Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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Playgirl Magazine Relaunches: A New Voice, A New Feminine Power Emerges From The Ashes & The “Skye” Is The Limit – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Skye Parrott, Editor In Chief, Playgirl…

November 8, 2020

“Going into Playgirl, it’s very intentionally diverse because I think as you approach the idea of what space a modern feminist publication could occupy, one of the things that I’ve thought a lot about, and I think this is what the tagline on the cover speaks to, is the idea that rather than offering the feminist point of view, what if we offer a feminine point of view?  And what does that look like? What are the ideals that are lifted up? What are we celebrating? What are we putting forward with this magazine?” Skye Parrott…

Skye Parrott, editor in chief of the newly relaunched Playgirl magazine. Photo by Kat Slootsky

From the ashes, Playgirl has been reborn with a new, more feminine viewpoint, but with its indelible history intact. The former Playgirl had its last issue in 2015 and the difference between that Playgirl and today’s Playgirl is palpable. With a new publisher/owner and a new editor in chief, the magazine is ready to tackle today’s issues, including injustices and the pandemic, with a steadfast head on its shoulders and a fresh new voice in women’s magazines. 

Skye Parrott is the new editor in chief, formerly cofounder and creative director of Dossier, an  arts and fashion magazine, known as a platform that championed young creatives and helped to launch the careers of many photographers, fashion designers, and artists. Today, Skye is bringing her talents and creative vision to Playgirl.

I spoke with Skye recently and we talked about this new, modern-day Playgirl magazine. She was excited about the new direction, yet recognized the value of the title’s history, knowing that nudity and sexuality had always been a part of the magazine, but according to Skye it’s all about the approach to those topics and the way you execute them. 

“I think we’ve looked at sex and sexuality and the body very differently in this magazine than how it was approached previously.”

The articles are there and very substantive, with the subject matter very topical for the world of today. The magazine has beautiful photography, yet stories that are compelling and on point with the issues we are facing currently. It’s a rebirth of a brand that many have been waiting for.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with Skye Parrot, editor in chief, Playgirl Magazine (relaunched). It was a delightful conversation about a title that should open up many more dialogues.

And once again, in 2020 Playgirl magazine returned to the newsstands as an upscale coffee-table like magazine

But first the sound-bites:

On why she accepted the role of editor in chief to bring Playgirl back to print and where it fits in the marketplace today: I was introduced to the publisher, who is a young man from a publishing family. He’s the great-grandson of Eugene Meyer, who owned the Washington Post for many years. The opportunity to buy the magazine sort of fell into his lap. He didn’t have any personal experience in publishing, but he saw it as an interesting and incredible opportunity. From the beginning it seemed like an incredible opportunity to me as well. To take this iconic, feminist magazine and to reimagine it for today’s world seemed very exciting. The moment seemed really right to do something interesting with it that could be meaningful. And I think that’s what we achieved in terms of the marketplace.

On whether it was intentional that she created a magazine that is so diverse and seems to be a coffee table book for an adult female who can have both a feast for her eyes and a feast for her brain: I wish you could see that I’m really smiling right now because that’s exactly what I hoped to create with this. Dossier was an incredibly diverse publication as well. And it was quite a long time ago in terms of the life of a magazine. Dossier launched in 2007/2008 and so diversity has always been very central to the work that I look to do. I’m from New York originally and I see diversity as a very central piece of the conversation. For lack of a different way of saying it, I find it quite boring to see the same person repeated in various iterations again and again and to only share one point of view. I don’t find that to be very interesting personally and I’ve never looked to replicate that in the publications that I’ve done.

On whether she thinks the nudity in the magazine is a plus or a negative: I was thinking about this the other day. If I were starting the magazine from scratch, there are things that would have probably been a little bit different about it than Playgirl. But when you’re relaunching something and you have a title that has a history, I think you have to also look at the history of that title and think about how to include that history in what you’re making today. And Playgirl obviously has a history of being very much interwoven with sex and I think that is a conversation that you have to have in the magazine, otherwise it doesn’t make sense. It’s just the name Playgirl slapped onto a magazine that has no relationship to the history.

June 1973 saw the launch of Playgirl as The Magazine For Women and continued publishing until 2015

On the gorgeous photography and the meaty reading material in the magazine and whether the pictures are bait to get people to actually sit down and discover other things in the magazine: I’ve never really thought of it that way. For me the approach to the magazines that I have done has always been informed by what I want. When I founded Dossier, one of the big conversations that we had then was why did something have to be one or the other? Why does it have to be we have The New Yorker, but it’s all words or we have these beautiful fashion magazines, but there’s nothing of any substance in them. What if you had these things together because people are multidimensional, just because you like to look at beautiful pictures doesn’t mean you don’t want to read something as well.

On how she decided on a naked, pregnant Chloë Sevigny for the cover: A lot of making a good magazine is taking advantage of the luck of what is available at the time it’s available. So, it was quite lucky that Chloë Sevigny was pregnant and that she was quite open to doing this cover and when that became clear, that she was open to doing it, it seemed to me like a no-brainer that we would put her on the cover. That having been said, I think from the beginning it was very clear that what we wanted to do with the cover was to look at female power in a different way.

On one criticism and one positive piece of feedback she has gotten since the first issue has been out: I’d start first with the criticisms, because I would love it if we could get some, but unfortunately in the world right now, I feel like those criticisms, you get them in person from people, and right now there’s just no in person. So, the feedback I’ve gotten has been only positive about it. I would love to share the critiques because there’s always room to make something better and to do more, but the feedback I have gotten has been really enthusiastic.

On whether she thinks magazines as a whole play a role similar to a Paradise Island or an Island of Clarity as they used to refer to The Wall Street Journal since many other platforms bombard the audience with only bad news:That’s a very interesting question. I can only speak to the kinds of magazines that I’ve looked to make and the kinds of magazines that I’ve looked to make are not trying to provide a Paradise Island, they’re not trying to sugarcoat anything. But what I look to do with Playgirl and what I think that we accomplished pretty well is to address the world as it is in a way that’s honest and vulnerable, but also has humor and hope.

In January 1973 Playgirl returned as a magazine for Women’s Entertainment, but stopped publishing after one issue.

On what she would hope to tell someone Playgirl had achieved in one year: As far as the magazine goes, I don’t know what the future holds for it, to be frank. The pandemic has changed the calculus a little bit for the publisher and he hasn’t got our schedule yet for the second issue. Ideally, when you do a biannual magazine, you immediately start working on the next issue, but that’s not the case for Playgirl. So, I really don’t know. But what I hope is the experience of reading it will have given people stuff to think about, will have given people enjoyment and maybe will have added something to the conversation about life and the world and the human experience. 

On the magazine being more of a luxury item with its $20 cover price: Absolutely. It’s quite a niche product, but that’s also my background. With Dossier, we tried very hard to keep the cover price reasonable, we worked to do so, but ultimately a $20 magazine is a bit of an indulgence. The hope is with the magazine at that price, it is something you keep and look at it a little more like a book. So, when you said it looked like a coffee table book, I hope that’s what it is because at $20 it should be something that you want to hold onto.

The original Playgirl magazine circ. 1955 was a men’s magazine

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: I’ll mention it again, I have three young children, so my evenings end quite early. In a world where there isn’t COVID-19, I’m not sure what it would be, but with the pandemic right now what I’ve been watching is The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. (Laughs) It’s very soothing, there’s no drama. The drama comes from the cooking. Everyone is very kind to one another and it’s very British. There are lots of good manners and that’s how I’ve been unwinding right now. And cooking, I’ve done a little cooking. My husband has been doing a lot of cooking.

On shuttling between New York and Mexico: I’ve been living for the last two years in a tiny little town in Mexico called Sayulita. I’ve been going back and forth. I actually produced the entire magazine remotely. I built the team remotely, led the team remotely; I was in New York for some meetings, but almost the entire magazine was produced remotely, which was actually true for Dossier as well. It was a remote team then also.

On what keeps her up at night: I don’t know if you want to know the answer to that right now. (Laughs)

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Skye Parrott, editor in chief, Playgirl. 

Samir Husni: When you bring a print magazine back to print in this day and age, everybody takes notice. But why specifically did you accept the job as editor in chief to bring Playgirl back and how do you place it in today’s marketplace among all the other magazines out there? 

Skye Parrott: Those are excellent questions. I was introduced to the publisher, who is a young man from a publishing family. He’s the great-grandson of Eugene Meyer, who owned the Washington Post for many years. The opportunity to buy the magazine sort of fell into his lap. He didn’t have any personal experience in publishing, but he saw it as an interesting and incredible opportunity. We were introduced about two years ago by mutual friends. He was familiar with Dossier and that’s how I came into the picture. 

From the beginning it seemed like an incredible opportunity to me as well. To take this iconic, feminist magazine and to reimagine it for today’s world seemed very exciting. The moment seemed really right to do something interesting with it that could be meaningful. And I think that’s what we achieved in terms of the marketplace.

I wasn’t concerned about the readership for it. To me the readership seemed quite clear. A lot of my work has been questions of gender and more and more as my work has gone on I feel like a female audience has been who I’ve been interested in communicating to and about. So, Playgirl seemed like a real opportunity to do that in terms of the actual economics of magazines. As we both know, those can be really trickier. I think magazines on their own are not a very good stand-alone business, that’s quite clear, but they’re quite an effective marketing tool for another business. 

Samir Husni: Was it intentional that diversity is all over the magazine, gender is all over the magazine, size is all over the magazine? Even before magazines were celebrating Blackness and after the murder of George Floyd, and I know the magazine was in the making even before the pandemic, was it intentional that you created a magazine that seems to me to be a coffee table book for an adult female who can have a feast for her eyes but at the same time have a feast for her brain?

Skye Parrott: I wish you could see that I’m really smiling right now because that’s exactly what I hoped to create with this. Dossier was an incredibly diverse publication as well. And it was quite a long time ago in terms of the life of a magazine. Dossier launched in 2007/2008 and so diversity has always been very central to the work that I look to do. I’m from New York originally and I see diversity as a very central piece of the conversation. For lack of a different way of saying it, I find it quite boring to see the same person repeated in various iterations again and again and to only share one point of view. I don’t find that to be very interesting personally and I’ve never looked to replicate that in the publications that I’ve done. 

Going into Playgirl, it’s very intentionally diverse because I think as you approach the idea of what space a modern feminist publication could occupy, one of the things that I’ve thought a lot about, and I think this is what the tagline on the cover speaks to, is the idea that rather than offering the feminist point of view, what if we offer a feminine point of view?  And what does that look like? What are the ideals that are lifted up? What are we celebrating? What are we putting forward with this magazine?

The idea, as I spoke a little about in the editor’s letter, is that there have been a lot of magazines made for women that still goes through this kind of male gaze. So, what if we make a magazine for women that’s really about the female gaze in a much broader sense? And for me, diversity, community, celebrating different kinds of bodies, looking at the experience of being female in different ways, for me those are hyper-feminine. And those are things that I look to do with the magazine. 

Samir Husni: Do you think you would have been able to do that without the nudity? I mean, do you think the nudity in the magazine is a plus or a negative?

Skye Parrott: I was thinking about this the other day. If I were starting the magazine from scratch, there are things that would have probably been a little bit different about it than Playgirl. But when you’re relaunching something and you have a title that has a history, I think you have to also look at the history of that title and think about how to include that history in what you’re making today. And Playgirl obviously has a history of being very much interwoven with sex and I think that is a conversation that you have to have in the magazine, otherwise it doesn’t make sense. It’s just the name Playgirl slapped onto a magazine that has no relationship to the history.

But I think the way that we approach sex, I hope, is from a very different point of view than how the magazine approached it when it first launched in the ‘70s, and certainly in later iterations when it was called Playgirl but it was basically a magazine for gay men. I think we’ve looked at sex and sexuality and the body very differently in this magazine than how it was approached previously. 

Samir Husni: As I flip through the pages, yes, you gave me some gorgeous photography and you name the age and I found it there, but there is also some heavy-duty reading material. There is solid-type pages. What are you trying to achieve? Are you using the images as bait to get people to the magazine and once there, they sit down and discover there is a lot of different things in there?

Skye Parrott: I’ve never really thought of it that way. For me the approach to the magazines that I have done has always been informed by what I want. When I founded Dossier, one of the big conversations that we had then was why did something have to be one or the other? Why does it have to be we have The New Yorker, but it’s all words or we have these beautiful fashion magazines, but there’s nothing of any substance in them. What if you had these things together because people are multidimensional, just because you like to look at beautiful pictures doesn’t mean you don’t want to read something as well. 

And I think having done that for so many years at Dossier, I never considered a different approach. I’m a huge reader myself and I have been my entire life. So, even though I come out of a visual background, reading is a massive part of my life. So the idea of creating something that didn’t have a high level of literary content never crossed my mind. 

Samir Husni: You’re a mom and you combined the image of motherhood with Playgirl’s first cover. How did the idea of that first cover for the relaunch, having a pregnant, naked woman on the cover, how did that come about? It’s a bit of a throwback to the Vanity Fair cover with Demi Moore. What was your thinking behind that? Did you want to send a shockwave to the audience? I’m intrigued to know how you decided on that cover.

Skye Parrott: A lot of making a good magazine is taking advantage of the luck of what is available at the time it’s available. So, it was quite lucky that Chloë Sevigny was pregnant and that she was quite open to doing this cover and when that became clear, that she was open to doing it, it seemed to me like a no-brainer that we would put her on the cover.

That having been said, I think from the beginning it was very clear that what we wanted to do with the cover was to look at female power in a different way. And I think the reason this cover became something that we absolutely wanted to do was because putting a naked woman on the cover who is pregnant is really a strong statement about the basis of female power. 

I think putting a naked woman on the cover in a sort of sexual pose is one thing, putting a naked man on the cover is something else, but putting a naked woman who is pregnant on the cover is saying that this power in women is somewhat very different than where we’re used to seeing it as a society. And for me, that was a statement that really lined up with what we were doing with the magazine. 

Samir Husni: I know the first issue of the magazine has very limited availability, but what has been the feedback you’ve received? I saw your interview with Monocle and the WWD review, but besides the media people, what has been one criticism your circle has given you and what was one positive about the relaunch?

Skye Parrott: I’d start first with the criticisms, because I would love it if we could get some, but unfortunately in the world right now, I feel like those criticisms, you get them in person from people, and right now there’s just no in person. So, the feedback I’ve gotten has been only positive about it. I would love to share the critiques because there’s always room to make something better and to do more, but the feedback I have gotten has been really enthusiastic.

I’ve heard a lot that it was like a breath of fresh air at this moment, that it made people feel joy and hope when they saw it and consumed it. I’ve heard that from a number of women, that it felt very fresh and very “right now” in a positive way. I love to hear that. Obviously, you make magazines hoping that you’re going to give people a certain experience and that you’re bringing something good into the world. And so to hear that has been the case is beyond satisfying. 

I’ve gotten just a lot of very positive feedback. I haven’t heard a lot of critique yet, but I expect I will. Certainly, there’s always room to make things better. 

Samir Husni: As a magazine editor, with almost all the other platforms bombarding the audience with bad news, murders, demonstrations, social injustices, you name it, do you think the magazine as a whole plays a role similar to a Paradise Island or an Island of Clarity as they used to refer to The Wall Street Journal? 

Skye Parrott: That’s a very interesting question. I can only speak to the kinds of magazines that I’ve looked to make and the kinds of magazines that I’ve looked to make are not trying to provide a Paradise Island, they’re not trying to sugarcoat anything. But what I look to do with Playgirl and what I think that we accomplished pretty well is to address the world as it is in a way that’s honest and vulnerable, but also has humor and hope. 

And I think the magazine does that very well. There’s a lot to talk about and I hope this opens up discussions, but not in a way that’s so heavy people feel more hopeless, because I don’t believe the world needs more of that right now.  

And as you noted, the magazine was finished in March and we were supposed to come out in April, but the publisher decided to hold it. We finally started to work on it again for two weeks in September and then it came out in October. So, when I went back to work on it in September I hadn’t looked at in six months and I had the sense that we were going to have to make big changes to it for the magazine to be appropriate in the world at that time. But much to my pleasant surprise, after I went through it, it didn’t need big changes. There were only very small changes. 

