Erin and I went up to NYC a few weeks back to give a presentation to members of the Magazine Publishers' of America about our study on the features of magazine websites.  If you are a glutton for punishment, you can download a copy of our Powerpoint presentation here.  

As a presenter, the questions/answer part of the session is always the most interesting. And the best questions are always the ones you can't really answer.  So here are some of the better questions we were asked.

(1)  How do journalists balance the time demands of their print duties with those of their online duties?

I basically said "umm" and then made a grunting noise. Seriously, I don't know.

It sort of reminds me of when I go into pitches to corporate clients and try to get them to start blogging themselves.  They always ask about the time commitments that are required.  "We're already overworked.  We don't have time to blog.  How can I do it without hiring someone?"  I can't really answer that one either.

I can only answer these questions from my own personal experience.  I'm a busy guy and I find time to blog.  How?  For me, my work and my blogging are accomplished in one motion.  Blogging feeds my work and my work feeds my blogging.  It's all kind of the same thing.  

So I'd say in an ideal world magazines should create an environment where writing web and print content can be achieved in one motion.  Write blog entries that provide insight into the process of creating the story itself.  Post notes from interviews.  Post follow ups on the story as more information becomes available.  Post links to discussion about the article.  Post about peripheral issues you got interested in due to your story research.  I think creating web content can be done in a way that supplements what you are already doing.

I don't know is probably the right answer though. 

(2) How do you balance the traditional role of magazines as gatekeepers with the trend towards user generated content and social news?

I don't really have a good answer to this one either.  I would just say I think there is a sweet spot between your traditional, editor-driven newspaper website and the free for all approach taken by sites like Digg that no one has really hit yet.  

(3) Assuming you open things up and allow readers to comment on stories, how do you manage this given the lack of resources?

Once again, I don't think there is a right answer here as people are still figuring this out, but I did take a stab at it. 

First, you don't have to allow people to comment on every article.  Why bother with comments on wire stories?  In order to preserve resources you could potentially allow commenting only on longer pieces and/or editorials.  This is the approach being taken by .

Second, let your readers/users help you police the comments.  Give them ways to report out of line comments through your site.  I think this is a much better and more practical approach than having magazine staffers waiting at the ready to review every comment as they come in.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.