial industry investment and trading, that’s where I’ve spent my entire career. It’s the content expertise that I think gives me an edge. And with my past entrepreneurial and venture activities, I’m more of an entrepreneur than a publisher, and that to me only implies a little bit more flexibility. That’s all.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: Aside from family, my passions are brown whiskey, cigars, and my Samoyed, my dog. I also probably spend more time consuming media than any single person I know. Whether it’s walking, listening to podcast news or every morning listening to financial media, every night listening to political media, and then every evening on the weekend reading, I consume a lot of media. And that’s probably where most of my time is spent.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: I’m my father’s son and my father is approaching a milestone birthday on April 3rd, he’ll be 100 years old. And his spirit and his heart is still beating strongly and he, above everything else, is a warm, wonderful man, the nicest man I’ve ever met, but the hardest working man I’ve ever met. And with an insatiable, entrepreneurial spirit. He was at Normandy in the second wave, he did five European tours; he was an innovator as a restaurateur, he worked long hard hours. He had as many as a dozen restaurants at one time. I’ve learned my work ethic from him and an entrepreneurial spirit and an accept-no-failure attitude and that becomes my greatest challenge, to pass it on to my children as well.

On what keeps him up at night: All this media that I consume. (Laughs) I don’t sleep much. I consume a lot of media. What keeps me up in terms of the business, is the challenge. We know where the headwinds are working print to digital, and again, in the same way that I embrace what you’ve always said, which I find very motivating, it’s not print if it’s not a magazine, at the same time it’s finding the way to engage new audiences. It’s not about marketing that keeps me up, it’s about that content. I believe in the power of content, and content to mobilize and engage, to be aspirational, to be educational; and finding the way to communicate that content is to me the challenge.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jeff Joseph, publisher and editorial director, Luckbox Magazine.

Samir Husni: Are you completely losing it to start another print magazine in this digital age?

Jeff Joseph: (Laughs) That’s a loaded question. I’ve always agreed with your premise, that it’s not a magazine if it isn’t print. But at the same time there is something else that I believe is true, and that is that a magazine has many forms. And in the long run a magazine is still about content. I’m agnostic as to what platform our readers choose to access our content. I prefer it to be in print, because I agree with you, that it’s a beautiful, tactile, engaging experience, but for those who prefer to access our content through digital platforms, that’s fine.

I think being platform agnostic is important. The love of print is motivating and I believe completely in the segmentation of lean-in versus lean-back media; the idea that there are people who are spending their time focusing on digital content and accessing digital content, they’re leaning into it on a daily basis. I’m a big proponent and advocate of the studies that have made it very, very clear now that when it comes to actually engaging with content and actually absorbing it, recent studies out of the University of Maryland show very compelling data that the print reader and the digital reader walk away with the same basic understanding of the content. But if your content is detailed-oriented, as ours is, there is far more engagement retention and recognition of those details for the print reader than there is for the digital reader. And that has been verified through a number of independent university studies.

And the third thing, which I have always thought was ironic that those same studies have pointed out, is that the digital reader and the print reader although they’re absorbing different levels of detail walk away with the notion that they’ve retained the content equally. So this false sense of confidence that the digital reader has, in terms of their ability to actually engage with and retain the content, is something that print seeks to address. So, I look at two worlds, one where you’re leaning into content and one where you’re leaning back with content. And I prefer the magazine, but I’m not going to let my bias get in the way of what readers choose to access.

Again, it’s balancing what you believe, which I believe that it’s not a magazine if it’s not print, but at the same time you can believe something else and that is it’s still all about content; it’s not the medium, it’s the message in the long run, and the manner in which the reader chooses to access that content. And I prefer to be agnostic about it.

Samir Husni: You’ve been involved in many other financial publications and platforms, from Tastytrade to Modern Trader, but how did you come up with the idea for Luckbox and how was the magazine born?

Jeff Joseph: The two prior print publications that I have been involved in; Futures Magazine, which was around for a long, long time, a full decade, was a B to B publication that was focused on futures and options and derivatives, and was predominantly for professional traders. When I acquired that company several years back, it was just limping along and the decision was made to reach a broader audience and make a shift to a B to C audience by adding in equities and financial markets. And that included the stock markets and being less focused on an obscure, narrowed segment of the financial market, which opened up a more B to C appeal.

And we had success with that publication. We achieved a number of editorial and design awards, including Best Business to Business Magazine during that transition. And we learned a number of things and having come to that conclusion of learning, we started seeking opportunities that would allow us to reach an even larger audience.

And that’s what Luckbox is, a partnership with a financial services firm that is a content marketing firm that understands the importance of content marketing to engage with a larger audience and is all about the idea of giving information to be able to create goodwill and customer engagement and customer loyalty. And it had the marketing means and the audience size that would immediately allow this new publication, Luckbox, to reach even larger audiences.

So, what we’ve ensured with Luckbox, which just launched last month, is that in a short period of time, within the next two or three months, we’ll achieve an audience that exceeds the largest audience that we ever had. We expect to be reaching 60,000 to 70,000 subscribers in a matter of months. And that is a result of this partnership with this multiplatform content marketing group in financial media.