There was this portfolio at the core of it, which is about these feminist activists; we had already done that. We’d already talked about these women who are doing these really important things and how they’re doing them. We already had all of these first-person essays. I added only two first-person essays that I thought specifically looked at some aspects of what had been going on in the last six months in a very beautiful and thoughtful way. 

One of those was from a woman named Ivy Elrod who is quite a good friend of mine. She lives in Nashville and she wrote an essay called “We Need To Talk About The Bird.” And it’s wonderful. First of all, it’s incredibly funny and I think that’s really important. She’s also smart and she talks in it about the experience of parenting during the pandemic and the experience of being a biracial person and the experience of sort of reckoning with identity. And all of that is woven through the story. These are serious subjects to talk about, but to do so with humor and depth is really the trick. 

That piece is really the tone that I hope is woven through the whole magazine. To talk about things that are important, but to find a way to do it that balances the heaviness and the lightness of life. 

Samir Husni: If you and I are having this conversation one year from now, what would you hope to tell me you had accomplished with Playgirl?

Skye Parrott: I wish I knew. I can maybe imagine my life about a week from now, (Laughs) if I’m lucky. One year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined anything going on, so I wish I had the crystal ball to say that I could plan for anything a year from now, but I have no sense of what my life will look like. Or the world, for that matter. As you noted, I have three children and they’re in school. One of my younger children goes to school in a park, outside. 

As far as the magazine goes, I don’t know what the future holds for it, to be frank. The pandemic has changed the calculus a little bit for the publisher and he hasn’t got our schedule yet for the second issue. Ideally, when you do a biannual magazine, you immediately start working on the next issue, but that’s not the case for Playgirl. So, I really don’t know. But what I hope is the experience of reading it will have given people stuff to think about, will have given people enjoyment and maybe will have added something to the conversation about life and the world and the human experience. 

Samir Husni: You’ve made the magazine more like a luxury item with the $20 cover price.

Skye Parrott: Absolutely. It’s quite a niche product, but that’s also my background. With Dossier, we tried very hard to keep the cover price reasonable, we worked to do so, but ultimately a $20 magazine is a bit of an indulgence. The hope is with the magazine at that price, it is something you keep and look at it a little more like a book. So, when you said it looked like a coffee table book, I hope that’s what it is because at $20 it should be something that you want to hold onto. 

Samir Husni: Let’s assume there’s no COVID-19 and I show 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?

Skye Parrott: I’ll mention it again, I have three young children, so my evenings end quite early. In a world where there isn’t COVID-19, I’m not sure what it would be, but with the pandemic right now what I’ve been watching is The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. (Laughs) It’s very soothing, there’s no drama. The drama comes from the cooking. Everyone is very kind to one another and it’s very British. There are lots of good manners and that’s how I’ve been unwinding right now. And cooking, I’ve done a little cooking. My husband has been doing a lot of cooking.

Samir Husni: I read that you shuttle between New York and Mexico?

Skye Parrott: Yes. I’ve been living for the last two years in a tiny little town in Mexico called Sayulita. I’ve been going back and forth. I actually produced the entire magazine remotely. I built the team remotely, led the team remotely; I was in New York for some meetings, but almost the entire magazine was produced remotely, which was actually true for Dossier as well. It was a remote team then also. 

I’ve been doing that for two years. We’re back in New York right now, but we may go back to Mexico for some time this winter. My kids are in school remotely, so it’s open.

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

Skye Parrott: I don’t know if you want to know the answer to that right now. (Laughs) 

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Magma: An Innovative & Simple Tool For Everyone To Create Content That Matters – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jake Warner, CEO & Cofounder, Magma…

November 6, 2020

“I think the beauty of Magma is that the only brand that needs to be worried about is that of the person writing. So, even if you’re a columnist within a magazine, you still need to write in regards to the publication you’re writing for. With Magma, if your culture is you and you’re sharing a story that comes from you, that piece of media is going to be as authentic as possible. What Magma is doing is opening the ability to have that occur for those who want to share a story.” Jake Warner… 

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

Imagine you’re a photographer, on deadline for an assignment overseas. You get through the shoot, but another hurdle is somehow getting the stills/videos over to your team in Los Angeles within the next hour, using only your smartphone and the slowest Wi-Fi you’ve ever seen.

This is exactly what happened to Jake Warner, CEO and cofounder of Magma, a content creation platform born out of his desire for on-the-go publishing software that was free, fast, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use.

Magma’s co-foundeder Joey Chowaiki, a design professional and photographer for brands like Red Bull and GoPro, as well as the founder of the one of the first influencer marketing agencies, Open Influence, Magma is led by a team of digital natives and it combines the most trusted tools and systems from the industry’s top publishing experts into one simple, free mobile app.

I spoke with Jake recently and we talked about the different aspects of Magma and the desire he has for the brand to be thought of as a content creation tool that allows anyone to create the authentic content that matters to them. In this day and age of creating content in innovative and different ways, Magma offers an easy and strong way to get your content out there into the world. 

According to Jake, Magma is a place where first-time bloggers and 30-year publishing vets can all feel satisfied. Everything from short stories, breaking news, guides, and even pro-level media galleries can be created, consumed, and shared in minutes using Magma’s evolutionary design suite and complimentary social hub. Jake’s take on his company is: whether your goal is to grow your platform engagement, build a professional portfolio, or simply hone your creativity skills during the lockdown, you can create your own digital magazine all from the palm of your hand.

And now without further ado, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jake Warner, CEO & cofounder, Magma. 

But first the sound bites: 

On the genesis of Magma: You could just have these templates, people could put whatever media they wanted for resolution and they could write whatever they wanted, they could link it and quote it, they could source it. And the sharing and consumption part was as easy as picking up a magazine. That would be something that could be a game changer. It was about two and a half years of severe development, A/B testing, reiterating our mantra to ourselves and then seeing if the product really stood up to that.

On whether the content creator has the possibility of making money or just Magma: 100 percent. So, to segue into that, the biggest complaint that we had for our feedback, and we talk to bloggers who had multimillion dollar businesses solely from them blogging on free platforms; we spoke to journalists from some of the largest publishing houses in the world, and it was the same thing, the big digital options that were out there were too interested in reaping the financial benefits for themselves and the business model revolved around the company gaining the benefit rather than the creator.

On what he would hope to tell someone Magma had achieved in one year: I think what Magma had achieved would be from a business aspect, startups do not need to have a massive evaluation and insane resources to get creative with their business and their business model to be able to keep the lights on and still scale. That’s a side note.

On whether it’s going to be a free-for-all, where anyone can publish anything they want or Magma is going to have some curation and editing: There are three different points that we’ve been looking at if we were going to censor for the greater good of both legal and what’s right or wrong. One was based on there would be some sort of age scanner and that would be in the settings of our app, so you could actually censor or not censor and what that does is if it’s 18+ content, you wouldn’t see it. And that would be done by actually scanning an ID. As far as technology goes that’s as far as people can take it at this point and we’re looking at using technology right now that allows us to censor that.

On whether he has any plans with Magma to encourage or enhance minorities: Absolutely. I think in regards to these publications finally opening their eyes to different areas where they can be pulling content from other than just the mainstream, often Caucasian viewpoint, it all comes down to culture. When culture is involved in its rawest form, people drive culture and people who are culture-shifters are allowed to share in their rawest form and that’s when you’re going to get content that’s authentic from that point.

On promoting content creator’s work on Magma: It comes in stages. The first thing is we need to get as much exposure to the platform as possible. That’s first and foremost. It’s unfortunately a very dumb-downed, simple marketing strategy of we need exposure and we need users. Once that occurs what we’re going to do is actually utilize the content within Magma that we deem important. So, it might not be the one that has the most views, or the most engaging likes or whatever might be the coolest content, the sexiest content; it’s going to be the content that we believe deserves to have a voice and be on center stage.

On anything he’d like to add: I want Magma to be perceived as a tool more than anything. We’re using things that are native and familiar to a mass market to allow them to comfortably come to Magma and learn it, such as the fact that there are social aspects to the platform. And it is an app. But at the end of the day we want to be known as a tool to create and share and consume, and we want that more than anything. I think that’s the hardest part of our storytelling of the brand: this is not an app; it’s not a social platform; this is a tool to be able to create media that matters.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: As cliché as this sounds, either editing photos that I’ve taken along with having a cup of coffee or looking at magazines and photo books. I’m a photographer and a designer at heart and I’m truly obsessed with photos to the point where any chance I get to take photos that I think would be interesting, I do so. And I have photo books from every genre and I love reading them and interacting with them. I don’t have the attention span to read an actual piece of literature more than 30 minutes, but when I can look at photos, it allows me to actually sit there and interact for a while.

On what keeps him up at night: Magma. (Laughs) During the day it’s operations, so even with the developers and designers and marketing PR, it’s what’s best for the company. My mind starts shifting back to the designer part of me, which is not always a good thing to have in a CEO or an executive. Us designers can be too much of a perfectionist. And I stay up sometimes thinking about how I can make certain things that I okayed during the day even better without driving my team crazy.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jake Warner, CEO & cofounder, Magma. 

Samir Husni: I downloaded the Magma app, it is now on my phone. And I did some research about you and about the app and what Magma can do for people who want to create their own platforms using nothing but their iPhones. Tell me about the genesis of Magma. 

Jake Warner: I worked in content creation and design for years. I worked for companies like Red Bull and in media management. And as anyone who uses any of these professional tools knows the hardest thing is sending and sharing content among your team members. 

I was on a trip for Red Bull and I needed to send a bunch of photos at high resolution with a bunch of verbiage and a couple of videos to a team. And I didn’t have great service. I said this is insane, there has to be a better way to send content and on the other end, the receiving end, it should be very easy to consume it. And I thought, it should be almost like a digital magazine. 

And a light bulb went off. Everyone could have their own digital magazine and that would solve this issue. That would be the medium to share this kind of content with everyone, whether publicly or privately, that’s where this should start. 

So, I designed the platform and ended up leaving that position, teaming up with my business partner who had started one of the first social media and marketing firms in the world. And he saw the same gap, but for professional content sharing. 

It was like the perfect storm of too many people saying the same thing: there’s nothing out there that I feel comfortable sharing while having fun. There were some certain blogging platforms, but they just didn’t do it. Next thing you know, we’re really diving deep into publishing culture; the habits of publishing; reading more data about publishing and magazines and newspapers than I ever even knew existed. And then interviewing creators and publishers themselves and asking them what they would want in a futuristic, one-stop shop platform. 

It came down to simplicity very, very fast. When it came to the process of designing it – I’m fluent in Adobe Creative Suites, I played with InDesign for hundreds if not thousands of hours trying to figure out where the shortcuts were, what was really necessary and what wasn’t, what’s something that professionals like to say that they use because they know how to use it but others don’t.

You could just have these templates, people could put whatever media they wanted for resolution and they could write whatever they wanted, they could link it and quote it, they could source it. And the sharing and consumption part was as easy as picking up a magazine. That would be something that could be a game changer. It was about two and a half years of severe development, A/B testing, reiterating our mantra to ourselves and then seeing if the product really stood up to that.

Now we’re at a point where I think the only way for us to move forward is to actually launch it. We’ve done some beta testing where it’s been about eight months of no marketing and no PR, just word of mouth. If you find it great; if we happen to give it to you as a friend, great. And we’ve seen about 1,200 magazines published. Some are great, some are mediocre, some you can tell people don’t know what they’re doing, but at the end of the day every single mag published has been something new and refreshing. And we’ve learned a lot from everything on that platform.

We’re excited now to start gathering data on more of a market approach to it. There are a lot of publications that are shutting down and not only is that kind of forcing professionals to look for different avenues to expose their content, but it’s sparking light bulbs within consumers and creators; if they’re not doing it anymore this is now an opening for me to share my experience and my aspect on whatever industry or genre I’m interested in. That’s where we’re going to push it.

Samir Husni: You mentioned that a lot of publications are folding; really, the whole business model is changing. My mantra has always been that publications don’t have a problem with ink on paper, they have a problem with the business model. Magazines have always depended on advertisers to foot the bill and we give the information free. If I create this content and float it through Magma, will I make money or will you be the only one making money?

Jake Warner: 100 percent. So, to segue into that, the biggest complaint that we had for our feedback, and we talk to bloggers who had multimillion dollar businesses solely from them blogging on free platforms; we spoke to journalists from some of the largest publishing houses in the world, and it was the same thing, the big digital options that were out there were too interested in reaping the financial benefits for themselves and the business model revolved around the company gaining the benefit rather than the creator. 

So, we went to the drawing board and we said that if we were going to do a model with a paywall, it has to benefit the writer, the journalist, the creator of the magazine first, because there will never be an incentive for them to keep sharing more and they’re the ones who will be building our business model, it’s not us. 

Coming in probably the next three to six months, it’s in testing right now, it is a paywall that can be created at the creator’s discretion. So, based on the amount of content, we have AI that is going to scan the magazine you’re about to publish, tell us how much content is there, how long the read of that content is on an average; is there video content, are there shopping links? And it puts the content into a paid structure. So, this is only two pages, there’s one photo, written word, this person only has 100 subscribers, they get about 20 views per mag, this will fall into the $1 category per mag.

If someone has three and half million views per mag across the platform as well as web, they have 10 pages, it’s a seven minute read only on wordage, it’s 20 minutes on video, there’ shopping, this is a $7 mag. 

We’re going to build a structure based on actual performance and we think this will benefit you as a publisher, not just what you want to make, but what we think is it will allow you to have the best performance of your business model. It’s going to give you a price and you’re going to be able to charge for it. We take such a small fee of that in comparison to what everyone else does. 

The biggest hurdle with that is – you’ve probably heard this with the gaming company, Epic Games and Fortnight, Apple takes a percentage of every in app purchase. We’re diligently working with Apple, we’re working with payment processing companies like Stripe to figure out the best model where no matter what happens the creator actually ends up with the biggest cut of the profits and our cut, although small, is enough for us to still keep building that scale of the app.

Samir Husni: If everything falls into place and you and I are having this discussion one year from now, what would you hope to tell me Magma had achieved during that year?

Jake Warner: I think what Magma had achieved would be from a business aspect, startups do not need to have a massive evaluation and insane resources to get creative with their business and their business model to be able to keep the lights on and still scale. That’s a side note.

What we are bringing, freedom, to the journalist world through a platform that could ultimately be the go-to source for crowdsourcing news. And that’s my personal end-goal with this company is being able to have publications, have mags submitted or find mags and to say this would be great for us and pay that creator to actually put that mag in their publication house, their media house.

And I think what’s going to end up happening with this roll out that’s occurring right now, it started this week, so over the next month you will really start seeing a lot of advertisement in regards to Magma and exposure, I think I’m going to be able to sit back and say my company was able to bring a healthy, powerful tool to a world that is now consuming our everyday lives as far as digital and global, bring a healthy tool that allows more by taking less from us. We’re not requiring anything of the creator other than just to share their moments, thoughts and stories. 

Samir Husni: With the things that we’re seeing currently, the Section 230, the issues with Twitter and Facebook; how much control do you think you’re going to have as the app creator, founder, owner? Is it going to be a free-for-all, anyone can publish anything they want or you’re going to have curation and editing?

Jake Warner: There are three different points that we’ve been looking at if we were going to censor for the greater good of both legal and what’s right or wrong. One was based on there would be some sort of age scanner and that would be in the settings of our app, so you could actually censor or not censor and what that does is if it’s 18+ content, you wouldn’t see it. And that would be done by actually scanning an ID. As far as technology goes that’s as far as people can take it at this point and we’re looking at using technology right now that allows us to censor that. 

But we do want it to be a platform where if you have a compelling story or you have something that you want to share that could ultimately benefit someone’s life or change someone’s life or add to data and science, whatever it might be, you shouldn’t be blocked by random walls and barriers. 

The biggest thing is nudity, it’s probably one of the more aggressive topics. We spoke with a journalist who worked for years with National Geographic and he said they would do these amazing stories and oftentimes they would be in very remote locations and nudity would be a way of life there. And that content needs to be shared and those stories need to be told but you can’t do it on the modern day stage because these platforms won’t allow it. These platforms are so into collecting data that we wouldn’t even be able to post this as a free story essentially, to think what you want without it being subcategorized into some sort of a backend system and it being associated with other things. 

So, I think Magma, as far as comparing us to those, we’re definitely doing more of a free-for-all, but we’re still going to have to abide by certain barriers that are out of our control to intercept. 

