The Week Editor in Chief Bill Falk to Mr. Magazine™: “I Feel an Even Greater Responsibility to Our Readers to Be Able to Sift through This Information and Try to Detect a Signal in the Noise…”
The Week magazine will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary, and its one and only editor in chief, Bill Falk, says never has the magazine been more needed than during this pandemic. As the curation is tight, and during these ambiguous times, extremely concise and as accurate as possible, each issue will alert you to all the important updates and COVID-19 information as possible, and quite often to a few sources to follow up on.
I spoke with Bill recently and we talked about all of the particulars of working from home, publishing a magazine with your staff via remote communications, and about how journalists and information providers rank right up there with First Responders to him when it comes to helping people get the content they need to stay safe and well.
On how a weekly publication such as The Week is operating during the pandemic:
"We’re actually doing pretty well. Again, I think we are fortunate in that our business model has always been to get the majority of revenue directly from subscribers, rather than to rely on advertising. And that has held us in good stead through various recessions and other problems, obviously through the whole digital disruption of the magazine industry."
On how easy, hard or disruptive the move to working from home was:
"It certainly makes it more difficult. It’s a degree of difficulty of about a seven or eight to a nine or ten. I miss the ability to communicate with staff instantly, face-to-face; to huddle; to discuss things. And not being able to do that easily and having to rely on electronic communications definitely adds a layer of friction to the process."
On how relevant he thinks The Week is today in the midst of the pandemic, and in the midst of everything that has taken place over the years with the industry:
"I actually think that it has made us more relevant than ever, because the amount of information coming at people now is exponentially greater than when we launched almost 20 years ago. There’s just a constant firehose coming at people on social media and various online sources. Our mission and our value proposition to the reader is the same, except that it may be even more needed now, which is: Let us read most of it for you and curate it, make sense of it, group it into categories, subjects and topics that cohere in a sensible way."
On what message he is communicating with his staff during these uncertain times:
"To the staff, I try to convey the message that we have a really important responsibility here and this is the biggest story of our lifetimes. I guess we thought 9/11 and the aftermath would be the biggest story and this supersedes that. We have a great opportunity to use the skills we’ve honed to help readers understand this, make sense of it, to give them tips."
Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D. is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media. He is also Professor and Hederman Lecturer at the School of Journalism. As Mr. Magazine™ he engages in media consulting and research for the magazine media and publishing industry.