Samir Husni: From the concept of the magazine, it’s a monthly magazine for anti-Wall-Streeters, proactive investors who want to make better investment decisions. Tell me a little bit more about the concept and how that applies to the audience you are attempting to reach.

Jeff Joseph: We’re very focused on a step-by-step process that defines our unique content position, and then ultimately measures the engagement of that content and the scalability to larger audiences. So the unique content proposition is like every publication, you have to have a very clear idea of what you are and what you stand for, and that idea should drive all of your editorial decisions. In our case, it’s about life and money broadly speaking, but narrowly speaking, our publication is really about probabilities. And the key word in unique content proposition is “unique.” What’s the differentiator?

And what we are aware of is that in print media there is not a single publication today, not one, that engages with the active investor. And that is someone who either trades or makes their own investment decisions and doesn’t allocate to a delegator or to a robot. They want control over their money; they want greater understanding of the decisions that they’re making and they want to learn how to make better decisions. And there isn’t a single publication in print form that addresses those issues.

So, that is our unique content proposition. We’re very focused on probabilities, and if you take a look at the “Welcome to Luckbox” page, which is a Publisher’s Note to our first readers in our debut issue, we clearly state what we’re about and that is looking at the world through the lens of probability. And that there is an irony to the name Luckbox, which is really a fun name, I love the name. It wasn’t my idea, to be clear, but it’s a wonderful name that has this curiosity gap: what is Luckbox?

And it has great irony about it, because our magazine is really about imparting knowledge, confidence and skills, and it has a lot of educational content. And the irony of the name Luckbox is that a luckbox is a slang term that traders, gamblers, and poker players know, and it refers to somebody who’s luck is significantly beyond what they deserve. Where somebody’s outcomes materially exceeds their skillsets. And that’s kind of the irony of this name. There are a couple of quotes on that very page where we define what Luckbox is. One from Seneca Roman, a philosopher who said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” and that’s really what we’re focused on is that preparation of recognizing our opportunity. And then at that point, a little luck is not a bad thing. And that is our unique content proposition that we’re very focused on.

So, as we evolve, and as you know magazines evolve, we had our first issue and we’re proud of it and we’re pleased with it, but it’s like launching software, you have to have your next version; in our case it’s our next issue. And then our next issue and our next issue after that. We always look at magazines as being a lot like software launches and software releases, where every version gets better and better and more focused on delivering that unique content proposition.

So, that’s what we’re focusing on right now, being this platform that really focuses on the odds of everything. The odds of a successful investment than a particular stock or particular option. The odds of successful outcomes in life and in personal business pursuits. There is not a publication focused on that and the reason we’re focused on it is we know understanding math and probabilities empowers individuals to become more confident about the decisions they make, with respect to their own investments.

Samir Husni: Has it been a walk in a rose garden for you? You have all of this experience behind you, having done this before; were there any stumbling blocks or challenges along the way?

Jeff Joseph: I think my distinctive advantage as a publisher and also as the editorial director is that I have subject matter expertise and domain expertise, first and foremost. I come from finance and trading and the investment industry, the decades of my professional career have been in that area. I’ve been a publisher for only five years, although those five years seem like twenty years, but it’s the content knowledge and domain expertise.

And I personally believe it’s the absence of having decades of publishing experience that allows us to be more flexible, less inclined to accept the rules; this is how it needs to be done. Clearly, our least favorite words are “this is how it’s been done in the past,” we want to be provocative. We want to challenge some of the rules that have guided publishing and journalism in recent years.

And to some degree I think it’s kind of led the industry down a path and in the long run you still have to be relevant and engage with your audience. And I truly think that our team is more entrepreneurial as opposed to being beholden to journalism practices and publishing rules. And by focusing on our content and our knowledge of the content and just trying to find more engaging and compelling ways to deliver that content, I think that’s a distinct advantage for us.

My push back on your setup to that question is that I understand the publishing industry, those five years seem like twenty, but I’m learning every day. But what I do understand is our content, the investment and trading and financial industry. And that understanding of our content, when in the long run it’s the content that we are delivering as a product, not the magazine, I think that’s our advantage.

Samir Husni: You said you have a custom content publishing firm as your partner, specializing in finances; why did you feel you needed a partner with this venture?

Jeff Joseph: To be clear, this publication is owned by the financial partner Tastytrade, this is their publication and we’re developing it for them. And the reason is, to answer your question, is scale. It’s that simple. As you know the economics of print are still predominantly focused on subscription revenue or advertising revenue. And they feed each other, the larger your subscription base, the larger your ad revenues. There is that third level of event revenue, but you first have to focus on brand development and audience building before you can go down that event path.

