Archive for the ‘Make Journalism Great Again’ Category

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From The Wombs Of Legacy Print, Condé Nast Entertainment Is Born – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Matt Duckor, Vice President, Video at Condé Nast Entertainment…

October 23, 2019

“I think you really have to understand the platforms that you’re playing on and who is consuming them. If you look at Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel and you look at the magazine; recently we launched the November issue of the magazine, which is a Thanksgiving issue and one we do every year. This year is a little bit different in that we launched at the same time a six-part series on YouTube launched. It’s about 4½ hours long, so this is long-form content and it’s called “Making Perfect.” This is a show that we started earlier this year in February, where we got together all of our YouTube stars from Bon Appétit and put them all in a series together, sort of our answer to “The Avengers,” and we asked them to make the perfect pizza, each episode is a different component of that pizza, from dough to cheese.”… Matt Duckor

“That’s the same piece of content being expressed really differently on two platforms. You don’t often have that much of a one-to-one, where we’re doing a print piece directly tied to something in video. We want to do more of that, and our audience is telling us that’s working really well, they love seeing these people depicted in the magazine and on the cover, it’s really fun.”… Matt Duckor

Matthew Duckor is Vice President, Video at Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE). CNE is an award-winning next generation studio and distribution network with entertainment content across film, television, premium digital video, social, and virtual reality.

With Matt at the helm, Condé Nast is connecting its print legacy brands deeply with its digital video programs on YouTube. And audiences are loving it. Matt oversees the video programs at Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Architectural Digest and Condé Nast Traveler. He has produced highly-popular franchises, such as “Kids Try,” “Gourmet Makes,” “Working 24 Hours At,” and “It’s Alive with Brad” for Bon Appétit, “Price Points” for Epicurious, “Open Door” for Architectural Digest, and “Culturally Speaking” for Condé Nast Traveler.

In February 2019, he also launched, along with his very talented team, he’s quick to point out, “Making Perfect,” a show that has made video stars out of Bon Appétit’s own talented test kitchen staff. Audiences who have been with Bon Appétit for years, along with a brand new base of fans, are following the brand through this journey and it’s making for a very exciting trip.

I spoke with Matt recently and we talked about these deep legacy print and digital video connections and how they are exciting and compelling viewers and readers to come along for the ride. It was a very intriguing conversation that centered around some highly intriguing concepts and ideas.

So, without further ado, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Matt Duckor, vice president, Video at Condé Nast Entertainment.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether a day in his life is like a walk in a rose garden: Yes, it’s absolutely a walk in a rose garden. No, as you mentioned, I work in video programming across four brands: Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Condé Nast Traveler, and Architectural Digest. And what that means is I oversee all strategic programming decisions and production for those channels, so that’s distribution across our sites, obviously, but primarily YouTube, which is sort of the core of our digital video business here at Condé Nast. And it’s really ensuring that there’s a deep connection between the brands that we represent and the platforms that those brands play on. It’s promoting the brands obviously in print, on their websites, the social platforms, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the brand extensions we’re building in video, really making sure that there’s a deep connection and that those platforms are talking to each other.

On whether it’s easier to work with brands that have a print component in place or with brands that have no print counterpart since he has now done both: There’s something great about the brands at Condé Nast because there is brand recognition for many of the brands and so users at least have an awareness of what Bon Appétit is, even if they haven’t really experienced it before. But I think brand awareness only takes you so far; at the end of the day it’s the content strategy that’s put in place that’s either going to resonate with viewers or not. It’s going to be optimized for the platform you’re playing it on or it’s not.

On one of his Condé Nast colleagues being quoted as saying: we don’t create magazines anymore, we create brands and the magazine is part of that brand: I think that’s true. Part of that is just the necessity of how the media landscape is changing and I think it’s very difficult to exist on any one platform, especially print, with what’s happened with ad spending there over the past five years, in the U.S. especially. But I think the division for what a brand can be at Condé Nast has changed dramatically, even separate from the economic realities.

On his thinking process when he is putting together a video for audiences: I think you really have to understand the platforms that you’re playing on and who is consuming them. If you look at Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel and you look at the magazine; recently we launched the November issue of the magazine, which is a Thanksgiving issue and one we do every year. This year is a little bit different in that we launched at the same time a six-part series on YouTube launched. It’s about 4½ hours long, so this is long-form content and it’s called “Making Perfect.” For Thanksgiving, we asked them to make the perfect Thanksgiving meal, so each have to put in a different iconic dish from the Thanksgiving meal, the whole test kitchen works together, and that’s connected to the print magazine in a real way where there’s an 18-page feature in the well documenting the making of these recipes and of this series.

On what he thinks is the biggest challenge that magazine media companies face today as they move toward the future: There are so many challenges. I think so much of what we’ve gone through over the past few years at Condé Nast has been structural organization. On the editorial side, the editorial staff is really built around magazines and then around digital, and there was a shift that happened probably five years ago where the company had to take a hard look at who is here, and who are the editorial leaders that are right to bring these brands into the digital and social era.

On whether he ever fears YouTube will stop hosting the videos: I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interests, including YouTube’s. We bring something really unique to the YouTube platform. Condé Nast is a premium content publisher. There is all sorts of content on YouTube. And I can direct you to other news stories to read some of the challenges that YouTube has with the platform, but I think one of the real bright spots is companies like Condé Nast and brands like Bon Appétit making YouTube a center of their digital video strategies. We have a really great relationship with the platform.

On getting people out of this digital Welfare Information Society: We’re working on that. That’s a huge priority that everyone is trying to figure out, how to do these membership products. And we see people launching them, and we believe that we have the right to win in that category. We have brands that people are, Bon Appétit especially, incredibly passionate about.

On whether he has a favorite out of the four brands he oversees: I’ve worked at Bon Appétit the longest, I will say that, since 2011. I started on the editorial side of the print magazine, before digital video was something that Condé Nast had really gotten into, and that was also before the creation of Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE), so I’ve been with that brand since six months after Adam Rapoport relaunched it in 2011. So, I’m certainly closest to the brand, I’ve worked on that the longest.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: I don’t know if people think of anything when they hear my name. I don’t know if there’s a conception, much less a misconception about me. I don’t know if people really understand how many people work on the video content that we do here; how much of a team effort it is. There aren’t only the 26 other people who are on my team working with me, directors, producers, associate producers, camera people, culinary producers. So, maybe a misconception is that I run the Bon Appétit channel by myself and there’s no one else involved in the creation of it. Absolutely not the case.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: I hope that people connect me to what we’ve done at Bon Appétit. I’m incredibly proud of the channel that we’ve built. It’s a collaboration between a lot of people, as I mentioned, including Adam Rapoport. It was his vision for Bon Appétit to have two things: one, a channel that would sort of center around a test kitchen as a place where everything happens. In  reality, the test kitchen is a place where everyone loves to hang out, where there’s always food coming out, people are gathered around, much like kitchens in everybody’s home.  The test kitchen is the center of all other parts of the brand, so naturally it needs to be the center of whatever we do in the video.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: You’re welcome at any time. (Laughs) I have two kids, one just turned two and the other is almost three months old. So, you’ll probably catch me and my wife, Dawn, dealing with them. My wife Dawn used to work at Bon Appétit, we met here, she worked in the test kitchen as a chef. She’s worked everywhere from Real Simple, where she currently works now, to Martha Stewart, and  Bon Appétit. She’s currently working on a cookbook that will be released in a couple of years, so she might be testing recipes for that. So, that’s what we’ll be doing. Drinking a glass of wine, for sure, is something you’ll see. But mostly taking care of our two kids, and getting to spend time with them.