Samir Husni: One of the things happening in the magazine industry as a whole, and I wrote an article for the Poynter Institute about it and I’m working on another one, is that mainstream magazines suddenly have discovered minorities, Black people, gays, transsexuals, and people of color. There has been more covers and more coverage of them, especially Black people, in the last four months than we have seen in the last 90 years or so. Do you have any plans with Magma to encourage or enhance minorities?

Jake Warner: Absolutely. I think in regards to these publications finally opening their eyes to different areas where they can be pulling content from other than just the mainstream, often Caucasian viewpoint, it all comes down to culture. When culture is involved in its rawest form, people drive culture and people who are culture-shifters are allowed to share in their rawest form and that’s when you’re going to get content that’s authentic from that point. 

And although these publications are shifting now and allowing new concepts to come in, they still need to keep it on-brand. I think the beauty of Magma is that the only brand that needs to be worried about is that of the person writing. So, even if you’re a columnist within a magazine, you still need to write in regards to the publication you’re writing for. With Magma, if your culture is you and you’re sharing a story that comes from you, that piece of media is going to be as authentic as possible. What Magma is doing is opening the ability to have that occur for those who want to share a story. 

I’m as California as it gets, I’ve been surfing my whole life. One of the publications that has always been at my house from the time I was born and before is Surfer Magazine. It’s one of the longest running publications, but unfortunately they just ended their 60 year run abruptly this month. 

And one of the beautiful things about it is the cover is a photo from a gathering that occurred in regards to Black Lives Matter and surfing. And it was put on by a gentleman named Sal Masekela who you should look at as someone who is definitely going to lead a movement in the future. He’s the only Black action sports personality. He was the host of X Games and he assembled this rally that stood for Black Lives Matter, but it was all surfers. When you think of a surfer you usually think of a blonde, white guy on the beach. It was the furthest thing from that guy. It was thousands of people from all different races and colors, surfing together for one day in regards to Black Lives Matter. 

And a photo of that rally ended up being the final cover for Surfer Magazine. And I have the magazine right here and it ended up being such a monumental situation in regards to publishing. The only thing on it is Surfer Magazine and “We’re In This Together.” That’s all it said. And it ended after they’d made that, so they didn’t know it was ending. And I talked to Sal who assembled the rally and I asked him what he thought about him doing this and it ending up being the last issue of the magazine? And he said he couldn’t of dreamed of a better thing because what’s now happening is a lot of people that saw it have reached out to him to do different things in media. 

And I think you’re going to start seeing an unfortunate downfall of some of these larger publications; you’re going to see the same content from there start spreading itself in different directions, being spearheaded by different individuals. I think Magma will be a great tool for those individuals to be able to start sharing authentic.

Personally, I didn’t want a mag from Magma to ultimately replace a magazine. That’s something that I want to make clear. It wasn’t ‘I’m going to come out with this new product, this new platform that will ultimately be a younger, faster, stronger version of yesterday’s publications.’ It’s using that format of laying out a story as a new tool because we think that’s the best way to actually get this content across in the best quality and the best fashion and the best speak.

But I think that this could also be a steppingstone for a lot of people who once they get into sharing and creating and publishing on Magma, it might open a door where they want to take it to another level and print an actual magazine in the same way Instagram did for photography. There are a lot of people taking photos on Instagram using filters who are now world-renowned actual photographers who are shooting on film now. And are shooting for magazine covers, having the film developed and having it turn into a cover. 

So, everything goes full circle in that regard, and I think Magma could definitely be something that introduces an era of individuals who don’t read magazines, don’t read newspapers, that are actually understanding the power of having something in depth and it could lead them into getting into it. 

Samir Husni: What’s your plan to promote their work? You mentioned you were going to start a marketing campaign; will that be to promote Magma or everything that comes into the app?

Jake Warner: It comes in stages. The first thing is we need to get as much exposure to the platform as possible. That’s first and foremost. It’s unfortunately a very dumb-downed, simple marketing strategy of we need exposure and we need users. Once that occurs what we’re going to do is actually utilize the content within Magma that we deem important. So, it might not be the one that has the most views, or the most engaging likes or whatever might be the coolest content, the sexiest content; it’s going to be the content that we believe deserves to have a voice and be on center stage. 

And we’re looking and developing different forms of AI that would allow us to easily scrape what we’re looking for as the platform grows. That marketing at first is just going to be very intense, social marketing, word of mouth, a lot of press, but it’s going to transition heavily into you may see a mag being promoted on other platforms. And you’re not going to see the creator first; you’re not going to see Magma in any form, you’re just going to see a mag promoted.      

Could it be promoted by us? Most likely. It’s going to be our way of being able to take mags and move them into other atmospheres and environments. We’ve made it very clear; we’d rather a mag get created on Magma and shared to Twitter from a publisher or a journalist and have a million views occur on the web, the new version of that mag appearing on Twitter, rather than on our platform because if someone is taking a mag from us and sharing it to where their people are, that is what we imagine being the ultimate form of actually publishing a mag in this new age. 

We’re going to do everything that we can as we start marketing and creating different tactics to give a microphone and a spotlight to as much content as we can as the driving force of our brand, rather than just our brand.

Something I’ve made clear to everyone and I don’t think a lot of founders do it in this stage of their company, is we have a lot to learn. And I don’t think it’s based off of more investments or more resources, I think it’s solely just watching people use the platform in the wild. We can do A/B testing all day long and have groups of individuals say yes or no to design, to flow and creation flow, to publishing flow and reading, but at the end of the day the only people who really matter are those that are not being asked to do testing, are not being asked to take a look, but the ones who are actually going to use it. 

I think in the next six months we’re going to learn so much from individuals, people who may not have any design background and how they use it. I always say that an 11-year-old from the middle of nowhere is going to end up being the person who teaches us the most about our platform. It’s going to be interesting. 

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

Jake Warner: I want Magma to be perceived as a tool more than anything. We’re using things that are native and familiar to a mass market to allow them to comfortably come to Magma and learn it, such as the fact that there are social aspects to the platform. And it is an app. But at the end of the day we want to be known as a tool to create and share and consume, and we want that more than anything. I think that’s the hardest part of our storytelling of the brand: this is not an app; it’s not a social platform; this is a tool to be able to create media that matters.

It is the easiest and strongest way to publish anything. We’ve seen people create look books, publish them privately and use it to actually get their purchase orders of their company through. We’ve seen people create mags and publish them privately every single day as their memos for their morning meetings and sharing it on Slack during the pandemic. Why? It’s a lot easier than creating something and having to upload it to Dropbox.

We want people to use this as they feel comfortable in doing so rather than trying to follow trends on how to get popular and grow. Use it how you feel you should and that’s the best. We see too many people on Instagram and Twitter and Snapchat and Pinterest; if I don’t use these filters and structure my content this way or that way I’m not going to get the likes or the followers. If you have 100 subscribers on Magma, you read every single thing and share everything you do, that is way stronger and way more meaningful than a million followers on Instagram just scrolling and interacting with your content for 12 seconds. And that’s what we want to get across. 

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?

Jake Warner: As cliché as this sounds, either editing photos that I’ve taken along with having a cup of coffee or looking at magazines and photo books. I’m a photographer and a designer at heart and I’m truly obsessed with photos to the point where any chance I get to take photos that I think would be interesting, I do so. And I have photo books from every genre and I love reading them and interacting with them. I don’t have the attention span to read an actual piece of literature more than 30 minutes, but when I can look at photos, it allows me to actually sit there and interact for a while. 

Samir Husni: Do you print your pictures and look at them ink on paper?

Jake Warner: Not as much as I’d like to. Every once and a while I take a photo and as soon as I click the shutter, even if it’s on digital, I say that was the shot. That was it. Recently, I actually drove late at night to this area called One More in the middle of central California. Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer has a wave pool there and I went up and took photos of the wave pool for a night session. They had just put these lights in, so it’s the world’s most perfect wave and it’s in a pool in the middle of nowhere. 

I took photos of someone surfing this at night under stadium lighting. I haven’t looked at the photos yet because I got back in the middle of the night, but there are a few in there that are definitely going to make it to print soon. 

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

Jake Warner: Magma. (Laughs) During the day it’s operations, so even with the developers and designers and marketing PR, it’s what’s best for the company. My mind starts shifting back to the designer part of me, which is not always a good thing to have in a CEO or an executive. Us designers can be too much of a perfectionist. And I stay up sometimes thinking about how I can make certain things that I okayed during the day even better without driving my team crazy. 

Samir Husni: Thank you. 

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Anxiety Empire – A New British Title That Shines A Light On Mental Health As Sometimes Only A Magazine Can…

September 8, 2020

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Magazines  have always been reflectors of society. Their role as mediator and advocate for important issues of the day is evident by many of the tried and true brands that have been around for decades and by many of  the new titles that are being brought into the world today. Such as a new British title called Anxiety Empire.

Anxiety Empire was birthed into existence using Kickstarter to raise the funds needed to publish the magazine, and in unheard approach to a business model is offered to the public free of charge, although there is no advertising in the magazine to foot the bill. It explores mental health as not just an individual issue, but as an issue of society and how we live our lives, and thus believes that the magazine should be available to its audience free of charge.

The founder, creative director and editor in chief, Zoë Hough, writes in the inaugural edition of the new print magazine:

“When I started the Instagram account @anxietyempire in late 2017, I did so because – after working in a job which felt pretty damaging to my own mental health – I felt there was a need for more discussion around mental health in the workplace. But work is of course only one system of society which has a big impact on our mental health, and I found myself wanting to explore these systems in depth, which is how the idea for this print magazine came about; to look at macro systems of society and explore the impact they have on the mental health of us as individuals.”

Anxiety Empire is more of a project for its creator and was made free to the public – because the powers-that-be at the magazine believe that mental health resources should be accessible for all. As Hough added in the introduction to the first issue: “We all have mental health.”

Indeed.

The inaugural issue examines the world of media and its effect on mental health. Issue 02 will explore the ways in which the education system impacts our mental health. Exploring the many facets of society in regards to the impact each macro system has on our psyches and emotional reactions  is an avenue well worth exploring.

Anxiety Empire  truly offers what a magazine does best: informs, educates and inspires. This new magazine is something that will provide all of those things to people about a subject that has been taboo for generations, but is finally beginning to come to light using reason, education and compassion. Anxiety Empire deserves a special mention as it strives to provide a connection that sometimes only a magazine can: a deep, personal curiosity and caring that brings people together.  And remember if it is not ink on paper it is not a magazine.

And in today’s uncertain world that is something worth noting.

Until next time,

Mr. Magazine™

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January & February Welcomes 15 New Titles… The Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor

March 2, 2020

We celebrated a New Year and a New decade in January and now February has come and gone and we have 15 wonderful new titles to also celebrate!

Easyriders has been around since 1970 and documents the stories of riders, their machines, and the places they take us. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the newly, relaunched magazine is expanding the brand to include exclusive product collaborations and new insider events. The magazine (now printed in a larger size and with more editorial pages), has changed from monthly to quarterly, but will excite and tantalize the bike lover even more with all those extra editorial pages! Remember the tagline? It’s more than a magazine, it’s a lifestyle!

Founder and Editor in Chief, Chris Walsh, describes Fifty Grande as a biannual that explores the U.S. and does good along the way. The first issue features seasoned writers and new ones alike exploring the main theme of hometowns. This new magazine’s mission is to inspire more people to take advantage of all the incredible places and experiences across the country, connect with its communities and do good along the way. This is a magazine for the fun and adventurous—those who aspire to a life well-lived and see traveling, open-mindedness and new experiences central to that pursuit. Welcome to the world of magazines, Fifty Grande!

 

From Meredith another successful partnership seems to have been born! The largest and leading media and marketing company, reaching 185 million American consumers every month and nearly 90 percent of U.S. millennial women—and globally recognized lifestyle tastemakers Drew and Jonathan Scott have joined forces to create a new quarterly magazine called Reveal. With its tagline —”It all starts at home”— Reveal will share the twin brothers’ “dream big” philosophy on life, and will infuse ideas and storytelling that inspire personal growth and happiness into every issue with home at the core. Welcome to the fold, Reveal!

Until next time…

See you at the newsstands!!

***And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new, first-seen on Mr. Magazine’s™ radar, or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time. 

 

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Fifty Grande: A Unique Travel Magazine With A New Outlook On Exploring The Fifty States – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Chris Walsh, Founder & Editor In Chief…

February 12, 2020

“I definitely wanted something that was kind of an offline, unplugged experience. We have that visceral reaction. I love magazines and we have that visceral reaction when we touch something; when we touch a magazine. And I definitely wanted to try and capture that. That’s part of the reason for the special box it comes in; it should feel like an event when something shows up at your door. It’s kind of all of these things in one, but ultimately I love magazines and that’s why I started it.”… Chris Walsh

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

Combining food, music and travel, Fifty Grande has got you covered if you’re interested in a different kind of travel magazine, one that concentrates solely on the U.S. and offers a unique take on the look, feel and content of a magazine.

Founder and Editor in Chief, Chris Walsh, says that Fifty Grande is a biannual that explores the U.S. and does good along the way. The first issue features seasoned writers and new ones alike exploring the main theme of hometowns. Chris adds that the magazine’s mission is to inspire more people to take advantage of all the incredible places and experiences across the country, connect with its communities and do good along the way. This is a magazine for the fun and adventurous—those who aspire to a life well-lived and see traveling, open-mindedness and new experiences central to that pursuit.

I spoke with Chris recently and we talked about this new title that arrives to its readers in a box, which Chris hopes will present to people the unique experience he is trying to achieve with each issue, which explores the country through one theme, offering immersive stories from a variety of voices and perspectives. You can expect in-depth articles, essays, oral histories, roundtables, Q&As, photo essays, travelogues and more, about every phase of traveling: planning, getting there, staying, doing, and recovering. Chris adds that since food and music are integral to traveling, and community and good citizenship are both important when viewing the world, the magazine uses all four as cornerstones for its coverage in each issue.

So, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Chris Walsh, founder and editor in chief, Fifty Grande magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On the idea behind Fifty Grande magazine: The idea came about in a definite slow-build. I had been thinking about it for a couple of years. And as odd as it might sound, I think the travel market is actually underserved. You know there are many travel brands out there; there are many that are focused on the one percent, the ultra-luxury market and then there are a bunch of others that really focus on kind of niche parts, but I really felt there was an opportunity because there isn’t a travel magazine out there that really spoke to me, something that incorporated travel, music and food. And something that regular people can afford, a middle of the market type travel experience.

On the special box that the magazine comes in and how it feels like an event: That’s exactly what I was hoping for, that it becomes an event when people get it and they really enjoy the experience. It is meant to be an event on someone’s calendar. I hope to grow it to be a quarterly, and I really want people to be excited about it when they know that it’s coming.

On the fresh design: Design is as important an anything else. I’m an editorial guy, so I went to journalism graduate school at Columbia. I worked at magazines and online editorial teams, so I love the storytelling part of all of this, but design is so important. When you look at the newsstand, one of the things that I felt was lacking in the travel category was a travel magazine that had a travel feel. Traveling is fun and exciting. Sometimes when you look at what’s out there, the aesthetics are aspirational, but also sometimes very cold, just in scenery, such as just one person laying in a pool. Since travel is fun, the design of the magazine needs to be fun.

On his targeted audience: It’s for anyone who feels like they’re still trying to connect to an adventurous spirit. The magazine is really aimed at millennials, people in their 20s and 30s, who enjoy traveling. Those people will find something in here that they will like. Some of the reactions that I’ve gotten so far have also been from couples who have now moved out of their urban areas and are still trying to connect to their prior lives, either traveling or listening to music, so there’s a little bit of that and that doesn’t really surprise me. It’s really aimed at travelers in their 20s and 30s who are just trying to find places that might be fun to see and to visit.

On implementing the idea of Fifty Grande: I did a lot of research and I kept coming back to two ideas which were a travel magazine, which actually came to life, and then some sort of either online magazine or a magazine focused on New England; I’m from New England. And the more I focused on that second idea, the more I realized either I thought the market was covered or just the economics really didn’t work. And then I gradually started to come back to the idea of the travel magazine more and more.