And what we wanted and what we needed was to reach the widest possible audience. So, by working with a group that had an embedded audience from day one as opposed to spending all of our energies on audience acquisition, we have an audience. Our financial partner Tastytrade is a content marketing firm, every day at Tastytrade.com they are producing five days a week, eight hours a day, original live on-air financial programming to a large audience of hundreds of thousands that watch that programming. And that’s free programming, so they already recognized the value of providing important educational and actionable content on a daily basis to generate goodwill to monetize through their brokerage company.

And it’s that understanding, that audiences are the prerequisite to being able to scale and focus on content, and that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to focus on content. And so much of a publisher’s responsibility is focusing on audience acquisition, and by having an audience from day one it guarantees your success in terms of potential subscriber revenue and advertising revenue. That’s very important. I think it allows us to allocate our resources more for writing and refining the content that maximizes engagement with our intended audience.

Samir Husni: What’s the probability that a year from now you and I are having this conversation?

Jeff Joseph: (Laughs) That’s a great question and that’s exactly the business concern that I have been most focused on. So unlike a publisher that would be launching a new magazine that has to deal with all of the business issues, when you have an embedded audience from day one, that probability rises materially, so I would tell you right now, go on the record as saying there is a 95 percent-plus probability that next year we are talking about how we’re expanding our audience and that Luckbox is looking at is next phases of evolution.

So, unlike the challenges that a publisher has on a daily basis, is it going to be subscription revenue or advertising revenue and they feed each other and how do I acquire more, when you start from a base it gives you a lot of advantages. And of course, we’ve just had our first issue, but our second issue will appear nationwide at Barnes & Noble and other newsstands. And we pass out complimentary issues at investment, trade, financial and entrepreneurial conferences every single month. And we’re looking at a number of different distribution platforms as opposed to both print and digital.

And of course, we’re doing the other things that integrate with technology. We have augmented reality in our very first issue, right out of the gate. And we’re integrating technology, and since we already have this lean-in media environment, by that I mean the digital programming that is online every day, that live programming, this lean-back form of media is very complimentary to that.

Ultimately, we have one objective; we did a lot of surveying of our audiences in the past, because that’s the only way you really measure if you’re engaging, and if your unique content proposition is resonating with your audience. So we measure that a lot, frequently, in the form of surveys with our audience. And the survey criteria that we’ve had in our prior financial publications that we aspire to achieve is that in the past, within sixty percent of our audience never threw out their print editions, ever. They kept them as a permanent library. That specific metric of engagement really drives us and motivates us. It means that we are providing a library of resource to our audience that they go back to and refer to over and over again. That means that they like the look and feel and texture, and the magazine is aspirational to them. And that it provides a value beyond the first read.

And everyone has their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that they look at; the KPI that I’m most interested in is that this is a publication that once somebody has it in their hands, they never want to throw it out. That means it has actionable, short-term information, and then it has educational, long-term information that becomes an essential, which is a key word for us, an essential resource.

And that’s what we always seek to be, essential to our readers, in the same way that if you’re a mechanic, Popular Mechanics is essential to you. If you’re a designer, Architectural Digest is essential to you. If you’re in the fashion industry, Vogue is essential to you. If you’re in the music industry, Rolling Stone is essential. If you’re a guitar player, Guitar World is essential. That’s what we’re focused on being, is essential to our readers.

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

Jeff Joseph: You know what it’s like out of the gate, there is just so much to do. You just want to focus on trying to get better and better. I’ve never been happy with any issue we’ve ever produced. I have a really smart and knowledgeable team, with great editors that are willing to shake up the conventional way of looking at things. Our parent company is very provocative in the manner in which they work, they have their own marketing voice. And that makes this all just a lot more fun.

We don’t feel beholden to any real rules and because we’re small we can make quick decisions and we can fail fast and adapt, and evolve and move forward immediately. There’s not a whole team of people that belabor every decision, we just decide to do something and we do it, we measure it and we move on if it doesn’t succeed.

Samir Husni: What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about you?

Jeff Joseph: I guess that I’m a publisher. Again, my background is first and foremost in the financial industry investment and trading, that’s where I’ve spent my entire career. It’s the content expertise that I think gives me an edge. And with my past entrepreneurial and venture activities, I’m more of an entrepreneur than a publisher, and that to me only implies a little bit more flexibility. That’s all, and a lot of learning as well.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Jeff Joseph: Aside from family, my passions are brown whiskey, cigars, and my Samoyed, my dog. I also probably spend more time consuming media than any single person I know. Whether it’s walking, listening to podcast news or every morning listening to financial media, every night listening to political media, and then every evening on the weekend reading, I consume a lot of media. And that’s probably where most of my time is spent.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Jeff Joseph: I’m my father’s son and my father is approaching a milestone birthday on April 3rd, he’ll be 100 years old. And his spirit and his heart is still beating strongly and he, above everything else, is a warm, wonderful man, the nicest man I’ve ever met, but the hardest working man I’ve ever met. And with an insatiable, entrepreneurial spirit. He was at Normandy in the second wave, he did five European tours; he was an innovator as a restaurateur, he worked long hard hours. He had as many as a dozen restaurants at one time. I’ve learned my work ethic from him and an entrepreneurial spirit and an accept-no-failure attitude and that becomes my greatest challenge, to pass it on to my children as well.