On what keeps him up at night: We have one of the most positive comments sections on the entire Internet at Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel. The thing that keeps me up is will that turn on us. (Laughs) Will fans ever think we’ve lost our way? We haven’t had that happen, thankfully. I think we have really great instincts about our content, because we’re building around real people who have real appeal. I think they have a really good understanding of what makes for interesting content for our audience. It doesn’t keep me up too much, but I do think about that fan reaction, which can be an addiction.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Matt Duckor, vice president, Video at Condé Nast Entertainment.

Samir Husni: You’re a director, a vice president in charge of four brands; so, how does a day in your life go? Is it as easy as a walk in a rose garden?

Matt Duckor: Yes, it’s absolutely a walk in a rose garden. No, as you mentioned, I work in video programming across four brands: Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Condé Nast Traveler, and Architectural Digest. And what that means is I oversee all strategic programming decisions and production for those channels, so that’s distribution across our sites, obviously, but primarily YouTube, which is sort of the core of our digital video business here at Condé Nast.

And it’s really ensuring that there’s a deep connection between the brands that we represent and the platforms that those brands play on. It’s promoting the brands obviously in print, on their websites, the social platforms, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the brand extensions we’re building in video, really making sure that there’s a deep connection and that those platforms are talking to each other.

We have this amazing megaphone in YouTube that’s reaching a whole new audience for Condé Nast separate from most of the other platforms. Bon Appétit, for example, 75 percent of the audience that we reach is between the ages of 18 to 34 and that’s really different than any other platform. There’s this amazing opportunity to really introduce these iconic brands to people for the first time and we need to make sure that it really connects with the rest of the ecosystem.

So, if somebody’s first test point for Bon Appétit is YouTube and they don’t know that a magazine exists or they don’t subscribe to magazines, and maybe never will, but they want to check out the magazine, they want to go to our social platforms, they’re on Instagram and they go follow us, there needs to be a connection between those platforms, otherwise there’s a total disconnect and the audience’s journey just stops at YouTube. Which we monetize YouTube and that’s great, but we really want people to experience these brands on every platform.

So, my day is really spent in making sure that connection is happening. It’s working with the editors in chief of these brands to really understand the vision of what drives their editorial strategy on other platforms. And then use the inside expertise that we’ve built up at Condé Nast Entertainment, which is the video division of Condé Nast that’s really in charge of all video production and programming strategy in operation, to ensure that we’re sort of matching that brand’s DNA and vision with best practices and videos that are going to actually scale and reach large audiences and that can be monetized. And to allow us to build a business off of a video that reaches new audiences and continues these brands into the future as the media landscape continues to change and video becomes the place where more and more advertisers are shifting their ad dollars.

We want that transition to be seamless, and obviously, print is still a huge core part of our business, but we don’t want to create different identities for these brands that have nothing to do with the equities, the legacies that they’ve built up. We want this to feel like part of a holistic strategy moving forward and not just: well it’s a new thing and we call it Bon Appétit, but it has nothing to do with the Bon Appétit of yesterday.

It’s the same people who are making the recipes in the magazine, on the website, who are on the podcast; the people who are powering our strategy. So, really I’m overseeing a team of 28 people now who are working across those four brands as well as various centralized departments that we tap on for pilot development and content optimization to make sure that those connections are happening and that we’re really moving these brands forward into the future through video.

Samir Husni: You’ve worked on brands that have had no print entity and now you’re working with brands that have a legacy print component. Which is easier to introduce into this digital age? Do you find it easier for you in your job now, working with brands that have actual print products that are still being published or was it much easier with the brands that had no print counterpart?

Matt Duckor: There’s something great about the brands at Condé Nast because there is brand recognition for many of the brands and so users at least have an awareness of what Bon Appétit is, even if they haven’t really experienced it before. But I think brand awareness only takes you so far; at the end of the day it’s the content strategy that’s put in place that’s either going to resonate with viewers or not. It’s going to be optimized for the platform you’re playing it on or it’s not.

I feel like that’s why a lot of our competitors who are not getting into video strategies, or who are just beginning to invest in platforms like YouTube and look for a meaningful engagement with the audience and new audiences, are struggling because I think you can’t just rely on the equity of a legacy publication to power the content on a platform where most of the audience doesn’t really have a connection to that brand. We’re building new connections with new audiences and funneling them back to other platforms, but we can’t rely on what Bon Appétit has done for the past 65 years of the brand to reach someone who is 18 years old and has no connection to magazines period, much less one magazine, Bon Appétit.

So, of course, we want to create a compelling experience that stands on its own, but then also make subscribers or event attendees or merchandise purchasers out of those viewers. And again, we bring people into an ecosystem where we can give them more of the Bon Appétit experience,  any of the three things that I just mentioned, or just them watching more videos on the YouTube channel, that’s what we’re looking to do.

I’d say that brand equity can help to a point, but really it’s sound content strategy and a deep connection with whatever that legacy is in order to actually put that print legacy into a platform like digital or social and get it to work, because otherwise you’re just sailing on a new platform in a new medium if you’re really not resonating with the people that are there.

Samir Husni: One of your colleagues at Condé Nast was quoted as saying: we don’t create magazines anymore, we create brands and the magazine is part of that brand.

Matt Duckor: I think that’s true. Part of that is just the necessity of how the media landscape is changing and I think it’s very difficult to exist on any one platform, especially print, with what’s happened with ad spending there over the past five years, in the U.S. especially. But I think the division for what a brand can be at Condé Nast has changed dramatically, even separate from the economic realities.

When I started at Condé Nast in 2011, Instagram did not exist, hadn’t launched yet. I launched Bon Appétit’s Instagram channel in 2012. YouTube was still a place primarily for short form cat videos and maybe the occasional blogger or creator, but major media companies weren’t playing in that space.  So, not only have the economic realities of print changed, but the landscape around it and the other options for brands to express themselves have grown so dramatically in the past few years that we’d be ignoring huge flocks of audiences as well as creative opportunities if we didn’t play in these platforms.

And again, with advertising dollars moving from print to digital video and from TV to digital video, that sort of requires us to have an answer for how do these brands exist in this new medium? It’s not even really new anymore, but compared to print, which has been around for centuries, it is newer, but digital video has been growing now for the past 10 years.

And I think it’s hard to be a brand in 2019 and not have an answer for how do we express ourselves on a platform like YouTube, which is the number one destination for people watching video on the Internet and the number two website behind Google.com overall on the Internet. If you don’t have an answer for how your brand exists there, I’m not quite sure that your brand is relevant and it’s not reaching a huge section of the Internet, which is people who just watch video, they’re not reading words or looking at pictures. Moving images are the way that they consume content, so I really think it’s so necessary to think, obviously, beyond  just print and beyond just social.

You need to have that collective ecosystem that’s connected, like I mentioned, it makes sense. All those parts speak to one another. If it were just the YouTube channel, we’d be missing out on a huge part of the depth and richness of a brand like Bon Appétit or Architectural Digest. There are multiple platforms that people can experience these brands on and each of them are different, but they’re all connected together and they make sense as a whole. So, why just plan one platform when we can express ourselves on many, connect them, and monetize all of them.

Samir Husni: You just explained that the brand has to be platform agnostic, yet some of the audiences are still platform specific. Can you tell me a little bit more about how you go through the thinking process? You’re making a video, while still using the same DNA of Bon Appétit, but it’s for ‘this’ audience and when you’re doing print, you’re doing it for ‘this’ audience.

