Journalist Q&A: Caryn Ganz, Spin.com

Spin.com editor-in-chief Caryn Ganz talks to Emory Sullivan about the editorial synergy between the print title and website and its new "all-out" approach to the Grammys

Name: Caryn Ganz
Title
: Editor-in-chief
Outlet
: Spin.com
Contact
: cganz@spin.com
Website
: www.spin.com

Spin.com editor-in-chief Caryn Ganz talks to Emory Sullivan about the editorial synergy between the print title and website and its new "all-out" approach to the Grammys

Spin recently went from a monthly to bimonthly. How is your new title related to this change?
Charles Aaron became the editorial director in summer 2011. His vision was making the magazine a really important stand-alone object. Each issue is now an event. They're themed and they look more like one of the magazines from the '90s that you would want to hang onto for years. He really viewed the website more like the engine driving the daily aspects of the brand.

The online editor-in-chief title was created to demonstrate that we were going to have a larger editorial scope. Charles wanted it to be on par with the print editor-in-chief title to show that both are equally important and taking on leadership for different parts of the company.

How different is your role from that of the previous online editor?

I'm integrated into the entire editorial process. With a big story, my job is to figure out what serves us best online. We can do that a lot better now than before the redesign. Just having a way to display stories online that makes more sense is vital. If you can't make a story look right online, maybe it's not a good idea to do it. The print layout is very deliberate to lead you from A to B. Why can't we do that online?

Have previous jobs prepared you for the role?
It's astounding how much I learned about the Internet in the five years I was away from Spin. There are a lot of considerations for a magazine that has a website. How much of it should be put online? If you have a scoop, should you save it for print? What kind of writers should be writing for the site? These are things I was thinking about while at RollingStone.com and Yahoo.

What changes have been made to Spin.com?
We brought it a lot closer in line with the type of editorial that went in the magazine. There was a noticeable difference between the types of coverage that each offered, which is just a function of having staff that were operating so independently. We really opened up the site to different kinds of music. I definitely brought a new attention to headline writing.

The biggest thing that's happened is the late April launch of our Player. Our thinking be-hind this aspect of the site was built on Spin Play, our music-streaming iPad app. The player is anchored at the top of every page and changes the whole experience of listening to music on the site. The presentation is quite slick. It continues playing as you browse, so your experience is uninterrupted. If you click to expand it, the player becomes a full interactive experience with tracks sortable by a variety of categories.

This is a big step for us. We see it as a game-changing leap forward in the brand's evolution both editorially and in the digital music discovery space.

How has your audience been impacted by the editorial shift?
There have been instances where beefing up coverage has had a huge impact. For example, in the past, the site hasn't really gone after the Grammys as an event. We must go after it. It's music's big night, so we really went all out this year. Traffic rose 950% year on year. There have been blogs that have caught on, too. It's interesting what people respond to. In the past, high traffic was dependent on a few big premieres.

What is the best way for PR pros to pitch you?
I feel guilty because I'm bad at responding to PR pros, but that's mostly because they probably shouldn't pitch me. They should be pitching the other editors at the magazine. I'm the grand conductor trying to keep everything going. I really want music publicists to know who does what so they can reach the right person here.

When I came, two more editors joined, Christopher Weingarten as senior editor and David Bevan as associate editor. Devon Maloney joined as a news editor in January. Including the top editors, we have about eight or nine people working here, so we have a very small staff.

What changes has Spin made digitally?
As far as content between online and mobile, there's a real overlap. Most stories will appear in two places, in some combination of Web, print, and iPad. There are some stand-alone stories commissioned just for the iPad.

In our opinion, this is great for the artist, since they're getting exposure to different audiences. Market research has indicated that there are different audiences for these three platforms, so it's a matter of packaging the story for the best presentation on the platform. 

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