Archive for the ‘News and Views’ Category

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ACT 8 Experience: Print Proud Digital Smart Day 1 Recap…

April 20, 2018

Starting today I will be posting the videos from the ACT 8 Experience:Print Proud Digital Smart. Today is ACT 8 Day 1. April 17, 2018.

ACT 8, Day 1, Part 1
Samir Husni, Founder and Director of the Magazine Innovation Center
Charlie Mitchell, Associate Dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media
Noel Wilkin, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, The University of Mississippi
Susan Russ, Senior VP, Communications, MPA: The Association of Magazine Media
Amy Lyles Wilson, Author, Writer and Magazine Alumni

ACT 8, Day 1, Part 2
Linda Thomas Brooks, President and CEO, MPA: The Association of Magazine Media

ACT 8, Day 1, Part 3
James Hewes, President and CEO, FIPP: The Network for Global Media, United Kingdom

ACT 8, Day 2, Part 4

Tom Quinlan, Chairman and CEO, LSC Communications, Inc.

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Getting In Shape (The Magazine): An Evolution That Began By Asking The Question Of The 37-Year-Old Brand: If Shape Was Launching Today, What Would It Look Like? The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Elizabeth Goodman-Artis, Editor In Chief, Shape Magazine…

April 12, 2018

“I felt like we could add more real women and their experiences. I really wanted to make it a more well-rounded experience. And the tagline we’re using is “Living the well-lived life,” something that’s a little more holistic and well-rounded, because we know that our audience is really engaged in this healthy, active lifestyle. And that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And so, we wanted to give a more well-rounded mix and really get a sense of the experiences that women are having living this lifestyle. We wanted to kind of bubble that up in the magazine some more.” Elizabeth Goodman-Artis…

“I think the print magazine is the place where you can sit back, lean-in, and get excited about the content. And in the digital iterations, whether you’re desktop or mobile, however you’re interacting, that becomes more transactional, and I mean that in a good way. It’s very specific information, like guidance. And I think it appeals to different parts of your brain and different needs in the moment.” Elizabeth Goodman-Artis…

Shape Magazine has been a staple in the health and fitness magazine realm for 37 years. It has been the go-to source for women who lead an active lifestyle, focusing on the magazine’s five pillars of coverage, which according to Elizabeth Goodman-Artis, editor in chief of the brand is: beauty, fitness, health, style and nutrition.

With the May issue, the legacy brand has undergone what Elizabeth calls an evolution, rather than a reimagining. She said there has been a massive cultural shift that is redefining
what healthy living means to women today. And in her May editor’s letter, she shares with her readers the mission of this evolution. Here’s an excerpt:

“My mission for Shape is to reflect this shift—really reflect it. What you’ll see in the pages of this issue is the result of a pivotal moment in our evolution, one that started when I asked myself this question: If Shape was launching today, what would it look like? To start, it would have more voices and viewpoints from inspiring people who are living this well-lived life—distinctive women from diverse backgrounds, all with unique stories to tell and a dedication to living with authentic, health-focused style. The innovations don’t stop there.”

The legacy brand has expanded and evolved with a mix of content, as well as an elevated design aesthetic. Elizabeth adds that the redesign also offers a shift in tonality and features more diverse voices, including influencer and real women. Overall, the new Shape focuses on content for the holistic, healthy lifestyle of today’s woman: beauty and style advice that adapts to her busy life; ways to discover the joys of healthy and delicious eating; relatable tips for health and relationships; and innovative ways to keep her body strong and fit.

And Mr. Magazine is very happy with the evolution. Shape is as “shapely” as ever, with a few new curves added. So, join Mr. Magazine™ as we get into Shape with Elizabeth Goodman-Artis, editor in chief.

But first the sound-bites:

On Shape magazine’s redesign/reinvention after 37 years: I wouldn’t say that we reinvented it at all. I would say that we’ve evolved it. Honestly, what really precipitated this was I got a new, amazing creative director, he started in August, and he wanted to put his stamp on it and we felt like it was time for a design upgrade. So, it started with that. And I also felt that there were things that we were missing. We could add more voices; I felt like we could add more real women and their experiences. I really wanted to make it a more well-rounded experience. And the tagline we’re using is “Living the well-lived life,” something that’s a little more holistic and well-rounded, because we know that our audience is really engaged in this healthy, active lifestyle.

On whether the more holistic and healthy focus of the new redesign puts Shape in a different competitive set: It’s the same, absolutely the same. Again, it’s an evolution, I wouldn’t say that we’ve really changed the DNA of the brand at all. One of the things that I wanted to do was change the voice and the tonality a little bit, just to make it feel more modern. I think a good example is the way the magazine was packaged, like the actual names of the sections before, things like, Eat Right, Get Fit. They’re clear, they say it, they make sense, they’re direct, but I feel like they’re a little bit of a command to perform. And I wanted to change that tonality a little bit, and when you go through the May issue you’ll see that the sections all start with the verb “to be.” And that was very deliberate, because I wanted to invite the readers “to be” in the moment, to experience the content, and really make it their own.

On whether she thinks the audience has changed or evolved in that the way they interact with a print magazine is different today than maybe 10 years ago: Sure, absolutely. I think a print magazine is more of a lean-back and engaged experience, rather than a servicey, transactional experience. A good example is the way we’re doing fitness content now. One of the things that we’ve seen, in terms of digital, is that over one million readers have joined our video challenges in the last year. Our visitors to shape.com workout content has risen exponentially. And that’s your very functional fitness, your very transactional fitness, here’s exactly how you do this workout. And I think that’s the way audiences are engaging with that kind of content. They’re doing it on their phones. So, I felt like with the fitness content in the magazine, it was really important to create content that was more about experience and the science of exercise and the storytelling. You can lean back into it and get inspired and get excited about this kind of content.

On how her job as editor in chief has changed over the years: In terms of actual day-to-day workflow, I think we’re more efficient than we used to be. We have to be. Obviously, the industry is changing, the media world is changing; we all know what’s going on and I think there’s a level of focus that’s required today. Thinking back to 25 years ago, or whenever I started at Glamour magazine, it was 1993, there were a lot more people and we just don’t have those kinds of staff anymore, because it’s not efficient nor cost-effective. So, I think we have to be just really focused.

On what content means to her today: (Laughs) What a good question. I could go into a lot of different rabbit-holes. I think content is changing all of the time. It’s impossible to immediately summarize that. I think it depends on who you are, what you want and what you’re looking for. An audience who’s interested in healthy, active living wants information, but they also want connectivity and motivation. And they’ll get that with all of the new voices and points of view that we’re adding. I think that’s really important. Whatever your goals are, and those are personal to you, it takes a lot of mental strength and courage to live this lifestyle. So, I think that’s one of the biggest changes I’ve seen and one I wanted to bring to the magazine, more of that emotion, into everything that we do.

On if that’s the reason for the more holistic approach Shape is now taking: Sure, that’s one. There were many reasons. Honestly, what was great about what we did with Shape, the magazine before was great, and this is just an evolution. And there wasn’t pressure to do it. It was just that we felt and I felt it was time for it, for many different reasons. And as I said, I really wanted to equalize the content distribution.

On how she can make the content of the magazine more of an emotional experience: I’ll give you an example. Our new fitness section is called “Be Strong and Fit,” and we’re actually debuting a new column that we just didn’t have room for in the May issue because it was so packed with amazing new content, and also not for nothing, it was content that we thought was really working well, so we morphed some columns. The DNA is still Shape Magazine, it’s really about an evolution. It’s not a reimagining at all. But we’re adding a new column that I’m excited about called “Everyday Athletes.” What I wanted to do with this was really showcase real women who have gone out and they’ve accomplished something physical across the spectrum.

On how she sees the future mix of print and digital for Shape: Well, it’s what I’ve said already, that I think the print magazine is the place where you can sit back, lean-in, and get excited about the content. And in the digital iterations, whether you’re desktop or mobile, however you’re interacting, that becomes more transactional, and I mean that in a good way. It’s very specific information, like guidance. And I think it appeals to different parts of your brain and different needs in the moment.

On whether she expects editors to practice what they preach: I can’t speak for other editors. This is how I run the magazine and it’s my point of view. I am very practical. (Laughs) I think about the brand as a whole and work closely with our amazing digital director, Amanda Wolfe. And it’s really collaborative and I’m brainstorming with my really talented staff about what all of this means today. Getting into the media is the message kind of thing, which shows my journalism school experience studying Marshall McLuhan. (Laughs) I think it’s just being clear and focused about it. Like, how do magazines make sense in people’s lives today? And how are they using the print magazine iteration as opposed to the digital arms? It’s kind of being logical.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: She just wants to help.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Right now you’d find me very unhappy because I’m living in a rental apartment while my house is being renovated. And it’s dragging on and I’m really sick of the apartment, but once I’m back in my house and happier, you’d probably find me cooking. I love to cook. I find it really relaxing and I’m really into trying new recipes. And I’m very excited about the new kitchen I will hopefully have in the next few months. So, chopping, and focusing on cooking gets me out of the day and it focuses my attention. So, you’d find me doing that and hanging out with my husband and my cats. I don’t have kids, I have cats. That’s how I unwind.

On what keeps her up at night: Honestly, I’m not somebody who wakes up a lot and tosses and turns and worries too much, because there is nothing you can do about anything in life in the middle of the night. I do have some pretty good techniques. Usually breathing techniques or meditative techniques to help me go back to sleep. But what keeps me up at night is what keeps anybody up, the unknown. It’s very general; I wouldn’t say there is anything specific. And nothing specific about media and state of things, because I feel like we’re all just kind of watching the evolution and I want to be along for the ride. I’m somebody who is very flexible and I try to pivot and go with the flow.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Elizabeth Goodman-Artis, editor in chief, Shape magazine.

Samir Husni: Shape is going to be bold, I hear.

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Yes, we’re going to be bold.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the timing of this redesign. After 37 years, why now and why did you decide to reinvent Shape magazine?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: I wouldn’t say that we reinvented it at all. I would say that we’ve evolved it. Honestly, what really precipitated this was I got a new, amazing creative director, he started in August, and he wanted to put his stamp on it and we felt like it was time for a design upgrade. So, it started with that.

But honestly, I felt like it was time to redistribute our content in the sense that we weren’t giving the main five pillars of the things that we always cover, which is beauty, fitness, health, style and nutrition, we weren’t giving them all equal weight. There was too much emphasis in some places and not enough in the others. And I really wanted to just try and equalize the content in the magazine.

And I also felt that there were things that we were missing. We could add more voices; I felt like we could add more real women and their experiences. I really wanted to make it a more well-rounded experience. And the tagline we’re using is “Living the well-lived life,” something that’s a little more holistic and well-rounded, because we know that our audience is really engaged in this healthy, active lifestyle. And that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And so, we wanted to give a more well-rounded mix and really get a sense of the experiences that women are having living this lifestyle. We wanted to kind of bubble that up in the magazine some more.

Samir Husni: That combination of the holistic and healthy lifestyle, does it put you in a different competitive set or it’s the same?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: It’s the same, absolutely the same. Again, it’s an evolution, I wouldn’t say that we’ve really changed the DNA of the brand at all. One of the things that I wanted to do was change the voice and the tonality a little bit, just to make it feel more modern. I think a good example is the way the magazine was packaged, like the actual names of the sections before, things like, Eat Right, Get Fit. They’re clear, they say it, they make sense, they’re direct, but I feel like they’re a little bit of a command to perform.

And I wanted to change that tonality a little bit, and when you go through the May issue you’ll see that the sections all start with the verb “to be.” And that was very deliberate, because I wanted to invite the readers “to be” in the moment, to experience the content, and really make it their own. I don’t want to dictate to our audience, but I want to give them the tools and ideas and information they need to craft their own well-lived life.

Samir Husni: You’ve started all the sections with “to be,” to be healthy, to be food-curious, to be fit, etc. Do you think the audience has changed or evolved in that the way they interact with a print magazine is different today than maybe 10 years ago?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Sure, absolutely. I think a print magazine is more of a lean-back and engaged experience, rather than a servicey, transactional experience. A good example is the way we’re doing fitness content now. One of the things that we’ve seen, in terms of digital, is that over one million readers have joined our video challenges in the last year. Our visitors to shape.com workout content has risen exponentially. And that’s your very functional fitness, your very transactional fitness, here’s exactly how you do this workout. And I think that’s the way audiences are engaging with that kind of content. They’re doing it on their phones.

So, I felt like with the fitness content in the magazine, it was really important to create content that was more about experience and the science of exercise and the storytelling. You can lean back into it and get inspired and get excited about this kind of content. And then you can go to shape.com and get your nuts and bolts. I think it’s really about engaging with this content that’s all about healthy living, and getting excited about it. And really leaning into it, and then you can go to shape.com and get more specific, functional workouts and content.

Samir Husni: You’ve been in the magazine media business for 20 years, give or take. How do you feel things have changed over the years? Is life easier for you now as an editor in chief or is it more complicated? Tell me about the changes based on your experience.

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: In terms of actual day-to-day workflow, I think we’re more efficient than we used to be. We have to be. Obviously, the industry is changing, the media world is changing; we all know what’s going on and I think there’s a level of focus that’s required today. Thinking back to 25 years ago, or whenever I started at Glamour magazine, it was 1993, there were a lot more people and we just don’t have those kinds of staff anymore, because it’s not efficient nor cost-effective. So, I think we have to be just really focused.

There isn’t quite the time to spend days and weeks on one story, you have to move at a faster pace. Everybody is doing that, so I think that’s the biggest change. As an editor in chief, I would say that I owe it to my staff to make quick decisions and to have a clear vision for what I want, because we don’t have the time and the luxury to throw a lot of things at the wall and see what sticks.

I think with this evolution, I had a very clear vision, along with my creative director and my executive editor, of what we wanted this to look like. And then we gave the staff the blueprint and they were really excited about it. So, it was a very efficient, very focused process.

This summer we decided, when Noah (Dreier) came on, my creative director, we talked a lot about what we wanted to do with the brand and what we wanted it to look like. He came with so many great ideas. And speaking of my staff, I think you’ll see that we sort of beefed up our style content and that’s because we added a new fashion director, Brooke Ely Danielson, and she also came with so many great ideas and just a fresh approach to what style means today. And I was excited to get their ideas in the brand, so that was a big part of it.

Samir Husni: You’ve added the section “What Style Means Today.” My question to you is what does content mean today?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: (Laughs) What a good question. I could go into a lot of different rabbit-holes. I think content is changing all of the time. It’s impossible to immediately summarize that. I think it depends on who you are, what you want and what you’re looking for. An audience who’s interested in healthy, active living wants information, but they also want connectivity and motivation. And they’ll get that with all of the new voices and points of view that we’re adding. I think that’s really important.

Honestly, a good way to talk about the change, in terms of active, healthy living content, is I think it has gone from, in the last 10 or so years, just transactional and informative to more emotional. That’s the biggest sort of change that I’ve seen and wanted to incorporate into Shape now was the sense of emotion of this lifestyle, because it’s a very emotional experience. Whatever your goals are, and those are personal to you, it takes a lot of mental strength and courage to live this lifestyle. So, I think that’s one of the biggest changes I’ve seen and one I wanted to bring to the magazine, more of that emotion, into everything that we do.

Samir Husni: Is that the reason for the holistic approach?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Sure, that’s one. There were many reasons. Honestly, what was great about what we did with Shape, the magazine before was great, and this is just an evolution. And there wasn’t pressure to do it. It was just that we felt and I felt it was time for it, for many different reasons. And as I said, I really wanted to equalize the content distribution.

A good example is our health section. I felt it was a little marginalized and that we could do more with it. Our audience is really interested in health beyond the numbers they get at their yearly doctor’s visit. This audience is really engaged with making sure of their health and I wanted to give that section a little more love. So, it was really about distributing our efforts equally among our five content pillars.

Samir Husni: As you move forward into the new evolution, and of course, you created the video series and the Shape Challenge that really brought a lot of audience experiences, I’m very intrigued by what you said about focusing on the more emotional link with the content. How can you make the content of the magazine more of an emotional experience, rather than the functional experience?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: I’ll give you an example. Our new fitness section is called “Be Strong and Fit,” and we’re actually debuting a new column that we just didn’t have room for in the May issue because it was so packed with amazing new content, and also not for nothing, it was content that we thought was really working well, so we morphed some columns. The DNA is still Shape Magazine, it’s really about an evolution. It’s not a reimagining at all.

But we’re adding a new column that I’m excited about called “Everyday Athletes.” What I wanted to do with this was really showcase real women who have gone out and they’ve accomplished something physical across the spectrum. So, the example I use is, I go to a gym called CrossFit South Brooklyn, I do CrossFit. And CrossFit is very, very hard. (Laughs) But what I love about it, the terminology that they use is, you can scale it. So, if you can’t do 50 pushups, do two. If you can’t do two, hold a plank for thirty seconds. At any skill level, you can do this kind of exercise.