Matt Duckor: I think you really have to understand the platforms that you’re playing on and who is consuming them. If you look at Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel and you look at the magazine; recently we launched the November issue of the magazine, which is a Thanksgiving issue and one we do every year. This year is a little bit different in that we launched at the same time a six-part series on YouTube launched. It’s about 4½ hours long, so this is long-form content and it’s called “Making Perfect.” This is a show that we started earlier this year in February, where we got together all of our YouTube stars from Bon Appétit and put them all in a series together, sort of our answer to “The Avengers,” and we asked them to make the perfect pizza, each episode is a different component of that pizza, from dough to cheese.

For Thanksgiving, we asked them to make the perfect Thanksgiving meal, so each have to put in a different iconic dish from the Thanksgiving meal, the whole test kitchen works together, and that’s connected to the print magazine in a real way where there’s an 18-page feature in the well documenting the making of these recipes and of this series. And then each of the different test kitchen stars are on the cover of Bon Appétit, so there’s eight different covers out there that are sent to subscribers and that are on newsstands that feature our talent front and center on the cover. So, we’re really connecting those platforms in a real way.

The print execution really focuses more on the recipes themselves, so it’s less focus on the talent, other than the cover of the magazine, but it’s more focused on the nuts and bolts of the recipes because we know that the print subscriber that we currently have is really most interested in that. They’re interested in the personalities, we definitely have crossover between our YouTube audience and subscribers, but we know that a lot of people take the magazine really to have the best tried-and-true tested recipes. They are avid home-cook, that is why they subscribe to Bon Appétit, because they get amazing recipes in the mail every month.

Of course, the YouTube series is also based around the creation of these recipes, but it leads far further into the personalities, to Brad (Leone), to Claire (Saffitz), to Molly (Baz), to Carla (Lalli), because we know the audience connects there most with the people behind Bon Appétit in the test kitchen, the place where everything happens. As Adam Rapoport, the editor in chief, likes to call it, it’s the sports center of food. It’s the one place where all these people come together to create these recipes, these iconic shows we’ve provided over the past few years.

That’s the same piece of content being expressed really differently on two platforms. You don’t often have that much of a one-to-one, where we’re doing a print piece directly tied to something in video. We want to do more of that, and our audience is telling us that’s working really well, they love seeing these people depicted in the magazine and on the cover, it’s really fun.

But I think if you look at the rest of what we’ve done, a show like “Gourmet Makes,” which is our larger show on YouTube starring Claire Saffitz, where she goes on journeys to recreate packaged iconic snack foods, from Twinkies to Twizzlers to Kit Kat bars, that’s not something that exists in the pages of Bon Appétit and never has. And it doesn’t quite feel right for that audience that we currently have there, who’s an avid home-cook and is looking for tried-and-true recipes. There may be a version of that which could play to that audience, but really that show is designed to reach a younger consumer on YouTube, who is really more interested in entertainment through the lens of food than sort of pure food service.

But Claire is someone who has worked at Bon Appétit for six years and has developed many, many recipes for the magazine in the test kitchen. And she brings all of that experience to this fun, viral format where she’s basically recreating junk food in the gourmet way. But she’s doing it with the authority and expertise and intensity that we would bring to any recipe that we would develop for Bon Appétit.

So, there’s that spiritual connection between the brand, Bon Appétit, and a the platform YouTube, and that makes a ton of sense, but allows us to reach a new audience without trying to shoehorn in something that we would do in the magazine into a platform like YouTube, where maybe it doesn’t make a ton of sense and wouldn’t let us reach a new audience in a real way.

Samir Husni: Since you started working at Condé Nast, and seeing all the changes that are taking place in the magazine media environment, what do you think is the biggest challenge that magazine media companies face today as they move toward the future?

Matt Duckor: There are so many challenges. I think so much of what we’ve gone through over the past few years at Condé Nast has been structural organization. On the editorial side, the editorial staff is really built around magazines and then around digital, and there was a shift that happened probably five years ago where the company had to take a hard look at who is here, and who are the editorial leaders that are right to bring these brands into the digital and social era.

And I think the same thing is happening now in video, where we just need to scaffold around some of these amazing people that we have creating iconic print magazines and digital websites, with the right expertise in video to ensure that we’re translating those things in a way that, again, is allowing us to reach new audiences in video, as well as creating a sustainable business out of digital video. And ensuring that transition happens smoothly and it’s connected to the rest of what the company is doing, or what the rest of a brand is doing. And it doesn’t feel like we’re creating these offshoots that are removed and have nothing to do with what the brand is doing on other platforms. If there’s a real connection, I think we will be the key to this really working.

Digital video on its own is, at least for us, can’t be the only business that a company has at this point in time. So, there really needs to be a deep connection; we need to be able to take a viewer from YouTube through a journey to experience some other platform that we have. Attend an event, spend money with us in some way. Ad supported business on YouTube has been fantastic and we’ve been incredible at working with our sales team to build up a real business there.

Obviously, we also work with brands in a new capacity and monetize there as well, but we have these other platforms that should be a part of the viewer journey, if we’re doing our jobs correctly. They should want to experience the brand in some other place besides video.

Continuing to make those connections and ensuring that the viewer journey is obvious, and there’s a way for that to happen, with examples like what we’ve done in print this month with “Making Perfect,” it’s like having a signpost saying: if you love this thing, you’ll absolutely love ‘this’ thing because they’re connected in a really tangible way. It’s not like, well, the videos are inspired, but the spirit of this brand isn’t there. No, this is a direct one-to-one connection, so subscribe now. That’s a really powerful message.

And figuring out the question around consumer revenue and how we move away from a business that’s entirely ad supported to one that involves people paying us directly for content. And not like print subscriptions, where we’re asking people to pay $10 that doesn’t even really cover the cost of creating the magazine, and magazines are still an ad supported business. We’re getting people to really support us for our content.

Again, whether that’s events, membership products; these are things that we’re looking at for 2020, and certainly, I think, most media companies are looking at. How we can balance out our really robust advertising business that’s incredibly strong with emerging platforms where we have audiences who are so passionate about our content, like our videos at Bon Appétit, that are willing to pay for things, but we don’t actually have a product beside the print magazine where they can pay us. Everything else is advertising supported.

So, coming up with incredible products and creative solutions for people to be able to give us money. (Laughs) I was looking at the “Making Perfect” first episode that launched recently and we have comments literally that read something like, at this point, I’m just looking for a way to give Bon Appétit money to pay for this content. That’s an amazing problem to have, viewers so passionate about what we’re doing, that they’re asking us to devise ways to take their money. And we are about fan service and about providing an amazing experience on a platform like YouTube, which is ad supported, and we have a great business there. But we want to create, for sure, more in depth experiences for those core fans who really do want to take their relationship with these brands to the next level. They feel personally connected to them and they want to have a deeper involvement.

I even think there’s a feeling of wanting to support Bon Appétit. We see sometimes that people who subscribe to the magazine and say they have never subscribed to a magazine before, also say they subscribe to Bon Appétit because they love the magazine and they love what we’re doing on YouTube and they want to support us. And that’s an amazing dynamic and we need to figure out how we can continue that into 2020.

Samir Husni: Do you ever have the fear that YouTube might say one day that they’re no longer hosting these videos?

Matt Duckor: I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interests, including YouTube’s. We bring something really unique to the YouTube platform. Condé Nast is a premium content publisher. There is all sorts of content on YouTube. And I can direct you to other news stories to read some of the challenges that YouTube has with the platform, but I think one of the real bright spots is companies like Condé Nast and brands like Bon Appétit making YouTube a center of their digital video strategies. We have a really great relationship with the platform.