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

Jeff Joseph: All this media that I consume. (Laughs) I don’t sleep much. I consume a lot of media. What keeps me up in terms of the business, is the challenge. We know where the headwinds are working print to digital, and again, in the same way that I embrace what you’ve always said, which I find very motivating, it’s not print if it’s not a magazine, at the same time it’s finding the way to engage new audiences. It’s not about marketing that keeps me up, it’s about that content. I believe in the power of content, and content to mobilize and engage, to be aspirational, to be educational; and finding the way to communicate that content is to me the challenge.

For example, it’s one of the reasons that we’re doing something in the first issue of Luckbox that we’ll continue doing going forward, we’re doing magazine reviews. In the first issue we noted Popular Mechanics and did a review, and there was a reason for that. The second issue will have a review of The Atlantic magazine, because we welcome media in all forms. And there is extraordinary journalism out there. It’s one of the reasons we want to try and bring it to the attention of younger audiences who might not be consuming print, and not aware of these different platforms and publications. So, we’ll continue to mention other magazines and promote them on a multi-basis in our own magazine going forward, because we believe in the platform.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

1843 Magazine: The Relaunch Of The Economist’s Bimonthly Lifestyle Magazine Reveals A Bold New Design To Tell Stories Of An Extraordinary World – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Rosie Blau, Editor In Chief, & Mark Beard, Publisher…

March 27, 2019

“The cover has been a big part of the discussion, obviously, about what we want to do as a magazine. For me, the goal to create the cover represented many different things that we were trying to do. My aim is that when you extend 1843 in whatever format, you find it surprising, it makes you smile and it leaves you with something that you want to share. It should be funny, but it should also be beautiful. And those are a lot of things to try and get into one place.” Rosie Blau…

“The relaunch is going to enable us to do two things and that is bolster reader revenue and advertising revenue. So, one thing that we are seeing is that both readers and advertisers are wanting to engage with audiences in a range of platforms and by relaunching 1843 on a number of platforms, we make those platforms available to advertisers and that will bolster advertising revenue. But also we make the content more engaging to readers too and they can read us where they want to read us.” Mark Beard…

The Economist announced the relaunch of its bimonthly lifestyle publication 1843, named for the year The Economist was founded. 1843 gives readers stories of an extraordinary world, with long-form narrative journalism a dominant feature, both in its print version and online. And as we all know, long-form narratives online are a no-no – or are they? Mr. Magazine™ loves a rebel, don’t you know. (Ole Miss pun intended)

I spoke with Editor in Chief, Rosie Blau and Publisher, Mark Beard recently and we talked about this taboo thing called long-form journalism online. Rosie explained that in 1843’s case, readers loved the meatier stories, the long-reads that keep them enthralled and begging for more. And with a redrawn logo and the tagline “Stories of an extraordinary world,” 1843 begins its new journey down a path that puts stories first and allows readers to be surprised and delighted by what they find along the way.

Mark explained that one of the excitements lay in the new incorporation of 1843’s app within The Economist’s app, and while the intricacies of the actual transfer of content was a bit hair-raising, it was well worth a few sleepless nights.

Rosie said the goal of the new design and compelling content was to make readers question assumptions and take a sideways look at the enduring stories of our age, with a bit of humor and irreverence. And Mark added that all of those great stories can now be enjoyed by even more readers since all editions of 1843 will be included in The Economist’s classic app.

And with a powerhouse like The Economist behind you, there is no way to go but up and all over the world. So, I hope that you enjoy this delightful interview with our friends from across the pond, Rosie Blau, editor in chief, and Mark Beard, publisher, 1843 magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On why the relaunch of 1843 is getting so much media attention: because of the refinement of James Wilson’s vision or because it’s part of The Economist (Rosie Blau): Obviously, we like to think that it’s a brilliant magazine that deserves the media attention in its own right, but it’s always wonderful to have the backing of a well-respected and already well-established and well-known brand behind us. So, we’re very lucky.

On why the relaunch of 1843 is getting so much media attention: because of the refinement of James Wilson’s vision or because it’s part of The Economist (Mark Beard): From the commercial perspective, it’s because we’ve kind of captured the mood in the sense of many publishers and that is, there is a need to change the business model and create content that readers and advertisers can engage with in different ways. And I think one of the reasons why we are seeing so much attention from the readers is that we are doing lots of that all in one go. So, publishers around the world are looking at how they can create film content and podcast content and they can place their content in digital environments like apps and online.

On the relaunch including the 1843 becoming bigger and more dominant on the cover and what they are trying to achieve with 1843 as a brand (Rosie Blau): The cover has been a big part of the discussion, obviously, about what we want to do as a magazine. For me, the goal to create the cover represented many different things that we were trying to do. My aim is that when you extend 1843 in whatever format, you find it surprising, it makes you smile and it leaves you with something that you want to share. It should be funny, but it should also be beautiful. And those are a lot of things to try and get into one place.

