These are the two essential ingredients to any successful media property, to my mind. But I’m not alone, I’m really just parroting Clay Felker, my partner for a few brief years when I taught at Berkeley, and a legendary figure in the world of magazines.
So why do I bring them up? Because for once, I have something nice to say about Time Inc., in particular, its flagship magazine, Time. When I was in Europe, I read the cover story of Time that week, “The Clean Energy Myth.” The piece was a winner – a conceptual scoop, an important and timely topic, and – this was the really surprising part – a true argument, an attempt to make a point. It was so refreshing, and so different than the warmed over “on the one hand, on the other hand” pap I was used to from most newsmagazines. This article was great journalism, and it had a serious point of view. The last graf, for example:
Advocates are always careful to point out that biofuels are only part of the solution to global warming, that the world also needs more energy-efficient lightbulbs and homes and factories and lifestyles. And the world does need all those things. But the world is still going to be fighting an uphill battle until it realizes that right now, biofuels aren’t part of the solution at all. They’re part of the problem.
I figured it had to be an article for only Europe. But when I got back, I was thrilled to see it on the cover here as well. I have not checked, I’m hoping they didn’t water it down. But in any case, it struck me that Time was starting to realize what conversational media properties already knew inherently – you can’t survive on distribution alone. You need Voice and Point of View.
I noticed another thing about Time recently: The magazine now writes a leader opinion piece, often strongly worded, to kick off the entire magazine. I love this idea, we did it at The Standard. It says “This publication stands for something. We’re leaders, arbiters of analysis.” Bravo, Time.
(Of course, I think nearly every site represented by FM has Voice and Point of View in some way or another, but I’m biased. Or rather, that’s my point of view…)