We see the insane benefits of working with a platform like YouTube, which as I said, is the number one destination in the world for people watching video on the Internet. That’s an amazing platform to speak to and we have a great relationship with the company. It’s in everyone’s best s not to stop, so I don’t think too much about that.

Samir Husni: If you can do that, take people out of this Welfare Information Society that has been created in digital, that would be truly amazing.

Matt Duckor: We’re working on that. That’s a huge priority that everyone is trying to figure out, how to do these membership products. And we see people launching them, and we believe that we have the right to win in that category. We have brands that people are, Bon Appétit especially, incredibly passionate about.

Even Architectural Digest launched a product called “AD Pro” this year, which is more of a trade-focused membership program, and is a little bit higher priced. It’s for fans of the brand and professional people, like interior designers, decorators, architects, who are really interested in the trade. But that is also an amazing experiment in seeing whether we can launch a product that has real value to it and that is a trusted source of information news for industry professionals and people will pay us for it, not just have this be an ad supported site. In fact, it’s not an ad supported site, it’s 100 percent member supported. And they have a team of people who are running that site.

These experiments are happening at Condé Nast, the company is incredibly supportive of these efforts. Roger Lynch, our new CEO, I think he uses the two words consumer revenue more than any other words, maybe digital video he uses more, but it’s an incredible focus of the company and something we will figure out in the next few years.

Samir Husni: You’re in charge of four different brands that go from food to travel and other topics in between, do you have a favorite?

Matt Duckor: I’ve worked at Bon Appétit the longest, I will say that, since 2011. I started on the editorial side of the print magazine, before digital video was something that Condé Nast had really gotten into, and that was also before the creation of Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE), so I’ve been with that brand since six months after Adam Rapoport relaunched it in 2011. So, I’m certainly closest to the brand, I’ve worked on that the longest.

Every other brand that I work on I’ve been on for about two years. I love working on Architectural Digest, Epicurious, and Condé Nast Traveler, but I’m probably closest to Bon Appétit, and we’ve invested the most time and resources into that brand. So, there’s not a favorite, but the one I have the longest relationship with, for sure.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you? When they hear your name, what do they think of?

Matt Duckor: I don’t know if people think of anything when they hear my name. I don’t know if there’s a conception, much less a misconception about me. I don’t know if people really understand how many people work on the video content that we do here; how much of a team effort it is. There aren’t only the 26 other people who are on my team working with me, directors, producers, associate producers, camera people, culinary producers.

But there’s also a centralized strategy and development team here too. People like Joe Sabia, who is our director and senior vice president of development. Many of the great kernels of ideas that have become iconic shows that are synonymous with Bon Appétit’s video and in some cases, me, really started with him and other really talented people on our development team.

It really does take a village to launch something like this, especially inside a company like Condé Nast, where, obviously, we were incredibly print-centric and the idea of doing something that wasn’t directly tied to that product was not well-received in the way that it is now. Now it’s seen as we absolutely need to play to the strengths of these other platforms and find the elastic expressions of these brands that are yet connected to the DNA of the brand, but are just sync-fully made for these platforms that we recognize as being very different from the print magazine.

Five years ago, I think video was seen as a diversion and there are a lot of people here who understood that this was, in some ways, the future of the company. We were looking at new revenues streams, a new vision for what  Condé Nast could be and how these brands could continue to live. We’ve been working really hard within the walls of CNE to make that happen in collaboration with our edit teams throughout the building.

So, maybe a misconception is that I run the Bon Appétit channel by myself and there’s no one else involved in the creation of it. Absolutely not the case.

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

Matt Duckor: I hope that people connect me to what we’ve done at Bon Appétit. I’m incredibly proud of the channel that we’ve built. It’s a collaboration between a lot of people, as I mentioned, including Adam Rapoport. It was his vision for Bon Appétit to have two things: one, a channel that would sort of center around a test kitchen as a place where everything happens. In  reality, the test kitchen is a place where everyone loves to hang out, where there’s always food coming out, people are gathered around, much like kitchens in everybody’s home.  The test kitchen is the center of all other parts of the brand, so naturally it needs to be the center of whatever we do in the video.

And two, that our staff would be the talent powering the channel, and that was the vision from the beginning, that we would elevate our talent and make them on-camera personalities. And the fact that they were real people would be the strength of the channel, not a weakness. That we didn’t have media-trained professionals and celebrities that we were just plopping into the world of  Bon Appétit and calling it a Bon Appétit Production, we had the people who were actually working here.

And we’ve been able to take those to criteria and build a really special thing about it. So, I hope that people associate me with the work that we’ve done, but as I said, it’s not just me.

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; on your iPhone; or something else? How do you unwind?

Matt Duckor: You’re welcome at any time. (Laughs) I have two kids, one just turned two and the other is almost three months old. So, you’ll probably catch me and my wife, Dawn, dealing with them. My wife Dawn used to work at Bon Appétit, we met here, she worked in the test kitchen as a chef. She’s worked everywhere from Real Simple, where she currently works now, to Martha Stewart, and  Bon Appétit. She’s currently working on a cookbook that will be released in a couple of years, so she might be testing recipes for that. So, that’s what we’ll be doing. Drinking a glass of wine, for sure, is something you’ll see. But mostly taking care of our two kids, and getting to spend time with them.

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

Matt Duckor:  I think the world of video production is constantly moving. There are always fires popping up, we deal with a lot of people. We have a big team; we have multiple productions happening every single day. We also work with talent who have their own special quirks, I love all of them. Dealing with people, managing people is most of the job and ensuring again that we’re doing what we say we’re doing, which is creating a really valuable proposition for our viewers, which is we’re giving you incredibly high quality content that you enjoy that is up to the standard of what people expect, especially with Bon Appétit. The fans are so connected to what we’re doing and have such a high standard for content that we produce, because they feel personally invested in these people.

When you launch a new show with somebody, there’s a real reaction, mostly almost unanimously positive. When Chris Morocco got his new show and the pilot came out four months ago, there was like a sense of joy that we had done right by Chris and had given him a show that was just for him. And it’s also the perfect show for him, it plays into all of his best instincts.

There may be a new show with new talent that doesn’t feel quite right for the audience, it’s not in the mold that they expected. So, it’s really anticipating what our audience wants and that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re really creating valuable content that feels like we’re predicting what the audience wants before they even know they want it. And making sure we have that positive reaction.

We have one of the most positive comments sections on the entire Internet at Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel. The thing that keeps me up is will that turn on us. (Laughs) Will fans ever think we’ve lost our way? We haven’t had that happen, thankfully. I think we have really great instincts about our content, because we’re building around real people who have real appeal. I think they have a really good understanding of what makes for interesting content for our audience. It doesn’t keep me up too much, but I do think about that fan reaction, which can be an addiction.

It’s really gratifying to see people get lit up when we launch a new series or just a new episode of “Gourmet Makes.” The joy that brings to people’s lives, and I get messages and emails about it, about Bon Appétit just being the one bright spot in people’s day when a new video drops, or Bon Appétit got them through a hard time, or they just binge watched a whole show that they didn’t even know existed on YouTube; you don’t want that joy to go away. It’s really exciting as a programmer that people are spending absurd amounts of time with our content. We’re a real part of people’s lives. So, not wanting that feeling to go away keeps me up sometimes, but I think we’re mostly doing a good job.

Samir Husni: Thank you.  

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RAVE – A Magazine NOT For Idiots Or Advertising Either – A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past, Circa April, 1953

July 18, 2019

You may have noticed lately that I am not as active on the blog as usual.  Two reasons for that, first, the summer break and second, working on two books, the first on how to launch a magazine and the second on the magazines of the 1950s.