One of the most inspiring things I’ve seen is, one of the trainers that I work with frequently, her name is Jess Fox, and one of her goals was to do a muscle-up, and that’s a very, very hard move. It’s like gymnastics, it requires hanging onto some rings, pulling yourself up and pushing upward until your arms are straight, so it requires a lot of strength. This was a goal she had for a long time and she worked at it in a myriad of ways. And now she can do it. I want to hear her story. So, in 200 words, what that felt like and kind of get inside her journey.

Likewise, I’d like to hear from a woman who tried her very first hot yoga class. Or her very first Pilates class, or her very first walking marathon, or triathlon. Athletic feats across the spectrum, but I want to get inside what that felt like. What the motivation, what they did, and how it felt on the other side. That’s what I mean by “Everyday Athletes.” Women across the spectrum of skill levels, abilities, and what motivated them and what it felt like. So, I think that’s a really good example of how, instead of telling you how to do a muscle-up, certainly it’s a very hard move and I wouldn’t recommend it to many people (Laughs), but if that’s your goal, that’s great. There are certainly a series of steps that you can take to learn how to do this move. You can break it down into the technical components of it, fine, that’s one way to approach it. But I also want to know what it feels like inside to have accomplished that. So, that’s a column that I’m really excited about. And it’s coming out in the June issue. I think that nicely encompasses what I mean by emotion and motivation, and the difference between that and the transactional experience.

Samir Husni: As you look into the future, and at the fact that publishers are making their print components “printier” and their brands “brandier,” and everyone is becoming Print Proud and Digital Smart, how do you see that combination of print and digital? People don’t talk anymore about Shape magazine, they talk about Shape the brand.

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Yes, and it is a brand.

Samir Husni: So, how do you see that future mix?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Well, it’s what I’ve said already, that I think the print magazine is the place where you can sit back, lean-in, and get excited about the content. And in the digital iterations, whether you’re desktop or mobile, however you’re interacting, that becomes more transactional, and I mean that in a good way. It’s very specific information, like guidance. And I think it appeals to different parts of your brain and different needs in the moment.

In terms of fitness content, and I don’t think anybody would argue with me, that I just don’t think looking at a magazine and getting directions on how to do a specific move, nobody is taking magazines to the gym to do that anymore. They’re using their phones. If they want to know exactly how to a 10-minute AMRAP workout, which means as many rounds as possible, or an ab challenge, it doesn’t make sense to waste pages in a magazine detailing line by line exactly how to do that. You’re going to get that online. So, that’s the big difference I see, especially with this brand.

Samir Husni: You’re practicing what you preach and you’re speaking from experience. Do you expect editors nowadays to practice what they preach or just sometimes?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: I can’t speak for other editors. This is how I run the magazine and it’s my point of view. I am very practical. (Laughs) I think about the brand as a whole and work closely with our amazing digital director, Amanda Wolfe. And it’s really collaborative and I’m brainstorming with my really talented staff about what all of this means today. Getting into the media is the message kind of thing, which shows my journalism school experience studying Marshall McLuhan. (Laughs) I think it’s just being clear and focused about it. Like, how do magazines make sense in people’s lives today? And how are they using the print magazine iteration as opposed to the digital arms? It’s kind of being logical.

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

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: She just wants to help.

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?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Right now you’d find me very unhappy because I’m living in a rental apartment while my house is being renovated. And it’s dragging on and I’m really sick of the apartment, but once I’m back in my house and happier, you’d probably find me cooking. I love to cook. I find it really relaxing and I’m really into trying new recipes. And I’m very excited about the new kitchen I will hopefully have in the next few months. So, chopping, and focusing on cooking gets me out of the day and it focuses my attention. So, you’d find me doing that and hanging out with my husband and my cats. I don’t have kids, I have cats. That’s how I unwind.

Usually we pick one Netflix show to watch a night. I don’t like watching endless hours of TV, and flipping around. I like to have a plan for the night and I try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. It’s not that exciting. (Laughs)

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

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Honestly, I’m not somebody who wakes up a lot and tosses and turns and worries too much, because there is nothing you can do about anything in life in the middle of the night. I do have some pretty good techniques. Usually breathing techniques or meditative techniques to help me go back to sleep. But what keeps me up at night is what keeps anybody up, the unknown. It’s very general; I wouldn’t say there is anything specific. And nothing specific about media and state of things, because I feel like we’re all just kind of watching the evolution and I want to be along for the ride. I’m somebody who is very flexible and I try to pivot and go with the flow.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Maison Moderne: From Print Magazines To Events To Digital Dailies, A Company That Believes Magazines Are The Credibility Of The Brand And Digital Is The Power Of Its Reach – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Mike Koedinger, Founder & President Of The Board Of Directors, Maison Moderne, Luxembourg…

April 9, 2018

“People really cared about digital, they were thinking that would be the end (of print). And we were saying, no, let’s not panic. There might be reasons why print has a great future and now, 11 years later, I think it’s proven, digital was actually helping the print medium a lot. And of course, some of them lost quite a bit, many lost money, but I think maybe that was just cleaning up the industry, maybe weak media brands in print, they would just go out of business. But then in this great place for new brands, digital helps a lot to promote brands and to create communities. And I think digital can bring value to a media brand, so in the end digital would help printed media, in my opinion. If they’re worth it; if they’re worth the attention that readers can give them.” Mike Koedinger (on his opinion of what has happened since 2007)…

“There are plenty of reasons. One is we need a break from digital. Digital is there your entire day and night. So, we need breaks. Print also means there’s a moment when we choose to do something, there is no addiction. We happily choose to sit down, open a paper, and read it and spend time with it.” Mike Koedinger (on why he thinks print is still important and magical)…

Maison Moderne is Luxembourg’s leading independent media company. Founded in 1994 by Mike Koedinger, one of the company’s mission points is to offer an independent voice in the Luxembourg media landscape with an inclusive approach, publishing mainly in the first two vehicular languages of the country: French and English.

The one thing that stands out about Mike Koedinger and his company is the Print Proud Digital Smart take he has on his business and media in general. Maison Moderne’s flagship brand, Paperjam, has a powerful and unique ecosystem, and the roles of print and digital in its intense diversification strategy works (according to Mike) like this:

• The magazine is the credibility of the brand
• The digital is the power (of continuous reach)
• The club is the monetization (memberships and sponsoring)
• The data creates the value (we know our community)
• The B2B solutions respond to the needs of companies and decision makers

It’s an interesting and apparently successful business model that combines print and digital to each medium’s greatest potential, as Mike said that Paperjam’s readership in print has increased since 2006, during a period where daily and weekly press were losing its audiences. And Mr. Magazine™ is all for a strategy that brings print and digital together to work as a successful team.

Indeed. Enough said.

And now without further ado, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Mike Koedinger, founder and president of the Board of Directors, Maison Moderne.

But first the sound-bites:

On what has been happening since he wrote the book “We Love Magazines” in 2007: People really cared about digital, they were thinking that would be the end (of print). And we were saying, no, let’s not panic. There might be reasons why print has a great future and now, 11 years later, I think it’s proven, digital was actually helping the print medium a lot. And of course, some of them lost quite a bit, many lost money, but I think maybe that was just cleaning up the industry, maybe weak media brands in print, they would just go out of business. But then in this great place for new brands, digital helps a lot to promote brands and to create communities. And I think digital can bring value to a media brand, so in the end digital would help printed media, in my opinion. If they’re worth it; if they’re worth the attention that readers can give them.

On what the company is doing now in Luxembourg with its multiple publications: What happened was, back at that time we were publishing monthly magazines and those magazines also had a website. Nowadays, we publish digital daily and twice a day a newsletter goes out to a big number of people. So, we became a digital daily player that also publishes a monthly magazine. I have a business club and all of the features around it, so we’re used to the credibility of print media to get a media power to a digital and to get also a system of organizations to a very strong business club. So, at the end, for us it meant not a fight between digital and print, it’s actually both helping each other and we add the life element to that equation, what you call an ecosystem. So, we believe strongly that print, digital and life, the three of them work really well together. But the basic is the print.

On how he defines content today: For people coming from print, the main thing happening was that journalists and editors had to think more like regular people, TV people, because they had to be journalists non-stop. You couldn’t say, hey, that’s a great thing happening and we’ll have a story in two weeks. No, the thing became, what are you going to do in 15 minutes or later on today about that same story? And what are you doing at the end of the week? So, everything had to shift in the mindset of journalists. Some like and of course, some hate it, because it’s a different thing.

On the three things he would tell someone wanting to start a print magazine in today’s digital world: The first thing you must know is be sure about what you have to say. Is there a reason to produce a magazine, whether it be print or digital, so there always has to be a reason to do something. That would be the first thing I pointed out. And the second one would be do you know your audience; do you have a target? Is it a group you have identified; a group you have listed, a customer base or whatever? And that would be my second point, understanding the audience. Do you have an audience? And the third one would be the tone of voice for it. And the tone of voice includes the channels, the print magazine would be the channel if you know what to say and why. Do you know to whom your speaking? And is the printed medium the right thing?

On why he thinks the magic of print still works today: There are plenty of reasons. One is we need a break from digital. Digital is there your entire day and night. So, we need breaks. Print also means there’s a moment when we choose to do something, there is no addiction. We happily choose to sit down, open a paper, and read it and spend time with it.

On whether he thinks the future of print is in the small, independent boutique titles or there is still a market for both, boutique and mass: Mainstream media, they have the journalists, they have 500 journalists or a thousand journalists, with senior people doing great editing jobs, and they have all of the sources. So, 10 years ago, at that time, we thought that independents would be the future, they would provide inspiration and ideas, and it was easy for them to do it. But then on the other hand, if we have serious mainstream media companies we trust, and that have good content, they can do it, they have to get the resources to do it. So, I think the future will also be among them if they understand they might need a few years to establish their credibility within a community. And you have to be strict with your rules, you can’t say A and then do B.

On why it took 10 years for the magazine industry to realize that there was room for both print and digital, no one had to choose: Many people speak about numbers when they talk about market, it’s the media numbers. Strong players will do really well in digital growth. We have a strong digital growth, but in the meantime we also have that growth in print on the same media brand, which means the brand grows much faster.

On any areas in magazine media that gives him hope and that also stresses him out: I think the change in attitudes happened with many businesspeople in media first. The good and the bad thing with digital is that you have to keep on changing, so you become more alert, you’re open to change. Maybe years ago, you thought your business model and your media brand, everything, was going well, and that you would do a relaunch every five years and that will make life fantastic. That is over. And I think that’s good news, because we can and we love to adapt now. We also know that everything that’s true in digital today might not be true in six months. We don’t know what’s going to happen with new applications, new business models. The good thing is while that could be a danger for some people, it could also be a great opportunity, of course.

On other publications he has looked at and thought he might like to do something like that: It happens all of the time actually. I think the interesting point is that weekly supplements of daily papers are becoming really exciting. I think that’s a big trend. Many years ago it was proven with the weekly supplement that became a brand on its own. Today, you have L’Echo, which is a business paper and they have a fantastic weekend edition, really nicely produced, great design, great stock, just everything is quite great. I think that’s one type of inspiration, all of those really well-produced weekend supplements. We’re lucky in Luxembourg to speak German, French and English, so we can choose different markets, we can mix them up.

On whether there will be another Colophon: We’re thinking about it. Recently, I met up with Jeremy Leslie and we talked about it. We missed our 10 year anniversary, but we discussed that it would be a good thing to do again, but the event would have to be different than it was 10 years ago. At that time we were celebrating independent magazines and pointing out that there are some underdogs and people have to look at them. And that’s different from today. But today I would say that we are talking very seriously about it, but we want to take time on it, look out for what would be the best way to produce it in 2020 or maybe 2021. And mixing it up with mainstream and independent, I think that’s an important thing.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: Independent.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I quit TV over 25 years ago, so there’s no TV in any of my places. But a number of years ago, I’m back into visual content with Netflix, which is a fantastic tool. It added another element. So, I might be doing something which I wouldn’t have done five years ago, but I’m doing it now.

On what keeps him up at night: I sleep very well. (Laughs) What actually keeps me up at night, to get back to your question, is to see if we can get Paperjam up and running as a franchise system in a few regions in Europe within the next three years. We believe strongly in our ecosystem, which we consider powerful and unique in Europe.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Mike Koedinger, founder and president of the board of directors, Maison Moderne.

Samir Husni: The last time you and I met in person was in 2007, and you dedicated your love for magazines in the book, “We Love Magazines.” What has been going on with you in those last 11 years? Give me an update. In 2007, we celebrated magazines; in 2009, digital burst upon the scene; what happened next?

Mike Koedinger: People really cared about digital, they were thinking that would be the end (of print). And we were saying, no, let’s not panic. There might be reasons why print has a great future and now, 11 years later, I think it’s proven, digital was actually helping the print medium a lot. And of course, some of them lost quite a bit, many lost money, but I think maybe that was just cleaning up the industry, maybe weak media brands in print, they would just go out of business. But then in this great place for new brands, digital helps a lot to promote brands and to create communities. And I think digital can bring value to a media brand, so in the end digital would help printed media, in my opinion. If they’re worth it; if they’re worth the attention that readers can give them.

Samir Husni: Did your organization in Luxembourg expand its print footprint, reduce its print footprint; what are you doing now with the multiple publications?

Mike Koedinger: What happened was, back at that time we were publishing monthly magazines and those magazines also had a website. Nowadays, we publish digital daily and twice a day a newsletter goes out to a big number of people. So, we became a digital daily player that also publishes a monthly magazine. I have a business club and all of the features around it, so we’re used to the credibility of print media to get a media power to a digital and to get also a system of organizations to a very strong business club. So, at the end, for us it meant not a fight between digital and print, it’s actually both helping each other and we add the life element to that equation, what you call an ecosystem. So, we believe strongly that print, digital and life, the three of them work really well together. But the basic is the print.

Samir Husni: As a journalist, as a designer, as an artist; how do you define content today and how is it different than what content used to be 10 or 20 years ago?

Mike Koedinger: For people coming from print, the main thing happening was that journalists and editors had to think more like regular people, TV people, because they had to be journalists non-stop. You couldn’t say, hey, that’s a great thing happening and we’ll have a story in two weeks. No, the thing became, what are you going to do in 15 minutes or later on today about that same story? And what are you doing at the end of the week? So, everything had to shift in the mindset of journalists. Some like and of course, some hate it, because it’s a different thing.

It’s trying times for journalists. The younger generation really love it, they’re really fast. Two, three years ago, we started having Facebook Live transmissions from press conferences. You can’t be faster than real time. While there was no added value, the timing was right, and then it took you two or three hours to ring out a great story on the topic. So, journalists were doing many things at the same time, but they were live-streaming unedited information and then they were writing a story. And that’s a big change, and people had to be ready for it. Some of them had difficulties, obviously. The thing is, it’s a great moment for journalism, because people have never been so strongly interested in news. And that’s really great.

Samir Husni: If somebody came to you today and said, Mike, I want to start a print magazine in this digital age. What are the one, two, threes that you would tell them? Before you do that, here is what you must know…

Mike Koedinger: The first thing you must know is be sure about what you have to say. Is there a reason to produce a magazine, whether it be print or digital, so there always has to be a reason to do something. That would be the first thing I pointed out. And the second one would be do you know your audience; do you have a target? Is it a group you have identified; a group you have listed, a customer base or whatever? And that would be my second point, understanding the audience. Do you have an audience? And the third one would be the tone of voice for it. And the tone of voice includes the channels, the print magazine would be the channel if you know what to say and why. Do you know to whom your speaking? And is the printed medium the right thing?

In most cases, I think it is. I’m not sure I would recommend going 100 percent print only. Maybe. It can be quite oppressive to be print only. If it’s for a specific reader group like educated readers with contact every three months, maybe that would be perfect. But otherwise, I would imagine a combination would be best, where they get little alerts from time to time and then press releases and things in the mail every three months or so.

We still do many magazines for clients. We have an art/digital team, but in the end, many companies and institutions come to us to produce print magazines. And it’s always working, if you have a great print magazine and you send it out, it works.

Samir Husni: Why do you think that print magic still works today?

Mike Koedinger: There are plenty of reasons. One is we need a break from digital. Digital is there your entire day and night. So, we need breaks. Print also means there’s a moment when we choose to do something, there is no addiction. We happily choose to sit down, open a paper, and read it and spend time with it.

The thing I really love with print is whatever the number of pages are, you have the media brand telling that you for the last 24 hours or the last week, or month, whatever it is, these are the most relevant topics we chose for you, on any given team that the brand is on. And that’s a great guarantee, otherwise it means you have these non-stop feeds that come at all hours. It’s non-stop ad can be really crazy. With some papers, you don’t have many pages, maybe 30, and those are the most relevant things: culture, politics, culinary, so it’s a great service. They did the work for you. It’s what newspapers are all about. Nowadays, you have to look at feeds, it’s like this addiction. So, I think for people who appreciate their time management, print is really great.

Samir Husni: You’ve started so many boutique magazines. In fact, between you and Jeremy (Leslie) and Andrew (Losowsky), you’ve coined the phrase “boutique magazines,” and with the Colophon One and Two, we had more boutique magazines than actually mass. Do you think the future of print is in those small, independent boutique titles? Or do you still feel there’s a market for both?

