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Magazines 2.0

June 17th, 2008 by Bob Bly

One possible future for magazines is to make them more like the Web — in particular, like social media and other Web 2.0 sites.

For example, according to an article in Circulation Management (6/08, p. 12), Erik Torkells, editor of Budget Travel magazine, published a June issue in which nearly 100% of the content was generated by the publication’s readers.

The magazine received approximately 2,800 pitches from readers resulting in 324 contributors to the issue.

“In the future, love it or hate it, an editor’s role will be to lead a conversation, not deliver a monologue.”

Is quality a problem when peers rather than professional writers provide the content?

Yes, says Torkells, who said the June issue required an “extraordinary amount” of editing, without which it “would have been a mess.”

“Editing non-professional writers is never easy,” he notes.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 at 12:48 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

20 responses about “Magazines 2.0”

  1. Stacey said:

    I think they’re on to something. Who, better than our peers, our actual peers understands what we want to read, what really appeals to us. There will be no more hit or miss, because content generated by a publication’s readers will be what the customers really want to read. The thing to do would be to publish those topics for which you have received numerous contributions – sort of looking for a standard theme. You will never go wrong about the topics you include or the direction they take because your readers selected them. It’s what they want to see in your publication. It is what they think about. This could increase readership, and the inevitable diversity of ideas engendered outside of the parameters of the editor’s scope could only enhance the magazine, increase awareness and intellectual stimulation beyond what could be created by its own writers, folks who are limited to what the powers-that-be say they can write about. This all makes the “extraordinary amount” of editing that will be required worth it. So, you have to clean it up a bit, but if it improves readership and makes for a more interesting read, then why not?

  2. Bob Bly said:

    Stacey: I agree that publishers should solicit ideas for articles from readers, because publishing those articles ensure that you give them what they want. But Budget Travel’s June issue went one step beyond that, with the articles actually WRITTEN by the readers. If you’ve ever watched who buys magazines at newstands and supermarket checkout lines, I’m not sure you’d be eager to “hire” them as your staff writers.

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