RAVE was a magazine that showcased Hollywood stars, business tycoons, East Coast & West Coast, and occasionally people and places across the pond.  From gossip to facts, the magazine brought the reader up close and personal with celebrities and others who led interesting and provocative lives. And it did it all without advertising. In fact, the premiere issue’s editorial made it a point to draw attention to that, noting, “We would not accept an advertisement of any description even if it were offered to us on a gold platter. Therefore, our choice of stories and pictures will never be influenced by advertising agencies or the counsels of public relations. We’ll call ’em as we see ’em….”

The circulation-based business model has always been a part of the world of magazines, not just in contemporary times. Bringing the reader unbiased information, with no outside interest influences, has been an attractive and often lucrative way for some magazines to exist for generations. This proves, yet again, that there is nothing new under the sun. Magazines have generated controversy and revenue in many interesting ways, and will continue to do so for eons to come. And in Mr. Magazine’s™ world, that is a very good thing.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ Blast From the Past …

RAVE magazine – April 1953

THIS MAGAZINE IS NOT FOR IDIOTS!

Nor is it for those who believe in dodging facts.

It is our intention to dedicate this publication to men and women of clear minds with a reasonably high I.Q. We do not solicit children – the seven-year old children or the seventy-year old children.

We are not afraid of calling a spade a spade. And we do not propose to make this magazine a medium for selling soap and cigarettes, lipstick and shaving cream, breakfast foods and vitamins-we will never be scared of “losing lucrative accounts.” We would not accept an advertisement of any description even if it were offered to us on a gold platter. Therefore, our choice of stories and pictures will never be influenced by advertising agencies or the counsels of public relations. We’ll call ’em as we see ’em….

We have little sense of reverence. In fact, it is our deep-rooted conviction that there is entirely too much reverence on this planet. Therefore, we will never bow to the high placed frauds or pay lip-service to the well-publicized mountebanks.

We will provide words and pictures to illustrate the ever-changing spectacle of life in these United States. Once in awhile we’ll talk of other countries, too. But our main pre-occupation will be with what is going on at home. Movie stars and big business tycoons, bedrooms and drawing rooms, artists and “bad actors,” prophets and liars, Washington and New York, Hollywood and Miami Beach – we’ll deal with all of them and all of it in our magazine. We hope to provide real information and real fun.

Our representatives will never ring your doorbell and beg for a subscription. If you like us, and want to become friends, you will either walk to the nearest newsstand and ask for a copy of RAVE – or, if you live too far away from a newsstand, you will fill in the coupon below, cut it out and enclose it in a stamped envelope (together with three dollars in cash, check, or money order) and mail it to us.

So, good luck-best wishes-and all that sort of thing. We will see you again in two months…when the second issue of Rave will be available at your favorite newsstand.

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The 2018 Issuu Generators Summit: A New Age of Storytelling – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Joe Hyrkin, CEO, Issuu…

November 30, 2018

“The reason we’re doing it is because, one – it’s near and dear to our hearts, of course. And at the end of the day we believe strongly that it’s through the telling of stories in a high quality, curated, published way that people are really able to share their passions, to share the area’s ideas and content that moves them, and there’s a huge audience to connect with around that.” Joe Hyrkin (On why Issuu is holding the Generators Summit)…

In today’s magazine and magazine media world if you haven’t heard of Issuu, you’ve probably been in some kind of self-induced sleep for the last 10 or so years. So, in case you just woke up, Issuu is a digital discovery and publishing platform that enables anyone — from independent creators to global brands — to distribute, measure and monetize their digital content. Issuu strives to offer the best digital reading experience possible and provide you with tools to easily upload, share and sell content online. Joe Hyrkin is CEO of Issuu and truly believes that connecting people to content is the most important thing his company can do. And it is with that in mind that Issuu will be hosting its second Generators Summit in New York on December 4, 2018.

The 2018 Issuu Generators Summit is a one-day event for content leaders to discuss the role of stories and discover innovation in the digital narrative. I spoke with Joe recently about the event and he said there will be thought-provoking panels with content generators: change makers, student activists, and game changing brands that are creating the movements and moments that inspire breakthrough stories. It’s sure to be an exciting and innovative experience; a meeting of the minds that can bring print and all formats together to bind them ever closer together. And you know that Mr. Magazine™ wouldn’t miss it for the world, so I plan on being in the audience.

Joe said the Summit brings together businesses, tech, brands, journalists, and non-profits and creatives in the content space. Speakers include Joe himself, Lauren Alexis Fisher, Digital Editor, Harper’s Bazaar; Tavi Gevinson, Actress and Founder, Rookie Mag and current lead in the world premiere of Steven Levenson’s play “Days of Rage”; Jen Tolentino, Director of Policy and Civic Tech, Rock the Vote, and many, many more. And Mr. Magazine™ can’t wait!

So, I hope that you enjoy this enlightening Mr. Magazine™ interview with Joe Hyrkin, CEO, Issuu, and who knows, maybe Mr. Magazine™ will see you in New York. Until then, enjoy the interview!

But first the sound-bites:

On why he is holding the 2018 Issuu Generators Summit: A couple of things about it; the first is last year we launched this event called the Issuu Generators Summit and we did it in San Francisco. This year we’re doing it in New York and the reason we’re doing it; it’s not an Issuu user’s group, it’s about a conference where we’re bringing together real thought leaders in the area of storytelling, publishing, content creation, and design, of course all wrapped around technology. The reason we’re doing it is because, one – it’s near and dear to our hearts, of course. And at the end of the day we believe strongly that it’s through the telling of stories in a high quality, curated, published way that people are really able to share their passions, to share the area’s ideas and content that moves them, and there’s a huge audience to connect with around that.

On where he sees that intersection of visual storytelling, video storytelling, audio storytelling, and print storytelling: When I think about stories, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One is I think that the story format is one that everybody is jumping onboard with: Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, even LinkedIn is rolling out stories. We’re seeing Reddit start to play with new ways of doing stories and articles and advertising. So, we’re seeing the large platforms who attract people to consume content are embracing the story format, because it provides enough depth to be interesting and engaging, but not overwhelming. And then you can go deeper into that content. So, I think it’s established as a format, but what’s happening for the most part is stories are confusing, as you just said, is it an image, is it a video, is it an article; what is it? And everybody is piling on with their capital S story format.

On being very bullish about the industry’s future and what he knows that others don’t: People always think I’m too bullish. (Laughs) This notion of the story; the breakthrough of the story is that it’s no longer just snippets of stuff; people are starting to put together a narrative of content, and that’s getting engaged with. Look at the engagement data that’s happening around people reading stories on Snapchat and Instagram and Facebook and all of these platforms, it’s accelerating rapidly because it has captured people’s attention more than just sort of the boring old viral stuff. There is a specificity and almost a personality that’s available. And I think we saw that with video and I think we’re going to see it here. The other piece is that I think we’re seeing these platforms are starting to embrace the availability of content that they hadn’t before. They’re recognizing in order for them to drive engagement, they have to provide good quality content.

On Issuu’s deal with Apple News: Earlier this year, we rolled out the Issuu Story Generator, and again what that does is it automatically pulls in articles from publications and turns that into a mobile optimized format. And we are now facilitating the distribution and access of that content. So the first partnership we rolled that out with was Apple News. We have our own Apple News channel and all of that content that’s in there is from publishers who are all recognized as the publisher and the content creator. They’re able to have their articles show up in Apple News through the Issuu channel.

