How Magazines Are Finally Putting Multimedia Into Their Workflow

Credit where credit is due: Magazine publishers are — generally — very good at publishing print magazines. They’ve refined the editorial process over years of trial and error and best practices.

As the industry has evolved to include multimedia as necessary components for publishing projects, they can be forgiven if it’s taken them a while to get up to speed. It’s not, after all, what they “do.”

“For many magazines, creating multimedia to complement their print editions used to be an awkward addition to their long-refined print publication process,” writes Susan Currie Sivek in MediaShift.

“But today, many magazines have at last redesigned their workflows to smoothly incorporate multimedia development. Multimedia for the web or tablet editions is no longer an inconvenient afterthought, but has become an integral part of the editorial process,” Sivek continues.

This shift, she explains, comes as magazines begin to think of multimedia from the beginning of each piece, rather than as an “add-on” after the print article is created.

“In the early days, we did probably what most publishers did,” explained Ken Collier of The Handyman in a phone interview with Sivek. “We started with the magazine article, and then it was like, what can we tack on. It was pretty lame.”

What’s different now?

“It happens very early in the process of the story,” Collier explains. “We want to generate the right kind of photos, videos, additional text, or whatever it is we need to be delivering for the tablet. We make sure it’s happening right alongside the content for print.”

A similar evolution is happening at Forbes, says Sivek, with cross-departmental meetings and collaborations that are streamlining the entire production process, for both print and multimedia assets.

“It’s an inherent part of how we work,” said Forbes’ Andrea Spiegel. “Having the right people in the room during that conversation is important. Everyone’s bringing their perspective to it. The editors get excited. The writers get excited because they get to see their stories come to life in a different form.”

Sivek notes that Forbes gains a huge advantage in this approach, in its “repository of data and content that can be used for many different multimedia projects.”

“We can use materials in many different places. Videos will appear in posts, lists, apps, pages, features,” Spiegel said. “We’re able to use that content in multiple places.”

The magazine industry is embracing multimedia, turning magazine publishers into media companies and turning print readers into consumers engaged across channels. It’s nice to see the barriers going down and the innovation rising.