On the biggest challenge he was able to overcome: To be honest with you, it was on the design side. For me, putting together a magazine is fun, coming up with the concepts, talking to the writers and working on those stories, that’s the fun part, but the design side – I had a very specific look and feel in my mind and what I was hoping would come to life. And this is what was in my head. This is what I wanted. So, finding someone who understood that was really the tough part. And it was just me talking to a lot of people. I worked on this idea for more than a year before I even began to plan the first issue. So, I talked to a lot of creative people and it just took me a long time to figure that piece out, because that wasn’t something that I had done before or was comfortable doing on my own.

On his happiest moment during the creation of the first issue: When the pallets showed up at my apartment. The first run was 5,000 magazines and of that 5,000, I had 500 shipped to my apartment in New York. So, I was just waiting around for a truck one morning and when the truck rolled down my street and these guys popped off the back of it and took a pallet and put it on the sidewalk in front of my building, that was kind of the most surreal and happiest moment for me. Again, going back to this physical thing we all love, the magazine, opening the boxes and pulling it out. It probably sounds very cliché, but it was a really happy and nice moment.

On his $28 per year subscription price and the fact that he is looking for an engaged audience not just skimmers: Yes, absolutely. And that’s what the whole idea is behind the editorial. You have to enjoy reading and you have to enjoy magazines to really like Fifty Grande. A lot of people keep asking me am I going to put it online and change the edit to make it shorter, but I’m not interested in doing that. The stories in the magazine aren’t even that long. I think the longest story was maybe 2,300 words. And maybe the shortest was around 500. But the average is somewhere between 1,100 and 1,500 words, but it is considered long-form when it comes to the online media out there. So, I do think you have to enjoy reading stories in order to enjoy Fifty Grande and get the most out of it.

On where the name Fifty Grande came from: Fifty, in reference to the states, obviously, and Grande, just trying to come up with something that was quasi-inspirational, and Grande just speaks to the vastness of the country, which I think gets lost in the conversation a lot when you talk about traveling in America, there’s just so much here. I keep saying there’s a whole world to see in the country. And of course, there was the very pragmatic issues of could I get the web domain and the trademark and all of that.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: I think I’m much more reserved than I think I am, that’s some of the feedback that I get about myself. More reserved, quiet and laid-back when I actually think I’m being quite high-strung. So, people thinking that I’m not engaged when I’m really engaged might be something, but other than that I don’t have anything too top of mind.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I’m definitely with my daughter; I have a two-½-year-old and I actually have another one on the way. I’m an older dad, I’m 48, and I have a very young daughter, obviously, so I’m sort of playing catch-up with being a dad, but I love it so much. So, I spend tons of time with my daughter, both on the weekends and right after work. I tend to work on this magazine after she goes to bed, from around 8:00 p.m. until midnight. And I typically work on it early in the morning before I leave for work; I have a regular full-time job as well.

On what keeps him up at night: The magazine and just trying to get the word out, really. And I think I underestimated how difficult marketing a magazine really is; I mean, I knew it was difficult, I never had any misconceptions that it would be easy, but the retail aspect… for one, I don’t know a lot about it, so I’m learning, which is nice. I could have 10 people working on retail full-time and I don’t think it would be enough. So, thinking about how to get the magazine out into the world and how to get people to really understand what I’m trying to do is what keeps me up all the time.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Chris Walsh, founder and editor in chief, Fifty Grande magazine.

Samir Husni: What’s the idea behind your new magazine, Fifty Grande?

Chris Walsh: The idea came about in a definite slow-build. I had been thinking about it for a couple of years. And as odd as it might sound, I think the travel market is actually underserved. You know there are many travel brands out there; there are many that are focused on the one percent, the ultra-luxury market and then there are a bunch of others that really focus on kind of niche parts, but I really felt there was an opportunity because there isn’t a travel magazine out there that really spoke to me, something that incorporated travel, music and food. And something that regular people can afford, a middle of the market type travel experience.

I also felt that there wasn’t a huge focus on the U.S. There are many parts of the U.S. that are vastly under the radar for a lot of people. That was what was top of mind for this, and the other part of it was kind of a reaction to how web content has developed over the past 10 years. And what I mean by that is, I feel like there are a lot of great travel online media companies out there, but there’s also an onslaught of online lists and Top Tens, so I felt there was another opportunity there to offer a different editorial, deeper stories and different stories.

And I definitely wanted something that was kind of an offline, unplugged experience. We have that visceral reaction. I love magazines and we have that visceral reaction when we touch something; when we touch a magazine. And I definitely wanted to try and capture that. That’s part of the reason for the special box it comes in; it should feel like an event when something shows up at your door. It’s kind of all of these things in one, but ultimately I love magazines and that’s why I started it.

Samir Husni: You mentioned the packaging; when my copy arrived, it felt more like that special event that you just spoke about. Like I needed to sit down and read it cover to cover, and even enjoy the box itself.

Chris Walsh: Thanks so much. That’s exactly what I was hoping for, that it becomes an event when people get it and they really enjoy the experience. It is meant to be an event on someone’s calendar. I hope to grow it to be a quarterly, and I really want people to be excited about it when they know that it’s coming.

Samir Husni: The design is very fresh…with a few Easter Eggs scattered throughout, such as a plug page in the magazine with the good old-fashioned ads that you put on billboards.

Chris Walsh: To me, design is as important as anything else. I’m an editorial guy, I went to journalism graduate school at Columbia. I worked at magazines and with online editorial teams, so I love the storytelling part of all of this, but design is also very important. When I looked at the newsstand, one of the things that I felt was lacking in the travel category was a travel magazine that had a travel feel. Traveling is fun and exciting. Sometimes when you look at what’s out there, the aesthetics are aspirational, but also sometimes very cold, just in scenery, such as one person lying in a pool. Since travel is fun, the design of the magazine needs to be fun. And hopefully a little bit reverent. I don’t know if we’ve gotten there yet, but we’re certainly aiming for that. We were definitely trying to put a few Easter Eggs in there too and we’ll be doing more of that going forward.

Samir Husni: With the content, who is your targeted audience for the magazine?

Chris Walsh: It’s for anyone who feels like they’re still trying to connect to an adventurous spirit. The magazine is really aimed at millennials, people in their 20s and 30s, who enjoy traveling. Those people will find something in here that they will like. Some of the reactions that I’ve gotten so far have also been from couples who have now moved out of their urban areas and are still trying to connect to their prior lives, either traveling or listening to music, so there’s a little bit of that and that doesn’t really surprise me. It’s really aimed at travelers in their 20s and 30s who are just trying to find places that might be fun to see and to visit.

I think there is a natural crossover with music, food and travel. And you don’t often see that coverage in travel media. So, I think anyone with those interests, especially the three of them combined, would be very interested in this magazine.

The idea with the hometowns issue was I was trying to take this very big topic, the United States, and then somehow try to make it smaller for the first issue so that people could get their heads around it and also for the people writing the stories to get their heads around it too. That was the most insightful, yet personal, theme that I could come up with. So I used the Hometowns issue as a starting point and I hope each issue gets better from here on out with different themes and topics.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the actual implementation of the magazine.

Chris Walsh: I did a lot of research and I kept coming back to two ideas which were a travel magazine, which actually came to life, and then some sort of either online magazine or a magazine focused on New England; I’m from New England. And the more I focused on that second idea, the more I realized either I thought the market was covered or just the economics really didn’t work. And then I gradually started to come back to the idea of the travel magazine more and more.

And I just started talking to people. I partnered with research teams in my past jobs, so I started doing research with a friend and then on my own, just talking with people about travel magazines and what they want from them. And like I said earlier, I honestly feel, as odd as it sounds, because there are so many travel magazines out there and so many travel properties, I think the market is underserved in this area. I think there is the opportunity to focus on the mid-market, the upper mid-market of hotels and experiences and do it in a fun way. I’m not saying that we’re the best travel magazine out there, but we certainly can be different and that’s what I’m shooting for. A different look and feel and a different editorial. Something that stands out and is fun.

Samir Husni: What was the biggest challenge that you’ve been able to overcome?

Chris Walsh: To be honest with you, it was on the design side. For me, putting together a magazine is fun, coming up with the concepts, talking to the writers and working on those stories, that’s the fun part, but the design side – I had a very specific look and feel in my mind and what I was hoping would come to life. And this is what was in my head. This is what I wanted. So, finding someone who understood that was really the tough part. And it was just me talking to a lot of people. I worked on this idea for more than a year before I even began to plan the first issue. So, I talked to a lot of creative people and it just took me a long time to figure that piece out, because that wasn’t something that I had done before or was comfortable doing on my own.

So someone coming in and being able to articulate what was needed for stories and to just understand and get in sync with me was probably the most challenging part, finding the right person, but once we began talking, we moved very quickly.

Samir Husni: What was your happiest moment during the creation of this first issue?

Chris Walsh: When the pallets showed up at my apartment. The first run was 5,000 magazines and of that 5,000, I had 500 shipped to my apartment in New York. So, I was just waiting around for a truck one morning and when the truck rolled down my street and these guys popped off the back of it and took a pallet and put it on the sidewalk in front of my building, that was kind of the most surreal and happiest moment for me. Again, going back to this physical thing we all love, the magazine, opening the boxes and pulling it out. It probably sounds very cliché, but it was a really happy and nice moment.

Samir Husni: I see your subscription price is $28 per year, which shows that it’s not a magazine for skimmers, you’re looking for an engaged audience.

Chris Walsh: Yes, absolutely. And that’s what the whole idea is behind the editorial. You have to enjoy reading and you have to enjoy magazines to really like Fifty Grande. A lot of people keep asking me am I going to put it online and change the edit to make it shorter, but I’m not interested in doing that. The stories in the magazine aren’t even that long. I think the longest story was maybe 2,300 words. And maybe the shortest was around 500. But the average is somewhere between 1,100 and 1,500 words, but it is considered long-form when it comes to the online media out there. So, I do think you have to enjoy reading stories in order to enjoy Fifty Grande and get the most out of it.

I’m hoping that I engage a certain type of reader who is looking to approach travel in a different way. And someone who enjoys reading and who enjoys fun design.

Samir Husni: Where did the name “Fifty Grande” come from?

Chris Walsh: Fifty, in reference to the states, obviously, and Grande, just trying to come up with something that was quasi-inspirational, and Grande just speaks to the vastness of the country, which I think gets lost in the conversation a lot when you talk about traveling in America, there’s just so much here. I keep saying there’s a whole world to see in the country. And of course, there was the very pragmatic issues of could I get the web domain and the trademark and all of that.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Chris Walsh: I think I’m much more reserved than I think I am, that’s some of the feedback that I get about myself. More reserved, quiet and laid-back when I actually think I’m being quite high-strung. So, people thinking that I’m not engaged when I’m really engaged might be something, but other than that I don’t have anything too top of mind.

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; or something else? How do you unwind?

Chris Walsh: I’m definitely with my daughter; I have a two-½-year-old and I actually have another one on the way. I’m an older dad, I’m 48, and I have a very young daughter, obviously, so I’m sort of playing catch-up with being a dad, but I love it so much. So, I spend tons of time with my daughter, both on the weekends and right after work. I tend to work on this magazine after she goes to bed, from around 8:00 p.m. until midnight. And I typically work on it early in the morning before I leave for work; I have a regular full-time job as well.

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

Chris Walsh: The magazine and just trying to get the word out, really. And I think I underestimated how difficult marketing a magazine really is; I mean, I knew it was difficult, I never had any misconceptions that it would be easy, but the retail aspect… for one, I don’t know a lot about it, so I’m learning, which is nice. I could have 10 people working on retail full-time and I don’t think it would be enough. So, thinking about how to get the magazine out into the world and how to get people to really understand what I’m trying to do is what keeps me up all the time.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

HempGrower Magazine: A New Title From GIE Media, A Company That Strongly Believes Print Is Still A Very Engaging Platform – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jim Gilbride, Publisher & Noelle Skodzinski, Editorial Director, HempGrower Magazine…

January 20, 2020

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“When we launched our online products only, while it’s a nice introduction to the marketplace, your engagement online skyrockets when you launch your print magazine. It is one cohesive brand that touches all of these different areas of the marketplace. You can’t build a digital product without a print product. It’s a fully integrated approach of delivering content in as many ways that we can to our audience to grow our brand. I don’t believe the digital businesses will be as successful in the B to B space without a print magazine.” …Jim Gilbride

“If the content is good and it’s what people need, they will read it, regardless of the format. So, we’re providing in print, content that we know people need and will want. Whether it’s online or in print or at our conference, it’s all content that will help these people and their businesses. So, I agree with Jim, I don’t think print is dead. There are challenges with newsstand publications, but that’s a different model than we have. We are going to these people; we’re sending it directly to them and if the content resonates, they’re going to read it and be engaged with it.” …Noelle Skodzinski

A new title from GIE Media, HempGrower magazine’s mission is to support legal hemp cultivators by providing actionable intelligence in all aspects of the business—from regulatory news to analysis of industry trends and business strategy, as well as expert advice on cultivation, extraction, marketing, financial topics, legal issues and more. And while many companies are shying away from print, GIE is in the business of investing in quality content and new print titles, such as their latest, HempGrower.

Jim Gilbride is group publisher and Noelle Skodzinski is editorial director, and both have long-standing experience with the B to B marketplace and the world of cannabis, in general, having Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary magazines under their belts, as well as an annual conference that they’re both anticipating with a brimming excitement. I spoke with Jim and Noelle recently, and while the world of hemp growing has now become a legal enterprise, both realize the challenge of this type of product and the importance of accuracy and absolute adherence to federal regulations when it comes to publishing. But they also thrive on those challenges and the excitement of quality content with the magazine.

The  next huge conference is coming up in April and Jim and Noelle are doubly excited by the opportunities that are on the horizon. Offering their loyal readership another revenue source with HempGrower is definitely a check-yes box for them.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview about a new B to B magazine that is determined to bring correct and factual content to the world of hemp growers and all that are interested in this new, now legal, market.

But first the sound-bites:

On what he attributes the growth of his company to and the ability to add magazines, rather than losing them (Jim Gilbride): What separates us from the pack is, one, investment. We make sure that we spend a lot of money investing in quality content and editorial; quality graphic design; quality tools to build online and engage our readership. So, continuing to not cut any of those areas when a lot of publishing businesses cut back in graphics and editorial, things like that, we redoubled our efforts back in 2009 when the economy crashed to continue to invest in quality. Our number one job in any market that we serve is to educate our reader and help their businesses thrive. So, I would say that is one of the attributions.

On whether he believes it makes a difference in today’s world between being family-owned or owned by a group of investors or venture capitalists (Jim Gilbride): Yes. I believe that when we get into a marketplace, we embed ourselves and become part of that marketplace. And our family-owned business supports us and gives us good careers in being embedded in that marketplace. In the pest control marketplace, our group publisher has been there for 40 years. In the recycling marketplace, our group publisher has been there for 25 years. I’ve been here for 15 years. So, that longevity and being able to intimately be a part of a marketplace and to learn the ins and outs of that market; GIE Media over our 40-year history has never sold anything. When we decide to get into a marketplace, we’re in it for the long haul. And we’re going to make the long-term investments to make sure that we’re successful. We don’t want to be number two in any market that we’re in.

On whether moving from the cannabis business to the hemp business offers her a different high, pun intended (Noelle Skodzinski): (Laughs) There are a lot of similarities. Hemp has been experiencing prohibition for 82 years, so it’s the same kind of situation that all cannabis has been in. This market is newly legal in the United States. And there is an extreme mood right now for information, for all of the hemp farmers. And it doesn’t matter what they’re growing, whether it be CBD or seeds, grain or fiber, they need information now. They need to navigate the regulations; they need to navigate the marketplace; the supply and demand issues. We also kind of planned things in a timely fashion so that we’re reaching people when they need information the most. And then we evolve with the industry.

On the logic behind starting HempGrower online first and then getting into print (Jim Gilbride): The reason we did it is because, one, it’s pretty simple to get an online product up and running. So, we’re able to move a lot faster. And then once you have that up and running, you start to drive awareness and engagement for the print product that’s coming. I think they actually launched at the same time, you could say, but the reason that we launched online first is to market the product and create some demand before the print product hits the marketplace.

On many people saying that in the B to B category print is no longer needed (Jim Gilbride): I think it’s just not true because just look at the success we’ve had. When we launched our online products only, while it’s a nice introduction to the marketplace, your engagement online skyrockets when you launch your print magazine. It is one cohesive brand that touches all of these different areas of the marketplace. You can’t build a digital product without a print product. It’s a fully integrated approach of delivering content in as many ways that we can to our audience to grow our brand. I don’t believe the digital businesses will be as successful in the B to B space without a print magazine.