On whether Issuu has had any breakthroughs with any of the major publications: It’s been interesting. We have always built our business on the massive scale of mid-tier, long tail enthusiast content. We haven’t started to take this to the largest 250 subscription publications, I like to call them the Texture publications. But where we have had a tremendous amount of success is in really high quality magazines that are on the independent side

On anything he’d like to add:
The people who are actually speaking at the conference and are actually attending is really exciting. We’re kicking off with a panel from XO Group, Quoted, Hypebeast and also Patrick Janelle, who is just a pure Instagrammer, he will also be on that panel. We’re really going to be weaving together creative publishers from simply Instagram through to large independent-minded folks like Quoted, to much larger publications that are global like Hypebeast and XO.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Joe Hyrkin, CEO, Issuu.

Samir Husni: Why are you doing the 2018 Issuu Generators Summit?

Joe Hyrkin: A couple of things about it; the first is last year we launched this event called the Issuu Generators Summit and we did it in San Francisco. This year we’re doing it in New York and the reason we’re doing it; it’s not an Issuu user’s group, it’s about a conference where we’re bringing together real thought leaders in the area of storytelling, publishing, content creation, and design, of course all wrapped around technology. The reason we’re doing it is because, one – it’s near and dear to our hearts, of course. And at the end of the day we believe strongly that it’s through the telling of stories in a high quality, curated, published way that people are really able to share their passions, to share the area’s ideas and content that moves them, and there’s a huge audience to connect with around that.

We, of course, as a platform, started off in making magazines digitally available and just a whole range of content digitally available. When we started our whole idea was: what we think the world needs and what we think businesses need is the ability to make that longer-form, quality content digitally available in a whole range of formats. So print, standard distribution, digitally for the whole publication, and then ways to take advantage of distributed social platforms to share elements of that content as well.

And so that’s what this conference is about. We’re bringing together a whole set of people who are focused around telling stories. At the end of the day it’s relatively simple, but I think profound is our world, our culture is evolve and move and transform through strengthening.

And the really interesting thing is what you do; magazines have always been, for generations, at the heart of how people are telling stories. Whether it’s a huge mainstream magazine like People or some of the more independent publications that cater to a particular interest. As we’ve talked about before, I believe there’s nothing wrong with the publishing industry, there are just radical changes happening. More content is being created than ever before, but the ways to share and distribute and get that out there is sort of a new set of challenges.

Samir Husni: Since the last time that you and I chatted, we had talked about how the digital world was more like the Amazon Jungle compared to the print world. You’re bringing people who have print magazines; people who are digital-only, to this conference on Dec. 4. I know storytelling is the cornerstone, but where do you see that intersection of visual storytelling, video storytelling, audio storytelling, and print storytelling?

Joe Hyrkin: Let’s go back to the Amazon analogy for a moment, because I love it. If you use the Amazon analogy, what I think happens related to stories is we are now identifying the specific species of plant, or the specific kind of crocodile, or the specific animal in the Amazon and allowing that to be the content by which people can start to go deeper into the Amazon itself. To let me see the thing that I care most about and then use that as an entrée into the larger universe of related content. And that’s what we’re seeing and that’s what we’re doing as a company on the story level.

So, when I think about stories, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One is I think that the story format is one that everybody is jumping onboard with: Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, even LinkedIn is rolling out stories. We’re seeing Reddit start to play with new ways of doing stories and articles and advertising. So, we’re seeing the large platforms who attract people to consume content are embracing the story format, because it provides enough depth to be interesting and engaging, but not overwhelming. And then you can go deeper into that content.

So, I think it’s established as a format, but what’s happening for the most part is stories are confusing. As you just said, is it an image, is it a video, is it an article; what is it? And everybody is piling on with their capital S story format.

Samir Husni: Including advertisers.

Joe Hyrkin: Including advertisers with the story ad now. So, here’s what’s happening, and this is what is super exciting for the industry as a whole, particularly for the magazine industry. I believe that the story format is established and I think most of the content is user-generated, inconsistent, not necessarily brand-friendly, user-created images and videos that are kind of strung together as a story. It’s very similar to the idea of a cat video back in the early days of YouTube.

But what is established is as a format it’s enough content to engage people and get them interested and then you have to do more. So, what we’re starting to see increasingly happen and we’ve seen it repeatedly in many content industries before, is there will now start to be this level of semi-professional and professionally created content that revolves around the story format. And there will be two forms of it, there will be video stories and there will be article stories that people are going to read. And we’re seeing that happen increasingly. We look at Snapchat Discover, they have video content and they have article content. I think they have to revise that and create more, but that’s one piece.

The second thing that’s going to happen is we will start to see ads that are designed for the story format. Again, professionally and quality-created ads instead of just dumping a 30-second video spot into the middle of a whole bunch of images, we’ll actually start to see story ads, if you will, get created.

The exciting thing is who has the most content? Who has the best stuff available? Well, it’s the magazines, because the magazines already have full-page, spread-format ads. They already have relationships with advertisers who have brochures and marketing material and all of those things, which can be turned into paginated, page-oriented ads within the context of a story that gets created.

So, what we’re seeing is, you can now, as a magazine of any topic or any size, you can start to just take the articles from the magazine, turn those into a story for distribution as an A&P story or an Instagram story or a Snap story or whatever the platform happens to be. And then use that as a way, in its fullest it can be a story or an article that someone wants to read on its own in that story format, or it can be the thing that drives you deeper into the depth of that full publication itself. So, it’s enabling magazine publishers, in particular, the ability to start to connect with a much broader audience around content that matters most to them and then use the fullness of the publication to draw them in even more.

I believe that what we’re going to start to see will be a new business model that won’t just be relying on poorly-placed banner ads and 10-cent, one dollar CPM banner ads on top of really high quality content; we’re going to start to see a whole new industry evolve around story-oriented ads and that to me is super exciting.


Samir Husni: You seem too bullish about the future of the industry; why?

Joe Hyrkin: People always think I’m too bullish. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) What do you know that others don’t?

Jow Hyrkin: Here’s what I know, I’ve been looking at this stuff for a long time. I remember in 1999, I was with a company called Virage, we did software for publishing/managing video content, and we rolled out the first video search engine. We actually did a deal with C-SPAN in 1999, where we got access to all their coverage of the presidential campaign and we created this thing called the “Truth Tracker.” You could see video clips of anything any candidate said, anywhere, on any subject. So, you could see what George W. Bush said about gun control in Texas as opposed to when he was in California, or wherever he happened to be. It was really cool.

And then we syndicated that out to 40 different sites, all the NBC O&O’s, and the Wall Street Journal, and I think we had 40 or 50 different sites using this same kind of content. And it was early days. There were a whole set of streaming providers, most of whom were really expensive, banner ads; YouTube didn’t exist yet. It was really early days for this. And we started to see that premium content, video content, had a place in the Internet, just not in the format that people were used to watching television then. In those days, you weren’t going to watch a full, half-hour, news content yet, because it was too expensive to stream and there wasn’t enough advertising rev.

So, we started to break that content up, and we provided video search capabilities. And one of the big things we rolled out after the “Truth Tracker” thing, is we did a deal with major league baseball, where we captured every pitch of every game and on MLB.com, users could go search for Derek Jeter homerun at night and see all of Derek Jeter’s homeruns in clips of video content.

Fast forward, six or seven years later, maybe 10, MLB.com is now streaming full major league baseball games. And Twitter is streaming football games. So, we went from atomizing the contents so that people could engage with it and we could build new business models, to making the full content available again.

I think we’re seeing the same thing with magazines and long-form content. This notion of the story; the breakthrough of the story is that it’s no longer just snippets of stuff; people are starting to put together a narrative of content, and that’s getting engaged with. Look at the engagement data that’s happening around people reading stories on Snapchat and Instagram and Facebook and all of these platforms, it’s accelerating rapidly because it has captured people’s attention more than just sort of the boring old viral stuff. There is a specificity and almost a personality that’s available. And I think we saw that with video and I think we’re going to see it here.

