Inside Vox: A Revolutionary Restructure

Vox Magazine is a lot like any other magazine.

We have editors, departments, budget meetings and contributors.

We also have a website and a pretty developed digital team.

Much like any magazine, we’re concerned with providing the best content to our readers. This inspired a pretty revolutionary shift in our internal workflows that we’re excited to start this semester.

Given that each semester Vox’s staff rotates, each semester we can reinvent ourselves. Sometimes this poses challenges for advancement or innovation. For spring 2015, every member of the Teaching Assistant Editorial Team, the administrative core of Vox, has already worked at the magazine for at least one semester.

Because of this experience, we’re taking a leap to ensure we’re delivering the best storytelling and content we can.

First, you have to understand where we’re coming from.

The legacy way

For most magazines, including some massively successful ones, their digital presence is a limited one. Sometimes the magazine simply dumps their print content to the web with little differentiation. Sometimes this isn’t the best – sometimes I’ve read an entire month’s issue of GQ before my print version even comes in the mail.

Sometimes organizations have a hybrid version, where print content is shared alongside digital-first content. This is common at Complex, who has built a vibrant internet community, and Scientific American, who has arguably the most-read scientific blogging community on the web.

This hybrid is what Vox does – we have print exclusive content that gets some slight modification for web, and we have consistent blog content.

Few of these magazines mesh their digital and print storytelling, which reveals a secret: nobody really knows the best way for print magazines to provide web content.

The new Vox way

In our first few meetings of the semester, our Editorial Director Heather Lamb proposed a shift in priority. No longer are we a print version and a website and a blog – now we are one being, the Vox brand. Our focus shouldn’t be on producing content for the magazine or writing things only meant for blogs.

We should focus on a multiplatform approach. Instead of pitching specific items for specific platforms, we have a new question:

On what platform can you tell your story the best? 

Some of our most vibrant and visually stimulating graphic designs bring life to our print edition that can’t be translated to web.

And some of our digital content lives so well online it can’t be replicated on paper.

Now we’re asking our students to not consider the simple requirements of pitches for web and print. We’re asking them to consider the quality of their storytelling and how it can be done the best.

To support this shift, we’re restructuring our magazine. Before, there was a separation between the print, digital and design aspects of our magazine. This created dissonance and difficulties in cross-platform production.

To fix this, we’re putting increased emphasis on Departments – Music Arts and Books, The Scene, Food and Drink, and others.

Headed by Editors, each department will have Reporters, Digital Editors and associated designers and Convergence reporters. They will tackle stories as a department, with each member of the multi-platform team considering the best way stories can be told.

You can’t pitch something exclusively for print anymore – if the story can be told better on the web, that’s where the Department will focus.

This opens our Vox brand to tons of different opportunities: linked Web and print content, live digital support of a print topic, social media campaigns to support stories, and increased emphasis on video production.

We aren’t sure if it’s going to work, but we’re super excited about it. Stay tuned for more as the semester goes on.

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