Mike Koedinger: For the daily printed press, the market would be very tough, that’s for sure. More and more strong media brands are going international, you have German brands that have English editions now, so they’re very strong in important domestic markets, while going international. So there would be a big fight within the super media brands: The New York Times, The Guardian. And I think that fight would be difficult. So, for the daily press, mainly in print, there will not be much left over in 10 or 15 years. But we said that before, years ago, so we’ll see. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Mike Koedinger: But definitely there will be another fight for weekend publications, weekend supplements of daily papers or monthly magazines. It’s a fantastic break from the stressful week, when you have the weekend edition from quality magazines which you can read. Those are done both by niche players and by independent publishers.

But on the other hand, mainstream media, they have the journalists, they have 500 journalists or a thousand journalists, with senior people doing great editing jobs, and they have all of the sources. So, 10 years ago, at that time, we thought that independents would be the future, they would provide inspiration and ideas, and it was easy for them to do it. But then on the other hand, if we have serious mainstream media companies we trust, and that have good content, they can do it, they have to get the resources to do it. So, I think the future will also be among them if they understand they might need a few years to establish their credibility within a community. And you have to be strict with your rules, you can’t say A and then do B.

The independents are doing it out of a very personal passion. The mainstream media groups, while they need to have a strong team that has been with them a number of years and who have strong convictions, they can do it. If they have the freedom within their structure, they can do it.

Samir Husni: As a publisher, journalist, designer; you combine all of the entities of magazine making, why did it take 10 years for the industry to recognize that print is not going anywhere and digital is not going anywhere? Why didn’t the magazine industry have the same conversations it’s having now 10 years ago, that print and digital are both going to be around?

Mike Koedinger: Many people speak about numbers when they talk about market, it’s the media numbers. Strong players will do really well in digital growth. We have a strong digital growth, but in the meantime we also have that growth in print on the same media brand, which means the brand grows much faster.

Over a number of years, Paperjam grew by 20 percent globally in print, but enormously in digital. So, in the end, the numbers prove concepts. In the beginning, everyone was saying the future is digital, which meant readers would like to consume on digital channels, but now we can see that digital also means, depending on your market and your product, you can make money from digital, which is a new thing. At that time it was more about the readers are going to ask for it, but how do we make money? Nowadays, you can make money, but people also leave a brand quite fast. Newcomers like BuzzFeed, they come and they go. It’s like when they arrive, that’s the future. That would be the future that people would like to have for media consumption.

Today, there is more maturity; more people have Internet, even in Europe. It’s over 10 years of strong business. I think people have reconsidered how to do it; new ideas are still very strong. I remember Flipboard arriving and I thought that would be the future, forget the media brands. In the end, after three months, maybe you stop using it, you get bored by it, because somehow you lose what the media brand is about. About the editing and the selection of the information. I think it’s difficult to speak about world markets, territorial-wise, than mainstream, the niche, the daily press, the vertical press. Is it more the B to B titles, is it whatever, so it can be very difficult.

On our side, what we learned during that period is that somehow out of an initial conviction, we always focus on AB readers, highly-educated readers with high incomes, not being luxury or elite publications, but it was for us a more natural way to address people. We can’t do the mainstream publicist thing, we’re not good at that. We’re good at other stuff. And we noticed that it’s possible in a super-small market like Luxembourg, it’s difficult to understand for people out of Europe that we’re speaking of a market of 700,000 people, including babies and retired people.

Samir Husni: (Laughs).

Mike Koedinger: Also including 200,000 people who are commuting every day from neighboring countries, so it’s a super-small market. And in that small market we managed to prove that the system can work. And if it can work in this small market, it can work anywhere.

Samir Husni: As you look from that small market through the global vision of print and digital, and the future of magazine media, are there some areas that give you hope and other areas that stress you?

Mike Koedinger: Yes, I think the change in attitudes happened with many businesspeople in media first. The good and the bad thing with digital is that you have to keep on changing, so you become more alert, you’re open to change. Maybe years ago, you thought your business model and your media brand, everything, was going well, and that you would do a relaunch every five years and that will make life fantastic. That is over. And I think that’s good news, because we can and we love to adapt now. We also know that everything that’s true in digital today might not be true in six months. We don’t know what’s going to happen with new applications, new business models. The good thing is while that could be a danger for some people, it could also be a great opportunity, of course.

It could mean that you might be smaller today in print, but you could be larger in digital tomorrow. So, I think it’s a great opportunity for publishers, and it’s great for the talents of professionals, editors and journalists, because they will have to adapt, only a few brands can remain very classical in their journalism, others, we have to adapt. So, I think it’s a good thing that’s happening. People have become much more alert and ready to accept change. The market has also been a bit shaken up, which is a good thing.

The bad thing is that it’s difficult for planning; it’s difficult to invest money. If you invest money, it means you can’t invest for 10 years, you invest for two or three years, depending on your resources. We invest in a schedule of three to five years, because you never know. But we’re very confident that every change brings opportunity to us. As we are an agile company, we just react, even with a hundred people we try to behave like a startup, be fast, no external channel, nobody pressuring us on making more profit or not risking. So, for our size of company, it’s a great moment. We have resources, but we also have flexibility.

Samir Husni: If you were to choose one publication, what would be the last one you looked at and said, “Wow, I want to do something similar to that?”

Mike Koedinger: It happens all of the time actually. I think the interesting point is that weekly supplements of daily papers are becoming really exciting. I think that’s a big trend. Many years ago it was proven with the weekly supplement that became a brand on its own. Today, you have L’Echo, which is a business paper and they have a fantastic weekend edition, really nicely produced, great design, great stock, just everything is quite great. I think that’s one type of inspiration, all of those really well-produced weekend supplements. We’re lucky in Luxembourg to speak German, French and English, so we can choose different markets, we can mix them up.

On the other side, there are so many really funny and well-produced independent magazines, there are so many to even name, they’re popping up all of the time. And I think now, with all the people you have access to, it’s really easy to produce. The strength of them is that they are really honest. If they want to do something, they just do it. And I think that’s always inspirational. It’s not about one specific title, it’s likely more about their attitude, they can be really into doing something, maybe it’s been thought about for a couple of years, then it just pops up.

Samir Husni: Are we going to see another Colophon?

Mike Koedinger: We’re thinking about it. Recently, I met up with Jeremy Leslie and we talked about it. We missed our 10 year anniversary, but we discussed that it would be a good thing to do again, but the event would have to be different than it was 10 years ago. At that time we were celebrating independent magazines and pointing out that there are some underdogs and people have to look at them. And that’s different from today.

But today I would say that we are talking very seriously about it, but we want to take time on it, look out for what would be the best way to produce it in 2020 or maybe 2021. And mixing it up with mainstream and independent, I think that’s an important thing. Ten years ago there was no discussion about the business models, it was mainly about the design and independency. That was the big thing. But I think today, some of them that we celebrated at that time are still there, such as Fantastic Man, some have really established themselves as being big challengers.

But I think today it’s more about everything you need to do as a media brand: the business model, understanding the reader. There are so many tools for measuring all things now, you can’t just be about how it looks. I think that time is over. And the good thing is the established media companies, they really need those young talents, because they will grow up and maybe go to work for them. So, it’s also part of the system.

So, I think Colophon, if we bring it back, it will have to evolve and consider this new context. There are still events happening, coming and going about media. Jeremy (Leslie) is having his Modern Magazine conference annually now and very soon also in New York. So, there are things happening in independency and I think if Colophon comes back, the future should definitely include mainstream publishers and larger media companies, and what everyone can learn from each other. I think bringing those two worlds together would be a great thing to do.

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

Mike Koedinger: Independent.

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?

Mike Koedinger: I quit TV over 25 years ago, so there’s no TV in any of my places. But a number of years ago, I’m back into visual content with Netflix, which is a fantastic tool. It added another element. So, I might be doing something which I wouldn’t have done five years ago, but I’m doing it now.

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

Mike Koedinger: I sleep very well. (Laughs) What actually keeps me up at night, to get back to your question, is to see if we can get Paperjam up and running as a franchise system in a few regions in Europe within the next three years. We believe strongly in our ecosystem, which we consider powerful and unique in Europe.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Bella Grace New Generation Magazine: Inspiring A “New Generation” Of Print With A Different Kind Of Teen Magazine – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Christen Hammons, Director of Publishing/Editor In Chief, Bella Grace New Generation…

April 5, 2018

“Based off of sales reports and things that we’ve been looking at in general about what teenagers are doing, they’re buying books at the bookstores. The Young Adult section has just exploded in the past few years. So, we think there are a large quantity of teenagers who do like print and do like having a physical copy of something.” Christen Hammons…

“I think there’s room for both. I’m an avid reader and I go back and forth between my Kindle and my paper books constantly. I have a huge paper book collection and love the feel of those. There are people who want to unplug from time to time and I think it’s nice to be able to have the feel of paper. But they can work alongside each other. I do believe some people get tired of technology occasionally and it’s a good break to be able to pick up a paper magazine. There are just certain things you can’t do digitally that you can with paper and that’s what we have really enjoyed. The act of going to the bookstore and picking up your magazine and flipping through it.” Christen Hammons (on print’s role in a digital age)…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

Stampington & Company have been producing niche, enthusiast magazines for almost a quarter of a century. When it comes to arts and crafts, no one knows the space better than Stampington. But almost four years ago, the company stepped out of its comfort zone and launched a beautiful lifestyle magazine for women called Bella Grace. The first issue was filled with photographs and beautifully-penned stories that touched the heart and soul of the reader.

And now Bella Grace has given birth to a daughter, New Generation, a new teen magazine from Stampington geared toward 12-19 year old girls. Christen Hammons is director of publishing and editor in chief at Stampington & Company and is excited to send out birth announcements for the latest infant of the Bella Grace brand, a teen magazine that is proud to be different and offers girls places within its pages to journal, doodle, or just be themselves. A unique magazine for the individual teen with a need to find and share her voice, something New Generation encourages as over half of the magazine’s content is teen-contributed, with an ultimate goal of much more to come.

I spoke with Christen recently and we talked about the firm print foothold that the company still believes in so strongly, something that is obvious with every new title launched. But she and the company also believe in the digital presence of a brand too and definitely feel there is room for both, as she mentions in our conversation. Print Proud is an obvious fact with Stampington, but Digital Smart is also a part of its DNA, however, never a follower, Stampington & Company does digital its own way.

So, I hope that you enjoy this fascinating conversation with a woman who isn’t afraid to step out of the box and explore new frontiers, just as the company she works for isn’t, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christen Hammons, director of publishing/editor in chief, Bella Grace New Generation.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether Stampington and Company is out of its mind for starting a print publication for teenagers in this digital age: I really don’t think so. Based off of sales reports and things that we’ve been looking at in general about what teenagers are doing, they’re buying books at the bookstores. The Young Adult section has just exploded in the past few years. So, we think there are a large quantity of teenagers who do like print and do like having a physical copy of something. It sounds a little scary, but we thought it was worth a shot. There’s really nothing out there for that age group, especially the type of magazine that we’ve put out, where it is not focused on beauty or celebrities or anything like that.

On New Generation being a spinoff of Bella Grace, only for the younger Bella’s: Exactly. That’s exactly what the hope was. We call it, not even a sister publication, we’re almost calling it the mother publication because we had quite a bit of teenagers, although they were in the upper age range of what we’re featuring in New Generation, but we were having 18 and 19 year olds writing in to Bella Grace, submitting some really amazing stories. And we realized that we had a market already there, so it just seemed logical to do this.

On the non-political tone of the magazine: We’re trying to keep it a little bit on the lighter side. We are trying to keep it to where it will appeal to a variety of people. For example, I know Teen Vogue has taken a very strong political stance, but we want to make sure that there’s a place where they can take a break from all that’s going on in the world, because every day it’s something new for them to deal with, so it’s nice to have something that is all about them.

On the smaller size of New Generation: We’re trying to keep Bella Grace as the mother publication and the gold standard, where it has the book jacket cover, a very heavy cover and it’s a large magazine. This one is a little fun and whimsical and we made it a little bit smaller so you can throw it into your purse or in your bag or your backpack. We just think it’s fun to do things a little bit different and that not a lot of people do.

On what role she thinks print plays in a digital age: I think there’s room for both. I’m an avid reader and I go back and forth between my Kindle and my paper books constantly. I have a huge paper book collection and love the feel of those. There are people who want to unplug from time to time and I think it’s nice to be able to have the feel of paper. But they can work alongside each other. I do believe some people get tired of technology occasionally and it’s a good break to be able to pick up a paper magazine. There are just certain things you can’t do digitally that you can with paper and that’s what we have really enjoyed. The act of going to the bookstore and picking up your magazine and flipping through it.

On the high cover price: What we’re doing is creating an experience. We’ve always been known for having higher-end magazines. We use the best paper we can find; we use really thick paper. And on all of our magazines, we keep a limit on outside advertising that we include. We’re really committed to making sure our magazines across the board, even some of our art magazines, are more of an experience, not just stories and articles, but we’re trying to make them more interactive and things that you can’t find online or digitally.

On Facebook’s CEO buying ads in print newspapers to make his public apology about the recent data breach: We’ve been seeing an uptick in some of our advertising sales. I mean, we do limit that, we have a set number of pages that we allow, but we’re starting to see a little bit of a revitalization of some print advertising, which is hard to do because so much of advertising has changed now to product placement online or sponsorships and affiliate programs. But it’s been nice seeing a little bit of a revival of print advertising, because making magazines is very expensive, so it does help support the cost of producing them.

On how she plans on ensuring that the Stampington & Company brand grows and becomes even “brandier”: What we’re trying to do with our brand is stay true to just putting out what’s fresh and really trying to make sure that we aren’t holding onto titles that are maybe a little boring or dated, so we’re trying to stay with what we’ve become known for, which is putting out new stuff all of the time. And that’s hard to find at times too, because sometimes you think you can’t come up with a new idea, but we’ve managed to. We have some more titles coming out in the next year that will really show how we’re always trying to push the envelope when it comes to what a magazine can be.

On the lifecycle of a magazine and how nothing is supposed to live forever: That’s been hard for us. We just looked at some of the titles that we’ve had for a long time and realized they’re not selling as well anymore. What could we put out there that people will want to buy? It’s hard, but because we have worked on these magazines for a long time, they can get a little tedious, they’re fun, but over time, anything can get a little boring to work on, so it’s been fun to revitalize the company and everyone is excited about new stuff when we put it out. Then the readers also get excited, and you have to keep your readers interested in what you’re doing. And keep it fresh for the readers, because obviously, that’s who we make these for.

On the Bella Grace brand being such a shift in focus for the company and how that journey has been: It was very nerve-wracking. We’ve been known so long for just primarily being arts and crafts magazines, so to put something out there that’s more of a lifestyle was very scary, but it’s been so well-received. We’ve had so many people to thank us for launching it, because there’s nothing like it out there. So many women’s magazines seem to all focus on the same thing that we thought, we have amazing writers that we work with, we’re all about supporting women, so it’s just been so well-received.

On whether there might be a “son” of Bella Grace in the future instead of just being a women’s magazine: We’ve thought about that. We’re definitely always open to the idea of that. It’s just for now we feel like it’s such a good time to empower and support women. We have had occasional male contributors, but we haven’t really dove in to see if there’s an interest on the male side of things.

On the major stumbling block facing New Generation: I think it’s the matter of getting it into their hands. Whether it be a parent; our hope is that the original Bella Grace reader will see that we have something for the younger crowd and they get excited and pick it up. That’s going to be the biggest challenge, but we have ideas for reaching out to schools and English teachers to see if we can get them copies, maybe even wholesale copies, just to get it into their hands. That’s the first thing.

On the Audrey Hepburn quote in the first issue of New Generation and whether she thinks teens will relate: I think it’s just the message that it conveys and we know how popular beautifully-designed quotes are. If you spend any time on Pinterest, that’s what the majority of people are sharing on there, these types of quotes. And I think the one we used of Audrey Hepburn’s is a timeless quote.

On how she is integrating the print New Generation magazine with a digital presence: Our model has been, for the most part, to wait on producing anything digitally from our titles until the print version has sold out. So, once it has sold out we make it available digitally, so we do not have to do a reprint and a rerun of the magazines. What we’re trying to do is create a nice community online for the readers. With our Bella Grace Instagram, we really try to make an effort. We use Instagram quite a bit, as well as Facebook, of course, but it seems a lot of people are spending large amounts of time on Instagram now, and it’s really great to see the community that’s emerging from our readers. They’ll have conversations back and forth.

On what she would hope to tell someone about the magazine and its journey one year from now: I hope if we talk a year from now to tell you that the demand has been so great that we were able to increase the magazine’s frequency to as frequent as Bella Grace’s, which is quarterly. And we’re hoping by that time, I would love to have 90 percent of the contributors be within the age range that we’re reaching out to for New Generation. Right now, we have a little over half of the girls are within that age range. I would love to have almost the entire magazine made up of that, because we say on the back of the magazine that we believe everyone has a voice and a story to tell, and we really want to help them tell their stories.