The other piece is that I think we’re seeing these platforms are starting to embrace the availability of content that they hadn’t before. They’re recognizing in order for them to drive engagement, they have to provide good quality content.

Another thing that’s important here, the big challenge, and again, similar to video, in this early stage, there is a huge cost involved in creating this content. I think it was Spanish Vogue that announced about two months ago that they were going to have a team creating stories in Spanish for a Snapchat channel. They mentioned that they were going to have a team of five people creating one story a week, which is insanely expensive. One of the reasons that things aren’t moving as quickly is because publishers are having to choose between having a Snapchat story creation team or an Instagram story creation team or a Google App story creation team and on and on. But they’re doing it, they’re actually investing in creating these things.

So what we’re doing, and in fact what we’re going to show in a lot more detail next week, is we’re refining the Issuu story engine, which enables us to automatically identify the elements of any article in a publication and turn that into a story that can be shared on multiple platforms. So you can upload your publication into Issuu, giving you the tools to automatically turn any of the articles into a Snap story or an Instagram story or any A&P story, wherever you want to share it. And we’re not alone, there will be others who will be doing this too.

And this is part of the reason I’m so bullish, we’re going to start to see increasingly more tools. Adobe has this thing called Spark, which is trying to do this as well for their own customers. The big issue right now is that many of these tools require pretty significant technical skills to be able to use them. I think the growth that’s going to happen here will be in how those tools and the monetization elements automated for use and distribution.


Samir Husni: You have been in the news lately, with your deal with Apple News. Tell me a little about that.

Joe Hyrkin: Earlier this year, we rolled out the Issuu Story Generator, and again what that does is it automatically pulls in articles from publications and turns that into a mobile optimized format. And we are now facilitating the distribution and access of that content. So the first partnership we rolled that out with was Apple News. We have our own Apple News channel and all of that content that’s in there is from publishers who are all recognized as the publisher and the content creator. They’re able to have their articles show up in Apple News through the Issuu channel.

Up to this point, Apple News has been pretty limited, in terms of the number of publishers that have access to make their content available. What we’re doing now is, in partnering with Apple, publishers can now use their Issuu integration to start to publish that content into Apple News. So, it gives them a lot more exposure; it gives them larger connectivity to an audience, and then consumers can actually go and find their content wherever it happens to be, whether it’s in a print format on newsstands or a subscription format or they come back into Issuu to get the full publication themselves.

We also have on the Issuu App Issuu stories, so any publisher now can automatically create Issuu stories and that content can be consumed in the Issuu App. And when you read an Issuu story in Issuu, embedded into the mobile optimized story itself is the full publication, so you can actually then go directly to that story in the publication and see everything else in and around it.

Samir Husni: Are you having any breakthrough with the major publications or you’re still dependent on a lot of entrepreneurs?

Joe Hyrkin: It’s been interesting. We have always built our business on the massive scale of mid-tier, long tail enthusiast content. We haven’t started to take this to the largest 250 subscription publications, I like to call them the Texture publications. But where we have had a tremendous amount of success is in really high quality magazines that are on the independent side.

So, publications that are well-known: Mad, Culture and Stacks, and a lot of magazines that you feature as well, they are starting to use us, both for the digital sales product that we rolled out last year, and for stories and for the ability to start distributing and sharing that content initially through Apple News and other content as well.

It’s interesting, we’re going to roll out next week with a new way to see Issuu stories, essentially a new cover and experience around it. And we’re working with a range of folks, from XO Group, which is now private, but was publicly traded, with The Knot and The Bump, and various other family magazines. We’re going to roll out with them. This really cool magazine called Quoted, it’s a magazine dedicated to stories of New York City, and actually run by a Norwegian guy. It’s awesome stuff. There is great photography and stories.

And then we’re also featuring Hypebeast, they have like eight million followers on Instagram and they’re a trendsetting, hipster magazine plus website. So, we’re finding more and more of those kinds of growing publishers who are using us pretty significantly.

Now that we’ve got the ability for stories to be distributed and for digital sales, we’ll start to work with some of the larger folks. We’ve had way more interesting conversations with them than we ever used to have. We just don’t have a sales force that goes and works with them at that.


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

Joe Hyrkin: The people who are actually speaking at the conference and are actually attending is really exciting. We’re kicking off with a panel from XO Group, Quoted, Hypebeast and also Patrick Janelle, who is just a pure Instagrammer, he will also be on that panel. We’re really going to be weaving together creative publishers from simply Instagram through to large independent-minded folks like Quoted, to much larger publications that are global like Hypebeast and XO.

Then we’re moving into a panel led by one of the editors from Harper’s Bazaar, Lauren Fisher, and she’s going to be interviewing, and we did this on purpose, she’s a magazine person but she will be interviewing execs from CBS, the guy who actually runs all of CBS’s reality TV, which is includes “Carpool Karaoke” and all these kinds of things. So, it’s all about different ways of leveraging digital and tell stories. And also someone from Pixar.

And one of the most exciting components is going to be the afternoon session where we’re going to be diving into the future of journalism and the First Amendment. We have Melissa Falkowski, who is the journalism instructor from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and was actively involved in protecting kids during the shooting and then turned everything that was happening into a journalistic experience. It’s amazing what she has done. She’s a hero and she is amazing. And she has really used it, such as she is training the next generation of journalists. And Rebecca Schneid, who is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas this year and the managing editor for their publications, and she will be on that panel as well.

And then Neha Madhira, who is the managing editor from the Prosper High School magazines and newspapers, who kind of fought her principal to be able to get her First Amendment rights to publish Op-Eds is also speaking. She just spoke at Ten Women recently. I’m really excited about that.

The afternoon wraps up with Grace Bonney leading a session and she just started this new magazine called Good Company.

Samir Husni: I interviewed Grace about her new magazine.

Joe Hyrkin: She’s great. She’ll be running one of her podcasts from the conference, where she’ll be interviewing, speaking too, but also interviewing Tavi Gevinson from Rookie Magazine. And then the director from Rock the Vote, who will be talking about how they have been using publishing and digital and content to drive voter engagement, which is very much tied to the journalism experience of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas folks. And from the New York Art Week, one of their senior directors will be joining us and they’re all about distributing content-related art and they actually use Issuu as well.

So, we’re excited about the way we’re weaving together large, mid-tier, and magazine publishers as well as some of the other platforms that are being used.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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An Experience Like No Other: Future Industry Leaders Meet Current Industry Leaders At The Magazine Innovation Center April 25 to 27.

April 21, 2017

act7Magazines Matter. Print Matters. That is the theme for the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT (Amplify, Clarify, Testify) 7 Experience that will take place April 25 to 27. Space is limited, so check the agenda and register to join us for an experience of a life-time.

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WIN Magazine: The Day Magazines Paid For “User-Generated Content”… A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past.

April 7, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Magazines have been valuing their readers and their ideas for years, even before This Old House magazine became “Your Old House” for an issue a few years ago, allowing its readers to have free rein with the content. Also before many cooking magazines, such as titles from Southern Progress Corp., were asking its readers to share favorite recipes; and even before Roy Reiman built an empire based on a business model that worked successfully for him, where his readers wrote around 80 percent of the content of his magazines.

Today, it’s called “User-Generated Content” or UGC and there are all kinds of articles and inspirations out there to help one learn how to best utilize and collect this important – and you would think – newly discovered strategy. However, it’s far from new, as you read from the previous examples, and it’s certainly not unique to those prestigious entities either.

