Interview: Matt Kinsman

Matt Kinsman has written about the media, specifically magazine publishing, for various titles and newsletters. As managing editor of Folio, a trade publication that covers the magazine industry, he has a front-seat view of a rapidly changing industry.

Matt Kinsman has written about the media, specifically magazine publishing, for various titles and newsletters. As managing editor of Folio, a trade publication that covers the magazine industry, he has a front-seat view of a rapidly changing industry.

PRWeek: What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the managing editor of Folio?

Matt Kinsman: I am primarily overseeing the print product, so I'm coming up with the story idea list, working with the advertising and sales department to determine what things we can do to appeal to both readers and advertisers, and also working with the online editorial team. Like a lot of publications, we are writing for both print and online, and online has become a priority; the news goes up online first. A lot of the ideas are going out on blogs first. We are doing Webinars and [will] eventually doing a version of them for the magazine as well.

PRWeek: It's certainly an interesting time to cover media and magazines. What do you think are the big media and magazine stories happening right now? Obviously there are a lot of layoffs and there are a lot of magazines shuttering their print editions entirely.

Kinsman: Like you said, the big story right now is survival and flat-out survival. Obviously, you've…seen a lot of the weaker publications fold as well, but this time you're seeing very strong publications, or publications that were very strong through much of 2008, they've suddenly run out of funding and they are not making the amount of money they need to sustain publications, and so they are closing down as well. People are really struggling with what they do next. [They're thinking] ‘Can we really monetize enough online to take that business to the next level?' ‘And what role does my print publication play now, now that advertisers are just asking right now for measured media?'

PRWeek: When you talk to publishing industry sources, do you see an attitude of the sky falling, so to speak?

Kinsman: Honestly, it's pretty mixed at this point. Some people seem to think we've been here before, often citing the dip we took in 2001. But this seems to be even worse than that at this point. So I wouldn't say that most people are thinking the sky is falling, but it is definitely falling for some people, and others are hoping it doesn't fall on them.

PRWeek: What are the stories that are being lost because the economy is so bad that they're just being overshadowed? Are there any great publishing industry stories that just aren't getting told right now?

Kinsman: I'm thinking innovation…what do publishers do with great ideas going into 2009, whether for the original print product or for the online product, who just can't go forward with these plans. Obviously the biggest priority right now for most publishers is just cutting costs and meeting budgets and [they're] really not allowed to experiment as well. I think, later in the year, we are going to see exciting stories with people who are taking that step and launching products, whether it's print or online. People are also starting to figure out how to monetize, and everybody is talking a lot about digital. You hear a lot about the shift in revenue…but really the vast majority of publishers are not making money online.

PRWeek: How has the transition to digital and to the Web changed what Folio covers?

Kinsman: We have to make sure we make a conscious effort to write a print story every issue. And there is so much going on with online, whether back-end system people debating open source or enterprise software or coming up with a strategy for their online system. People talk about Web 2.0, people talk about Web 3.0 and Web 4.0, but no one really knows what that means. You are starting to see some really smart strategies come forward and people are putting news out online, or [changing] their print pubs to be more report-focused where the long-form journalism can exist. You're starting to see social media pop up. People are having mixed results with monetizing social media and people are starting to see negative comments published. But social media is really helping with the brands and creating some revenue opportunities, as well.

PRWeek: Do you see a difference in reporters that cover publishing from just a few years ago? Is there a better understanding of social media, Web 2.0 tools, and other technologies?

Kinsman: I think that has to be true. I mean you certainly don't have to turn into a complete tech reporter but you certainly have to understand how these technologies work, and you have to have a laymen's understanding of how the technologies work as well.

PRWeek: Working for a publication that covers media, how do you get pitched by PR professionals?

Kinsman: PR is going some of the traditional routes. They are taking a look at our editorial calendar and talking to us about a client who has an interesting story or who could be a cover story, but the problem with that is that we do not really profile specific companies. We could be talking about online media, does someone have a difficulty in strategy with that. We recently did a story on whether anyone would launch a print magazine now, and we took a look at the WWE because they launched a few different print titles, including WWE Kids, which is actually doing fantastic on the newsstand and as a subscription magazine. People get on the cover not so much for themselves specifically, but in how they fit into a larger subject that we are covering.

PRWeek: Do you get any wild or really out of the ordinary pitches?
Kinsman: I can't say anything has been too wild. I think mostly people are giving us stories that have been told over and over again and they think it's new and ready for our cover.

Name: Matt Kinsman


Title: Managing editor

Outlet: Folio

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