Fairfax’s popular Saturday NIM, Good Weekend, turned 30 last week, but editor Ben Naparstek is already planning the magazine’s next digital transition to reach new audiences.
Reflecting on the magazine’s milestone, Mr Naparstek said he took his role in maintaining Good Weekend’s reputation for long form journalism “very seriously”.
“Long form” is a relatively new part of the media vernacular. It emerged as a Twitter hashtag – #longform – alerting readers to pieces that would demand more of their time, an anomaly in a world of live blogs and breaking news updates in 140 characters.
While it seems at odds with today’s time-poor audiences, long form is the format for which Good Weekend has become renowned and it has reaped “incredibly loyal readers” for it, Mr Naparstek says – including 1.2 million print readers.
His strategy for the future involves harnessing “the full range of digital storytelling opportunities offered to us… in the interests of making long form journalism accessible to and engaging for as many people as possible.”
According to emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia), Good Weekend is the No. 1 NIM in Australia for reaching readers in the educated ambition segment as well as those with a household income of more than $120,000.
While print has long been the traditional format for long reads, Good Weekend is now read by around half a million people on the Herald and Age iPad apps.
Mr Naparstek said the magazine continued to build on its online presence with multimedia, video, image galleries, and interactive content in order to reach new readers across different platforms.
“One of the exciting things about the metrics we get online is that we can measure how long people stay with articles, so we know exactly when people stop reading – which is not something that we can know from a print product,” he said.
“That keeps us on our toes because we can never take reader interest for granted when we specialise in long form journalism and a lot of people are very time poor.
“There will always be those loyal print readers, but I think the digital stage offers a whole new range of possible audiences and new ways of telling our stories.”
Mr Naparstek said the magazine often made quite big demands on reader’s time by serving up lengthy articles.
“Despite that – in fact, probably because of that – we are the most popular part of the paper and advertisers and brands really love the magazine too, and really like that proximity to the high calibre design, presentation and storytelling that we offer,” he said.
In regard to the magazine’s interviews and profiles Mr Naparstek said, “We don’t just sit down with the subject for 20 minutes in an office discussing the latest album or book.
“We immerse ourselves as much as possible in their lives for the course of a day, several hours or whatever in order to write the most definitive, nuanced take on their character possible.”
He said it was a great privilege to be editing a magazine that had built up such a loyal following and built up such a solid reputation for the best of Australian journalism. “My goal is to very much continue that, and it’s not a task I take lightly.”