20-year-old CNET is synonymous with forward-looking technology, reporting on the latest in smart home tech, wearables, and mobile. So it’s heartening for those in the publishing industry to see this tech-savvy site, which develops content for video, mobile apps, and the web, expand into print. In 2014 CNET launched a quarterly magazine that talks technology for the everyday consumer. The goal of the launch, said CNET co-editor-in-chief Connie Guglielmo in an interview with Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni, was to deliver CNET content on a platform readers wanted. “We’re platform agnostic. It’s all about the reader and how they want to consume content,” said Guglielmo.
In the interview, which was published on the Mr. Magazine blog last week, Guglielmo went on to say that quality content, regardless of platform, should be the guiding light for publishers and journalists. Referencing the glut of information that’s on the web, she said, “I do think the most important thing to remember is, just because you can write something doesn’t make you a news reporter or a journalist. Hitting that high bar in that service to the reader is vital.”
Here are a few of the highlights from the interview. Check out the complete Q&A here.
On why CNET invested in print:
We’re platform agnostic. It’s all about the reader and how they want to consume content. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have pursued all of the different channels and opportunities that we have. So, mobile, obviously, is a big thing for us; it’s very big today and it’s going to be big tomorrow. If you’d asked me 10 years ago if the tech world would want to read news off of the refrigerator; I’m a Star Trek fan, so I would have probably said yes, it makes sense. Now, the general population probably wouldn’t think that, but to us it’s just another channel to reach people.
And our business doesn’t rise and fall on the print product. We didn’t go out and hire a whole new staff and invest in a whole new production system for this magazine. These are CNET resources that we’re just bringing to bear in a different way to produce the magazine.
On how CNET approaches print vs. web content:
We approach the storytelling in the quarterly magazine very differently than we do online. Everything that we write for the magazine is original. It’s not something that we’ve taken online and repurposed, then put in the magazine; although, there have been one or two stories that we have done online and then done a variation of for the magazine. But for the most part, 95% plus of the magazine copy is original.
When you’re writing for that cadence, you’re approaching storytelling in a very different way than you are when you’re reacting to daily news. . .
For the magazine, we have to tell stories in one, two, or three pages, because you’re constrained by print, so we started to experiment with the very first issue on storytelling . . . one [story] is called “Confessions of a Smartphone Thief,” and we worked with the San Francisco District Attorney for months to interview this thief who had stolen iPhones to hear his side of the story about why he did it and what happened to the iPhones after he took them and etc.
The story in the magazine is two pages and about 1,100 words. But the original story that he reported is 2,500 words, so if you look at the story in print, it gives you a link to the longer version of the story. So, we’re not bound by the limitations of the magazine, in terms of telling the story in so many words. . . And that gives readers a choice. If they think the story is interesting, they can go and read the longer version of it. Some people never see the magazine, so they see the story online. . .
With every magazine we’re trying to connect the online and print well to our advantage. If we can tell a story in a certain way online and then do it differently and have connections to the print, and vice versa, that’s great.
On the goal of CNET Magazine:
We’re trying to put the “you,” the personal, back into technology because there are a lot of stories written about technology and I’ve been writing about them for more than 20 years myself. But the thing that we have to remember is technology is no longer this niche thing that only a few people touch; it is a part of everything that we do, every single day. And it’s important to remember that the technology is one thing, but it’s really how you use it that is the most important thing. Is it meaningful to you as a person? Can you integrate into your life? We wanted to remind people that “you” are the center of tech, not tech at the center.