On whether she feels they are more experience makers or journalists at Stampington & Company: I would say that we’re more makers than anything. We don’t report on news; I feel like we’re makers in this company and we’re trying to showcase the work of our peers at the end of the day, whether they’re writers, photographers. I think we’re makers because we’re putting out a product that we’re truly proud of, with a lot of content and a lot of just emotion.

On whether the last issue produced is always her favorite magazine: I’d like to think that each one is better and it’s my favorite, but it’s hard because I’m already looking at the next one. I finish one and my mind is already on the next one. It’s a good reminder to step back and look at what you’ve accomplished, because by the time we get our print copies back, I’m already knee-deep in the next issue and I have maybe a few minutes to flip through it and appreciate what we’ve done.

On anything she’d like to add: This is one of those magazines that we’re so passionate about and that’s not to say that we don’t connect with the artwork that we publish in our other magazines, but there’s really an emotional tie from myself, from our publisher, from our designers, when we work on Bella Grace, that it’s just something we’re so passionate about doing and we’re so proud of it. It’s a different kind of fulfillment that we get from working on these titles over our art magazines.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: I would hope that they would think of authenticity and honesty.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: At the end of the day you’ll likely find me watching hockey; I’m a huge hockey fan; I have season tickets, so my husband and I are huge hockey fans. We’re a little obsessive and it’s just a great way to unwind. If you’re watching a game, you have no choice but to focus on the game, your mind doesn’t wander whatsoever. But I am also a veracious reader, I think last year I read 55 books. I’m a little more than a book a week, so those are my two passions. Watching hockey, but also reading. I love reading and I like stepping away from the computer at the end of the day.

On what keeps her up at night: (Laughs) Just having so many ideas and not having the time to execute things. Sometimes I have these ideas that I’d love to do and I just look at my daily schedule and it’s sometimes not feasible.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christen Hammons, director of publishing & editor in chief, Bella Grace’s New Generation magazine.

Samir Husni: Are you out of your mind starting a print publication for ages 12-19 in this digital age?

Christen Hammons: I really don’t think so. Based off of sales reports and things that we’ve been looking at in general about what teenagers are doing, they’re buying books at the bookstores. The Young Adult section has just exploded in the past few years. So, we think there are a large quantity of teenagers who do like print and do like having a physical copy of something. It sounds a little scary, but we thought it was worth a shot. There’s really nothing out there for that age group, especially the type of magazine that we’ve put out, where it is not focused on beauty or celebrities or anything like that.

It’s hard for teenagers sometimes, going through life, and we wanted to put something out there that really helped reaffirm who they are. And we think by combining it with the worksheet style, it provides something that was definitely worth picking up in print, because no other magazine has the worksheets and prompts for the kids to write in their book. So, we thought that was a key component for making sure that the print edition was worthwhile.

Samir Husni: Stampington, as a company, has been grounded in publishing all kinds of journals, from crafts to your latest, Bella Grace. And New Generation is a spinoff of Bella Grace, for the younger Bella’s.

Christen Hammons: Exactly. That’s exactly what the hope was. We call it, not even a sister publication, we’re almost calling it the mother publication because we had quite a bit of teenagers, although they were in the upper age range of what we’re featuring in New Generation, but we were having 18 and 19 year olds writing in to Bella Grace, submitting some really amazing stories. And we realized that we had a market already there, so it just seemed logical to do this.

Our hope is that the mothers will pick up this book for their daughters. Or grandmothers or aunts will pick this up for the younger girls in their lives and show them that there is something completely different out there for them. And hopefully it will reaffirm who they are during this really tough transition in their lives.

Growing up is not the same as it used to be. (Laughs) At least, when I did it. I just can’t imagine being a teenager these days. I think back to when I was a teenager and at the core, I think everyone struggles with the same issues and is looking for the same sort of validation in their lives. I would have loved something like this when I was growing up.

I was the girl who stayed home and wanted to read Jane Austen, instead of going out with friends. I was a homebody; I was a reader. I was a little bookish, so we’ve tried to open this up to all types of teenagers who have a wide variety of interests. I think sometimes that generation is underestimated, they get a lot of unfair criticism at times. They are a generation of substance and they’re smart. And we’re just hoping that by having their moms pick it up and putting it in their hands, that they’ll fall in love with it the way we have as we worked on it.

What’s really interesting too is that we’ve seen a couple of teen magazines launch recently, but this is one where at least half of the content is written by girls that are ages 12-19, which is really unique. There are some really incredible, talented children out there, teenagers out there, and I think that really sets it apart. They’re writing these stories for their classmates and their friends, and their own generation, so that’s what’s been fun, getting these incredible stories from these girls. I think our youngest contributor is 12 in this issue and it just gives them a voice. I think all anyone really wants is to be heard. So, we’ve been really proud to be able to provide them with their own voice.

Samir Husni: I’ve noticed that you have avoided any political aspects in the magazine?

Christen Hammons: We’re trying to keep it a little bit on the lighter side. We are trying to keep it to where it will appeal to a variety of people. For example, I know Teen Vogue has taken a very strong political stance, but we want to make sure that there’s a place where they can take a break from all that’s going on in the world, because every day it’s something new for them to deal with, so it’s nice to have something that is all about them. And something that just supports who they are and hopefully helps to give them a little more confidence, or lets them know that there’s other girls out there just like them that are committed to the same things in life.

Samir Husni: You’ve also managed to create a new size for the magazine, different than the rest of your titles. Tell me more about the idea of having a compact size print magazine.

Christen Hammons: In August 2017, we actually launched the first spinoff of Bella Grace, and that was our Field Guide, which is a whole workbook, full of prompts to write in and all of that. And we thought it would be fun to set it apart by making it a smaller size. So, it’s even smaller than New Generation, but we just thought it was a good size to tuck into your bag. It’s a nice distinction from Bella Grace.

We’re trying to keep Bella Grace as the mother publication and the gold standard, where it has the book jacket cover, a very heavy cover and it’s a large magazine. This one is a little fun and whimsical and we made it a little bit smaller so you can throw it into your purse or in your bag or your backpack. We just think it’s fun to do things a little bit different and that not a lot of people do.

Samir Husni: In your opinion, what role does print play in a digital age?

Christen Hammons: I think there’s room for both. I’m an avid reader and I go back and forth between my Kindle and my paper books constantly. I have a huge paper book collection and love the feel of those. There are people who want to unplug from time to time and I think it’s nice to be able to have the feel of paper. But they can work alongside each other. I do believe some people get tired of technology occasionally and it’s a good break to be able to pick up a paper magazine. There are just certain things you can’t do digitally that you can with paper and that’s what we have really enjoyed. The act of going to the bookstore and picking up your magazine and flipping through it.

We have a couple of coloring pages in New Generation. We’ve got over 16 worksheets that give girls a little fun prompt to write, and it encourages them to either write or doodle, things like that. And you can’t do that with digital. And we think that’s what’s really fun about it. But I do think there’s a place for both.

Samir Husni: For the price of one issue of New Generation, you can subscribe to an entire year of some other magazines.

Christen Hammons: What we’re doing is creating an experience. We’ve always been known for having higher-end magazines. We use the best paper we can find; we use really thick paper. And on all of our magazines, we keep a limit on outside advertising that we include. We’re really committed to making sure our magazines across the board, even some of our art magazines, are more of an experience, not just stories and articles, but we’re trying to make them more interactive and things that you can’t find online or digitally.

Samir Husni: Recently, a friend of mine reminded me that when Facebook’s CEO apologized for the data breach, he didn’t use Facebook or any digital device, he actually bought ads in print newspapers.

Christen Hammons: We’ve been seeing an uptick in some of our advertising sales. I mean, we do limit that, we have a set number of pages that we allow, but we’re starting to see a little bit of a revitalization of some print advertising, which is hard to do because so much of advertising has changed now to product placement online or sponsorships and affiliate programs. But it’s been nice seeing a little bit of a revival of print advertising, because making magazines is very expensive, so it does help support the cost of producing them.

Samir Husni: You’ve been making magazines for some time now and you’ve created your own niche in the marketplace, where even if your name is not on the magazine as Stampington & Company, people directly know that it’s a Stampington & Company magazine. How are you ensuring that your brand will continue to grow and that it becomes actually “brandier” as print has become “printier?”

Christen Hammons: What we’re trying to do with our brand is stay true to just putting out what’s fresh and really trying to make sure that we aren’t holding onto titles that are maybe a little boring or dated, so we’re trying to stay with what we’ve become known for, which is putting out new stuff all of the time. And that’s hard to find at times too, because sometimes you think you can’t come up with a new idea, but we’ve managed to. We have some more titles coming out in the next year that will really show how we’re always trying to push the envelope when it comes to what a magazine can be.

And what’s been fun with Bella Grace is that we’ve really embraced that as a brand. We’ve embraced it as a lifestyle, by having Bella Grace and then having the sister publications coming off of that and the daughter publications, it’s really strengthening our brand and becoming really well known. We’re hoping to maybe look into maybe product lines that support it, that really fit within the Bella Grace feel.

We’ve really just become committed to keeping our brand fresh and exciting and launching things off of that to really enforce what our brand is, because we have a couple of other special publications that will be coming from the Bella Grace name. So, we’ll keep playing with ways to keep that brand exciting, but at the same time we still have our Stampington brand as well, which we have another handful of stuff coming out in the next year in place of titles that aren’t working so well anymore. Sometimes people have seen enough copies of something and it’s time to maybe either reduce the frequency or just to shift focus onto something else that maybe people haven’t seen so much of.

Samir Husni: You’re actually living the lifecycle of magazines. This is one of the things that I tell people; when a magazine dies or a magazine is born, that’s the natural lifecycle. Nobody is supposed to live forever.

Christen Hammons: Right, and that’s been hard for us. We just looked at some of the titles that we’ve had for a long time and realized they’re not selling as well anymore. What could we put out there that people will want to buy? It’s hard, but because we have worked on these magazines for a long time, they can get a little tedious, they’re fun, but over time, anything can get a little boring to work on, so it’s been fun to revitalize the company and everyone is excited about new stuff when we put it out. Then the readers also get excited, and you have to keep your readers interested in what you’re doing. And keep it fresh for the readers, because obviously, that’s who we make these for. But it has been hard to say goodbye to a few titles though.

Samir Husni: The last time we spoke, it was when you launched Bella Grace and it was a major shift from the titles that you had. When we spoke then, you were testing the waters with something very different. How has that journey been for the company?

Christen Hammons: It was very nerve-wracking. We’ve been known so long for just primarily being arts and crafts magazines, so to put something out there that’s more of a lifestyle was very scary, but it’s been so well-received. We’ve had so many people to thank us for launching it, because there’s nothing like it out there. So many women’s magazines seem to all focus on the same thing that we thought, we have amazing writers that we work with, we’re all about supporting women, so it’s just been so well-received. I’m glad we were nervous, because it made it exciting. Being that excited should make you nervous, but it really has been well-received.

Samir Husni: Any thoughts about having any “sons” of Bella Grace instead of daughters, or you’re going to just be a women’s lifestyle magazine?

Christen Hammons: We’ve thought about that. We’re definitely always open to the idea of that. It’s just for now we feel like it’s such a good time to empower and support women. We have had occasional male contributors, but we haven’t really dove in to see if there’s an interest on the male side of things.

Samir Husni: What do you think will be the major stumbling block facing New Generation?

Christen Hammons: I think it’s the matter of getting it into their hands. Whether it be a parent; our hope is that the original Bella Grace reader will see that we have something for the younger crowd and they get excited and pick it up. That’s going to be the biggest challenge, but we have ideas for reaching out to schools and English teachers to see if we can get them copies, maybe even wholesale copies, just to get it into their hands. That’s the first thing.

Samir Husni: On the last page of the magazine, there’s a quote from Audrey Hepburn. One of my students, who is a senior and graduating this May, her magazine idea is a magazine called Hepburn, after Audrey Hepburn. And she is a reader of Bella Grace. And she knew that New Generation was coming out before I did, I guess. Do you think this generation will relate or why Audrey Hepburn for these 12-19 year olds?

Christen Hammons: I think it’s just the message that it conveys and we know how popular beautifully-designed quotes are. If you spend any time on Pinterest, that’s what the majority of people are sharing on there, these types of quotes. And I think the one we used of Audrey Hepburn’s is a timeless quote. I thought it would be a challenge coming up with quotes.

A large part of Bella Grace and New Generation are these quotes that are laid out on photography. And I thought it would be challenging to find quotes that would relate to the age group for New Generation. But it was actually really easy, because the themes are universal, I think, for the most part. And so we really tried to keep in mind that having these quotes in there; maybe the girls would rip them out of the magazine and put them on their walls.

We were just looking for something that would appeal to the wide range of girls that are in this. And that’s a very well-known quote from Audrey Hepburn. And at the end of the day, these girls may not know who Audrey Hepburn is, but they’ll like the message she’s sharing.

Samir Husni: As we look at this “New Generation” of print, and recently my new book came out, Print Proud Digital Smart, you said earlier that we have to have both today, print and digital. How are you integrating this proud print product with the digital presence?

Christen Hammons: Our model has been, for the most part, to wait on producing anything digitally from our titles until the print version has sold out. So, once it has sold out we make it available digitally, so we do not have to do a reprint and a rerun of the magazines. What we’re trying to do is create a nice community online for the readers. With our Bella Grace Instagram, we really try to make an effort. We use Instagram quite a bit, as well as Facebook, of course, but it seems a lot of people are spending large amounts of time on Instagram now, and it’s really great to see the community that’s emerging from our readers. They’ll have conversations back and forth.

And we’ve heard from people that they’ve made friends with the people that they have interacted with on Instagram, just through our account. So, we’re just trying to build an online community that’s apart from the magazine, but is still a digital presence online.

Samir Husni: As you look toward the future, if you and I are chatting a year from now, what would you hope to tell me about New Generation?

Christen Hammons: I hope if we talk a year from now to tell you that the demand has been so great that we were able to increase the magazine’s frequency to as frequent as Bella Grace’s, which is quarterly. And we’re hoping by that time, I would love to have 90 percent of the contributors be within the age range that we’re reaching out to for New Generation. Right now, we have a little over half of the girls are within that age range. I would love to have almost the entire magazine made up of that, because we say on the back of the magazine that we believe everyone has a voice and a story to tell, and we really want to help them tell their stories.

Samir Husni: Do you consider yourself more of an experience maker or a journalist?

Christen Hammons: I would say that we’re more makers than anything. We don’t report on news; I feel like we’re makers in this company and we’re trying to showcase the work of our peers at the end of the day, whether they’re writers, photographers. I think we’re makers because we’re putting out a product that we’re truly proud of, with a lot of content and a lot of just emotion.

Samir Husni: And is the last issue always your favorite magazine you produce from any magazine?

Christen Hammons: I have favorites. That’s funny because when you work on a magazine, each one has its backstory, and maybe this one was more difficult for whatever reason. We’ve had some things just happen within the company that has almost been laughable, where we’re right on track and then something happens and we’re totally thrown off and then we’re behind. So, sometimes you have those personal ties to the magazines that you’ll associate with that particular magazine.

I’d like to think that each one is better and it’s my favorite, but it’s hard because I’m already looking at the next one. I finish one and my mind is already on the next one. It’s a good reminder to step back and look at what you’ve accomplished, because by the time we get our print copies back, I’m already knee-deep in the next issue and I have maybe a few minutes to flip through it and appreciate what we’ve done.

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

Christen Hammons: This is one of those magazines that we’re so passionate about and that’s not to say that we don’t connect with the artwork that we publish in our other magazines, but there’s really an emotional tie from myself, from our publisher, from our designers, when we work on Bella Grace, that it’s just something we’re so passionate about doing and we’re so proud of it. It’s a different kind of fulfillment that we get from working on these titles over our art magazines.

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

Christen Hammons: I would hope that they would think of authenticity and honesty.

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?

Christen Hammons: At the end of the day you’ll likely find me watching hockey; I’m a huge hockey fan; I have season tickets, so my husband and I are huge hockey fans. We’re a little obsessive and it’s just a great way to unwind. If you’re watching a game, you have no choice but to focus on the game, your mind doesn’t wander whatsoever. But I am also a veracious reader, I think last year I read 55 books. I’m a little more than a book a week, so those are my two passions. Watching hockey, but also reading. I love reading and I like stepping away from the computer at the end of the day.