On why he thinks their business model is thriving, while magazines such as High Times are considering filing for bankruptcy (Jim Gilbride): I see High Times as more of a consumer magazine and I think it’s somewhere around $100 million in debt, so they’re trying to figure out their business model. We’re a vertical market, business to business publisher, and so that’s two very different businesses. We’re not going after the consumer market, we’re going after the legal businesses in those states that are operating legally, so we have a very engaged audience. We’ve had growers and dispensaries to say when they got their license, the first piece of mail they received was Cannabis Business Times and that they had been loyal readers since day one. So, we’re not trying to fight that consumer push, we’re all about B to B. I can’t speak to why they are thinking about folding or why they’re unsuccessful; all I can say is we’re two different things, consumer versus B to B media.

On what’s next for the company(Jim Gilbride): What’s next? Well, we have a large conference where we bring our engaged readership from all three brands together, which also brings all of our contributors and a lot of our board members and some really high quality speakers together at the Paris Las Vegas in April, which is another touchpoint for all of our brands. So our really engaged readership that likes to read the quality content in our magazine can meet all these folks and sit in a session for 45 minutes and learn about how to make their business more profitable. And learn about how to get into the business and when to license and how to invest in the business. So, gearing up for that will probably take up a lot of the first part of our year. And after that, we’ll see.

On whether dealing with cannabis and hemp as subject matter makes their jobs easier or harder (Noelle Skodzinski): I would say this is the most challenging position I’ve held, largely because of federal regulations. Editorially speaking, we have to make sure that every single thing that we publish is accurate. And I know that’s the goal of any editor, but with businesses that are in a regulatory gray area, where it may be legal in your state, but not legal federally, there are still towns that have moratoriums or bans on cannabis businesses, so we have to make sure that the information that we publish is up-to-date, that it’s accurate.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home (Jim Gilbride): I’m not a wind down kind of guy. I kind of love chaos. I have three little kids, so last night I fell asleep on my daughter’s floor (Laughs), because I was so burned out from the last two weeks. If I wind down I have to get away with my wife, otherwise it’s complete chaos and I’m always moving, but that’s how I prefer it, so you would probably catch me running around my house chasing my toddlers.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home (Noelle Skodzinski): I don’t wind down much either. Typically, I’m working even when I’m not working. I may be on my phone on the couch, checking emails, answering emails, looking things up. I’m constantly thinking of things that I have to do next, making lists of what I have to do. I’m working very hard on a better work/life balance, and Jim is helping me with that. But yes, I do enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, and I’m trying to get back into a fitness routine. I’m trying to scale back on the work, but launching three brands and a conference in five years has been a go-go-go environment, which I absolutely thrive in and love. But everyone needs to really try and balance their work and life so that you can continue to do more and be even stronger for next year.

On the biggest misconception she thinks people have about her (Noelle Skodzinski): I think that when I tell people what I do, people instantly will say things like, oh, you get to sit around and smoke pot all day. Many think it’s a very relaxed, cushy job, and while it is my absolute favorite job I’ve ever had, I love the company and the subject matter and I’m very passionate about the industry, it is not sitting back and smoking pot all day.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him (Jim Gilbride): I think just that this is easy. We’re in the fastest-growing marketplace in the country, so it must be easy to walk into it and launch a magazine and take advantage of that. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a challenge every step of the way. From hiring employees to the editorial challenges that Noelle talked about, to the sales challenges I mentioned. And the hiring pains – I don’t think that we’ve ever had enough people, because once we are fully staffed, we grow again. And those are all challenges that weigh on your mind every day. It’s rewarding, but it isn’t easy.

On what keeps her up at night (Noelle Skodzinski): A lot of things. (Laughs) Mainly just working on our conference keeps me up. People are paying a lot of money, it’s reasonably affordable compared to other conferences, but they’re paying money to come to an event and I want to ensure that they are happy and get value out of what we’re providing. And that’s not an easy task. Running a conference is very similar in certain ways; it’s content in a different format. But it’s also people are there, you’re engaging in person with your audience and if they’re not getting value out of what you’re providing, they’re not happy. And that puts a lot of pressure, it’s self-imposed pressure, but I want to make sure that people are benefiting from what we’re providing them and that they’re paying for.

On what keeps him up at night (Jim Gilbride): Honestly, no matter how stressed I am, I don’t have trouble sleeping. I’m usually whipped at the end of the day. If there’s anything that stresses me out, it’s just a lot of business management responsibility. I manage the P & L, so driving our business to a place where we need it to be for the good of the industry, as well as the good of the employees that work for us so hard day in and day out is important and so is just making sure that we hit our growth projections. We plan a budget every year and in that budget we plan our employment growth, benefits growth rate, and all of that. And making sure that we hit those projections from a financial standpoint so that we can be so good to the people who work so hard for us. So, if it’s anything, it’s being focused on that.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jim Gilbride, Group Publisher and Noelle Skodzinski, Editorial Director, HempGrower magazine.

Samir Husni: Jim, reading your editorial in the first issue of HempGrower, this company started almost 40 years ago with one magazine and now you have all these magazines serving all kinds of “growing” industries; what do you attribute this kind of growth to in a digital age, where other people are leaving the business, you’re adding to the business?

Jim Gilbride: What separates us from the pack is, one, investment. We make sure that we spend a lot of money investing in quality content and editorial; quality graphic design; quality tools to build online and engage our readership. So, continuing to not cut any of those areas when a lot of publishing businesses cut back in graphics and editorial, things like that, we redoubled our efforts back in 2009 when the economy crashed to continue to invest in quality. Our number one job in any market that we serve is to educate our reader and help their businesses thrive. So, I would say that is one of the attributions.

And then continuing to look at each marketplace and see where they’re going to engage. Print is a very engaging platform still, so we continue to make that important investment in print, because we know that it’s a very engaging platform for readers. You also have to have digital, we know that. That is only an extension and a growth or redoubling our audience, so trying to engage with our audience as much as they will engage with us. And to deliver on all of those multiple platforms that has continued to make us successful.

And too, the other thing that I mentioned, quality editorial, quality graphics, as well as building the right vertical audience and spending the money in investment to make sure that you’re driving the right audience.

Samir Husni: Do you think there’s a difference in being family-owned as opposed to a group of venture capitalists or a group of investors owning the company? Does that make a difference in this day and age?

Jim Gilbride:  Yes. I believe that when we get into a marketplace, we embed ourselves and become part of that marketplace. And our family-owned business supports us and gives us good careers in being embedded in that marketplace. In the pest control marketplace, our group publisher has been there for 40 years. In the recycling marketplace, our group publisher has been there for 25 years. I’ve been here for 15 years. So, that longevity and being able to intimately be a part of a marketplace and to learn the ins and outs of that market; GIE Media over our 40-year history has never sold anything. When we decide to get into a marketplace, we’re in it for the long haul. And we’re going to make the long-term investments to make sure that we’re successful. We don’t want to be number two in any market that we’re in.

Samir Husni: Noelle, you started with the cannabis business and now you’ve moved to hemp. With this new HempGrower magazine, are you on a different high, pun intended?

Noelle Skodzinski: (Laughs) There are a lot of similarities. Hemp has been experiencing prohibition for 82 years, so it’s the same kind of situation that all cannabis has been in. This market is newly legal in the United States. And there is an extreme mood right now for information, for all of the hemp farmers. And it doesn’t matter what they’re growing, whether it be CBD or seeds, grain or fiber, they need information now. They need to navigate the regulations; they need to navigate the marketplace; the supply and demand issues. We also kind of planned things in a timely fashion so that we’re reaching people when they need information the most. And then we evolve with the industry.

Jim Gilbride: Noelle is not only over hemp, but she still oversees the cannabis business as well. I just wanted to make that clear.

Samir Husni: You launched the website for HempGrower first, last August. And then six months later, the print magazine came along. Is there a logic that you used? Start the online first and then go to print? Is this a new model for launching publications?

Jim Gilbride: The reason we did it is because, one, it’s pretty simple to get an online product up and running. So, we’re able to move a lot faster. And then once you have that up and running, you start to drive awareness and engagement for the print product that’s coming. I think they actually launched at the same time, you could say, but the reason that we launched online first is to market the product and create some demand before the print product hits the marketplace.

Noelle Skodzinski: It’s a similar model to what we did with Cannabis Business Times, in that the digital product came first. And then when GIE bought Cannabis Business Times we were able to launch the print publication. But like Jim said, the audience starts to engage with the brand online very quickly and frequently. We are then able to start learning more about the audience and start working with people who are in the industry to build that print publication. And we already have a brand out there that people have begun to trust and they understand our approach to the editorial and what we’re providing.  So, that has them looking forward to the print publication and they’re already engaged with that brand.

Samir Husni: There are some people who say in the B to B segment of magazines that print is no longer needed and there’s no place for it anymore. That everyone is moving to digital and social media. You’re proof that’s not true. Why is that?

Jim Gilbride: I couldn’t disagree with that at all. I think it’s just not true because just look at the success we’ve had. When we launched our online products only, while it’s a nice introduction to the marketplace, your engagement online skyrockets when you launch your print magazine. It is one cohesive brand that touches all of these different areas of the marketplace. You can’t build a digital product without a print product. It’s a fully integrated approach of delivering content in as many ways that we can to our audience to grow our brand. I don’t believe the digital businesses will be as successful in the B to B space without a print magazine.

Noelle Skodzinski: If I could add to that. Samir, I think you’ve been a kind of proponent of this concept. If the content is good and it’s what people need, they will read it, regardless of the format. So, we’re providing in print, content that we know people need and will want. Whether it’s online or in print or at our conference, it’s all content that will help these people and their businesses. So, I agree with Jim, I don’t think print is dead. There are challenges with newsstand publications, but that’s a different model than we have. We are going to these people; we’re sending it directly to them and if the content resonates, they’re going to read it and be engaged with it.

Jim Gilbride: I couldn’t agree more. It’s about quality content and it’s not about how you deliver it. If you don’t have quality content, of course print is going to die, because there’s not enough value there for people to buy into it to reach your audience. It’s all about quality content. If you have that you can build a print magazine. If you don’t, you can’t.

Samir Husni: As you reflect on 2019 and you look forward to 2020, what are your expectations for the future?

Noelle Skodzinski: I would love to have more time, more hours in the day.

Jim Gilbride: More cannabis legalization.

Samir Husni: What’s the trajectory, in terms of legalization? I know that CBD is now legal in all 50 states and hemp is legal in…?

Jim Gilbride: All but three.

Samir Husni: All but three. And cannabis is legal in what 23 states now, for one reason or another?

Noelle Skodzinski: I think it’s 33 medical and then 11 now for adult use.

Samir Husni: Why do you think the model that you’re using, between the Cannabis Business Times and HempGrower, is thriving now, while we hear about established magazines like High Times, for example, is thinking about filing for bankruptcy?

Noelle Skodzinski: We also publish Cannabis Dispensary, which we launched in 2017.

Jim Gilbride: I see High Times as more of a consumer magazine and I think it’s somewhere around $100 million in debt, so they’re trying to figure out their business model. We’re a vertical market, business to business publisher, and so that’s two very different businesses. We’re not going after the consumer market, we’re going after the legal businesses in those states that are operating legally, so we have a very engaged audience. We’ve had growers and dispensaries to say when they got their license, the first piece of mail they received was Cannabis Business Times and that they had been loyal readers since day one. So, we’re not trying to fight that consumer push, we’re all about B to B. I can’t speak to why they are thinking about folding or why they’re unsuccessful; all I can say is we’re two different things, consumer versus B to B media.

Samir Husni: You now have three titles, the two cannabis magazines and HempGrower. What’s next?

Jim Gilbride: What’s next? Well, we have a large conference where we bring our engaged readership from all three brands together, which also brings all of our contributors and a lot of our board members and some really high quality speakers together at the Paris Las Vegas in April, which is another touchpoint for all of our brands. So our really engaged readership that likes to read the quality content in our magazine can meet all these folks and sit in a session for 45 minutes and learn about how to make their business more profitable. And learn about how to get into the business and when to license and how to invest in the business. So, gearing up for that will probably take up a lot of the first part of our year. And after that, we’ll see.

Noelle Skodzinski: Our cannabis conference is now in its fourth year, but 2020 will be the first year that we are incorporating an educational tract for hemp. It will be largely focused on hemp for CBD, but in all of our publications we focus on the business, but in the grower publications, Cannabis Business Times and HempGrower, we also focus very heavily on the cultivation aspect; the farming. So, in 2020, the conference will have two professors and researchers from Purdue University who are giving sessions on hemp cultivation; results from research. And that’s something that we’re really looking forward to, bringing in the hemp component to the industry, because there’s a lot of crossover, a lot of marijuana growers who are looking into expanding into hemp now that it’s legal.

And a lot of companies that weren’t necessarily willing to get into marijuana growing because of the additional risk involved, because it’s still federally illegal, are interested in growing hemp. So, that’s really expanding our audience and as Jim said, bringing all of those people together so that they can learn from one another. So, that’s something we’re really excited about for 2020.

Samir Husni: Both of you had careers before the cannabis and the hemp publications, as publishers and as editors. Did cannabis and hemp make your career easier or harder when it comes to dealing with that particular subject matter?

Jim Gilbride: Both.

Noelle Skodzinski: I would say this is the most challenging position I’ve held, largely because of federal regulations. Editorially speaking, we have to make sure that every single thing that we publish is accurate. And I know that’s the goal of any editor, but with businesses that are in a regulatory gray area, where it may be legal in your state, but not legal federally, there are still towns that have moratoriums or bans on cannabis businesses, so we have to make sure that the information that we publish is up-to-date, that it’s accurate.

And we also have an obligation to our readers to feature businesses that are adhering to all the regulations that are out there. It’s very challenging for those businesses to do that, but they absolutely have to do it. So, part of our mission with these publications is to help advance the industry by advancing the businesses in them and the people involved in those businesses. And in order to do that, we have to make sure that we’re not featuring businesses that are not playing by the rules.

And that’s kind of a simple way to put it. There are many complications to that, but it’s extremely challenging editorially. We have a lot of vetting that we have to do for businesses that we never had to do before. When I was an editor in other positions, I didn’t have to dig around on publishing companies to make sure everything they did was legal. Typically, it was a very rare case that someone was doing something illegal. In the cannabis industry, I would say it’s also rare, but it can happen accidentally and it can happen intentionally. So, we just have to guarantee that what we’re publishing is accurate.

And the other challenging thing, especially with cannabis, is that cannabis did not have the luxury of all the other agricultural crops, in that they have had centuries of research behind them, University research that backed up all the science about cultivating this plant, so we’ve had to build very slowly a network of researchers, of experts that were cultivating underground for decades. And trying to get to the most accurate, the most proven methods of growing that are available, because that wasn’t available to cultivators.

 Samir Husni: And Jim, you said both?

Jim Gilbride: Now that I’ve had a couple of seconds to think about it, I wouldn’t say easier is the right word, exciting is certainly the right word. It’s really exciting to be a part of this industry and to see how things unfold. And how the industry continues to grow and states come online and as other folks get into the market, but it is certainly not easy. It is a challenge.

I remember, we were in New York City at a conference and we were going to get our first advertising client. After that meeting I found myself thinking that this was going to be a lot harder than I thought. There were just media companies and conference companies coming out of the woodwork. How do you differentiate yourself? How do you build a brand and quality when there has been a lot of mistrust and misguidance in the marketplace? We could get a big support advertising program in the next day, corporate over in Europe or somewhere else just says nope, we’re not doing this anymore and then it’s gone.

So, being federally illegal, there are people who kind of dip their toes in and then go away. It is certainly very challenging to be part of a federally illegal market and something that’s just so new. But it has certainly been probably the most exciting time I’ve had in my career.

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; or something else? How do you unwind?

Jim Gilbride: I’m not a wind down kind of guy. I kind of love chaos. I have three little kids, so last night I fell asleep on my daughter’s floor (Laughs), because I was so burned out from the last two weeks. If I wind down I have to get away with my wife, otherwise it’s complete chaos and I’m always moving, but that’s how I prefer it, so you would probably catch me running around my house chasing my toddlers.

