MEDIA PROFILE: Forbes online plays a new money-magazine game - It’s not your father’s Forbes magazine - the online version is attracting a younger generation. Claire Atkinson explains how to present a solid pitch

Multi-millionaire magazine publisher and presidential candidate Steve Forbes is a great believer in the power of the Internet.

Multi-millionaire magazine publisher and presidential candidate Steve Forbes is a great believer in the power of the Internet.

Multi-millionaire magazine publisher and presidential candidate

Steve Forbes is a great believer in the power of the Internet.

Back in March, Forbes became the first person to announce his candidacy

on the Web. And he is also reinventing the Forbes business empire


While the magazine’s readers are around 45, the average reader of is about 10 years younger. Online users, as opposed to print

readers, are more likely to be power breakfasting on marshmallow

Snoballs at home than eggs Benedict at the Four Seasons, as the ad

campaign suggests.

’It’s a new game,’ says the company’s advertising campaign. It focuses

on the ’no-salary earning, old underpants wearing, billionaire on paper,

CEO,’ nouveau riche of the Net. But though the readers of Forbes and may have different tastes, they have one thing in common.

They want to know about money - who’s got it and how they can get


The site’s most popular story this year was the annual list of the

world’s richest people, which featured Bill Gates at the top with a cool

dollars 90 billion.

The story boosted the number of unique individuals visiting the site

from an average of 100,000 per day to 270,000.

The site also made a name for itself when Adam Penenberg, who writes for

Forbes magazine and, broke the story about the notorious

reporter Stephen Glass from the New Republic. Glass was given his

marching orders for fabricating stories.

But isn’t the only player in town. Trying to create a strong

business as well as a technology-oriented web site is a tough task with

the rivals lining up as thick as the stock quotes in the financial


Cnet, the Industry Standard, Red Herring and The are all

vying for a piece of the action.

Currently, does not charge for access. Content from the

magazine and its lifestyle and hi-tech supplements FYI and ASAP are

added online over the course of two weeks. A subscription charge for

access to certain areas is currently under consideration as management

figures out how to turn 2.5 million unique visitors per month into


Not a trendy start-up

The 40-strong web team works in a building not far from the Double Click

billboard on Fifth Avenue, at the edge of New York’s Silicon Alley. But

the office has little in common with other trendy dotcom start-ups. At

those less-than glamorous spaces, the reporters claim that they share

their office with mice and that only the sales executives get windows.

But is vacating its rented space to move somewhere a little

more in line with the new economy by September.

Although uses content from its paper-based bigger brother,

the web version competes for stories with the magazine, creating further

pitching opportunities.

Editorial is overseen by editor David Churbuck and managing editor Steve

Johnson. The two head a team of around 20, who file between five and 15

stories a day on the fluctuating markets.

Johnson has had a long history with Forbes. The 36 year old spent many

years in banking before joining the magazine. He then leapt to the web

site as a finance writer and was later promoted.

This month he recruited two new staff, Jon Swartz from the San Francisco

Chronicle and John Shinal from Bloomberg. Swartz will focus on profiles

of computer industry titans, large cap tech companies and industry

trends.Shinal will cover a new area, virtual crime and Net hacking.

Johnson says that a host of developments are in the works: ’We are

planning to add new sections and break out some of the themes.

E-business is getting quite a big section. We may break down into

subsets and add telecoms and media groups.’

The features follow a rigid pattern with technology coverage appearing

on Mondays. The section is written by West Coast bureau chief David


Staff editor Charles Dubow writes on convergence, which appears on

Tuesdays while senior editor Om Malik files on start-ups on Wednesdays.

Malik’s coverage includes profiles of the computer industry small

timers, IPOs and venture capitalism. Swartz’s industry stories appears

on Thursdays.

Friday’s E-Business section is written by staff writer Penelope Patsuris

who covers Internet business plans and their impact on media politics,

law and popular culture. Managing editor Johnson is also hiring another

writer to cover personal finance on the weekends.

The reporters have a news meeting every morning after the 9:30 am news

deadline has been met. Feature ideas are knocked around on Tuesday

afternoons and are usually written around three days ahead of


Pitching tips

If you are pitching to the site, Johnson warns that the Internet

reporters tend to hold the same skeptical views as their magazine


But he also encourages PR pros to follow up pitches with phone calls or

faxes. He explains his approach: ’We have a technology and financial

focus. We don’t do product reviews - we do company profiles. But we

leave the Ford Motors pieces to the magazine.’

Johnson is looking to develop the calendar section of the site, which is

a run-down of the week’s major financial events. He suggests PR pros

make contact with conferences and events to help make the section less

generic. PR pros are also free to contribute to the interactive forums

attached to the reporters’ work - they exist for readers to make

comments about their stories.

In commercial terms, is hoping to expand its business

relationships beyond editorial bounds. In June, the web site signed a

deal with financial information provider Stock Smart to offer a new

web-based information service titled Forbes Markets. The service will

combine online journalism with institutional-quality research and will

have both free and pay services.

Forbes also appointed Kevin McKean last month as executive editor.

McKean, joining from Time Inc.’s New Media division, will be responsible

for seeking out new business opportunities. may help boost

Steve Forbes’ place on next year’s rich list, if not his presidential



Forbes Digital Media

85 Fifth Avenue - 2nd Floor

New York, NY 10003

Tel: 212-620-2200

Fax: 212-367-4159

Email:First name first initial of last

Editor David Churbuck

Managing editor Steve Johnson

Executive editor Kevin McKean

West Coast bureau chief David Einstein (technology)

Start-ups Om Malik Convergence Charles Dubow

E-Business Penelope Patsuris Networking John Shinal Companies/technology

Jon Swartz

Staff editor (news) Marius Meland.

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