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

Christen Hammons: (Laughs) Just having so many ideas and not having the time to execute things. Sometimes I have these ideas that I’d love to do and I just look at my daily schedule and it’s sometimes not feasible.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Seventeen Magazine: A Brand That’s Helping Today’s Teens Effect Change In Our World – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With The Print Proud Digital Smart Team, Joey Bartolomeo, Executive Editor & Kristin Koch, Digital Director…

April 2, 2018

“They’re still getting a lot of information from a lot of places and when you’re talking about print in particular, we’re kind of tuning out the noise for them. And so they come to print to really get a more curated experience and to find out things that they may not be getting on social media or from their friends. We’re this big sister that’s there for them. The things that we cover in the magazine and online are sometimes similar and sometimes different. There are still things in the magazine that are there for them. And who doesn’t want to see themselves in print, let’s be honest. It’s very special.” Joey Bartolomeo…

“As an extension, we’re all one brand. We have the same goals, but on different platforms we’re able to talk to them in different ways, we’re able to react to different kinds of events in different ways. Where the magazine might be able to profile and give more in depth and give the stories that readers really want to relish and spend time in; on social media we can cover the stuff in real time and we can also highlight teens on social media as well as in the magazine. You’re always going to see young people on our pages; you’re always going to see them on our feeds. We’re tackling many of the same issues, we’re just doing them in different ways that make sense for that platform and that audience.” Kristin Koch…

For 74 years, Seventeen magazine has been the go-to resource for teens and young people, inspiring confidence and self-awareness throughout its pages. Support for activism and causes that are important to teens has always been a part of the brand’s DNA and after almost three-quarters of a century that hasn’t changed. In fact, on March 24, the brand chartered a bus to take 30 New York City teen activists from organizations like Girl Up, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and IGNITE – who would otherwise not be able to participate – to the march in Washington, D.C.

Group Photo at Hearst Tower NYC_Joseph Storch/Seventeen. March 24, 2018

At the march, Seventeen hosted a GIF video booth on Pennsylvania Avenue that encouraged participants to post a message on why they were marching, which they could share on social media. For every GIF posted from the booth, Seventeen’s parent company, Hearst, promised to donate $1 to Everytown for Gun Safety. The teens all posed in front of the Hearst building before setting off for Washington, D.C. and continued the photo story once they arrived. It was lots of pictures, lots of camaraderie, and lots of standing up for their cause.

Seventeen extensively covered the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, and has been a platform to inform teens and share teen perspectives around ending gun violence. The bus charter was a physical extension of that platform – giving young people an opportunity to participate in a movement that affects their lives, and creating an activist alliance for girls who want to make a difference.

Joey Bartolomeo is executive editor and Kristin Koch is digital director of Seventeen. I spoke with both recently and we talked about the avidly active stance the brand has on standing by teens and what’s important to them. From the brand’s participation in The March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. to its “Perfectly Me” initiative, which promotes body confidence in teens, Seventeen is ready to tackle the issues right alongside its readers. Joey and Kristin are mothers of young children as well, and are as passionate about the rights of teens as their brand is. It was a vibrant conversation about accepting who we are and encouraging and supporting those that stand up for their rights.

So, I hope that you enjoy this look into the world of teens and all they hold dear enough to stand up for, and their right to do so, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Joey Bartolomeo, executive editor and Kristin Koch, digital director, Seventeen magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

Kristin Koch

On the status of the Seventeen brand audience today (Kristin Koch): Our audience is incredibly powerful. Social media has enabled them to activate in new ways. In addition, obviously, we’re still seeing them mobilize in real person and go to organized marches, protests and walkouts, but now they’re able to reach a larger audience. They’re able to have their voices stretch across multiple platforms using social media. They’re able to tap into celebrities; they’re able to talk to politicians; they’re able to get their voices and their messages really heard.

On why social media savvy teens today need a brand so rooted in print, such as Seventeen (Joey Bartolomeo): They’re still getting a lot of information from a lot of places and when you’re talking about print in particular, we’re kind of tuning out the noise for them. And so they come to print to really get a more curated experience and to find out things that they may not be getting on social media or from their friends. We’re this big sister that’s there for them. The things that we cover in the magazine and online are sometimes similar and sometimes different. There are still things in the magazine that are there for them. And who doesn’t want to see themselves in print, let’s be honest. It’s very special.

On the magazine being a friend with benefits, but with a PG rating (Joey Bartolomeo): I think that’s a very good way to put it. We cover topics related to sex, but we do it in such a way that we’re definitely not R-rated. We just want girls to have the information they need to make smart choices, so we’re not telling them how to have sex, we’re telling them what information they need to know about their bodies and their minds before they go and make a decision that could really affect their lives.

Group Photo in DC_Allie Holloway/Seventeen. March 24, 2018

On Seventeen’s involvement with the March for Our Lives movement in Washington, D.C. and whether we’re seeing a change in the type of content teen magazines cover (Joey Bartolomeo): These are things that Seventeen has covered from the start of the magazine. Activism, helping out different people, using your voice; so, no, I think that the idea of teens speaking up and fighting for things has been something that Seventeen has been behind for decades. Sometimes you might hear more about it in the media now, but we know that Gen Z, and those are our readers right now, they’re so into this. They’re activists, and we’ve been highlighting that for years now. And the millennials before that. So, it’s not as new as people think it is. We know that they’ve been doing this and Seventeen has been doing this for decades.

On Seventeen’s involvement with the March for Our Lives movement in Washington, D.C. and whether we’re seeing a change in the type of content teen magazines cover (Kristin Koch): Teens have always been at the helm of these movements, students advocating for change. Of course, today they have many more tools to get their voices out there. And we’re really the teens’ guide to navigating; high school and college are some of the trickiest, most confusing times in your life. We know teens are smart and savvy, but they’re still looking for guidance and they’re still looking to us for answers.

On whether Seventeen is a reflection of teens today in the United States or is it an initiator of things for teens (Joey Bartolomeo): We really let the girls lead us on a lot of things. We see what they’re interested in and what they’re fighting for. And obviously, we look around and we know what the big issues are in the world of teens. So, we really try to follow their lead. We’re not pushing an agenda on them; we see what’s important to them, whether it’s letting transgender kids in high schools use the bathroom of their choice, or getting proper sex-ed in their schools. There was one girl that we featured who was protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. These are things that are meaningful to teens and we just want to help show that if you’re a teen, maybe you can’t vote or maybe you don’t think that you have any power, but you really do and you can effect change.

On whether Seventeen is a reflection of teens today in the United States or is it an initiator of things for teens (Kristin Koch): We’re also helping to bring to light issues that really matter to them and should matter to them. And we’re making sure that they’re aware of everything that’s affecting them. And as Joey said, they may not be able to vote, but we want to make sure that they’re empowered to have access to information and to be able to know about the issues that are impacting their lives. So, we’re covering these issues and bringing them to the teens, but we’re coming to them with a perspective of what matters to them, how is this going to affect them, how can they create change as teens, not as adults.

On how easy or hard it was to become a multiplatform brand being so rooted in print (Kristin Koch): Obviously, it’s always a challenge to be constantly launching on new platforms, teens are really at the forefront of what the newest technologies and newest social media platforms are. They’re constantly finding new ways to connect. As their parents jump onto one platform, they may jump onto the next. So, we always have to be on top of what’s new, but it has really enabled us to spread our message and to reach a greater audience, and reach teens on different platforms.

Joey Bartolomeo

On how easy or hard it was to become a multiplatform brand being so rooted in print (Joey Bartolomeo): And one cool thing that we’ve done in print is to start including Snapcodes with some of our stories. What we’ll do is have a story and then it’ll drive to…we had one with a playlist, and it’ll drive to a story on our website where they can check out all of the music on the playlist. So, we know that they may have their phones in their hands while they’re reading the print magazine, and we’re giving them a really full experience and coming at them in a way that they actually consume things.

On the secret of Seventeen’s continued success while other mass market teen magazines in print have folded (Joey Bartolomeo): First of all, having Hearst behind us is amazing. We have great support from David Carey and Joanna Coles and everybody. They have all been really behind us and they were really behind us in getting the bus for the march and I think that’s so important, that they see the value in the Seventeen brand and what it means to people. Another thing is Seventeen, like you said, has been around for 74 years. So, there are a lot of people in the world, in this country, who have read Seventeen. And they know that it’s a brand that they can trust. They read it as teens; they’re daughters read it as teens; and they want their kids to read it.

On what’s next for Seventeen (Kristen Koch): What’s so exciting about Seventeen is as you said, this brand holds such a special place in so many people’s hearts, and so we’ve been able to really keep our core areas, while also expanding, and every day there’s something new. We’ve launched on Musical.ly; we’ve launched on Snapchat; we’re going to be ramping up on Snapchat; we tend to invest more in activism, such as the bus. It was a huge experience that we brought to the teens. We did a video booth at the march as well, where students could take videos explaining why they were marching. Hearst donated money to Everytown for Gun Safety every time a video was posted. That was a really exciting way that we could get involved in the march and also to help show that their voices mattered and their marching mattered and to help raise money for a great cause.

On what’s next for Seventeen (Joey Bartolomeo): And something that I think sets Kristin and I apart from other brands or other teams here, is that we actually do work a lot together So for Seventeen print and digital, we’re always communicating, we have regular meetings; we really try to see how we can sync up in special ways. And one of those things that is really important to us is our “Perfectly Me” initiative, which promotes body confidence and it’s something that we do every October.

On any fear of backlash, such as hashtag fake news, hashtag fake Seventeen (Kristin Koch): No, Seventeen is such a trusted brand and what we’ve seen is that our audience is so excited to get information from us and to work with us. They care about the issues that we’re talking about. In large part, as Joey said, we are amplifying their voices; we’re talking to them; we’re featuring them; we’re telling their stories. The world sort of woke up to the idea that teens are political, but they’ve always been. They’ve always been really invested in this, and I think everyone trusts Seventeen. We have amazing stories; we have great research, and we’re really here to guide teens along the way.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home (Joey Bartolomeo): I am probably watching Riverdale on the DVR because I need to catch up on that show. I like to make sure that I’m in tune with what our readers are interested in, but I also do think Riverdale is a great show. After that, I’m probably asleep, because I have a three and a half year old. So, it’s long days.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home (Kristin Koch): I’m probably right alongside Joey, binge watching one of our shows that our audience is obsessed with, Riverdale being one of the big ones. Or we program 24/7 on digital, so I’m probably still making sure there is no breaking news. If a celebrity our readers are following is getting married, I am going to be making sure that my entire team is posting, checking our Instagram, watching YouTube videos, making sure we’re on top of everything. After that, probably like Joey, going to bed. I have a young son too. (Laughs)

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her (Kristin Koch): The motto I sort of grew up living by, in many ways inspired by Seventeen, and that I hope to impart upon our audience going forward is be the change that you wish to see in the world. And that’s really what I hope to bring to Seventeen everyday through our programming. We have a lot of fun and passion and beauty too, but a huge part of what Seventeen is empowering teens to live their dreams and change the world. And it’s something that I try and do through my job everyday as well.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her (Joey Bartolomeo): Something that I’ve actually said to girls that I’ve spoken to is embrace the curls, because I have curly hair. I spent decades trying to manage it and when I finally figured out how to do it, and I went with the curl and didn’t try to straighten it, it changed my life. And I know that sounds like a crazy statement, but when you stop fighting against things, like who you really are, it still takes work to get my hair to look the way it does, but I’m not in a constant struggle. And the message that I want girls to get out of that is go with who you are. Don’t try to reshape yourself, to fit into something or fight against something.

On what keeps her up at night (Joey Bartolomeo): There is so much, honestly. I think a lot, because it’s really on our minds lately, about this gun violence issue. And just the idea that everyone, teens, and like Kristin and I said, we’ve also got young kids, and just the idea of not feeling safe. And that’s not just in schools, but that’s in neighborhoods, because we obviously know that gun violence is not just something that’s limited to schools. There are teens facing this every single day across the country, just walking down the street.

On what keeps her up at night (Kristin Koch): For me, one of the things that we talk about all of the time is just making sure that young people are still going to have access to control over their bodies and their choices. That they can go use the bathroom that they feel comfortable using and that they don’t have to hide who they are for fear of some sort of retribution or somebody attacking them.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Joey Bartolomeo, executive editor, and Kristin Koch, digital director, Seventeen magazine.

Samir Husni: Seventeen Magazine, which started in 1944, was aimed at the 12-19-year-olds then. And I read in the press release that this was the biggest moment for teens since Vietnam. Tell me more about the audience of Seventeen magazine today and why do you say that they are social media savvy? Update us on the status of the audience for the Seventeen brand today.

Kristin Koch

Kristin Koch: Our audience is incredibly powerful. Social media has enabled them to activate in new ways. In addition, obviously, we’re still seeing them mobilize in real person and go to organized marches, protests and walkouts, but now they’re able to reach a larger audience. They’re able to have their voices stretch across multiple platforms using social media. They’re able to tap into celebrities; they’re able to talk to politicians; they’re able to get their voices and their messages really heard.

And Seventeen has been a platform for teen voices and we’ve been there to really help amplify those voices and effect change. So, as we see teens use their voices and these platforms to effect change and to campaign for social justice, we’ve really been there alongside them campaigning.

Samir Husni: If teens today are that social media savvy, why do they need a brand, such as Seventeen, that has been so rooted in print?

Joey Bartolomeo: They’re still getting a lot of information from a lot of places and when you’re talking about print in particular, we’re kind of tuning out the noise for them. And so they come to print to really get a more curated experience and to find out things that they may not be getting on social media or from their friends. We’re this big sister that’s there for them. The things that we cover in the magazine and online are sometimes similar and sometimes different. There are still things in the magazine that are there for them. And who doesn’t want to see themselves in print, let’s be honest. It’s very special.

In print, what we love to do is highlight girls who are, as Kristin said, using their voices to make change in the world, but then they’re also getting things from our editors, such as fashion and beauty, but it’s coming from experts and not just from watching a YouTube video or picking up something from Instagram. We’re talking to dermatologists when it comes to beauty and we have our fashion editors who they really trust and admire, so they are getting a lot out of the print magazine as well. And one thing that girls have told me before is that the magazine doesn’t drain their phone batteries and we know how important that is.

Samir Husni: Once, a former publisher of Seventeen told me that she viewed the magazine as a friend with benefits, but with a PG rating.

Joey Bartolomeo

Joey Bartolomeo: I think that’s a very good way to put it. We cover topics related to sex, but we do it in such a way that we’re definitely not R-rated. We just want girls to have the information they need to make smart choices, so we’re not telling them how to have sex, we’re telling them what information they need to know about their bodies and their minds before they go and make a decision that could really affect their lives.

Samir Husni: Recently, you went beyond sex, fashion and beauty; you entered the political realms by chartering a bus to take 30 New York City teens who could not afford to go on their own to join the “March for Our Lives” in Washington, D.C. Are we seeing a change in the content of magazine brands, especially those in the teen space?

Joey Bartolomeo: These are things that Seventeen has covered from the start of the magazine. Activism, helping out different people, using your voice; so, no, I think that the idea of teens speaking up and fighting for things has been something that Seventeen has been behind for decades. Sometimes you might hear more about it in the media now, but we know that Gen Z, and those are our readers right now, they’re so into this. They’re activists, and we’ve been highlighting that for years now. And the millennials before that. So, it’s not as new as people think it is. We know that they’ve been doing this and Seventeen has been doing this for decades.

Kristin Koch: It’s sort of like what you said with the Vietnam War; teens have always been at the helm of these movements, students advocating for change. Of course, today they have many more tools to get their voices out there. And we’re really the teens’ guide to navigating; high school and college are some of the trickiest, most confusing times in your life. We know teens are smart and savvy, but they’re still looking for guidance and they’re still looking to us for answers.

Group Photo at Hearst Tower NYC_Joseph Storch/Seventeen. March 24, 2018

And we’re always here for them to get them through these tough times and to help them, like Joey said, to make smart decisions for their bodies and minds, and to effect change. And to help them get the tools to learn how to be activists; how to organize together. We’re a great source to help connect them. Just like on the bus we’re going to be connecting teens from different organizations, all of whom are really passionate about fighting for change and fighting against gun violence. So, we’re able to bring them together and help to enable them to use their voices and go to this rally to fight for a cause that they feel really strongly and passionately about. And that affects them every single day.

Joey Bartolomeo: And if I could add one more thing, I think what Seventeen is really great at is highlighting teen’s voices and we really focus on that. We want to hear from the girls, so it’s not adults talking and telling stories, it’s the teens.

Samir Husni: Historically speaking, magazines have always either reflected or initiated what’s going on in society. Where do you see Seventeen? Is it a reflection of the teens in the United States or is it initiating things for the teens?

Joey Bartolomeo: We really let the girls lead us on a lot of things. We see what they’re interested in and what they’re fighting for. And obviously, we look around and we know what the big issues are in the world of teens. So, we really try to follow their lead. We’re not pushing an agenda on them; we see what’s important to them, whether it’s letting transgender kids in high schools use the bathroom of their choice, or getting proper sex-ed in their schools. There was one girl that we featured who was protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. These are things that are meaningful to teens and we just want to help show that if you’re a teen, maybe you can’t vote or maybe you don’t think that you have any power, but you really do and you can effect change.

Kristin Koch: We’re also helping to bring to light issues that really matter to them and should matter to them. And we’re making sure that they’re aware of everything that’s affecting them. And as Joey said, they may not be able to vote, but we want to make sure that they’re empowered to have access to information and to be able to know about the issues that are impacting their lives. So, we’re covering these issues and bringing them to the teens, but we’re coming to them with a perspective of what matters to them, how is this going to affect them, how can they create change as teens, not as adults.

Samir Husni: How easy or hard has the change been, going from a single platform, ink on paper, to a multiplatform, if you name it, you exist on it? What were some of the difficulties in that transition or was it a walk in a rose garden for the brand?

