The Shapeshifting Publisher of 2015

Video is big this year. (Or maybe that was last year?) In any case, I remember the first time video was big. It was 2006, and my then-employer Time Inc. announced that, due to advertiser demand for online video, it was launching Time Inc. Studios, a brand new unit designed to produce video content for all of the magazine brands. At the time, one of my editor bosses presciently noted that “video turns people into assholes.” Every editor and writer (myself included) started reimagining themselves as producers, thinking that they could turn out cable- or network-television quality programming.Continue reading “The Shapeshifting Publisher of 2015”

Things I’m Working On: Being a Better Editor

Millions of people wish they could be a great writer, but I suspect fewer dream of becoming a great editor. It’s always the writer. I recently met Chris Vogel, the articles editor for Boston Magazine, and he compared being an editor to parenting, because it’s about “selfless love.” “Editors are in the people game as much as the words business.” Editors aren’t the stars, but they’re coaxing, listening, pushing, making the writer comfortable that she can do great work. Maybe they’re part coach or therapist, or maybe they’re just customer support. They can help make someone else shine—or at the very least, get out of the way and do as little damage as possible before passing it along to readers.Continue reading “Things I’m Working On: Being a Better Editor”

A Birth Story

Meaghan O’Connell’s birth story is wonderful and highly quotable.

#Nightshift: Minneapolis

Jeff Sharlet is doing something really special with these Instagram essays, and it’s hitting on something I’ve been obsessed with for a while now: The idea that there are people whose voices are being recorded on the Internet, and people whose voices are not being recorded. There are millions of people who will never share anything on the Internet, and it’s an opportunity for those who are online to record the voices and histories of those who are not. Otherwise we’re all just talking about tech and media and business and startups all day.

On Indie Publishing

This is a principle thing: There are a lot of companies pouring money into long-form storytelling right now, which is great, but in many cases, there’s no real model backing it up. That creates a high-turnover, boom-and-bust atmosphere for sites. Are we going to have to keep relying on VC funding from billionaires to feed us these stories forever?

I believe that reader-generated, recurring subscriptions are critical for ensuring quality storytelling on the internet for many years to come.

I did a 60-second interview with Capital New York about the Longreads Member and digital story fund, and where we’re heading with originals.