Noelle Skodzinski: I don’t wind down much either. Typically, I’m working even when I’m not working. I may be on my phone on the couch, checking emails, answering emails, looking things up. I’m constantly thinking of things that I have to do next, making lists of what I have to do. I’m working very hard on a better work/life balance, and Jim is helping me with that. But yes, I do enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, and I’m trying to get back into a fitness routine. I’m trying to scale back on the work, but launching three brands and a conference in five years has been a go-go-go environment, which I absolutely thrive in and love. But everyone needs to really try and balance their work and life so that you can continue to do more and be even stronger for next year.

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

Noelle Skodzinski: I think that when I tell people what I do, people instantly will say things like, oh, you get to sit around and smoke pot all day. Many think it’s a very relaxed, cushy job, and while it is my absolute favorite job I’ve ever had, I love the company and the subject matter and I’m very passionate about the industry, it is not sitting back and smoking pot all day.

Jim Gilbride: I think just that this is easy. We’re in the fastest-growing marketplace in the country, so it must be easy to walk into it and launch a magazine and take advantage of that. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a challenge every step of the way. From hiring employees to the editorial challenges that Noelle talked about, to the sales challenges I mentioned. And the hiring pains – I don’t think that we’ve ever had enough people, because once we are fully staffed, we grow again. And those are all challenges that weigh on your mind every day. It’s rewarding, but it isn’t easy.

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

 Noelle Skodzinski: A lot of things. (Laughs) Mainly just working on our conference keeps me up. People are paying a lot of money, it’s reasonably affordable compared to other conferences, but they’re paying money to come to an event and I want to ensure that they are happy and get value out of what we’re providing. And that’s not an easy task. Running a conference is very similar in certain ways; it’s content in a different format. But it’s also people are there, you’re engaging in person with your audience and if they’re not getting value out of what you’re providing, they’re not happy. And that puts a lot of pressure, it’s self-imposed pressure, but I want to make sure that people are benefiting from what we’re providing them and that they’re paying for.

And it’s the same thing with the content in the magazine. People’s businesses rely on this information that we’re providing and I don’t take that lightly. I may take to too seriously sometimes, so that I’m not sleeping as well as other people might, but I also think that it takes that type of person who worries about everything to make sure all of these moving parts, especially in this type of industry, are going to work.

Jim Gilbride: Honestly, no matter how stressed I am, I don’t have trouble sleeping. I’m usually whipped at the end of the day. If there’s anything that stresses me out, it’s just a lot of business management responsibility. I manage the P & L, so driving our business to a place where we need it to be for the good of the industry, as well as the good of the employees that work for us so hard day in and day out is important and so is just making sure that we hit our growth projections. We plan a budget every year and in that budget we plan our employment growth, benefits growth rate, and all of that. And making sure that we hit those projections from a financial standpoint so that we can be so good to the people who work so hard for us. So, if it’s anything, it’s being focused on that.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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New Magazines Aplenty… The Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor

November 4, 2019

The Autumn season is upon us and Old Man Winter isn’t far behind, but be of good cheer, the world of magazines is providing you with some wonderful new magazines, jam-packed with information and entertainment for those Autumn evenings spent curled up in front of the fire.

For those planning an Italian Thanksgiving or just a fantastic meal for dinner one evening, I’m sure you will enjoy Condé Nast’s latest launch of La Cucina Italiana as a quarterly print magazine and website. Its arrival on our shores brings a good addition to the food magazines in the marketplace and brings a smile to a lot of fans of the culinary legend.

This beautiful magazine from Schumacher’s, the manufacturer and supplier that designs products for the  interior design industry, has hit newsstands for the first time. As an in-house title, The Bulletin, was published and sent as a trade magazine for the interior design industry, but now people across the country can buy this great title. Schumacher’s should be proud of its efforts, the magazine showcases the beauty of what they do in a most excellent way!

The Spectator, one of the world’s oldest, continuously published magazines (since 1828), had its first U.S. edition hit newsstands recently after starting a U.S. digital presence last year. The British bulwark is a weekly which  features politics, culture, and current affairs. With its unique brand of journalism, this great title is a breath of fresh air to the political scene and Mr. Magazine™ welcomes you to our shores!

Please enjoy the beautiful covers of our other great titles and in the meantime, get ready for a dynamic December!

Until the next time…

See you at the newsstands…

***And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new, first-seen on Mr. Magazine’s™ radar, or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time

 

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Punch Magazine: A New Regional Title That’s Packing A “Punch” On The San Francisco Peninsula – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Sloane Citron, Founder & Publisher…

September 26, 2019

I’ve probably started, honestly, 50 publications in my career, I’m just like a serial magazine creator. And of everything I’ve launched nothing has gotten the reaction that this magazine has gotten. Every day we get calls, emails, or whatever, from people who are saying that they love our magazine, that they get so much from it, and they look forward to it every month.”… Sloane Citron.

 A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

A new regional title that began its life in 2018, Punch magazine showcases new ideas, along with the cultures and traditions that encompass the San Francisco Peninsula. And while the magazine may be new, its founder and publisher is far from a novice when it comes to great magazines. Sloane Citron is a self-described “serial magazine creator” who has launched many, many titles throughout his career, including  his first magazine Peninsula, along with Northern California Home & Garden and Southern California Home & Garden, and the lifestyle title Gentry, among others. And in 2018 he launched a beautiful, very high-quality title called Punch, all about the San Francisco Peninsula where he calls home.

I spoke with Sloane recently and we talked about this new title of his and about how things have changed in the world of magazines, which he has been a part of for decades. Originally slated to purchase Sunset Magazine, Sloane moved on to something of his very own when that deal didn’t pan out, and his vision came to life in the form of a large-sized, ink on paper magazine filled with the beauty and charm of the San Francisco Peninsula area, and gave it a title that hails from the British weekly magazine known by the same name and for its humor and satire. It’s a title that definitely catches the eye and ear.

Sloane is a man who loves magazines, ink on paper magazines, that is. His passion for magazines goes back to his childhood when he created his very first title, mimeographed for him by his teacher, when he was only eight years old. The love of magazines is something that he and Mr. Magazine™ have in common.

So, I hope that you enjoy this glimpse into life on the San Francisco Peninsula and a conversation with a man who has enjoyed creating magazines for most of his life, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Sloane Citron, founder and publisher, Punch magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether people thought he’d lost his mind in launching a print magazine just one year ago: There I was with nothing to do and I had this prototype for a magazine. And I said, you know, magazines are what I love to do and this is a terrible idea and my wife thought I was crazy, but I said, you know, I’m going to just launch it. I’ll take this concept that I have and launch it for the San Francisco Peninsula and just create a really small team and do this. So, that’s what I did. We opened up here in Menlo Park with four full-time people and then I have an art director in Ketchum, Idaho that has worked beautifully, and other freelance people that are doing different things for us. And somehow we put out a monthly magazine.

On whether he believes an ink on paper regional magazine is still relevant or more people are looking to online resources: I’ve probably started, honestly, 50 publications in my career, I’m just like a serial magazine creator. And of everything I’ve launched nothing has gotten the reaction that this magazine has gotten. Every day we get calls, emails, or whatever, from people who are saying that they love our magazine, that they get so much from it, and they look forward to it every month. It’s gratifying that people really enjoy what we’re doing, but I don’t know if there is a need. There are very few publications for which there is a real need, because there’s so much information out there that you can get otherwise.

On magazines being an experience that people want rather than need: I would say that’s the case with this magazine, we really work hard to make it that way. I use the word “luscious” sometimes; we want the covers and the artwork and everything to just be beautiful, so that people want to get the magazine and they want to turn the pages, and enjoy it and feel connected to it.

On advertisers’ reaction in his area to an ink on paper regional magazine: If there wasn’t so much competition here, it would be pretty easy, but I’m competing against my old magazine… you know, I spent 23 years building it and building the name and developing it, so I had to compete head-on with my old company. So, I tried to be competitive, have lower rates, more distribution, and a better product. I felt if we did those three things we’d be able to get our share. But it hasn’t been easy. There’s great downward pressure on rate, honestly, because of lots of factors, including the Internet, with online advertising. There are people who just don’t feel the need for it anymore.

On what he would hope to tell someone he had accomplished in another year from now, on his second anniversary:I hope we get to a consistent revenue figure so that we don’t have to constantly feel like we’re working toward that. That would be the best result of 2020. Second would be that we have revenue coming in from our website; we don’t expect it to be huge, but if we could get a dependable revenue coming from our website, that would be a positive thing so that it supports itself. And also that my staff is happy and productive and enjoying what they’re doing.

On why he named the magazine Punch: I knew that I needed to come up with a name, I had been through this before. I said to my wife, I know, I’ll go retro and call it Peninsula, my first magazine. And she said, I thought you wanted to be new and bright. I said I do, and she said, well, naming it after your first magazine is a terrible idea. Very rarely do I think she’s right, but I thought she was right  this time. (Laughs) So, I started looking everywhere, I’d walk into an office or I’d walk into a room and I’d look for words and inspiration, anywhere I could find it. I struggled and struggled, then finally one night at about 11:30 p.m. I’m on Wikipedia looking at defunct British magazines for ideas. And there was Punch, and I remembered, because I’m a magazine guy, it hit me. I said, I remember there was a Punch magazine, it was a satire magazine and it had closed in the ‘80s actually. So, I said Punch, I kind of like the feel of that. I tested it on covers and mockups, and I liked it. That’s where it came from.

On whether he considers Punch his best magazine launch so far: I do, actually. Honestly, part of my mission with my whole career, part of it was creating magazines, but part of it was building a strong business that was very profitable, because I had a wife and four children and they needed taking care of. I didn’t have the luxury of always doing things that I wanted to, I had to do them from a strong business angle at all times. And with Punch, I’m able to just focus on making it as strong as possible and that’s been helpful in the mission.

On anything he’d like to add: I’ll say that one of the most important things for me is always having a group of people that I enjoy working with and who want to be here. It was somewhat challenging being in Silicon Valley where there is so many plentiful, very high-paying jobs, to find a staff that was interested and motivated to do this. And we were able to do so. That has been a great joy, because we all enjoy being with each other and we’re all very passionate about making this magazine as good as it can be. That has been an important part of this journey for me. Since I created this to have somewhere to go and something to do, to be able to do it with people who are highly professional and creative is very meaningful.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I’m usually either reading or reading the news on the computer, or I’m watching the Giants on TV. I’m very passionate about the Giants, I watch all their games. And often I’ll be watching the game and reading the news from about 15 sources, which is kind of what I do.

 On what he thinks is the biggest misconception people have about him: People think I’m an extravert, because when I go out to sales calls or out to events and things like that, I can be very jovial and out there, but honestly, I’m a complete introvert. As my staff knows, I only go to things under extreme pressure, events. I get invited, obviously, to a lot of events and I almost never go, even though it would be good for the magazine, because I just can’t stand it. So, I only go to the things that I really have to. (Laughs) And that includes our own events. I’ve missed some of those as well.

On what keeps him up at night: Believe it or not, even though I’m not doing this for financial rewards… we lost a client the other day, they said they were going to do more digital now. And that actually kept me up at night. Even though it didn’t change my world, it just so ate at me that a client would leave us, it kept me up at night.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Sloane Citron, founder and publisher, Punch magazine.
 

Samir Husni: You launched Gentry magazine back in the early ‘90s and you’ve seen the magazine industry go up and down. Did people think you’d lost your mind for launching a new print magazine in 2018? And here you are now celebrating your one year anniversary.

Sloane Citron: Let me give you a little background real quick. I knew I wanted to be a publisher when I was eight years old. I started a publication at school and the teacher mimeographed it for me and I had the kids go out and sell it for a nickel. I got to keep three cents and they got to keep two cents.

In high school I started a magazine at Andover, and then in college I ran the college newspaper for four years, or was involved with it. I did an internship while I was in college at Los Angeles magazine. And that’s when the city/regional bug hit me and I said, this is great. This is what I love to do.

But I didn’t want to be a journalist, and people kept confusing that. Being a publisher and a journalist was two different things, I wanted to start things. And I knew I needed some credentials, so I went to Stanford Business School so that people would take me seriously.

My first job was at Miami magazine back in the early ‘80s and was the general manager who kind of fixed that for them, even though I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I learned on the job, if you will. But I wanted to come back to California, because I liked it here and my wife was from here.

So, I was able to raise some money, because I had seen that the Silicon Valley was really starting to develop and I launched the first magazine in this area called Peninsula, because we’re the San Francisco peninsula. I patterned it after New York Magazine, I copied their logo and their style, because I didn’t know what else to do. That was a paid title, subscriber and newsstand-based, and I grew that company quite large.

I started the first home and garden magazine in California, one for Northern California and one in Southern California. And then I saw that there were these hotel books, one was for San Francisco and one was for Los Angeles, and I got this idea and I started doing sub-markets. I did about a dozen of them all over California, at Beverly Hills, the West Side. Up here I did the Peninsula, I did the Wine Country, the East Bay, and that was a really good little business.

But I sold that company. My investors wanted to sell because we had done well, so we sold it. Then I started Gentry magazine with a partner. I didn’t love the editorial concept, but I had this idea that I wanted to try because I thought the whole model of a subscription-based magazine and newsstand was ridiculous. With a subscriber base, you’re constantly having to use direct mail, you’re constantly having to do renewals; it was such a strain on launching the company and so expensive. And the newsstand people were all corrupt and never paid us, wanted money under the table, so I said I’m going to create a new idea.

I created this concept that I called at the time, and this was 1992, “Saturation Delivery.” Instead of being subscriptions, we went to all the main areas of affluence, and they had to be entire areas, it couldn’t be picked off, such as a house here and a house there. It had to be a whole region or a whole city. The idea was to create a really beautiful magazine, better than you could do if it were paid, make it as great and strong as possible, and then give it away to all these people, put it on their doorstep every month or mail it to them. The cost for starting this company was a fraction of my first one and we were profitable after eight months, because the advertisers loved it, because we were going to every home they wanted to go to. And we had a beautiful package, plus we controlled our own newsstand, we only went to a few newsstands where we could control it, and I didn’t have to deal with that.

So, I didn’t have to have a circulation department. We had one person who did it part-time, but I eliminated the whole craziness and expense of a circulation department. No direct mail campaigns, no renewals, no insert cards; in fact, I made it difficult for people to buy subscriptions. We didn’t list it in the magazine anywhere.

That was a model that I kind of feel like I created. There wasn’t anyone doing it at the time, not that I knew about anyway. And now you have a lot of people doing it, like DuJour does that, so it’s common now, but back then it was all subscriber-based. But the model really worked extremely well and the company took off. I started a bunch of other magazines through that company. Then we sold half the company in the early 2000s when things were really good. It turned out to be a good move.

In 2016, a couple of things happened, I hit 60 years old and my partner was having a couple of health issues, and it just seemed like a good time to make a move. So, I exercised my sell option and I sold my half to her family, and thought I was done with publishing, which kind of answers your question. The business was great and it got me through my lifetime and I loved it, but it was done at that time.

And then, honestly, I was kind of bored. My wife is a major real estate agent here and before I knew it she was asking me to do stuff with her all the time, which was terrible. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Sloane Citron: Some people could do that, I couldn’t do it. But then a weird thing happened, I got a call from a New York investment banking firm that does magazines The man’s name was Reed Phillips and he had actually been on the buying side of some of the magazines that I sold. And he told me that he had a great opportunity for me. And I asked him what he had in mind. He told me that Sunset Magazine was for sell. If you live out west, that’s a very iconic title, it has been around for over 100 years.

And I looked at it and told him that I thought I could make something happen with it, because Time owned it and they just totally mismanaged it, they bought it but just didn’t have any interest in it, especially with the new ownership. Once they spun it off Time Warner, they just depleted the thing. I knew I could take the brand and do a lot of things with it. I came up with a new look and feel for the magazine and spent six months raising the money, putting together a prototype and a team, working with the Time people. And I kept narrowing the team down to 12 of us, then there was eight, then four. And at the very end they told me that I was going to get it. But suddenly I didn’t get it.

They asked me could I close within a week. And I said no, I can’t close within a week, I didn’t even have a lawyer yet. So, they called me back and they said they were sorry, but they were going with a group in L.A. because they could close within a week. And three weeks after that, and it’s a joy talking to you because you understand all this, it was announced that Time was sold to Meredith. So, they needed to get rid of whatever they were getting rid of in order to close their deal with Meredith and sell themselves.