Kristin Koch: Obviously, it’s always a challenge to be constantly launching on new platforms, teens are really at the forefront of what the newest technologies and newest social media platforms are. They’re constantly finding new ways to connect. As their parents jump onto one platform, they may jump onto the next. So, we always have to be on top of what’s new, but it has really enabled us to spread our message and to reach a greater audience, and reach teens on different platforms.

So, as an extension, we’re all one brand. We have the same goals, but on different platforms we’re able to talk to them in different ways, we’re able to react to different kinds of events in different ways. Where the magazine might be able to profile and give more in depth and give the stories that readers really want to relish and spend time in; on social media we can cover the stuff in real time and we can also highlight teens on social media as well as in the magazine. You’re always going to see young people on our pages; you’re always going to see them on our feeds. We’re tackling many of the same issues, we’re just doing them in different ways that make sense for that platform and that audience.

And I think Seventeen is such a good example of how we’ve been a very nimble team, we’ll transition really quickly depending on how our audience changes and how they’re consuming content. This year on digital, for example, we really shifted away from just programming content strictly for the website to focus on video and social-first programming, because that’s where now you see teens reading a lot of their media and news, on Snapchat’s Discover. It’s almost like a mini-magazine experience. And so, we launched on Snapchat in September. We relaunched our YouTube channel because lots of teens are consuming video now and they’re using YouTube as a their TV, but also as their Google in many ways, and that’s where they search for answers to things.

Group Photo in DC_Allie Holloway/Seventeen. March 24, 2018

So, we’re really giving a 360 approach to their lives and they turn to Seventeen as a guide. As Joey said, it’s like their big sister, and we’re their best friend and biggest supporter. And so, it’s challenging to always be on every platform for them, but it enables us to have a constant conversation, to stay on top of everything they care about.

And it’s a two-way street, it’s not just us blasting out information to them, we’re really communicating with them. We’re building relationships, they know our editor, and as they see their videos, they connect to them. They talk to them on social media, so we’re really building a community.

Joey Bartolomeo: And one cool thing that we’ve done in print is to start including Snapcodes with some of our stories. What we’ll do is have a story and then it’ll drive to…we had one with a playlist, and it’ll drive to a story on our website where they can check out all of the music on the playlist. So, we know that they may have their phones in their hands while they’re reading the print magazine, and we’re giving them a really full experience and coming at them in a way that they actually consume things.

Samir Husni: Seventeen is the last-standing of all of the mass, major teen magazines in print. What is the brand’s secret of survivability compared to all of the other magazines, whether it was Teen People or Young Miss or Teen Vogue? Why do you think Seventeen continues in print and all of its other platforms?

Joey Bartolomeo: First of all, having Hearst behind us is amazing. We have great support from David Carey and Joanna Coles and everybody. They have all been really behind us and they were really behind us in getting the bus for the march and I think that’s so important, that they see the value in the Seventeen brand and what it means to people. Another thing is Seventeen, like you said, has been around for 74 years. So, there are a lot of people in the world, in this country, who have read Seventeen. And they know that it’s a brand that they can trust. They read it as teens; they’re daughters read it as teens; and they want their kids to read it.

We hear from moms and grandparents all of the time saying they love our magazine and that they’re getting it for their daughters, and we hear from the daughters, who also say they love the magazine and that they’re still reading it and they’re in college. So, there’s something very special about it. And I think that people really do have that connection, That’s not to say that the magazines that haven’t survived didn’t do great things, because they really did, but I think that Seventeen has lasted so long because it’s trustworthy and we have great content and I believe people feel really connected to it, because again, it’s for the girls. The girls read it, they see themselves in it and that’s so important to teens, to really feel like they’re getting a genuine product.

It’s really amazing. Whenever we meet girls and if we say that Seventeen is doing this or that, we hear people get very excited about it. People love the brand. Girls know the brand of Seventeen and they love it. It’s exciting for us to get to interact with them when we meet them, because we know how important it is in their lives. And we all grew up reading Seventeen and it holds a very special place in our hearts as well. We try to bring to it the things that it brought to us. In many ways we’re answering the questions that maybe they’re too embarrassed to ask or helping them achieve their dreams. Or helping them figure things out and giving them a place to potentially see themselves, and maybe be featured and to help them do really amazing things.

It’s really also been an honor for us to highlight all of the teens who do such amazing things because growing up, we would read this magazine and we would be so inspired by other teens doing cool things. And now we have the chance to do that and to offer them multiple platforms to be able to amplify their voices and their messages.

Samir Husni: What’s next for Seventeen?

Kristin Koch: What’s so exciting about Seventeen is as you said, this brand holds such a special place in so many people’s hearts, and so we’ve been able to really keep our core areas, while also expanding, and every day there’s something new. We’ve launched on Musical.ly; we’ve launched on Snapchat; we’re going to be ramping up on Snapchat; we tend to invest more in activism, such as the bus. It was a huge experience that we brought to the teens. We did a video booth at the march as well, where students could take videos explaining why they were marching. Hearst donated money to Everytown for Gun Safety every time a video was posted. That was a really exciting way that we could get involved in the march and also to help show that their voices mattered and their marching mattered and to help raise money for a great cause.

Now, we’re looking to other ways that we can activate. There’s a lot happening in the world right now that’s really impacting teens. We launched a kind of sister community to Seventeen called Here and it is focused on our LGBTQ readers and their allies. It’s a Facebook group as well as a vertical on Seventeen.com and an Instagram channel. We’ve had a great response to that and we’re excited to grow it and we’re excited to see how digital and print can work together to create more live events, to create more and different campaigns around issues that matter. And to continue to advocate for teens and stand behind their fighting for different changes and fighting to make this world a better, more just place for them, while also guiding them through the tricky and fun and terrifying years as they grow from teens into adults.

Joey Bartolomeo: And something that I think sets Kristin and I apart from other brands or other teams here, is that we actually do work a lot together So for Seventeen print and digital, we’re always communicating, we have regular meetings; we really try to see how we can sync up in special ways. And one of those things that is really important to us is our “Perfectly Me” initiative, which promotes body confidence and it’s something that we do every October.

We worked really hard together on the bus trip to Washington, D.C. because we really wanted to make it not just a ride down for the girls, but we wanted to make it an event and something that they would get a lot out of and make it special, because we had them on the bus with us for at least eight hours. So, we actually worked on things for the bus, not just the experience of the march. We hoped that they would come away with a really full experience from the day.

Kristin Koch: I’ll also say that I think it’s been so clear right now that teens are changing the world and they’re our future and they’re going to remake this world into a more just, diverse, equitable place. And I see so much potential for Seventeen because we’re right there beside them, helping to guide them, helping to amplify their voices, as we said. And so there’s no limit on where Seventeen can go, because there’s really no limit on what teens can do and on what teens are doing.

Joey Bartolomeo: And we’re so excited that the rest of the world is figuring out how amazing these teens are right now. We hope that we will be able to share so many of their stories in print and on digital going forward. And to really help this generation get their messages out and become the leaders that they clearly are. When they get to be in college and beyond, we’re going to see so much from our readers now. It’s going to be amazing.

Samir Husni: Any fear of backlash: hashtag fake news, hashtag fake Seventeen?

Kristin Koch: No, Seventeen is such a trusted brand and what we’ve seen is that our audience is so excited to get information from us and to work with us. They care about the issues that we’re talking about. In large part, as Joey said, we are amplifying their voices; we’re talking to them; we’re featuring them; we’re telling their stories. The world sort of woke up to the idea that teens are political, but they’ve always been. They’ve always been really invested in this, and I think everyone trusts Seventeen. We have amazing stories; we have great research, and we’re really here to guide teens along the way.

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?

Joey Bartolomeo: What time is it you’re coming? (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) 9:15 in the evening.

Joey Bartolomeo: 9:15 p.m.? I am probably watching Riverdale on the DVR because I need to catch up on that show. I like to make sure that I’m in tune with what our readers are interested in, but I also do think Riverdale is a great show. After that, I’m probably asleep, because I have a three and a half year old. So, it’s long days.

Kristin Koch: I’m probably right alongside Joey, binge watching one of our shows that our audience is obsessed with, Riverdale being one of the big ones. Or we program 24/7 on digital, so I’m probably still making sure there is no breaking news. If a celebrity our readers are following is getting married, I am going to be making sure that my entire team is posting, checking our Instagram, watching YouTube videos, making sure we’re on top of everything. After that, probably like Joey, going to bed. I have a young son too. (Laughs)

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

Kristin Koch: The motto I sort of grew up living by, in many ways inspired by Seventeen, and that I hope to impart upon our audience going forward is be the change that you wish to see in the world. And that’s really what I hope to bring to Seventeen everyday through our programming. We have a lot of fun and passion and beauty too, but a huge part of what Seventeen is empowering teens to live their dreams and change the world. And it’s something that I try and do through my job everyday as well.

Joey Bartolomeo: Something that I’ve actually said to girls that I’ve spoken to is embrace the curls, because I have curly hair. I spent decades trying to manage it and when I finally figured out how to do it, and I went with the curl and didn’t try to straighten it, it changed my life. And I know that sounds like a crazy statement, but when you stop fighting against things, like who you really are, it still takes work to get my hair to look the way it does, but I’m not in a constant struggle. And the message that I want girls to get out of that is go with who you are. Don’t try to reshape yourself, to fit into something or fight against something.

If you’re gay, don’t fight against it, go with it; go with who you are. Go with what your interests are and go with what makes you happy. That doesn’t mean it’s always going to be easy, but your life will feel so much better and you’ll be so much happier when you look in the mirror and you’re not struggling every day. If you just really embrace who you are. And I think that’s a really important message that we put into Seventeen all of the time. It’s about feeling confident in who you are and I really want girls to feel that way.

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

Joey Bartolomeo: There is so much, honestly. I think a lot, because it’s really on our minds lately, about this gun violence issue. And just the idea that everyone, teens, and like Kristin and I said, we’ve also got young kids, and just the idea of not feeling safe. And that’s not just in schools, but that’s in neighborhoods, because we obviously know that gun violence is not just something that’s limited to schools. There are teens facing this every single day across the country, just walking down the street.

It’s something lately that is on my mind. I hope that we can live in a safer place and I hope that young people can really effect some change and get something happening, so they don’t have to feel so scared every day wherever they are.

Kristin Koch: For me, one of the things that we talk about all of the time is just making sure that young people are still going to have access to control over their bodies and their choices. That they can go use the bathroom that they feel comfortable using and that they don’t have to hide who they are for fear of some sort of retribution or somebody attacking them.

We spend so much time encouraging teens to really embrace who they are and embrace the curls, as Joey said. We work hard every day to make sure that we’re able to let them know about what’s happening; how to fight against any legislation or any hatred that is preventing them from being able to be themselves and feel comfortable. And to be able to just be teens and enjoy that, and to grow up into adults who are able to embrace fully who they are and to be accepted. And feel comfortable doing that.

Joey Bartolomeo: I read the emails that come in from readers and they’re not always teens who are writing in, and I send then to Kristin sometimes. Some people have these attitudes that I think are so harmful to girls and that’s something that we talk about a lot. And it’s just unbelievable to me the way that some people refer to girls and the things that they have to fight against.

And it’s something that shocks me every time I get one of these emails. All of the sexism. But with things like the Me Too movement, we’re hoping things will change and they’ll feel safer and the workplace will be for effective, but we’re still seeing so many stories about sexual assault and that young women’s rights are being diluted in the halls of Congress. We just want to continue to advocate for young people and that they are able to own their choices. That they’re able to help identify what sexual harassment is. And hopefully all the work that we’re doing now will mean in the future our sons and daughters won’t have to face this in the same way that so many women have had to.

And that goes into bullying, body shaming, everything like that as well. Social media has a lot of great things about it and then it has a lot of downsides. And it’s something that we see girls struggle with all of the time. We just hope that if we can have Seventeen be a positive, encouraging platform for them in print and online, then hopefully that will help them spread positive messages and really get past these troubles that are out there, and the people who have these negative comments. And who are trying to take girls down.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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Entertainment Weekly: Proving Weekly Magazine Brands Can Stand Strong On All Platforms & Print Covers Are Still A Force To Be Reckoned With – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Henry Goldblatt, Editor In Chief & Tim Leong, Executive Editor, Entertainment Weekly…

March 29, 2018

“I don’t just consider myself editor in chief of a weekly magazine, but of an entire content organization. I became editor in chief a little over three years ago, and I remember when I was growing up, I felt that Entertainment Weekly set the agenda for that particular week’s conversation, like this is what we need to be psyched about in entertainment. So, I really tried to move that thought process into the 21st century. And I really want to give readers something on the cover of this magazine and inside the magazine that they can’t get on the Internet, that they can’t find on anyone’s social media feed, because of what our access allows.” Henry Goldblatt…

“In trying to make it spunky and something that fans would appreciate, and doing something in print that we can’t do online or in any other version of the brand, that and doing 15 covers and a big 40-page package inside, it really set it apart from digital content and made the print version special.” Tim Leong (on the landmark 15 commemorative Avengers covers EW did and 40-page inside Marvel package)…

For 28 years, Entertainment Weekly has been the go-to source for entertainment media news, reviews, and in depth articles about Hollywood behind-the-scenes, and for those fans who want a more inclusive and exclusive look at their favorite movies and TV shows.

Fandom is vitally important to the brand, such as the recent issue of Entertainment Weekly; it is one for the books. To honor Avengers: Infinity War, the latest and nineteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, EW published 15 commemorative covers featuring 22 superheroes and one bad guy. This is a big first for EW as it’s the most covers dedicated to an issue in the brand’s 28-year history and largely unprecedented in media.

To get the scoop on this fascinating landmark issue, I recently spoke to Henry Goldblatt, editor in chief and Tim Leong, newly promoted executive editor, about the amazing 15 covers and the equally amazing 40-page, exhaustive love letter to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Tim conceived. It was a lively, fun and informational conversation, much like the EW brand itself.

We also talked about the recent pack-up and move to the West Coast the brand undertook and the new Meredith ownership that has everyone excited about the future, laying to rest any of those rumored fears about Meredith selling EW and dampening bright horizons.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a weekly brand that is strong on all of its many platforms, with two gentlemen at the helm who believe in its continued success fully and are always looking forward to the next week and the next issue, Henry Goldblatt, editor in chief, and Tim Leong, executive editor, Entertainment Weekly.

But first the sound-bites:

On Entertainment Weekly’s new ownership, new location, and all of the changes that are happening (Henry Goldblatt): I’m really excited because we’re a 28-year-old brand and it really feels like a startup. We were really able to reinvent ourselves with this move. And it was as simple as me putting together a business plan with the thought being that if we were starting this brand from scratch today, we would start it in L.A. And of course, when this brand was started back in the day it was started in New York City, because that’s where all publishing was and technology wasn’t good enough to put out a magazine across country when all of the hub was in New York. And that’s obviously changed.

On the role of print in a digital age (Henry Goldblatt): That’s a really good question. I don’t just consider myself editor in chief of a weekly magazine, but of an entire content organization. I became editor in chief a little over three years ago, and I remember when I was growing up, I felt that Entertainment Weekly set the agenda for that particular week’s conversation, like this is what we need to be psyched about in entertainment. So, I really tried to move that thought process into the 21st century. And I really want to give readers something on the cover of this magazine and inside the magazine that they can’t get on the Internet, that they can’t find on anyone’s social media feed, because of what our access allows.

On the role of Entertainment Weekly’s cover today (Henry Goldblatt): My job is to set the entertainment agenda and conversation each week, and luckily I’ve done a lot of stunts in order to do this. The 15 Avengers covers are the perfect example of this. If I had just published one Avengers cover, people would have thought that was nice, whatever, but it really takes effective stunts like the Dawson’s Creek reunion or an Avengers 15 covers stunt in order to grab readers’ attention in a crowded media landscape. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it.

On how Executive Editor Tim Leong conceived the 15 Avengers covers and his 40-page love letter to Marvel Cinematic Universe fans (Tim Leong): The process started almost a year ago. It began when we were trying to figure out how we would put all of these people on a cover, there are 20-something characters in this movie, so we were trying to figure out the logistics of even doing it. In trying to make it spunky and something that fans would appreciate, and doing something in print that we can’t do online or in any other version of the brand, that and doing 15 covers and a big 40-page package inside, it really set it apart from digital content and made the print version special.

On the execution of those 15 covers and whether the art director and design team were in shock (Tim Leong): The idea sounds a little crazy, right? It’s a little complicated, because I was the creative director at the time, when we first started the process. But by the time it published, I was no longer the creative director, so some of the wheels are already in motion, in terms of the planning and production of it, but the design of it all goes to Keir Novesky, our design director, who did that cover.

But it was a long back and forth. It started with a sketch that we did in-house and it’s pretty crazy, the final cover looks close to the original sketch, for sure. We definitely moved a lot of characters around and swapped some in and out, but it all started with a sketch.