On whether she thinks the role of the magazine cover in this crowded information age has changed at all (Rosie Blau): I think it has changed because as you say it’s such a crowded market. But I think it’s also in that crowded market, as I said, there are these shorthand’s that we use to signal what we are. And so it’s difficult; interesting, but difficult, to signal that we’re something different. So, to me this is a move in that direction.

On the business model for 1843 (Mark Beard): The relaunch is going to enable us to do two things and that is bolster reader revenue and advertising revenue. So, one thing that we are seeing is that both readers and advertisers are wanting to engage with audiences in a range of platforms and by relaunching 1843 on a number of platforms, we make those platforms available to advertisers and that will bolster advertising revenue. But also we make the content more engaging to readers too and they can read us where they want to read us.

On whether her stories-first approach is similar to an audience-first approach (Rosie Blau): The thing about the stories-first approach is that the idea is there are really exciting things that we don’t tend to think about. And so for me, if I’m thinking what do the readers want or what do the audiences want, I don’t know that they know what they want. Part of the point is to challenge and surprise them, and it’s hard to think, okay, we know that this is something that they want, we know that they want more stories about hem lengths or whatever. So, I think what we’re trying to do is trust our intuition. For me, being a journalist is all about trusting your intuition, but there is something interesting here and let me find out more. And that’s really what we’re going with, kind of looking at these stories and thinking in what way can we push them and in what ways might we see them. So, that’s the stories-first approach.

On the genesis of the tagline: Stories Of An Extraordinary World (Rosie Blau): What that comes from, it was a very hard thing to come up with, and one of the other contenders was: Life, The Untold Story. What we feel we do best and what we really show in common with The Economist is this idea of challenging and posing and questioning assumptions. And our subject is “your world” and “your stories” and “the world that you experience.” And so my main aim is to be looking at the things that we take for granted, the things that we see around us, the issues of our day and the enduring issues of our time, and try and look at them in new and different ways.

On how it feels to be publisher of a global brand (Mark Beard): I’m obviously very proud to be publisher of 1843. It’s a job that I hoped I would get at some point in my career, so I’m very proud to have the role. One of my other roles at The Economist is I have past experience marketing for The Economist. And of course, The Economist is also global. So, I’m very used to operating in a global environment and the basics and challenges that come with that. And trying to benefit from being able to roll things out globally while understanding that there are local nuances to what you need to do to perform effectively around the world.

On the biggest challenge they have had to face (Mark Beard): One of the things that you’ll see if you were to open The Economist’s app today is that 1843 now sits within The Economist’s app, which enables many of our subscribers to The Economist to also benefit, read and engage with 1843 content. And that might look like a relatively simple process, a good strategy and relatively simple on the surface, but you can well imagine that working with the tech teams and the editorial teams to move content from one platform to another is not simple and that’s been challenging, but also rewarding because we’ve been told by a number of people that what we’re doing is cutting edge. And creating an app environment where our consumers can consume all of our content in one place is something that is added again, as I understand it.

On having a long read section on the web and whether she knows something others don’t when it comes to the thought that snippets of information are better-suited for the web (Rosie Blau): Do I know something that others don’t? Well, I don’t know, but what I do know is that with our content over recent years, the long reads are the things that people read most, read for longer, depending on how long they are. Our most popular stories are always our long reads. So for us, it’s a question of how we do more of it, not how we do less. And we actually find that the snippets often don’t do nearly as well, even things that we think might do well. So, our experience is that long reads do extremely well online and if we have the resources to do more of those, then we will.

On how she differentiates the long reads online from the long reads in print (Rosie Blau): Some of it is exactly the same and the features that we run in print also go online, and those are extremely popular typically and continue to be popular. But we don’t have a distinct form for long-form features online versus in print. There are a lot of things that we’re thinking about, different types of long reads that we might do for online only to help us be more timely, and things that work better for an online audience than in print, because we have quite a long delay even between going to press and coming out. But also, we only publish every two months, so there are things that we can do online, it offers us a chance to do things that we are excited about that we couldn’t do in print.

On whether he is selling the brand, the print magazine, the digital, or 1843, no matter the platform when he approaches advertisers (Mark Beard): We’re selling the content and the environment and an audience, of course. We have an extremely engaged audience. We are creating content and placing that content on the platform where we know they are grazing. We are able to offer incredible insight to advertisers as to who the audience is; we’re very clear that they are in the main existing Economist readers. We can describe exactly where they are, they are loyal subscribers.

