Published on September 7, 2008
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The European Journalism Centre is constantly strolling around the Internet, looking for new scenery. We recently discovered we-magazine and decided to give one of its creators, Ulrike Reinhard, a chance to tell our followers about it in detail. She answered all our questions and provided an introductory explanation of the online publication. These are her words.
We dedicated WE to the empowerment of many given to us by the Internet.
I got my first idea about ‘we-magazine’ in February, 2008, at the DIY Video Summit in Los Angeles. During those two eventful days it gradually dawned on me what enormous power the Internet has for shaping our understanding of “we.” I realised what “we” are capable of: Moving and shaking in the age of the World Wide Web. A range of opportunities come into sight only matched in scale by the challenges they bring with them.
At right: Joi Ito and his idea of “WE”
Turning them into a quarterly magazine became my fixed goal. And here it is now – our very first issue of we-magazine!
We-magazine is international. Even if the authors of the first issue are mainly from Europe and America, this obviously doesn’t mean that Asia and Africa will be out of our focus. You’ll see this during our the next issues.
We’re very much moving on the “cutting edge” with the topics we deal with. We warmly welcome the highly controversial viewpoints put forward by our authors, who are first and foremost intended to stimulate discussion and debate. All this territory is so new and unexplored. We’ve very little experience to fall back on. As Stuart Kauffman - one of our authors - puts it so well in the opening sentence of his article, “We are at a hinge of global history and need all we can muster to manage safe passage.”
At right: An interview with Ethan Zuckerman
A cross-media effort from the very outset, we-magazine is also an experiment. We posted all the texts online and sell a PDF and print version via lulu.com. We think that this kind of approach comes closest to the we-idea and the spirit of the Internet.
After the first week online we had more than 40.000 unique visitors. The viral effects of the web worked superbly!
We received e-mails and comments from all over the world discussing the diverse content. It is really fun getting all this feedback. It will help us to shape the next volume, which will be available in February, 2009.
Meanwhile we will share with you our thoughts and ideas on the we-magazine blog with interviews, projects and livestreams from all over the world.
10 questions about WE
1. What is the idea behind WE?
WE is dedicated to the empowerment of many given to us by the Internet. It is not necessarily a full profit project but it has the capacity to become one. First is the idea ...
2. Where did the inspiration came from?
I got my first idea about ‘we-magazine’ in February, 2008, at the DIY Video Summit in Los Angeles which Henry Jenkins was also attending. He called his blog post on the Summit “From youtube to wetube”. During those two eventful days it gradually dawned on me what enormous power the Internet has for shaping our understanding of “we.” I realised what “we” are capable of: Moving and shaking in the age of the World Wide Web. A range of opportunities come into sight only matched in scale by the challenges they bring with them.
3. What is the goal of WE?
We are convinced that the Internet has the power to democratise the world - or should I better say to make the world a better place! We have the ability to connect to each other, to hear each other and to listen to each other. All these little “WEs” can grow and become a bigger and more powerful WE - if we care! We never had this chance before! So we are really at a hinge of global history! But we are only at the beginning of this process and we need all we can muster to manage safe passage. So we defined the goal of WE to provide our audience with examples, projects, ideas and cases which are showing/proofing that this goal can be achieved.
4. Who is the audience?
Our audience lives mostly in the digital world. Its international and based all over the globe. WE focuses on those people who are using the internet as a “natural tool” and who already got a glue of its potential. Its potential in the way how we are working together, how we are communicating and collaborating, how we share, how we are getting heard, how we spread content we want to be published, how we innovate and create meaningful projects. No matter if they are working in NGOs, universities, profit organization or if they are self-employed.
5. Why a quarterly magazine?
We simply don’t have the manpower and the money running a monthly magazine. A quarterly gives us enough time to find new projects, to speak to new people, reflect on the feedback we receive and gives us the freedom to let the idea grow more slowly.
6. Why in English?
All three of us are German. So why do we publish in English? If you want to be international you can’t publish in German! So in the first step we published in English. Our goal is definitely to have translations in Spanish, Chinese and Arabic as well!
7. The “holy grail” - Where does the money come from?
We do believe that people are NOT willing to pay for content on the Internet. Content for free is the overall motto. So we built our business model on advertising. The more readers, the higher the price. We are using the viral effects the Internet gives us. We provide all the content as HTML for free plus we offer a free PDF download (with Vol. 2). Only the print on demand version on lulu.com is for sale. Advertising is available in the PDF and in the on demand print version. There is no advertising on the web!
And we share our revenue with our authors! Meaning if WE makes money, the authors will make money. We don’t pay them for writing the article, we let them participate on the success.
8. Are there any web publications from which you drew inspiration?
There is one magazine - jpeg magazine in San Francisco - which drew my attention. Their business model is quite unique and their concept of user generated concept seems to work. jpeg magazine is a very good example that little companies can create value and revenue over the internet with a magazine - if you understand well enough the shallows of the Internet.
9. Who are your competitors?
Two years ago I was travelling with Marvin Minsky in Italy and Germany. I asked him for the motto of his live and he answered: “Don’t compete! Don’t do anything anyone else can do!” It took me a while to understand the dimension of his statement, but following the milestones in his live you definitely could see he was following his track: Whenever he found somebody who was working in the same field as he - he switched! Doing something what somebody else could do - Minsky considered it as a waste of time! Having experienced this, I would say: WE don’t compete, WE simply does something nobody else can do. Only WE can! Yes WE can!
10. How will you decide if this endeavour has been a success?
Success can be measured in many ways - not only money wise, even though money is important.
I would consider WE being successful if:
- our authors receive feedback for their articles
- the magazine is linked all over the Internet
- articles start a fruitful discourse e.g. in the comment section of our blog
- people ask us how they can support WE
Tags: internet, online, ulrike reinhard, we-magazine, web publication,
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