Mark Glaser over at MediaShift had an interesting post yesterday where he published an interview with "Mr. Magazine", magazine journalism expert Samir Husni.  The interview really caught my attention because Mr. Magazine seems to be advocating the same strategies that we have been writing about here on TBR.  The interview is definitely worth reading, but I will put some of the highlights here:

Glaser: I’ve noticed that the local newspaper here, the San Francisco Chronicle, is trying to make their paper more local and use more graphics, photos and color on the front page.

Husni: Two things we have to do. We have to use more narrative and more pictures. If you look at the Financial Times that was completely redesigned last week, a lot of their stories are a full page. But you read that story and you’ll get everything you need to know about that subject. More magazines are moving toward more narrative. I tell my magazine clients we have to deepen the story and chase the photographs. For the service part, send people to the web.

The biggest mistake we’ve made in this industry is that we send people to the web, and we’ve left them there. We offered them something that’s free, that’s like a blizzard that surrounds them with information. But at no website do they ever say, ‘By the way, you need to go back to the paper to read page 20 where we have this article that you’ll only find on page 20 today.’ There’s no two-way street, we’ve created a one-way street and people get lost in the jungle [online].


Glaser: So you don’t suggest that people put magazine content online at all?

Husni: No. The biggest mistake we are doing now, and I don’t understand why, is we are duplicating magazine content and putting it online. Why would I have the exact same thing on the screen if it exists in print?


Glaser: What is your suggestion to newsweeklies? Their circulation is going down overall. Do you think it was a mistake to put all their content online?

Husni: Definitely. The day I cancelled my subscription to Newsweek was when I saw in print a snippet of an interview, and below that it said, ‘For the whole interview go to’ I am paying money and you are offering me less in print than what I can get for free on the web. That’s why I was very happy when Time reinvented itself with more in-depth [stories] and more photography. They cover two or three topics, but I still need editors to figure out what my readers want each week.

One of the ideas that we stressed in our magazine study that we published last year is that newspapers and magazines should not publish their print content online.  This sort of regurgitation of material isn't of interest to anyone.  When magazines and newspapers duplicate content in their print and online versions, they are in essence forcing consumers to make a choice to either read the content online or read it in print.  By publishing the same material in both outlets, news sources limit their readers' interest to either the website or the print version.  However, by publishing unique content online that supplements the print content, magazines and newspapers can benefit from having their readers visit the website and purchase print versions.  

With this in mind, I definitely agree with Mr. Magazine that newspapers and magazines should change their print versions from addressing the "four W's and the H (who, what, where, why, and how)" to providing more in-depth analysis on a select number of topics.  The website can then be used to disseminate important bits of digestible information quickly.  If media outlets can strike this fine balance, I think that Mr. Magazine's prediction that there is room for both print media and online media will be correct.