On whether 1843 now has a different audience on digital than in print or it’s the same audience, or somewhat of a shared DNA (Mark Beard): We’ve been asked to describe a base for The Economist so let’s talk about those first, because a significant number of readers of 1843 are Economist subscribers. The subscribers who receive 1843, some of them are print subscribers and some are print plus digital subscribers, our bundle subscribers. And some of those people, of course, will be accessing 1843 content through the app, rather than from just receiving the print copy. And we do know that the make-up of our print plus digital subscribers is slightly different from our print only subscribers. You might imagine, for instance, that they’re younger and more digitally engaged. By making our content available on this range of platforms, we are able to tap into the different audience profiles of our subscribers to The Economist.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home (Mark Beard): You would probably find me walking my dog. I live a half an hour outside of London in a leafy green village. It’s a complete antidote and opposite of London. I generally come home from work and the first thing I do to relax is take our Border Terrier, Oakley, for a walk to clear my mind.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home (Rosie Blau): I usually hang out with my kids, they’re quite a good leveler in all things, they’re six and nine. We discuss their day and I tell them silly things about mine, but for me that’s a great way to come back to earth and think about the really important things in my life, which is my family.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her (Rosie Blau): Maybe the word interesting.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him (Mark Beard): Positivity.

On what keeps them up at night (Rosie Blau): It was quite stressful producing the final; getting there for this relaunch. And the weird thing for me was after it had gone to press, but before we had it, this kind of fear of what I hadn’t saw, these huge glaring errors that were so big that I hadn’t seen. That is what has most often been keeping me up at night recently. But thankfully, no glaring errors have been found yet. (Laughs)

On what keeps them up at night (Mark Beard): What has been keeping me up at night recently is the switchover of our digital platforms and namely the move from websites and apps to being incorporated into The Economist app, which as I said before, sounds like a simple job on the surface, but had lots of intricacies. Of course, we had a launch deadline to work toward and everyone was working to ensure a smooth transition of the app of 1843 appearing in The Economist app, which fortunately it did. But as you can imagine, there were a few sleepless nights before that.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Rosie Blau, editor in chief, and Mark Beard, publisher, 1843 magazine.

Samir Husni: It’s rare to see a magazine relaunch get as much attention as 1843. Is it because it’s The Economist or is it because you’re refining James Wilson’s vision of what a magazine was back then and what a magazine is today?

Rosie Blau: I’m not sure that we’re redesigning James Wilson’s vision, but we have continued to interpret it, of course. I think The Economist is obviously a very well-known and respected and loved brand and we’re part of that and we’re really delighted to be in the same wit and rigor and trustworthy independent journalism, but on very different subjects and in a very different mode.

Samir Husni: So, do you think that’s the reason? Let’s say you’re doing 1843 without The Economist and you decide to relaunch it, would you have received the same media attention, if nothing else?

Rosie Blau: Obviously, we like to think that it’s a brilliant magazine that deserves the media attention in its own right, but it’s always wonderful to have the backing of a well-respected and already well-established and well-known brand behind us. So, we’re very lucky.

Mark Beard: From the commercial perspective, it’s because we’ve kind of captured the mood in the sense of many publishers and that is, there is a need to change the business model and create content that readers and advertisers can engage with in different ways. And I think one of the reasons why we are seeing so much attention from the readers is that we are doing lots of that all in one go. So, publishers around the world are looking at how they can create film content and podcast content and they can place their content in digital environments like apps and online.

Of course, what you’re seeing from the reader is that we’re doing much of this at the same time, and we’re able to do that in many instances because we are part of The Economist Group and we can tap into all of the good things that our association with The Economist brings. And I think that is also a valid reason as to why there is quite a lot of attention on this event, because we’re doing this holistically in one go, when many of the publishers kind of did that tied into various different platforms one at a time.

Samir Husni: Tell me then, we moved from Intelligent Life and a tiny 1843 to a big, dominant 1843 on the cover, tell me about the progression and the thinking behind the relaunch and what you’re trying to achieve today as an 1843 brand.

Rosie Blau: The cover has been a big part of the discussion, obviously, about what we want to do as a magazine. For me, the goal to create the cover represented many different things that we were trying to do. My aim is that when you extend 1843 in whatever format, you find it surprising, it makes you smile and it leaves you with something that you want to share. It should be funny, but it should also be beautiful. And those are a lot of things to try and get into one place.

Previously, we have almost always run a person on the front of the magazine. And as you know from the magazine world, that tends to be shorthand in the magazine world for: this is a magazine for men or for women. So, I’m not ruling out the idea that we might put people on the cover in the future, we may well do that, but for me, I wanted to move away from something that instantly looked like a magazine for men or for women and instead have this message of: this is something super-interesting and funny and challenging.

Samir Husni: Do you think the role of the magazine cover in this crowded information age has changed at all?

Rosie Blau: I think it has changed because as you say it’s such a crowded market. But I think it’s also in that crowded market, as I said, there are these shorthand’s that we use to signal what we are. And so it’s difficult; interesting, but difficult, to signal that we’re something different. So, to me this is a move in that direction.

And then in terms of the size of the logo, the first thing that I wanted to do when I became editor was get rid of the white strip across the top of the previous incarnation of 1843, because I just hated it. (Laughs) And we had a lot of discussions about it and we kept coming up with different covers, though we very often would have, with the possible new covers or the new logos and all of that, the white strip every time and that was one thing that I was adamant about that I didn’t want.

