From Facebook Live to short e-newsletters to Snapchat and VR, media companies seem to constantly be looking for the next best thing to get their content out there and engage audiences. So it may come as a surprise that Reuters is turning to print, announcing that it will launch a special edition magazine, The American Voter, for the upcoming Republican and Democratic National Conventions.
Reg Chua, Reuters’ executive editor for editorial operations, data and innovation, explains to Folio: that “print allows us to do some things that we couldn’t otherwise do. It gives you that curated, very specific, finite experience, where you can look at information and stories.”
During the conventions, from July 18-21 and July 25-28, street teams from Reuters will distribute 10,000 free copies of the magazine in Philadelphia and Cleveland.
“It’s a magazine about the election…We wanted to get to an audience that is obviously interested in the election. Where do you find them? You find them at the conventions,” Chua says.
Yet in choosing to launch a special edition print magazine, Reuters had to take into account the fact that it is not a magazine publishing company. As such, Chua notes, the company lacks the traditional distribution channels, such as a subscriber base and relationships with newsstands, through which to share The American Voter.
“[In] the same way we don’t have that distribution infrastructure, we don’t have the print-ad selling infrastructure,” Chua says. As a result, the magazine has an exclusive advertiser, SAP, who Reuters was already in discussions with about other projects.
Both Reuters and parent company Thomson Reuters have a wide range of verticals. Reuters is well known for its constant online global news coverage and syndication service. The company turned to digital early on and has a large social media following, as well as a platform called Reuters TV.
For one thing, this is not Reuters’ first foray into special edition print magazines, as it printed magazines for the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos and the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival.
“The fact of the matter is that we’re not a magazine business — the magazine will never be a huge part of our business,” Chua says. “But it’s a place where we can stamp our knowledge of the election process, our coverage, things we’re very proud of, and get it out to an audience. To some extent, that’s a branding and positioning exercise.”
As part of that exercise, he says the company hopes The American Voter will be timeless — a source of information that people can turn to not only during the conventions, but also up until the elections in November, and a historical piece thereafter. Consequently, the magazine has been in the works since September 2015.
“Anybody who works on a magazine with any kind of time-lag between when the stories are written and when they’re actually published understands the risk of being out-of-date the day you write your story, so part of [planning] was thinking through what were the longer term issues that we would need to deal with,” he says.
Chua adds that because the magazine has a shelf life, Reuters will distribute it beyond the conventions, to the news organizations that subscribe to its services. An iPad edition of The American Voter will also be available with additional video and interactive features.
The magazine will include contributions from Reuters’ editor at large Harold Evans, Jonathan Alter, and Ross Barkan, who left The New York Observer when it endorsed Donald Trump in April.
When asked about how Reuters plans to distinguish itself from other magazines and newspapers covering the convention, Chua’s answer is simply that they know they’re not the only ones working on more timeless issues or covering the convention. But, he adds, “I think this magazine stands well on its own and I hope people pick it up, read it, and keep reading it.”
Reuters will continue its normal news coverage of the conventions in addition to the magazine, which hints at just how invested media companies are in covering these events.
In fact, The Atlantic announced its events and reporting plans for the conventions today. According to a press release, it will have “its largest presence and devote its most sizable editorial team to producing coverage and events,” led by its expanded Politics & Policy team.
The brand will also have more than 20 events, including “Morning Briefings,” with newsmakers, topic-driven lunch forums, and evening “Cocktail Caucuses,” featuring programming and networking. It will host events called “Young Women Rising: America’s Next Top Voter?" in partnership with Refinery29, and “Pathways to Power: An Atlantic Forum on Women in Politics,” in conjunction with Running Start, She Should Run, and All in Together, at both conventions.
Similar to Reuters, it seems The Atlantic is focusing on utilizing a variety of platforms, including events, and having a more physical presence at the conventions.