I opened up my Mr. Magazine™ Classic Vault recently and dug around inside, coming up with a beautiful title from 1939 called “WIN.” And it would appear this over 75-year-old magazine’s contents were entirely reader-written, wait – that’s the same as user-generated, correct?

The tagline for the first issue of WIN dated March 1939 reads: ‘The Magazine Written By The People – Photos – Stories – Gags – Poems – etc. And not only did this magazine accept content written by its readers, it paid them for it by utilizing the received material in a contest format. Somebody had on his or her thinking cap in 1939, that’s for sure. In fact, inside the magazine, next to its Table of Contents, there is this reminder: Don’t forget, $5,000 every issue.

It’s a very good execution of what many in the media business are trying to do today. And it’s a forerunner of that brand new catchphrase: user-generated. But just remember, there is nothing new under the sun; if we’ve done it today, guaranteed it’s a long shadow and being cast from someone many decades before.

Until the next Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

See you at the newsstand…

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Pew Research Center’s Report Finds That Most Americans Say That Tensions Between Trump’s Administration & News Media Hinder Access To Political News – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jeffrey Gottfried, Senior Researcher…

April 4, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Update…

“I think what the findings of our study reveal is that the public does sense that there is a problem. That they see the relationship that’s going on between the Trump administration and between the U.S. news media as a problem, both in terms of creating an unhealthy relationship between those two parties, but also in terms of, they sense that they’re not getting the information, the important political news that they would be getting otherwise. And so, there is this sense that there is a problem with the way that this relationship is going.” Jeffrey Gottfried…

Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey and found that large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans say the relationship between the Trump administration and the news media is an unhealthy one. The focus of this study shows how amazing it is that almost 94 percent of Americans are aware of this debilitating relationship. And if you piggyback that with the research the Pew Center did in 2016, where 75 percent of Americans felt that the media tended to support one side more than the other; if you take both of those surveys together, you can’t help but to stop and think what is the future of journalism?

As a journalism professor; as an educator; I have to wonder what is the future of journalism and what prescriptions do we need to heal this unhealthiness between the media and the present administration, so that the public will have more access to political news, as they now feel they don’t have free and open access to political information?

With everything that’s going on in the world, it seems like it’s all being muddied by this unhealthy relationship.

These are not the opinions of myself or Mr. Gottfried, these are the actual findings of the report from the American people. And this morning, I spoke with Jeffrey Gottfried, senior researcher and one of the report’s lead authors about the actual findings of the study. What follows is that conversation:

Samir Husni: Did anything about this study surprise you?

Jeffrey Gottfried: Something that was really interesting about this was the high level of awareness that American’s had of the relationship between Trump and the news media. What we see is that this really is virtually ubiquitous of America. Everyone seems to have heard about it and everyone seems to know what’s going on. As it says, 94 percent of U.S. citizens have heard something about what’s going on.

What we found is that for a large majority of Americans, what they have seen does not reassure them. And that’s something that we found to be really interesting.

Samir Husni: I noticed that you didn’t ask about who shares the blame in all of this.

Jeffrey Gottfried: Right, this is something that we didn’t ask as part of our survey. The survey was really to get a sense of how and where people are, and to get a sense of whether they thought this was a problem or not. So, no, we did not ask in the survey who is to blame for these tensions.

Samir Husni: As a researcher; as someone who has done a lot of surveys and research, where do you think we’re heading, in terms of the journalism aspect? Are we on the right or wrong track? If the public is saying that this is hindering the access to political news; what is the future of journalism?

Jeffrey Gottfried: Your question may go a little beyond what we were after, but I think what the findings of our study reveal is that the public does sense that there is a problem. That they see the relationship that’s going on between the Trump administration and between the U.S. news media as a problem, both in terms of creating an unhealthy relationship between those two parties, but also in terms of, they sense that they’re not getting the information, the important political news that they would be getting otherwise. And so, there is this sense that there is a problem with the way that this relationship is going.

Samir Husni: During all of the research that you’ve done over the years, have you ever seen anything like this before?

Jeffrey Gottfried: We haven’t been able to ask this question before.

Samir Husni: Is it because we never had such a problem?

Jeffrey Gottfried: We’ve seen throughout the campaign that there were these tensions, and from the campaign itself through now, we do see many tensions that are going on and we felt that this was a really important question when it came to trying to understand what their relationship is and what the public thinks about it. Whether that people think there were tensions in previous administrations or not, we don’t really have that data point to be able to compare that. But it was because we did see these tensions manifesting themselves, so we wanted to get a sense of whether the public was actually feeing them or not.

Samir Husni: My concern, since I am also a professor of journalism, as well as being a magazine person, are you concerned about the future of journalism? I teach an Intro to Mass Communications class of 184 students, and when I asked them who they thought was more biased, President Trump or the news media, 134 of them said news media.

Jeffrey Gottfried: Again, that goes a bit beyond our study. But I think that our findings do sense that the, and I don’t want to speak to my concerns, I want to speak to the public’s concerns, but the public seems to be concerned. They seem to be thinking that what’s going on between the media and the Trump administration is unhealthy. They seem to sense that they’re not getting the information that they should be getting. So, the public has concerns, and I think that’s what’s really important here and that’s what we were trying to go after here. Does the public sense that there is a problem? And we see that overwhelmingly, a vast majority of Americans do sense that there is a problem. And that’s what we were really going after with this report.

Last year in another survey, we asked the extent to which people sense that the news media tend to favor one side or not. In 2016, about three-quarters of Americans overall, sensed that the news media overall do tend to favor one side. What side that is, we didn’t ask, but there is this overall sense among Americans that the news media do favor one side or another. In that case, we didn’t ask who do they favor and who is more biased, presidents or the media, but there is this overall sense, at least in 2016, that the media tend to favor one side.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Monocle and Garden & Gun: Celebrating 10 Years of Magazine Excellence

March 29, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Ten years ago, from both sides of the Atlantic, two new magazines were launched: Monocle and Garden & Gun. At the time, these valiant titles were diminutive compared to the Titan that according to many threatened to vanquish print: digital. The skeptics believed that the online universe would ultimately force all print to disappear, and there would be no room for (or use, for that matter) a heavy-duty, sink-into-your-favorite-easy-chair-to-read-and-flip-the-pages, well-done, well-crafted magazine, except for maybe something based only on sound bites or fluffy, celebrity news.

In the U.K., Tyler Brûlé, founder of Wallpaper* magazine, launched Monocle with much fanfare and press coverage. The same can be said on this side of the Atlantic when Rebecca Darwin, former publisher of The New Yorker and Fortune, launched Garden & Gun in South Carolina, with the support and funding of newspaper magnate, Pierre Manigault.

Today, both magazines are celebrating 10-year anniversaries with two of the most amazing issues that I have ever seen. With Monocle, it may take me the entire month to finish reading all 300+ pages of the enlightening content within this well-crafted, well-designed and very well reinvented and reengineered magazine. In fact, it was the first magazine I ever awarded the International Launch of the Year.

As for Garden & Gun, I can’t speak highly enough about what they have accomplished through all of the peaks and valleys that they’ve had over the years. Many have written the obituary of the magazine, yet it has proven to be as resilient as a cat with nine lives (sorry dogs), and the magazine today is stronger than ever with content second to none. Both magazines have also seen their share of imitators over the years and have become the standard by which others raise their bar.

So, here’s a toast to 10 years of excellent content and to the power and strength of print well done. In honor of magazines matter, print matters, kudos to Monocle and Garden & Gun.

Happy 10th Anniversary!

Until next time…

See you at the newsstand…

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