So, there I was, and this is the answer to your question in a long way, there I was with nothing to do and I had this prototype for a magazine. And I said, you know, magazines are what I love to do and this is a terrible idea and my wife thought I was crazy, but I said, you know, I’m going to just launch it. I’ll take this concept that I have and launch it for the San Francisco Peninsula and just create a really small team and do this. So, that’s what I did.

It’s funny, I had some money that I was going to put up and one of my best friends insisted that he be a part of it. He had made some money like they do here, with an IPO, he had been at Solar City and made a bunch of money, and he said I insist on being a part of this. So, he threw some money into it.

We opened up here in Menlo Park with four full-time people and then I have an art director in Ketchum, Idaho that has worked beautifully, and other freelance people that are doing different things for us. And somehow we put out a monthly magazine.

I don’t know what the end goal is. I knew I needed to be relevant because honestly, I love ink on paper, that’s where my heart is, but I knew that I needed to do a proper website, so we just completed our website, which is pretty cool, I think. It mirrors the magazine well. The idea is to just try and do my best with it, but I have no idea what the future holds.

Samir Husni: As you celebrate the first anniversary of Punch, are you more convinced than ever that in this day and age there is a real need for an ink on paper magazine for the Peninsula, or do you find most people going online?

Sloane Citron: That’s a great question. I’ve probably started, honestly, 50 publications in my career, I’m just like a serial magazine creator. And of everything I’ve launched nothing has gotten the reaction that this magazine has gotten. Every day we get calls, emails, or whatever, from people who are saying that they love our magazine, that they get so much from it, and they look forward to it every month. It’s gratifying that people really enjoy what we’re doing, but I don’t know if there is a need. There are very few publications for which there is a real need, because there’s so much information out there that you can get otherwise.

I look at it as entertainment, but we do fill a need in some ways. If you look through the magazine, we do hikes; we do food; we try to help people get the most out of living here. It’s an expensive place to live and if you’re going to live here, you should enjoy your lifestyle. So, we really go out of our way to try and find things that people learn from and will enjoy doing. Need is probably not the right word. If we weren’t around the world wouldn’t be much different.

Samir Husni: I tell my magazine students, no one really needs a magazine. The magazine must be like chocolate, an experience that people want to enjoy.

Sloane Citron: That’s exactly right. And I would say that’s the case with this magazine, we really work hard to make it that way. I use the word “luscious” sometimes; we want the covers and the artwork and everything to just be beautiful, so that people want to get the magazine and they want to turn the pages, and enjoy it and feel connected to it. So, you’re exactly right, that’s a good analogy.

Samir Husni: Being 100 percent ad dependent, your revenue is coming from advertising, or 99 percent of it is, what was the advertisers’ reaction in your area to an ink on paper magazine when you approached them?

Sloane Citron: If there wasn’t so much competition here, it would be pretty easy, but I’m competing against my old magazine… you know, I spent 23 years building it and building the name and developing it, so I had to compete head-on with my old company. So, I tried to be competitive, have lower rates, more distribution, and a better product. I felt if we did those three things we’d be able to get our share. But it hasn’t been easy. There’s great downward pressure on rate, honestly, because of lots of factors, including the Internet, with online advertising. There are people who just don’t feel the need for it anymore.

This is almost like a non-profit, honestly. Our goal here is just to break even, and that’s what we’re doing. Hopefully, we’ll grow some more so that we do a little bit more than that. There’s probably room for one or two regional magazines in the market, depending on the market size. And we have more than that here. Modern Luxury also has a title here called Silicon Valley, so it’s not easy. There’s less print advertising and there’s downward pressure on the pricing, those are the two things.

 Samir Husni: You didn’t have a non-compete deal with Gentry after you sold it?

Sloane Citron: I did for two years. When I signed it I said, I’m never doing anything else, are you kidding me? (Laughs) But I can’t help it, it’s what I’m passionate about. I figure I’ll do what I’m passionate about until I can’t do it anymore.

Samir Husni: As you look toward the future, and if you and I are having this conversation on your second anniversary, what would you hope to tell me that you had accomplished in another year?

Sloane Citron: I hope we get to a consistent revenue figure so that we don’t have to constantly feel like we’re working toward that. That would be the best result of 2020. Second would be that we have revenue coming in from our website; we don’t expect it to be huge, but if we could get a dependable revenue coming from our website, that would be a positive thing so that it supports itself. And also that my staff is happy and productive and enjoying what they’re doing.

Samir Husni: Why Punch? Where did you come up with the name?

Sloane Citron: I knew that I needed to come up with a name, I had been through this before. I said to my wife, I know, I’ll go retro and call it Peninsula, my first magazine. And she said, I thought you wanted to be new and bright. I said I do, and she said, well, naming it after your first magazine is a terrible idea. Very rarely do I think she’s right, but I thought she was right  this time. (Laughs)

So, I started looking everywhere, I’d walk into an office or I’d walk into a room and I’d look for words and inspiration, anywhere I could find it. I struggled and struggled, then finally one night at about 11:30 p.m. I’m on Wikipedia looking at defunct British magazines for ideas. And there was Punch, and I remembered, because I’m a magazine guy, it hit me. I said, I remember there was a Punch magazine, it was a satire magazine. And it had closed in the ‘80s actually. So, I said Punch, I kind of like the feel of that. I tested it on covers and mockups, and I liked it. That’s where it came from.

Samir Husni: Do you consider Punch your best launch so far?

Sloane Citron: I do, actually. Honestly, part of my mission with my whole career, part of it was creating magazines, but part of it was building a strong business that was very profitable, because I had a wife and four children and they needed taking care of. I didn’t have the luxury of always doing things that I wanted to, I had to do them from a strong business angle at all times. And with Punch, I’m able to just focus on making it as strong as possible and that’s been helpful in the mission.

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

Sloane Citron: I’ll say that one of the most important things for me is always having a group of people that I enjoy working with and who want to be here. It was somewhat challenging being in Silicon Valley where there is so many plentiful, very high-paying jobs, to find a staff that was interested and motivated to do this. And we were able to do so. That has been a great joy, because we all enjoy being with each other and we’re all very passionate about making this magazine as good as it can be. That has been an important part of this journey for me. Since I created this to have somewhere to go and something to do, to be able to do it with people who are highly professional and creative is very meaningful.

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; gardening; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Sloane Citron: I’m usually either reading or reading the news on the computer, or I’m watching the Giants on TV. I’m very passionate about the Giants, I watch all their games. And often I’ll be watching the game and reading the news from about 15 sources, which is kind of what I do.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Sloane Citron: People think I’m an extravert, because when I go out to sales calls or out to events and things like that, I can be very jovial and out there, but honestly, I’m a complete introvert. As my staff knows, I only go to things under extreme pressure, events. I get invited, obviously, to a lot of events and I almost never go, even though it would be good for the magazine, because I just can’t stand it. So, I only go to the things that I really have to. (Laughs) And that includes our own events. I’ve missed some of those as well.

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

Sloane Citron: Believe it or not, even though I’m not doing this for financial rewards… we lost a client the other day, they said they were going to do more digital now. And that actually kept me up at night. Even though it didn’t change my world, it just so ate at me that a client would leave us, it kept me up at night.

 Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

NatuRx Magazine: A New Title For Better Living Through Cannabis – The Mr.™ Magazine Interview With Peter Moore, Editor In Chief…

September 15, 2019

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“… We need to sort out the good from the bad; we need to follow the best science that’s going down now, and there have been tremendous impediments to studying cannabis that are only now just falling away, so we feel like we’re in a position to emphasize the usefulness of cannabis. So, that’s why we went with NatuRx, because we wanted to put the focus, not on the “stoner” excesses that cannabis has been a part of in the past, but instead look at it as a tool for better living, and that’s where the subline came from: Better Living Through Cannabis.” Peter Moore…

Active Interest Media’s (AIM) newest entry into the marketplace is NatuRx (pronounced Nature Rx), a multimedia platform whose mission is to educate health-conscious consumers about cannabis. Peter Moore, former editor at Men’s Health, is the editor in chief of this new title that’s tagline is “Better Living Through Cannabis.” And as Peter told me in a recent conversation, what differentiates this cannabis title from all of the others out there is its stand on being a guide for people when it comes to the best and worst cannabis scenarios, sorting the good from the bad, and helping people better understand cannabis. NatuRx is determined be a critical and watchful eye on this new world of green and to explain the healing powers and usefulness of the plant. And of course, it is the first big national service magazine focusing on cannabis.

Talking with Peter, I hear his passion for service journalism and in serving his readers. Helping people to better understand what cannabis can be used for when it comes to better health and fighting the detriments of certain conditions, such as PTSD, is so apparent in his words and in his vision for the magazine.

And as President & CEO Andrew Clurman said in a recent AIM press release, “As the publisher of wellness magazines such as Yoga Journal, Clean Eating, and Better Nutrition, we’ve been inundated with questions from our readers about the safe, legal use of CBD and THC as part of an active lifestyle. Our editors have been reporting on this emerging category for years, so it was a natural choice for us to create a new type of cannabis magazine, one that approaches cannabis from a health and fitness perspective and will appeal to affluent, educated adults.”

Peter would definitely agree as he told me how important his mission as an editor and the mission of advertisers for this magazine about cannabis is and will continue to be: “Our mission as editors will be to discover the very best uses for it, and that will also be the mission of the advertisers who will show up in NatuRx. What can we responsibly offer to people that will really improve their lives? I feel like with this magazine, as with Men’s Health, edit and advertising will be in lockstep, expressing different aspects of the same mission.”

It’s a beautifully done title and one Peter is very passionate about. And he believes in the people who are contributing and working on the magazine, describing them as some of the best in the business. A man whose professional life is filled with words and conversation, Peter enjoys painting in his spare time, clearing his thoughts with acrylics and watercolors to better prepare him for the next day of magazine passion. So, please enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a man who believes service journalism should be just that: a service to the readers and plans on delivering that with NatuRx, Editor in Chief, Peter Moore.

But first the sound-bites:

On when he moved to Colorado: I was laid off from Men’s Health in December 2015 and my wife and I had been looking around for what the next big thing was going to be for us. I had been coming out here to ski, backpack and backcountry ski for 20 years from Men’s Health, because I love to do all that stuff. And we thought, you know what, now’s our chance, let’s move to Fort Collins. So, we arrived here in May 2017.

On the interest in starting NatuRx magazine: The conversation had turned from “let’s get high” to “what use can we put cannabis to” and “what’s it good for?” And as a guy who had been trained for 20 years at Men’s Health and in service journalism, it was occurring to me that there’s a big need out there to understand the drug, to explain it, to see what it’s good for and what it’s not good for, up sides and down sides, it’s all a service magazine mission. And ironically enough, four months later, there was Jonathan Dorn inviting me down to Boulder, an hour away from Fort Collins where I lived, saying we really should do a magazine on cannabis. And the more we talked the more excited we got. Then the next thing you know, he was saying that we had a commitment from Meredith to partner on this, they’re our partner in the first issue, and we have newsstand commitments for a circulation of about 250,000. And people just kept signing on.

On the magazine’s title and not having the word “cannabis” in it: What we wanted to do was focus on the healing powers in particular. And its usefulness. I come out of the tradition of tons of useful stuff at Men’s Health. And part of what came out of the conversation I told you about was that people were looking for ways to improve their lives. One of the things that I’m proud of is while the magazine is called NatuRx, the subline is “Better Living Through Cannabis.” And I think that’s the focus that people have, this is a tool for living or it can be if you employ it in the right way. And people may not understand how it can be a positive in their lives, rather than a negative.

On empowering a brand on multichannel platforms: I think what we start with is an idea and a need. We live in a world where people select the version of it that’s going to fit best with their lives. So, for some people taking an online course is the way to go. And AIM has shown tremendous skill at putting that out there. Some people live on their phones and their tablets, for them NatuRx.com may be where they want to consume the content. Others want to hold a magazine in their hands. And for people of a certain generation, the magazine is still the best way to get their information. And it’s certainly an extraordinary design vehicle, especially because AIM puts its money where its mouth is, as far as paper stock and the great creative director, Bryan Nanista, who has a long history himself in this industry.

On how as an editor he balances between the art of creation and the art of curation: That’s where my experience at Men’s Health comes in very handy. I was trained for a couple of decades in how to sort out good information from bad, good studies from bad studies, reputable sources from non-reputable sources. And thank you very much Men’s Health magazine for giving me those skills. Even more important, how to apply those skills in the Wild West of cannabis, because some of the sources are… well, people have rushed into this area because there’s this so-called Green Rush toward cannabis, people trying to make their fortunes right now, and that means they’re putting out a lot of garbage. And there are also reputable, good companies that are putting out great stuff too.

On whether the Internet is a blessing or a curse to him as an editor: It’s widely known that “Dr. Google” can be a quack. And there are a lot of people who take at face value the first thing that shows up in their feed when they do a search. Overall, I would say that the Internet has been a blessing, if you have the tools to use it in the right way, but in the wrong hands those tools can do damage. Frankly, as a health editor, it’s a great thing for me that people do need help to be pointed in the right direction and I feel like I have the skills to help them judge what’s good, bad, and dangerous. And that they need that help means they’re going to be turning to NatuRx, and we certainly hope so.

On how he copes with all of the changes taking place in the magazine industry and the merger between church and state: I’m no stranger to that merger and I lived through it at Men’s Health, absolutely, with fairly intense partnerships between Men’s Health, advertisers and the editorial side. There is an old school part of me that says, gosh, it’s too bad that world went away, but it did go away. So, now what I need to do is use my brain and my instincts and my research to note that there are places we can’t go and shouldn’t go, and there’s not even any advertisers’ interests that we go there because it’s going to scuttle our credibility with readers. It’s all about a relationship with the reader.

On whether he expects a long-lasting relationship with his audience or a one-night stand after the first issue: My role when I was sitting in that room with that group of people after the Memorial service a couple of years ago, was as somebody who could answer questions from a base of knowledge and understanding, and take a sober look at an intoxicating drug, and at intoxicating possibilities, and people really need that. I feel like it’s a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship, where we’re going through this revolution along with people, but maybe we are a slightly more prepared, better-researched, discerning group who can guide the conversation with what we know and be honest about what we don’t know.

On what differentiates NatuRx from all the other cannabis magazines already on the market today: I feel like we are the first big national service magazine concentrating on cannabis. And given the background of all the people who are contributing to it, I think we have a track record on the staff of being among the very best to do this kind of reporting. So many of the magazines that I see out there are enthusiast magazines, meaning supporters, drunk with the possibilities, whereas I think that NatuRx is going to take a step backward to assess the progress of the revolution and to guide people to the parts of it that are going to serve them best. We’re going to be a critical eye on cannabis and we’re going to support the best advances and the most promising treatments and uses for cannabis. So, I feel that is going to be a good niche for us and it’s something that people really need right now.

On the biggest misconception he feels people have about him: I’ve always felt that some people look down their noses at service journalism and maybe I did too before I landed at Men’s Health. But the mission of somebody who is out to use all the tools that are available to journalists now to improve lives has been transformative for me as a journalist. My education at Men’s Health showed me that you really can help people if you provide timely information in the right format and with the right tone. And that’s an expertise that I have now and I’m grateful to Men’s Health and Rodale for providing that to me. And I’m just thrilled that this revolution swept along in cannabis and that I arrived in Colorado at just the right moment to find a new way to help people. And that’s my mission.

‘The Morning Commute, by Peter Moore

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: What you will find me doing often is being upstairs in my renovated barn in my backyard in Fort Collins where my day-to-day office is, and the half of it facing east is my editorial office and the other half facing west is my art studio. I’m an acrylics painter and watercolorist and if I turn around it’s looking pretty nice over there with all my paintings leaning against the wall. I’m not Picasso, but I’m working hard at it and it’s something that I love to do, in particular because it does not have anything to do with words. And I need that, something that’s going to take me off the hook from talking and writing all the time. So, at night I just shut up and paint.

On what keeps him up at night: The thing that scares me and scares a lot of editors that I’ve seen on your blog is the attack on the press, which is one of those pillars of our democracy. Having a free and active, aggressive press. And the assault on that is unprecedented and unhealthy. It requires great care on our part to answer it in the right way. And the way to answer it is by using all of our skills to find out what’s wrong, what’s evil, and what’s great about what’s going on right now. And to justify people’s faith in that pillar of democracy.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Peter Moore, editor in chief, NatuRx magazine.

