John

How Wired Keeps Relevant

In magazines on April 24, 2008 at 5:54 am

Being a geek, Wired magazine has consistently impressed me with its covers and the type of stories covered in it. In an age where everyone’s running scared of from the competition caused by the web, Wired is one of the few publications that has embraced change, integrating print and web, and using the web to popularize its brand name across the world.

This piece by Market Watch columnist Jon Friedman captures an essence to why Wired has been successful in keeping relevant to its audience–the key question that every publication needs to answer if it’s to survive the hostile world of change. Unlike other tech magazines, Wired has managed to stay on its original course by not focusing on technology, but “how technology is changing the world,” as Chris Anderson puts it.

Focusing on that goal keeps Wired open and relevant to matters regarding pop-culture, business trends, marketing, human-interest stories–everything that technology touches and affects, Wired covers it. It’s a mind-blowingly wide spectrum to choose from, but somehow Anderson has the nuance to pick and choose the right stories to cover–and that’s why he’s such a great editor.

From Market Watch:

Some pundits like to needle Wired Editor Chris Anderson about his image.

“His reputation is that he always has to be the smartest person in the room,” said Valleywag Managing Editor Owen Thomas. “And he usually is.”

I can understand why.

[…]

I especially like the way Wired always stresses originality and creativity, two increasingly hard-to-find qualities in publishing circles these days.

Many editors watch the competition closely and work in a defensive posture. Their primary motivation appears to be NOT missing a story. I wish they’d focus instead on consistently producing quality stuff — on any subject — and zigging when others are zagging. It’s all about serving the readers, and Anderson apparently feels the same way.

[…]

Wired’s image is also distinct among its sister brands at parent company Conde Nast, which publishes such titles as the New Yorker, Glamour and Portfolio.

“I can take the risks and fail in ways that our traditional brands can’t. Our customers will accommodate us,” Anderson said. “Are we the geeks of Conde Nast? Yes. Are we freaks? No.”

Serious magazine readers probably won’t strain too hard to find similarities between Wired and its role model of sorts, the Economist.

“I’m hugely influenced by the Economist’s model: big, relevant, fresh ideas,” said Anderson, who used to work there.

[…]

“You run the risk of going stale if you don’t change things.”

Anderson has been at Wired for seven years, but he is constantly evolving in his role. In 2006, Anderson wrote the well received book “The Long Tail,” which is based on one of his Wired stories on the Internet economy. “Free” will be his next book, focusing on the economics of why $0.00 is the future of business. It will be published next year.

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