On the secret to keeping their audience clicking and ticking and captivated (Tim Leong): We just did this great fandom study and the real heart of it shows that the fans really want to engage on multiple platforms, not only in print, but online and other avenues as well, social and live events. I think what Henry has done a great job at is directing this brand in a way that it is truly multiplatform. And I think part of that is having a consistent tone and voice across all of our platforms, making sure that we go to the places that our readers want to go, and bringing EW to all of the platforms where our readers live. And the study definitely backs that up.

On whether they’re making print more interactive (Henry Goldblatt): Yes. I mean, print is always going to be more of a lean-back experience, but I want to make sure that with this Avengers cover or with Dawson’s Creek or the Oscars, our entire staff sends out what we call a “rollout” for every issue. There’s a social point around every issue, there’s what articles are we publishing on ew.com; is there is a social campaign around that issue, is there a People TV special that we’re doing, what’s our video strategy? So, we’re asking ourselves all of those questions. If the issue covers the event in the tent pole, then we’re asking those questions around all of the ancillary things that come out of it.

On whether there is any time to do actual editing with all of the duties and responsibilities that today’s editor has (Henry Goldblatt): That’s a really good question. And I am going to give you a very honest answer. With the move to L.A., as I said, it does feel more like a startup. I’m doing a little more actual editing than I have been recently, but you’re absolutely right, a title of editor in chief can be a misnomer sometimes, because I may be working on a thousand things that have nothing to do with editing.

On Tim Leong being promoted from creative director to executive editor and is he happy using both talents (Tim Leong): The job goal is very similar, just the execution is different. Before you’re dreaming up how we’re going to treat this story from a design perspective, and now it’s how are we going to treat this story from an editorial perspective. And it’s still a ton of fun. I’m hugely excited about this opportunity and I’m eternally grateful to Henry for even considering me for this type of role. I find it to be incredibly fun and part of it is we have a wonderful stable of writers to work with. And they’re incredibly creative and that’s been one of the nicer joys of it.

On any truth to the rumors that Meredith might sell Entertainment Weekly (Henry Goldblatt): We read the same reports that you did. I was really heartened to hear the announcement a couple of weeks ago that Bruce Gersh was taking over as president of People and Entertainment Weekly and EVP of the company. He’s a great supporter of the brand and I don’t think they would have made such a fanfare announcement around that and put Entertainment Weekly in its purview just to sell us. I feel very confident about our future and I’m psyched to be a part of the Meredith family.

On anything either would like to add (Henry Goldblatt): I think the one thing that I’ve really tried to do at Entertainment Weekly is make sure that each of the print covers that are an event can feed our traffic, and the events themselves, can feed our traffic and our video streams and the rest of the brand in a very organic and cohesive way.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home (Henry Goldblatt): I’m on the floor playing with my dog and watching TV, most likely Scandal.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home (Tim Leong): If you came right this second, you’d see a mountain of boxes being unloaded. (Laughs) But I think one of the nice things about moving to the West Coast is an amplified family life. And you’d probably find me at home playing with my baby.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him (Henry Goldblatt): This is going to make me sound like a company man, but when I took over Entertainment Weekly three years ago, the motto that I’ve used and would want everyone to engrave and tattoo on their foreheads is: Smart, Funny, First, those are the three qualities that every piece of Entertainment Weekly content should embody. A good piece embodies two of those qualities and a great piece embodies all three. I’ve been imparting this on the staff for years now and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t tattoo it on my own forehead.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him (Tim Leong): I’ve heard a lot of people say this, but I think it’s just so true and it’s what we really try to embody to the staff is work hard and be nice to people.

On what keeps him up at night (Henry Goldblatt): To be perfectly honest, what keeps me up at night is I’ve asked 25 to 30 people to uproot their lives and move to L.A. and have faith in me and in this brand, and I just want to come through for them and I don’t want to disappoint them.

On what keeps him up at night (Tim Leong): This job is a big responsibility and yes, we’re talking about entertainment, but even though it’s entertainment, it’s something that we take very seriously. And it’s something that I definitely want to be sure we do well, and I’m just trying to think about ways we can do it better. And even better for the future.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Henry Goldblatt, editor in chief, & Tim Leong, executive editor, Entertainment Weekly.

Samir Husni: Before we talk about Entertainment Weekly going to “Infinity War and Beyond,” Entertainment Weekly is going to the West Coast and beyond. What’s the status with Entertainment Weekly now, with the new ownership, the new location, with everything that’s taking place?

Henry Goldblatt: I’m really excited because we’re a 28-year-old brand and it really feels like a startup. We were really able to reinvent ourselves with this move. And it was as simple as me putting together a business plan with the thought being that if we were starting this brand from scratch today, we would start it in L.A. And of course, when this brand was started back in the day it was started in New York City, because that’s where all publishing was and technology wasn’t good enough to put out a magazine across country when all of the hub was in New York. And that’s obviously changed.

So, it’s really exciting to be in the backyard of the people and the projects that we cover and I think that it’s going to result in better access for us and more entertaining and better content for our readers.

Samir Husni: There is a lot of talk that in this day and age that there’s no room for print weeklies, and things are changing and moving so fast. Yet, last week I interviewed the chief revenue officer at Us Weekly and she said that they’re still doing two million copies. What do you think is the role of print in this digital age?

Henry Goldblatt: That’s a really good question. I don’t just consider myself editor in chief of a weekly magazine, but of an entire content organization. I became editor in chief a little over three years ago, and I remember when I was growing up, I felt that Entertainment Weekly set the agenda for that particular week’s conversation, like this is what we need to be psyched about in entertainment. So, I really tried to move that thought process into the 21st century. And I really want to give readers something on the cover of this magazine and inside the magazine that they can’t get on the Internet, that they can’t find on anyone’s social media feed, because of what our access allows.

We’re very lucky that movie studios and TV networks still vie to be on the cover of this magazine and that they realize it sells movie tickets and moves ratings for their TV shows. And so, we’re able to use that leverage in order to get some really wonderful, exclusive content.

Our next cover is going to be a reunion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dawson’s Creek. The cast has never been back together before, and this is something that we’ve been negotiating for months and months and months. And we’re super-excited about it and we think it’s going to do very well for us. When the cast was coming together, they would never do this for a random website, they wanted the prestige of Entertainment Weekly and we have a history with this show and being very good to them, so they were very excited about coming back together.

So, they will be on the cover of the magazine, there will be a special reunion TV show on People TV, and we have all sorts of videos and quizzes and all sorts of ancillary products and content that goes along with it that we’re super-excited about. Again, it’s the cover of this magazine that drew them to us and propels the best of the brand.

Samir Husni: I was in France once with Matt Bean when Matt was the editor and he mentioned then the fact that he never received a phone call from any celebrity to be on the website, they all wanted to be on the cover of the magazine. What do you believe is the role of the cover of Entertainment Weekly today?

Henry Goldblatt: I have to tip my hat to Matt, that’s a very good point. I’ve never received a call like that either. (Laughs) My job is to set the entertainment agenda and conversation each week, and luckily I’ve done a lot of stunts in order to do this. The 15 Avengers covers are the perfect example of this. If I had just published one Avengers cover, people would have thought that was nice, whatever, but it really takes effective stunts like the Dawson’s Creek reunion or an Avengers 15 covers stunt in order to grab readers’ attention in a crowded media landscape. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it.

Samir Husni: Tim, since you were behind the 40-page love letter to the fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, tell me how did you take the ideas and conceive those 15 covers?

Tim Leong: The process started almost a year ago. It began when we were trying to figure out how we would put all of these people on a cover, there are 20-something characters in this movie, so we were trying to figure out the logistics of even doing it.

One thing that really inspired the creation of this cover was comic book trading cards that I collected when I was a youth. When you collected them all and put them in the right order, sometimes they would make this 3×3 collecting card montage image. And I thought that was a really cool inspiration and loved it and wanted to try and replicate that. I hadn’t really seen it in magazines at this scale, certainly not one that included 15 covers. I always like a good challenge and trying to outdo ourselves every single time, so that was the inspiration. But it took that long, as we had to negotiate and produce this whole thing.

And to Henry’s point, in trying to make it spunky and something that fans would appreciate, and doing something in print that we can’t do online or in any other version of the brand, that and doing 15 covers and a big 40-page package inside, it really set it apart from digital content and made the print version special.

Henry Goldblatt: We sell all of the art issues in a back issue store, ew.com/backissue, and this one, so far, we’ve sold over 10,000 Avengers issues from the back issue store because people are collecting them all, which has been pretty awesome. And it’s important to note that EW is primarily a subscriber brand.

Samir Husni: Tell me a little about the execution of those 15 covers. How do you work with your art director, with the cover design? When Tim said let’s do this stunt cover, 15 covers, did the art director freak out, the design team? Did they say this is a weekly, what do you mean 15 covers? (Laughs)

Tim Leong: (Laughs too) The idea sounds a little crazy, right? It’s a little complicated, because I was the creative director at the time, when we first started the process. But by the time it published, I was no longer the creative director, so some of the wheels are already in motion, in terms of the planning and production of it, but the design of it all goes to Keir Novesky, our design director, who did that cover.

But it was a long back and forth. It started with a sketch that we did in-house and it’s pretty crazy, the final cover looks close to the original sketch, for sure. We definitely moved a lot of characters around and swapped some in and out, but it all started with a sketch.

It’s really interesting too, talking about these fans who have gone crazy for them. This happens quite a bit with some of our other covers, but there’s such fan passion for these characters and these franchises that a lot of fans start to make their own versions of the covers. Sometimes they feel slighted because their favorite character wasn’t on it or they really want someone else to be on the cover with someone else and they start making all of their fan versions of the cover, which is really cool to see.

Henry Goldblatt: I just wanted to add one thing to what Tim was saying. Tim is being super-modest, because of ideas like these I promoted him to executive editor because he was doing so much more than being the creative director. He really has both the outside of his brain and an editorial side of his brain that’s amazing, so it was ideas like this that got him that promotion.

Samir Husni: If I put all of these 15 covers together, would I get some kind of a poster of the Avengers?

Tim Leong: They all connect to make one big image. The background connects.

Henry Goldblatt: If you look at page one of our Avengers issue, you’ll see how they all connect.

Samir Husni: You’re also adding to the print by the entire website and brand. As you mentioned Henry, you’re no longer just doing a magazine, you have a brand. How are you going to ensure that the content in this brand and all of these exclusives from this cover that you can buy at the back issues store, to the Dawson’s Creek cover that’s coming up, how can you ensure that connectivity with an audience? I remember the former CEO of Time Inc. telling me that there is only an eight second attention span, do you have to do one stunt after another to keep their attention? What’s the secret to keeping your audience clicking and ticking?

Henry Goldblatt: I’m very fortunate; I have an enormous depth of research on the types of projects that our audience likes, and I’m actually going to let Tim speak to this, because he was involved in the study.

Tim Leong: We just did this great fandom study and the real heart of it shows that the fans really want to engage on multiple platforms, not only in print, but online and other avenues as well, social and live events. I think what Henry has done a great job at is directing this brand in a way that it is truly multiplatform. And I think part of that is having a consistent tone and voice across all of our platforms, making sure that we go to the places that our readers want to go, and bringing EW to all of the platforms where our readers live. And the study definitely backs that up.

But the study was really interesting and that was a really key takeaway for us. Fandom is a real mainstay for us, because you might just think of Avengers, that’s fandom, but that also applies to Outlander, which has been a massive success for us.

Henry Goldblatt: Yes, it’s not just fandom and you automatically think of the Comic-Con crowd, that’s not the case at all. We have fandoms such as Outlander, which is a very female skewing fandom that does every bit as well for us, both digitally and in print, as Avengers does. Shondaland is another big fandom, between Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, that skews more female and does very well for us too. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones; there are all of these pockets that our readers are passionate about.

And you may be a subscriber to Entertainment Weekly and you may not like every single subject that’s on the cover, but I guarantee you that throughout the year I’m going to appeal to you more often than I won’t.

Tim Leong: I just think one of the things that EW does better than other brands is really over delivering and going all in on those different fandoms. Like this Avengers one, for instance, giving you 40 pages, there are little fun things throughout. We hid 10 little Ant-Man characters throughout the issue just so you can find them. We just really kind of over deliver on the things that our readers love in a way that no one else can.

Henry Goldblatt: On the flip side to Avengers, about three weeks ago, we did a 90th anniversary tribute to the Oscars that was 40 or 50 pages and we called it “Hollywood’s Greatest Untold Stories – The Oscars Edition,” and we took a deep dive into the things you may not know about Oscar-winning movies; the things you could never see on TV. We worked with the Academy and got a whole bunch of pictures that they had never released before that were exclusive to Entertainment Weekly for this issue. So, an Oscars fan may be different from an Avengers fan, they may be the same, but we try and cover the entire pop culture landscape.

Samir Husni: Are you telling me that you’re making print interactive?

Henry Goldblatt: Yes. I mean, print is always going to be more of a lean-back experience, but I want to make sure that with this Avengers cover or with Dawson’s Creek or the Oscars, our entire staff sends out what we call a “rollout” for every issue. There’s a social point around every issue, there’s what articles are we publishing on ew.com; is there is a social campaign around that issue, is there a People TV special that we’re doing, what’s our video strategy? So, we’re asking ourselves all of those questions. If the issue covers the event in the tent pole, then we’re asking those questions around all of the ancillary things that come out of it.

Samir Husni: I have to ask you the questions; with the new ownership, with the move, with everything taking place, with the enhanced responsibilities, is the job of a magazine editor today a walk in a rose garden or was it ever a walk in a rose garden and do you have time to do any editing?

Henry Goldblatt: (Laughs) That’s a really good question. And I am going to give you a very honest answer. With the move to L.A., as I said, it does feel more like a startup. I’m doing a little more actual editing than I have been recently, but you’re absolutely right, a title of editor in chief can be a misnomer sometimes, because I may be working on a thousand things that have nothing to do with editing.

One of my favorite things that I get to do every week is a radio show for EW Radio and Sirius XM. And I never grew up with a broadcast background or any type of radio background, and this is a brand extension that I’m super proud of and we’re very invested in and it’s making us a lot of money. Sure, I never thought I’d be a radio broadcaster, but here I am and I’m enjoying it.

I work a lot with our publisher and our business side on initiatives, and again, that’s not what I was trained to do, but I’m enjoying it as well. So, having been in journalism for a long time, it’s nice to be able to stumble onto these new things and stretch my brain a bit.

Samir Husni: Tim, you moved from being creative director to the executive editor; what comes with that move? Are you happier using both talents? Do you have one foot in each place now?

Tim Leong: The job goal is very similar, just the execution is different. Before you’re dreaming up how we’re going to treat this story from a design perspective, and now it’s how are we going to treat this story from an editorial perspective. And it’s still a ton of fun. I’m hugely excited about this opportunity and I’m eternally grateful to Henry for even considering me for this type of role. I find it to be incredibly fun and part of it is we have a wonderful stable of writers to work with. And they’re incredibly creative and that’s been one of the nicer joys of it.

And not to go back to the Avengers, but so much of it is planning fun, cool stuff to do. And in the creative director role, that’s doing cool designs and illustrations and that type of cool stuff, but here it could be, for instance, with the cover story that’s coming out this week is “Ready Player One.” And I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book and the movie that’s coming out, directed by Steven Spielberg, but in that cover story our writer, Anthony Breznican, talks about how Steven Spielberg, his crew kept trying to put references to Steven Spielberg’s movie into Ready Player One, and he kept trying to take them out.

So, one thing that we did in the text was highlight or kind of write in titles of Steven Spielberg’s movies in the text and design them with the logos of those movie titles. It’s more of an editorial thing and about making it fun and interactive, and something special that you can only do in print and doesn’t quite work as well online. So, a lot of the goals are the same, the execution is just a little bit different between those two jobs.

Samir Husni: And I have to ask you about the rumors that Meredith may be selling the magazine, any truth to that?

Henry Goldblatt: We read the same reports that you did. I was really heartened to hear the announcement a couple of weeks ago that Bruce Gersh was taking over as president of People and Entertainment Weekly and EVP of the company. He’s a great supporter of the brand and I don’t think they would have made such a fanfare announcement around that and put Entertainment Weekly in its purview just to sell us. I feel very confident about our future and I’m psyched to be a part of the Meredith family.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else either of you would like to add?

Henry Goldblatt: I think the one thing that I’ve really tried to do at Entertainment Weekly is make sure that each of the print covers that are an event can feed our traffic, and the events themselves, can feed our traffic and our video streams and the rest of the brand in a very organic and cohesive way.

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?

Henry Goldblatt: I’m on the floor playing with my dog and watching TV, most likely Scandal.

Tim Leong: If you came right this second, you’d see a mountain of boxes being unloaded. (Laughs) But I think one of the nice things about moving to the West Coast is an amplified family life. And you’d probably find me at home playing with my baby.

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

Henry Goldblatt: This is going to make me sound like a company man, but when I took over Entertainment Weekly three years ago, the motto that I’ve used and would want everyone to engrave and tattoo on their foreheads is: Smart, Funny, First, those are the three qualities that every piece of Entertainment Weekly content should embody. A good piece embodies two of those qualities and a great piece embodies all three. I’ve been imparting this on the staff for years now and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t tattoo it on my own forehead.