Samir Husni: Mark, as you see this relaunch and as you see the changing landscape of even the magazine business model, The Economist has always been as much circulation-driven as advertising-driven. What’s your business model for 1843?

Mark Beard: The relaunch is going to enable us to do two things and that is bolster reader revenue and advertising revenue. So, one thing that we are seeing is that both readers and advertisers are wanting to engage with audiences in a range of platforms and by relaunching 1843 on a number of platforms, we make those platforms available to advertisers and that will bolster advertising revenue. But also we make the content more engaging to readers too and they can read us where they want to read us.

And that has two benefits: there will be more people reading 1843 and we expect more to subscribe to 1843, but what we also see is that in many instances 1843 is a kind of onramp and an entry point into the Group’s other products, so people may begin to subscribe to 1843, but then also move on to ultimately subscribe to The Economist. The idea behind the relaunch is to bolster both sides of the business, circulation and advertising revenue.

Samir Husni: And Rosie, you mentioned in one interview that you start with a stories-first approach. Almost all of the editors I’ve interviewed tell me they start with an audience-first approach. Is the stories-first approach similar to an audience-first approach?

Rosie Blau: I suppose so. What tends to happen if you discuss a story is sometimes, if you’re thinking about different ways to do a story, you reach the realization sometimes quickly, sometimes more slowly, that it’s not that interesting. And you don’t continue to be interested in it. So, in that sense, yes, I think we try and think about how attuned we are and how excited we are about stories, with a gauge for how we do them and what will work for our audience too.

The thing about the stories-first approach is that the idea is there are really exciting things that we don’t tend to think about. And so for me, if I’m thinking what do the readers want or what do the audiences want, I don’t know that they know what they want. Part of the point is to challenge and surprise them, and it’s hard to think, okay, we know that this is something that they want, we know that they want more stories about hem lengths or whatever. So, I think what we’re trying to do is trust our intuition. For me, being a journalist is all about trusting your intuition, but there is something interesting here and let me find out more. And that’s really what we’re going with, kind of looking at these stories and thinking in what way can we push them and in what ways might we see them. So, that’s the stories-first approach.

Samir Husni: Is that the genesis of the tagline: Stories Of An Extraordinary World?

Rosie Blau: What that comes from, it was a very hard thing to come up with, and one of the other contenders was: Life, The Untold Story. What we feel we do best and what we really show in common with The Economist is this idea of challenging and posing and questioning assumptions. And our subject is “your world” and “your stories” and “the world that you experience.” And so my main aim is to be looking at the things that we take for granted, the things that we see around us, the issues of our day and the enduring issues of our time, and try and look at them in new and different ways.

And I feel that sets incredibly well with the current news, which we are all subjected to a deluge of news and even news junkies, even those of us, and I include myself in those news junkies, we sometimes get sick of the constant breaking news, but also the fact that the world out there seems pretty scary and a worrying place, and like other Brits, I feel humiliated by my government right now. And so there’s a difference; it’s not saying go bury your head in the sand, but it’s saying there is an optimistic and incredibly positive side to the mess that lives around us. And I want us to see that extraordinariness. I want us to feel excited about understanding our own world better.

Samir Husni: Mark, how does it feel to be a publisher of a global publication? Yes, it is based in Britain; yes, it is also in the United States, but it’s available all over the world. Does that make you think twice when you wake up, thinking wow, this isn’t just a British publication, it’s a global publication?

Mark Beard: I’m obviously very proud to be publisher of 1843. It’s a job that I hoped I would get at some point in my career, so I’m very proud to have the role. One of my other roles at The Economist is I have past experience marketing for The Economist. And of course, The Economist is also global. So, I’m very used to operating in a global environment and the basics and challenges that come with that. And trying to benefit from being able to roll things out globally while understanding that there are local nuances to what you need to do to perform effectively around the world.

But yes, I’m extremely proud to be publisher of 1843. And more so at this point in time rather than any other; it’s such an exciting time for a publication and we’re transforming the business plan from top to bottom. We’ve looked at every single element of the commercial plan, from the brand positioning to the platforms that we want to be present on. And we’ve made conscious decisions for everything that we’ve done. I’m very proud, and the organization has been very supportive and patient and listened to what we believe and want to do. And they have supported Rosie’s vision, so yes, it’s a very exciting and thrilling time for us.

Samir Husni: And what has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Mark Beard: To some extent we can talk about the digital platforms and as you know, since apps and websites have come into fruition for publishers there has been a want and a willingness on the part of publishers to set up individual websites and apps for each and every publication that is within their stable. And we were one of those publishers for a period of time, we embarked upon a journey of setting up individual platforms, those apps and websites for 1843. And one of the things that Rosie and I certainly believe is that we should be taking much greater advantage of The Economist’s audience. And because of that we have commercially gone on a journey to incorporate 1843 content into more of The Economist’s ecosystem.