Samir Husni: When did you move to Colorado?  

Peter Moore: I was laid off from Men’s Health in December 2015 and my wife and I had been looking around for what the next big thing was going to be for us. I had been coming out here to ski, backpack and backcountry ski for 20 years from Men’s Health, because I love to do all that stuff. And we thought, you know what, now’s our chance, let’s move to Fort Collins. So, we arrived here in May 2017.

Given my background as a health writer and editor, all my old pals from the New York magazine industry were suddenly crowding around and giving me assignments to write about cannabis. It’s not like I had any particular expertise or even much experience with cannabis before we came out here, but at the urging of my old magazine buddies I began investigating it carefully and personally, yes, Samir…

Samir Husni: (Laughs)

Peter Moore: (Laughs too) …and when you develop an expertise, people notice it. And Jon Dorn did. So, there you go.

Samir Husni: I tell everyone I interview with magazines about cannabis, you do it for educational and medicinal purposes, of course.

Peter Moore: But it’s so interesting and I mentioned it in my editor’s note in the first issue; we were at a Memorial service a couple of years ago, and at about 8:00 p.m. after the Memorial service the adults in the room were sitting around and of course, now that I live in Colorado, the conversation turned to Colorado cannabis legalization.

And all of these people were gathered from all across the country, each started recounting their own use of cannabis; a lot of it for medicinal purposes, but recreational as well. We’re of the generation that went through that in college dorm rooms decades ago. But the conversation had turned from “let’s get high” to “what use can we put cannabis to” and “what’s it good for?” And as a guy who had been trained for 20 years at Men’s Health and in service journalism, it was occurring to me that there’s a big need out there to understand the drug, to explain it, to see what it’s good for and what it’s not good for, up sides and down sides, it’s all a service magazine mission.

And ironically enough, four months later, there was Jonathan Dorn inviting me down to Boulder, an hour away from Fort Collins where I lived, saying we really should do a magazine on cannabis. And the more we talked the more excited we got. Then the next thing you know, he was saying that we had a commitment from Meredith to partner on this, they’re our partner in the first issue, and we have newsstand commitments for a circulation of about 250,000. And people just kept signing on.

Albertsons chain of grocery stores; the magazine is going to be in more than 800 of those and their affiliates across the country by the end of September. Plus Meredith’s circulation is right behind it. And we’ve also got a really good team from Active Interest Media, who saw this in their participant media empire, as a very natural adjunct to the other stuff they have going.

I was thrilled to be asked by Jon, who was a pal of mine when Backpacker was owned by Rodale, to collaborate on this as well. So, here we go. A big magazine launch and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the name NatuRx. This is one of the few cannabis magazines that does not have the word cannabis in the title.

Peter Moore: Well, what we wanted to do was focus on the healing powers in particular. And its usefulness. I come out of the tradition of tons of useful stuff at Men’s Health. And part of what came out of the conversation I told you about was that people were looking for ways to improve their lives. One of the things that I’m proud of is while the magazine is called NatuRx, the subline is “Better Living Through Cannabis.” And I think that’s the focus that people have, this is a tool for living or it can be if you employ it in the right way. And people may not understand how it can be a positive in their lives, rather than a negative.

The recent difficulties with Vape pens shows you there is a downside to juvenile use among teenagers and young people. So, we need to sort out the good from the bad; we need to follow the best science that’s going down now, and there have been tremendous impediments to studying cannabis that are only now just falling away, so we feel like we’re in a position to emphasize the usefulness of cannabis. So, that’s why we went with NatuRx, because we wanted to put the focus, not on the “stoner” excesses that cannabis has been a part of in the past, but instead look at it as a tool for better living, and that’s where the subline came from: Better Living Through Cannabis.

Samir Husni: Peter, you’ve been involved with service journalism, as you said, for over 20 years. You’ve done it through multiple channels; do you feel that today you can’t practice service journalism in only one channel? AIM is launching NatuRx in print, tablet, mobile, education, social, events, email; do you create the brand and then have its products, or is it that you start with the product and create the brand as you grow?

Peter Moore: I think what we start with is an idea and a need. We live in a world where people select the version of it that’s going to fit best with their lives. So, for some people taking an online course is the way to go. And AIM has shown tremendous skill at putting that out there. Some people live on their phones and their tablets, for them NatuRx.com may be where they want to consume the content. Others want to hold a magazine in their hands. And for people of a certain generation, the magazine is still the best way to get their information. And it’s certainly an extraordinary design vehicle, especially because AIM puts its money where its mouth is, as far as paper stock and the great creative director, Bryan Nanista, who has a long history himself in this industry.

It all comes down to where people want to be when they’re receptive to the information they need to improve their lives. And I think that’s where AIM hangs its hat, in being there for readers in all the places they want to be.

And it’s a time for great opportunity as well, because when I was beginning my journalism career, there were 78 total magazines. And now, through your work I’ve learned that there are 800 launches per year and 5,000 titles that are out there now, and that isn’t even taking into account all of the various formats that can exist out there.

Samir Husni: As you put your editor’s hat on and look at the wealth of information out there, the good, the bad and the ugly, how do you balance between the art of creation as an editor and the art of curation as an editor?

Peter Moore: That’s where my experience at Men’s Health comes in very handy. I was trained for a couple of decades in how to sort out good information from bad, good studies from bad studies, reputable sources from non-reputable sources. And thank you very much Men’s Health magazine for giving me those skills. Even more important, how to apply those skills in the Wild West of cannabis, because some of the sources are… well, people have rushed into this area because there’s this so-called Green Rush toward cannabis, people trying to make their fortunes right now, and that means they’re putting out a lot of garbage. And there are also reputable, good companies that are putting out great stuff too.

And that’s what we need to do, sort out between the bad, crazy stuff that you see on the Internet and in your emails all the time, and the people who are doing it the right way and putting out quality products based on solid research , and that’s our mission as editors is to be an advocate for readers saying head this way, not that way, that way being danger-wise. If we can do a good job of sorting between danger and advantage, we’re doing an amazing service for people, especially right now.

Samir Husni: You mentioned especially right now, how in your 20-year career, and you started before the Internet was widely available, to today where almost anyone has access; how has your job or your thinking changed since then? Is the Internet a blessing or a curse?

Peter Moore: It’s widely known that “Dr. Google” can be a quack. And there are a lot of people who take at face value the first thing that shows up in their feed when they do a search. Overall, I would say that the Internet has been a blessing, if you have the tools to use it in the right way, but in the wrong hands those tools can do damage.

Frankly, as a health editor, it’s a great thing for me that people do need help to be pointed in the right direction and I feel like I have the skills to help them judge what’s good, bad, and dangerous. And that they need that help means they’re going to be turning to NatuRx, and we certainly hope so.

Samir Husni: As I look at the media kit for NatuRx, I see a combination of the traditional and the non-traditional, like ad rates from the basic inside-front cover to the advertorial spread to the guest-expert interview spread. As an editor, how do you cope with all of these changes taking place in the industry and the merger of church and state?

Peter Moore: I’m no stranger to that merger and I lived through it at Men’s Health, absolutely, with fairly intense partnerships between Men’s Health, advertisers and the editorial side. There is an old school part of me that says, gosh, it’s too bad that world went away, but it did go away. So, now what I need to do is use my brain and my instincts and my research to note that there are places we can’t go and shouldn’t go, and there’s not even any advertisers’ interests that we go there because it’s going to scuttle our credibility with readers. It’s all about a relationship with the reader.

At Men’s Health, and I believe at NatuRx, that relationship with the reader is important on the ad pages just as its important on the editorial pages. And I felt like, at Men’s Health certainly for 20 years, the advertisers were in it for the same reasons that we were, which was to provide information that was going to help people live better lives.

In a burgeoning industry, a soon-to-be, and is now, and will increasingly become, a multibillion dollar industry in the U.S., especially as legalization, that wildfire, spreads across the land, this is going to be a very big industry with its hands in all sorts of things. There will be competition for liquor intoxicants, in the fashion realm for fabric, sleep remedies, pain remedies; there isn’t a part of U.S. commerce that will not be impacted by cannabis. It’s going to be everywhere.

Our mission as editors will be to discover the very best uses for it, and that will also be the mission of the advertisers who will show up in NatuRx. What can we responsibly offer to people that will really improve their lives. I feel like with this magazine, as with Men’s Health, edit and advertising will be in lockstep, expressing different aspects of the same mission.

Samir Husni: As you move toward that relationship with your audience, your customers, whether they’re readers or advertisers; what do you expect the first issue to be like between you and them: a first date, a one-night stand, a love affair, or a long-lasting relationship?

Peter Moore: My role when I was sitting in that room with that group of people after the Memorial service a couple of years ago, was as somebody who could answer questions from a base of knowledge and understanding, and take a sober look at an intoxicating drug, and at intoxicating possibilities, and people really need that. I feel like it’s a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship, where we’re going through this revolution along with people, but maybe we are a slightly more prepared, better-researched, discerning group who can guide the conversation with what we know and be honest about what we don’t know.

There is so much that will be coming to light about this in the next few years, especially as the government monopoly on the source of research-grade cannabis breaks down. Recently, there was a big lawsuit from Dr. Sue Sisley in Arizona to end that government monopoly. She’s doing a double-blind study on the impact of cannabis on PTSD. There are going to be a thousand sources blooming on research and information on cannabis. Some of it is going to be cautionary, some very exciting and positive, and we’re going to help sort that out for readers. I think we’re sorting it out for ourselves, each of us on the editorial staff at the same time; we’re sorting it out for a potentially gigantic audience of people who need that information.

Samir Husni: If someone came to you and said, okay, you’re launching another cannabis magazine, where would you put it among the 20-plus titles already out there? Whether it’s MJ Lifestyle for women, Marijuana Ventures, Kitchen Toke – cooking with cannabis, or Ember; is it a competitor to those, a complementary, a corrective magazine? How would you define your unique selling proposition in the midst of all of these other titles on the market today?

Peter Moore:  I feel like we are the first big national service magazine concentrating on cannabis. And given the background of all the people who are contributing to it, I think we have a track record on the staff of being among the very best to do this kind of reporting. So many of the magazines that I see out there are enthusiast magazines, meaning supporters, drunk with the possibilities, whereas I think that NatuRx is going to take a step backward to assess the progress of the revolution and to guide people to the parts of it that are going to serve them best. We’re going to be a critical eye on cannabis and we’re going to support the best advances and the most promising treatments and uses for cannabis. So, I feel that is going to be a good niche for us and it’s something that people really need right now.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have about you?

Peter Moore: I’ve always felt that some people look down their noses at service journalism and maybe I did too before I landed at Men’s Health. But the mission of somebody who is out to use all the tools that are available to journalists now to improve lives has been transformative for me as a journalist. My education at Men’s Health showed me that you really can help people if you provide timely information in the right format and with the right tone. And that’s an expertise that I have now and I’m grateful to Men’s Health and Rodale for providing that to me. And I’m just thrilled that this revolution swept along in cannabis and that I arrived in Colorado at just the right moment to find a new way to help people. And that’s my mission.

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; smoking some cannabis; reading a magazine; cooking; gardening; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Peter Moore: (Laughs) What you will find me doing often is being upstairs in my renovated barn in my backyard in Fort Collins where my day-to-day office is, and the half of it facing east is my editorial office and the other half facing west is my art studio. I’m an acrylics painter and watercolorist and if I turn around it’s looking pretty nice over there with all my paintings leaning against the wall. I’m not Picasso, but I’m working hard at it and it’s something that I love to do, in particular because it does not have anything to do with words. And I need that, something that’s going to take me off the hook from talking and writing all the time. So, at night I just shut up and paint.

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

Peter Moore: The thing that scares me and scares a lot of editors that I’ve seen on your blog is the attack on the press, which is one of those pillars of our democracy. Having a free and active, aggressive press. And the assault on that is unprecedented and unhealthy. It requires great care on our part to answer it in the right way. And the way to answer it is by using all of our skills to find out what’s wrong, what’s evil, and what’s great about what’s going on right now. And to justify people’s faith in that pillar of democracy.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

The Wonderful World Of New International Magazines… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

September 12, 2019

In today’s digital world, many people think print magazines, both new and established, are barely hanging on by the hair of their inky chin chins. I assure you, that is not the case. From the west coast to the east coast, north to south, new magazines in the United States are being loaded onto newsstands daily, and the ink of legacy print, for the most part, still smells as strongly today as it did years ago; albeit, often in a totally different way.

But what about international titles, what is the health status of magazines in other countries? Well, Mr. Magazine™ is happy to report life in the wonderful world of magazines would appear to be flourishing around the globe.

Here are 12 new titles from all over the world, proving that ink on paper is alive and well everywhere. And please take note of the abundance of “me time” titles: Declutter Your Life, Dream Journal, and Wellness, to name a few. People everywhere are beginning to realize the importance of stepping away from those screens every once in awhile.

In alphabetical order):

Aww is a new magazine from Hong Kong that’s first issue is the “Meow & Woof” issue and has more than 200 illustrations from many different artists, along with great content on the topic of pets. The illustrations are wonderful and the content is diverse and has everything from recipes to travel, with animal elements. The Zen is amazing.

Bellissimo is from two London-based photographers, Paolo Zerbini and Ivan Ruberto, and according to its creators: it is dedicated to glorify the understated. The first issue takes us on a hidden tour of the beach of Rome, Ostia, and showcases photographs of places not commonly known, but amazingly unique. It’s a great new title.

Cacao Magazine is the first international print magazine fully dedicated to craft chocolate. And much like the chocolate making process itself, the layout of the magazine follows the “bean-to-bar” sequence. This new title was born in Berlin and its first issue is dedicated to the craft chocolate enthusiasts of Germany. Mr. Magazine™ is looking forward to issue two. Yummy.

Citizen is a new quarterly magazine for everybody engaged in the challenge of creating the future city. Published by the London School of Architecture, the magazine’s mission is to allow people living in cities to have more fulfilled and more sustainable lives. It’s beautifully well done and very well received here in Mr. Magazine’s™ world.

Creative Journeys is a new title from the creators of Project Calm magazine, our friends over in the U.K., and is filled with creative ideas and craft projects inspired by travel. It’s packed with artistic inspiration from around the world and you can read about art, music, mindfulness, maps, photography and prints.

Dream Journal is another new magazine from Future pic, a global multi-platform media company based in the U.K., but with offices in Australia in the U.S. The magazine was born to guide you on a path to reflection, self-evaluation and being more mindful. Learn more about what dreaming is and use the dream diary to record and reflect on your dreams.

Learn How to Declutter Your Life is from the same folks who brought you the Dream Journal and is an interactive decluttering guide created to help one organize and simplify their life. And don’t we all need that?!

Recharge magazine is the third new title from Future pic and teaches us that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of our everyday lives and the demands placed upon us, whether by family members, friends, colleagues or clients. We have to Recharge, else we burn out.

Simply Lettering is another British title for anyone interested in modern calligraphy, from complete beginners to seasoned experts. The first issue comes complete with a brush lettering starting kit and practice sheets and templates. Some more me-time is waiting.

Take Care magazine is a collection of creative responses to the U.K. housing crisis, ranging from art and literature to journalism. Five friends who were between London and Glasgow created the magazine: Sarah Bethan Jones, Charlotte Fountaine, Frances Gordon, Lewis Gordon and Romany Rowell. It came to life through Kickstarter and the niche title is only shipping to the United Kingdom for now.

Tortoise Quarterly is a new magazine from Tortoise Media in England. Tortoise Media was another Kickstarter success story and was started to slow down the news. They do no breaking news; just what drives today’s news stories. The launch issue of its magazine is called “Journeys,” and is very proud of its slow news ways – translation – Tortoise Quarterly loves its print format.

(A Journal for) Wellness is one more new title from the same folks across the pond that gave us Creative Journeys and Project Calm. This beautiful journal covers some key areas in your day-to-day living – Eat, Sleep, Move, Relax, Think, Grow and Create – to help you improve, develop or just explore your wellbeing.

And there you have it! Magazines are sprouting everywhere, from one corner of this big beautiful world to another. Mr. Magazine™ is very happy to bring you this glimpse of international beauty when it comes to new print titles.

Keep an eye out for more from Mr. Magazine’s™ Wonderful World of Magazines. You never know what I may find out there, or where I’ll find it!

Until the next time…

I’ll see you at the newsstands, here and across the pond…

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