Tim Leong: I’ve heard a lot of people say this, but I think it’s just so true and it’s what we really try to embody to the staff is work hard and be nice to people.

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

Henry Goldblatt: To be perfectly honest, what keeps me up at night is I’ve asked 25 to 30 people to uproot their lives and move to L.A. and have faith in me and in this brand, and I just want to come through for them and I don’t want to disappoint them.

Tim Leong: This job is a big responsibility and yes, we’re talking about entertainment, but even though it’s entertainment, it’s something that we take very seriously. And it’s something that I definitely want to be sure we do well, and I’m just trying to think about ways we can do it better. And even better for the future.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

h1

W Magazine: Putting The Magic Back In Magazines – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Stefano Tonchi, Editor In Chief, W Magazine…

March 26, 2018

“I think for the generation before our parents, receiving magazines was a joy. People could not wait to get it, to have it, to read it; to own it.” Stefano Tonchi…

“There was joy because it was their way of knowing what was going on. And it was this fantastic, magic object. So, let’s put back the magic in magazines.” Stefano Tonchi…

“Digital is not everything. Digital is not going to kill or be a substitute for magazines. But magazines have to find a different way to be perceived and distributed.” Stefano Tonchi…

There is no denying that W magazine is a magical thing. The photography is brilliant and the typography and oversized format draws it into that world of collectibles as easily as a Fabergé egg would entice a collector of Romanov family history. But with the latest redesign and new presentation efforts propelled forward by the magazine’s editor in chief, Stefano Tonchi, the publication has become fine art, with each issue its own unique thematic piece.

I spoke with Stefano recently for a charming conversation about all of the changes that have been implemented at W to give the magazine an even more “keep it forever” flavor. Stefano is a man as passionate about his brand as anyone I have ever talked to. From the collector’s box that was designed to hold all of 2018’s issues, to the iconic broadsheet print format that he resurrected for special moments throughout the year, such as the “Best Performances” edition that was distributed during Golden Globes week, W magazine is on the cutting edge of what print today needs to be to stay innovative, relevant and addictive in this digital age we live in.

And as Stefano said himself, “Digital is not everything. Digital is not going to kill or be a substitute for magazines. But magazines have to find a different way to be perceived and distributed.”

Mr. Magazine™ couldn’t have said it better himself.

And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Stefano Tonchi, editor in chief, W magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On how W is making print printier: For print, we said let’s slow down and really go deeply into the idea of collectible. Making print collectible. So, we got a better paper stock, we went to 150 grams, which is quite an investment. And we changed the cover stock, I added this glossy finishing for the logo and part of the covers. And we redesigned the magazine completely, so you saw the two issues; they’re really like thematic. We call them volumes because we don’t want to be tied to the article calendar, because there is no reason anymore for that. I felt that when you do print, you don’t need any more to be monthly or bimonthly, or whatever is the frequency, you have to be out when you have an interesting point of view. And also you need an interesting size, because you don’t want to see this magazine as like a little pamphlet. (Laughs) It’s kind of like motivating the audience. You want something that is substantial. So, we went to this new schedule of eight volumes, so we’re trying, as I said, to act instead of react, so I didn’t look at it as a reduction in the frequency, but really as a change of strategy.

On commissioning a collector’s box for the volumes: The idea was finding out how we could make people understand that they should keep the magazine and collect it. So, we decided we should create a box, and every year we would create a different box with a different artist.

On the collector’s box being sold out: We only created so many in quantity and they went very fast. You know, I think print has not changed in so long that we really need to rethink print. What is a print product? What should it look like? And how do we deliver it to people? If we declare that we’re a premium, luxury product; it has to look like a luxury product. It has to be on nice paper, wrapped and presented in a certain way.

On W’s three D philosophy: discovery, diversity and disruption: Discovery is part of the DNA of the brand. We keep discovering new talent; we put the best and most talented people on our covers and give them their first exposure. Greta Gerwig was one of our first covers and she was so thankful that she collaborated with us doing the kind of movie-stills project we did. And diversity, again, that is something that we have pursued. Something W was doing even before my time here. I think I added maybe some layers to it. And also diversity has become such an important part of today’s conversation.

On a luxury product such as W magazine having diversity as one of its cornerstones: I think it’s a responsibility. You said luxury; I think luxury products more and more need to have an added value. You buy something because it means something, it’s not just an object. You’re buying also what that company stands for. And because your customers are educated, they do understand that. They like, say buying from a company that is behind a museum or a political statement or will spend that kind of money in promoting causes. It becomes part of really the idea of luxury, that sense of responsibility.

On the third D – disruption: Disruption is doing things like the collector’s box, the print; changing the frequency completely or the ideal frequency, I would call that disruption. (Laughs) And to kind of surprise and be very unconventional. Look at the way we’ve been treating the movie industry in our Golden Globe coverage. Last year, we had two women kissing, two guys embracing; we created all of these ideas of couples and it was all about embracing diversity, and they were more than just pretty pictures. There was always a bit of an agenda or some kind of disruption in celebrity photography or celebrity coverage, in a certain way I think.

On bringing back the broadsheet to W magazine: That was another idea, to go against the current, to take something that is so old and kind of forgotten and say the broadsheet, that’s how the magazine was how W actually started. Between 1971 and 1992, it was just a broadsheet, a supplement to WWD, the lifestyle premium of WWD. So, we felt like again, let’s do something that’s totally different and goes against the current. People are doing so much digital that we said let’s take this content and print it on a broadsheet, the oldest thing possible.

On whether all of the changes have been a walk in a rose garden for W: I think we are living in a very difficult time of transition. All publishing companies are suffering so much. And for some, change has come very fast and late. But I think everybody is going through what people used to call “growing pains,” but are now “changing pains,” because we know we need to change, but nobody knows exactly how.

On whether this is the best of times for him: This has been an interesting New Year, because I’m very proud of what W is now. When I arrived six years ago, maybe there were too many people and too much waste, but today we are really small, and it’s nice to work with a small group of people who really feel and love the product. I think we all feel like we love doing the W that we’re putting out. We’re proud of it and we feel like it is what we want it to be. We feel very lucky that we can put out a magazine that still represents our vision.

On anything he’d like to add: What I wish is that we will be able to really find a new way to distribute print magazines. I think we need to, altogether as an industry, understand that the world has changed, there are no more newsstands; a lot of the things cannot be measured the way that they used to be. At the same time, digital is not everything. Digital is not going to kill or be a substitute for magazines. But magazines have to find a different way to be perceived and distributed.

On what keeps him up at night: I sleep very good. I have had some difficult moments, because business is not easy, but I’m not worried about how to do the magazine; I’m more concerned with what to put in the magazine. How to find this new way to present the idea of magazines? I think it’s more of what is a magazine today; that’s the question we have to answer.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Stefano Tonchi, editor in chief, W magazine.

Samir Husni: First of all, congratulations on winning an Ellie award.

Stefano Tonchi: Thank you, that was a nice surprise.

Samir Husni: You and I have talked in the past about how W magazine is making print “printier.”

Stefano Tonchi: Yes, and what we talked about one year ago is what we are delivering. Last summer, I really thought a lot about how to make things happen, and the company really wanted a specific plan. And the plan became to act and not just react. So, with digital, we have to be faster, and we went with social first, and we’re doing so much with our Instagram. Instagram is really the language that W uses the most, because out of all the social media it is the one that’s most visual. And we’re a visual magazine and I think about Instagram as sort of our daily magazine.

We just put out something that’s very fun that I would love for you to look at; it’s like a horoscope. There are 12 of them, but very sophisticated. It’s a way to show fashion and beauty in a different way for a generation who gets their magazines basically straight from the phone.

We’re also launching something new called “Instazine” that is almost like an extension of Instagram stories, so it’s more about storytelling; more like creating content from the images, because what I find very shortcoming and frustrating, coming from print and making magazines, is that on digital you use and you leave images without the content around them. There is very little storytelling in a certain way. And that’s what we do with magazines, we tell stories and we put a story next to another story and that’s how you build your identity as a publication. A lot of what is on digital gets used as a single item and sometimes you don’t even know where it comes from or who paid for it.

So, with digital, it’s fast, fast, fast. And for print, we said let’s slow down and really go deeply into the idea of collectible. Making print collectible. So, we got a better paper stock, we went to 150 grams, which is quite an investment. And we changed the cover stock, I added this glossy finishing for the logo and part of the covers.

And we redesigned the magazine completely, so you saw the two issues; they’re really like thematic. We call them volumes because we don’t want to be tied to the article calendar, because there is no reason anymore for that. We are all kind of daily magazines, through Instagram, through the social media and the website. You are producing news every day. That’s what I think every magazine brand is today, a daily.

So, I felt that when you do print, you don’t need any more to be monthly or bimonthly, or whatever is the frequency, you have to be out when you have an interesting point of view. And also you need an interesting size, because you don’t want to see this magazine as like a little pamphlet. (Laughs) It’s kind of like motivating the audience. You want something that is substantial. So, we went to this new schedule of eight volumes, so we’re trying, as I said, to act instead of react, so I didn’t look at it as a reduction in the frequency, but really as a change of strategy.

Samir Husni: And you believe in this strategy so much that you’ve commissioned a collector’s box.

Stefano Tonchi: Yes, because the idea was finding out how we could make people understand that they should keep the magazine and collect it. So, we decided we should create a box, and every year we would create a different box with a different artist. The first person who came to mind was Barbara Kruger and she didn’t have time then, but she will do it later, because I love Barbara. She did my first cover here at W, one of the first covers, the one with Kim Kardashian; the all about “me” cover, before the selfie. She was ahead of the times.

So, when Barbara couldn’t do it, we asked Ugo Rondinone and he did this beautiful box, and we’re trying to make the same eight stripes of his target painting.

Samir Husni: But the box is sold out, I understand.

Stefano Tonchi: Yes, because we only created so many in quantity and they went very fast. You know, I think print has not changed in so long that we really need to rethink print. What is a print product? What should it look like? And how do we deliver it to people? If we declare that we’re a premium, luxury product; it has to look like a luxury product. It has to be on nice paper, wrapped and presented in a certain way.

What would you think if you got home and on your doorstep there was this skinny, cheap-papered, in a plastic bag magazine? How could you call that a luxury product? I think magazines should become more expensive when you want them and also be delivered the way they do with the Net-A-Porter product. I think for the generation before our parents, receiving magazines was a joy. People could not wait to get it, to have it, to read it; to own it.

Samir Husni: You’ve built your entire W philosophy now around the three D’s: discovery, diversity and disruption.

Stefano Tonchi: Exactly.

Samir Husni: Can we talk about those three D’s?

Stefano Tonchi: Sure. Discovery is part of the DNA of the brand. We keep discovering new talent; we put the best and most talented people on our covers and give them their first exposure. Greta Gerwig was one of our first covers and she was so thankful that she collaborated with us doing the kind of movie-stills project we did.

We also discover talented photographers. We have an issue, Volume Three, that is, basically, cover to cover, all about discovery. A lot of new photographers; Ethan James Green, we were the first time that he shot covers, he did a man and a woman for the cover, just a lot of new people. And really discovering stories, that’s part of what we do.

And I’m lucky enough that the magazine can take many more risks than other publications, because it is our audience who expects to be surprised somehow. And they can deal with surprises; they come to W for discoveries. I think if you’re more of a mainstream publication, it’s more difficult.

And diversity, again, that is something that we have pursued. Something W was doing even before my time here. I think I added maybe some layers to it. And also diversity has become such an important part of today’s conversation. And the next issue, Volume Three, it’s all about it, because it’s our dual-gender issue. This year in particular, it’s all about life gender fluidity and bringing this new idea of gender without stereotypes to the forefront, that’s what it is. It’s not even about sexual orientation; it’s really about taking down stereotypes.

Samir Husni: When people hear the word luxury, it’s rare that the word diversity comes next. It’s intriguing enough that a luxury magazine such as W has diversity as one of its cornerstones.

Stefano Tonchi: I think it’s a responsibility. You said luxury; I think luxury products more and more need to have an added value. You buy something because it means something, it’s not just an object. You’re buying also what that company stands for. And because your customers are educated, they do understand that. They like, say buying from a company that is behind a museum or a political statement or will spend that kind of money in promoting causes. It becomes part of really the idea of luxury, that sense of responsibility.

And the customers look for that and they notice it. When you’re there and you’re trying to decide whether to buy this bag or that bag and both are luxury products, I think people take into consideration whether the company is actively responsible or not, or goes along with their principals about a subject, such as sustainability. Or their principals on gender equality or the company has been investing so much in women’s rights. Or the company is behind great artistic commitments, in terms of what they’re associated with. So, then what you buy is associated with those causes. With a magazine, you kind of have to take a position, because your readers want to associate with the causes that you’re behind.

Samir Husni: And you’re third D, disruption?

Stefano Tonchi: Disruption is doing things like the collector’s box, the print; changing the frequency completely or the ideal frequency, I would call that disruption. (Laughs) And to kind of surprise and be very unconventional. Look at the way we’ve been treating the movie industry in our Golden Globe coverage. Last year, we had two women kissing, two guys embracing; we created all of these ideas of couples and it was all about embracing diversity, and they were more than just pretty pictures. There was always a bit of an agenda or some kind of disruption in celebrity photography or celebrity coverage, in a certain way I think.

When you call in some film director to work with, to create some fashion portfolios, it’s innovation; it is rapture, I think. When you ask an artist to do a cover or to collaborate with a celebrity to make something special. To me, that’s disruption, because it breaks the way things have been done so far.

Samir Husni: Also, part of that disruption, this year at the Golden Globes, you brought back the broadsheet W.

Stefano Tonchi: That was another idea, to go against the current, to take something that is so old and kind of forgotten and say the broadsheet, that’s how the magazine was how W actually started. Between 1971 and 1992, it was just a broadsheet, a supplement to WWD, the lifestyle premium of WWD. So, we felt like again, let’s do something that’s totally different and goes against the current. People are doing so much digital that we said let’s take this content and print it on a broadsheet, the oldest thing possible.

Samir Husni: Has all of this been a walk in a rose garden for you? Everything you’re telling me, I can tell you are very passionate about.

Stefano Tonchi: I think we are living in a very difficult time of transition. All publishing companies are suffering so much. And for some, change has come very fast and late. But I think everybody is going through what people used to call “growing pains,” but are now “changing pains,” because we know we need to change, but nobody knows exactly how.

I have gotten a lot of support from the executives here at Condé Nast, like Bob (Sauerberg), and Anna (Wintour) have been very supportive. I think they were very impressed because we try and deliver what we talk about. We deliver it financially, that’s important, but we also deliver it as a product. Each issue should have some reason to be collected, every issue so far has its own specific graphic and photography identity, and there’s a common idea that runs through the issue. So, they’re unique products in that sense. And that’s what makes them collectible.

The first issue was about the movie industry in a certain way and about fashion. And there was also this idea of handcraft, all of the typography in the well was handwritten. So, there was this real touchy and feely aspect. Like the touch of a human hand, it was really a message that I wanted to put in that issue.

The second issue had this idea of collaboration, where we were inspired by movie posters and the three covers became like three movie posters. Every single story had an opening that was a movie poster.

Volume Three is about identity and we were inspired very much by ID cards, but the design and the graphic design of the issue is about the idea of ID tags. Almost like stickers that you wear to say who you are, because it is about gender identity.

We think about the issues almost like books, in a certain way. And we try to tell stories that have a little bit more of a reason to be preserved and told. They don’t have an expiration date.

Samir Husni: Between the Instazine and W, Instagram and all of your travels, is this the best of times for Stefano?

Stefano Tonchi: This has been an interesting New Year, because I’m very proud of what W is now. When I arrived six years ago, maybe there were too many people and too much waste, but today we are really small, and it’s nice to work with a small group of people who really feel and love the product. I think we all feel like we love doing the W that we’re putting out. We’re proud of it and we feel like it is what we want it to be. We feel very lucky that we can put out a magazine that still represents our vision.

Samir Husni: And it’s well-executed and gorgeous.

Stefano Tonchi: Thank you. I know you see a lot of them. And you read a lot of them. We don’t pretend to be The New Yorker or anything else, but I think we do well with our own mission.

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

Stefano Tonchi: What I wish is that we will be able to really find a new way to distribute print magazines. I think we need to, altogether as an industry, understand that the world has changed, there are no more newsstands; a lot of the things cannot be measured the way that they used to be. At the same time, digital is not everything. Digital is not going to kill or be a substitute for magazines. But magazines have to find a different way to be perceived and distributed. And we have to help. The box is kind of a way to say, let’s produce things that can go into the box. Let’s produce things that you want to keep. That’s the idea.

Samir Husni: And as you said earlier, when our parents would receive magazines in the mail, it was a joy and there was value.

Stefano Tonchi: Yes, there was joy because it was their way of knowing what was going on. And it was this fantastic, magic object. So, let’s put back the magic in magazines.

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

Stefano Tonchi: I sleep very good. I have had some difficult moments, because business is not easy, but I’m not worried about how to do the magazine; I’m more concerned with what to put in the magazine. How to find this new way to present the idea of magazines? I think it’s more of what is a magazine today; that’s the question we have to answer.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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