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The NYRM Q&A: CINDI LEIVE

By Nola Weinstein


Cynthia Leive, 41, editor-in-chief of Glamour and president of the American Society of Magazine editors, is attuned to the new challenges facing the media. She weighs in on the future of her industry in the digital age.

NYRM: What is the future of magazines in the cyber age?
CL: Magazines have a very rich and promising future if—and it’s a big if—they can embrace what it means to go into a different medium. A lot of magazines will prosper as print vehicles for years to come. There are certain pleasures that can only be had in print. As editors, we need to fi gure out whatthose things are and exploit them. Magazines that rely on lush imagery and high quality photography are tactile pleasures. Those stand to do very well.

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NYRM: Can magazines afford to publish only in print?
CL: Probably not. The days of saying the internet is for someone else may be over. For some publications, it may not be a huge piece of their functioning now but it will be. Magazines with a strong brand authority in print can maintain that and connect with the reader online.

NYRM: How has Glamour embraced the internet?
CL: The web is exciting for us. On the most obvious level, it is a hell of a lot faster. We are a monthly magazine, but with our site we can get things online in fi ve minutes and offer an arena for discussion of current events. There can be a conversational feel on our website that editors and readers would not want in the magazine— what’s appealing is the web’s informality.

NYRM: How should a magazine’s print and online content differ?
CL: I agree with Wired editor Chris Anderson, who said, “A print magazine can be a Fabergé egg, but the web is scrambled eggs.” Something too polished that reads well in print would look stilted and dorky online.

NYRM: How have other editors adapted to cyberspace?
CL: Gradually. The thinking was: we will take what we are doing in print and do more online, which doesn’t work that well. Posting stories online is not the richest reading experience. It took time to fi gure out the best experience for the readers.

NYRM: What works for Glamour?
CL: For us it’s about looking for a good conversational voice, to have our readers and the characters from our magazine have an ongoing conversation. It has been really rewarding
and great to hear readers talking. We get seven hundred letters from readers a week to the print magazine, but the volume increases radically when you ask readers to talk to each other online.

NYRM: Any advice for magazine journalists just starting out?
CL: It’s an amazing moment for young entry-level journalists because it is entirely possible that you, as an assistant editor, will know more [than senior editors] about technology and the web. Top editors are listening to junior editors more than ever before, but that doesn’t mean skills like good solid journalism and thorough reporting are any less important—they are crucial.

 
 

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