Writers Wanted, Experience Not Required

January 13, 2012

The magazine industry has been taking hits for some time, largely due to declining advertising revenue, a rise in non-traditional media (i.e. bloggers) gobbling up readership and tough economic times. Many pubs are forced to cut staff while remaining journalists and editors take over much broader roles than they once covered.

Ladies' Home Journal is about to try something radically different than the traditional model.

Beginning with their March 2012 issue, LHJ will take crowdsourcing to a whole new level and begin publishing much of its content from reader submissions, pulled from divinecaroline.com - a website owned by Meredith Corp. which features personal stories submitted by readers. LHJ will also be pulling content from LHJ.com and their social media sites. The "amateur" writers will be paid the same level as their professional writers as well, according to the magazine. LHJ editors will curate the submissions, editing and adding expertise to the stories from everyday women.

This bold move came to light after research showed readers wanted a larger role in the content of the pages. The average LHJ reader ranges from 45-55, not the typical blogger crowd. While this change might attract a younger demo, it could be a risky move, alienating the backbone of their core audience.

Will other mass circulation publications follow if this proves to be successful? What does this mean for the professional journalist? Is LHJ giving too much over to amateurs or on to the future of mass media publishing?

 

If Ladies' Home Journal has found a way to engage readers, "hooray!" and let everyone else follow their model. I love magazines and I want them to live.

However, I will be surprised if they unearth a whole lot of serviceable copy that can go live with minor editing. So that means that editors will be plenty busy or subcontracting work to re-writers. Also good.

And maybe some writers will slip through pretending to be amateurs--who knows?

It's fabulous that Meredith will pay the amateur writers, which is a whole lot more than some other publishers do for established journalists.

Jeanne Byington
President
J.M. Byington & Associates
NYWICI Foundation Board Member

 

This new model will enable the brand to expand the voice that its readers and women have within the pages of the magazine but at the same time maintain its strong heritage of editorial expertise. For example, a health story might be written by a user, but it will be curated by the editors, and combined with medical expertise to present information in the same way that women share and gather information for what matters in their lives. We see this as a great evolution to one of the nation's most trusted, authentic, and iconic brands.
Patrick Taylor
VP Communications
Meredith Corporation
New York Women in Communications Member

 

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Comments

Submitted by Ayanna (not verified) on

I think this is interesting and could go either way. How can writers apply to be apart of this? I did not find a specific link or anything.

Mixed feelings on this. Depends on whether the highest standards of editing/writing will be applied. Have seen instances of magazines trying too hard to get "voice-y" at the expense of clever ideas and information, then start to read like a dissolved product, the reader experience lacking. Why subscribe if one can just read the website? A reader should be sent to the dictionary to look up a few new words, be introduced to the thoughts and ideas of expert and anecdotal sources, be informed and challenged. What remains to be seen is whether LHJ will be able to infuse new voices while maintaining the substance of original reporting, expert sourcing, information packing and details, details, details.

I think it is a great idea. While the buzz has been that the blogosphere is dominated by mommy bloggers in the under 40 set, there are a lot of older women beginning to tell their stories in blogs and on websites. I can think of ten or more of them right off the bat, myself included. LHJ may have hit upon an emerging trend. Many women are reinventing themselves in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, or at least pausing to reassess priorities during this precious (and for many of us, healthy and vibrant) time of life. Kudos to Meredith for paying amateur writers. I agree that the amount of editing/re-writing that will be required cannot be under-estimated. Many blog posts are riddled with errors and awkwardness. Editors are the unsung heroes of this industry.

I think this is a fantastic idea. Many women who are not professional writers have great stories to tell and there's nothing like hearing it from the horse's mouth (tired, but fitting, cliche). I can think of no reason why these amateur writers wouldn't be compensated well. I recently had a similar experience with Womans Day Magazine (http://www.womansday.com/sex-relationships/why-i-said-yes-to-staying-sin...); I wrote and was paid for an article they ran in a recent issue and it resonated with current and new readers in a way that was satisfying to them and me.
I'm a blogger at The Spinsterlicious Life (http://www.TheSpinsterliciousLife.com) and I receive "requests for articles" from many old and new media institutions. I like this new direction...

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