SBD/May 21, 2013/Media

Sports Illustrated Brass Discusses Future With Digital, Print Distinctions Disappearing

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Collins' story appeared on SI.com before appearing in the magazine
There is "an evolution taking place at Sports Illustrated" that was "underscored in how they rolled out their recent scoop on the Jason Collins story," according to Ed Sherman of SHERMANREPORT.com. The rollout "occurred at SI.com on Monday morning of that week before the magazine had even hit the presses." Time Inc. Sports Group Editor Paul Fichtenbaum and SI Managing Editor Chris Stone discussed the publication's new "mission" of "tearing down the walls between the magazine and digital." Excerpts from the interview follow:

Q: What is happening on the digital front with SI?
Fichtenbaum: It's an identity we're forging. How do we create one work force where the best of the magazine and the best of the website work together for one goal? A couple years ago, there was a no-hitter, or something like that. In a span of three days, we had five different pieces about that one game. We weren’t an integrated unit. Editors were assigning stories to different people without knowing what other people were doing. That doesn’t happen now. We’re tearing down the walls to make sure everyone is in line. We do things in unison. The website is a magazine and the magazine is a website.

Q: The biggest change is that your writers no longer write once a week for the magazine. Now they are reporting regularly on SI.com. How is that working out?
Stone: We don’t think of someone as he’s a website guy or a magazine guy anymore. Those distinctions are going to diminish over time and we’re better off for it.

Q: What about the magazine?
Stone: We’re taking those live stories which once appeared in the magazine and by putting them on-line, they have that distinctive SI stamp. We’re turning the magazine into something else. With the exception of a few very big events (Super Bowl, Masters, etc.), we’ve gotten away from that type of coverage completely. We’re giving you a differentiated longform experience. We want every story to be different than anything else you’ve read on the subject. It used to be the end of the magazine was always a bonus space. I’m a big believer in running multiple bonus pieces. I want the front of the book to be about strong commentary and point of view. It moves a little quicker.
Fichtenbaum: At the heart of what SI always has done is emotional storytelling. We need to take that idea and run it through everything we do (SHERMANREPORT.com, 5/17).
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