So, one of the things that you’ll see if you were to open The Economist’s app today is that 1843 now sits within The Economist’s app, which enables many of our subscribers to The Economist to also benefit, read and engage with 1843 content. And that might look like a relatively simple process, a good strategy and relatively simple on the surface, but you can well imagine that working with the tech teams and the editorial teams to move content from one platform to another is not simple and that’s been challenging, but also rewarding because we’ve been told by a number of people that what we’re doing is cutting edge. And creating an app environment where our consumers can consume all of our content in one place is something that is added again, as I understand it.

Samir Husni: You have a long-read section on the web, on the digital side; does this go against the norm, where people just want snippets on the digital side and long reads in print? Are you swimming against the current or do you know something that other people don’t?

Rosie Blau: Do I know something that others don’t? Well, I don’t know, but what I do know is that with our content over recent years, the long reads are the things that people read most, read for longer, depending on how long they are. Our most popular stories are always our long reads. So for us, it’s a question of how we do more of it, not how we do less. And we actually find that the snippets often don’t do nearly as well, even things that we think might do well. So, our experience is that long reads do extremely well online and if we have the resources to do more of those, then we will.

Samir Husni: How are you going to differentiate that from the long-read in print? What’s your philosophy on giving print what print deserves and giving digital what digital deserves?

Rosie Blau: Some of it is exactly the same and the features that we run in print also go online, and those are extremely popular typically and continue to be popular. But we don’t have a distinct form for long-form features online versus in print. There are a lot of things that we’re thinking about, different types of long reads that we might do for online only to help us be more timely, and things that work better for an online audience than in print, because we have quite a long delay even between going to press and coming out. But also, we only publish every two months, so there are things that we can do online, it offers us a chance to do things that we are excited about that we couldn’t do in print.

To go back to the stories-first idea, the idea of telling personal stories and trying to sort of illuminate and question our assumptions from the ground-up and through individual narratives is something that we apply across all formats, so that’s what we think about when we think about online features too.

Samir Husni: Mark, do you do the same when you are selling? Are you selling the brand; are you selling the print magazine; are you selling digital; or you are selling 1843 regardless of the platform?

Mark Beard: We’re selling the content and the environment and an audience, of course. We have an extremely engaged audience. We are creating content and placing that content on the platform where we know they are grazing. We are able to offer incredible insight to advertisers as to who the audience is; we’re very clear that they are in the main existing Economist readers. We can describe exactly where they are, they are loyal subscribers.

So, on the whole we have a very compelling proposition I think, not only to readers but to advertisers in that if they want to reach a certain audience on a range of platforms, we are perfectly positioned now to do that. And I think that’s a compelling proposition to advertisers who are, in increasing numbers, when they’re talking to publishers like us, asking for responses to their advertising briefs. And they want us to go back with a multiplatform response. And in the past, a few years back, we could have gone back with a print-only response, but in many instances advertisers are now saying we want you to tell us how you can help us reach these audiences in a range of platforms. And I’m proud that we can now to do that.

Samir Husni: Are you finding out that you have a different audience on digital than in print or it’s the same audience, or there’s some kind of shared DNA between the print and digital audiences?

Mark Beard: We’ve been asked to describe a base for The Economist so let’s talk about those first, because a significant number of readers of 1843 are Economist subscribers. The subscribers who receive 1843, some of them are print subscribers and some are print plus digital subscribers, our bundle subscribers. And some of those people, of course, will be accessing 1843 content through the app, rather than from just receiving the print copy. And we do know that the make-up of our print plus digital subscribers is slightly different from our print only subscribers. You might imagine, for instance, that they’re younger and more digitally engaged. By making our content available on this range of platforms, we are able to tap into the different audience profiles of our subscribers to The Economist.

I should also say that 1843 is helpful for us when we are attracting more women and females to the Group, and we know they’re a greater number of readers for 1843. So, 1843 is also useful in that regard.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Mark Beard: You would probably find me walking my dog. I live a half an hour outside of London in a leafy green village. It’s a complete antidote and opposite of London. I generally come home from work and the first thing I do to relax is take our Border Terrier, Oakley, for a walk to clear my mind.

Rosie Blau: I usually hang out with my kids, they’re quite a good leveler in all things, they’re six and nine. We discuss their day and I tell them silly things about mine, but for me that’s a great way to come back to earth and think about the really important things in my life, which is my family.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Rosie Blau: Maybe the word interesting.

Mark Beard: Positivity.

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

Rosie Blau: It was quite stressful producing the final; getting there for this relaunch. And the weird thing for me was after it had gone to press, but before we had it, this kind of fear of what I hadn’t saw, these huge glaring errors that were so big that I hadn’t seen. That is what has most often been keeping me up at night recently. But thankfully, no glaring errors have been found yet. (Laughs)

Mark Beard: What has been keeping me up at night recently is the switchover of our digital platforms and namely the move from websites and apps to being incorporated into The Economist app, which as I said before, sounds like a simple job on the surface, but had lots of intricacies. Of course, we had a launch deadline to work toward and everyone was working to ensure a smooth transition of the app of 1843 appearing in The Economist app, which fortunately it did. But as you can imagine, there were a few sleepless nights before that.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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