Magazines

The reason behind Reason

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Nice interview at mediabistro with Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason. The libertarian magazine is nominally based in Los Angeles, but he is near Cincinnati.

We're probably far and away the most decentralized and virtual magazine office in America. If the anthrax mailer ever comes back, it's going to take him at least three or four bucks to knock us off. Our web editor is currently in Lebanon. We've got one full-time staffer in L.A., we've got our art director in Phoenix, we've got a guy in Baltimore, we've got a couple people in the D.C. area, I'm in Ohio, our publisher's in Connecticut; we're totally spread out. The reason we've started doing it this way is that it kind of fits in with our philosophy of experimentive living and it allows us to keep the people we need to keep as they have moved for spouse reasons, or whatever.

After 35 years, Reason has a circulation of about 60,000 -- would like to reach 100,000 -- and its web traffic is flourishing. Gillespie also hopes to plant the magazine more in Washington.

Compared to when the magazine started, we're now engaged more in issues about globalization and whether or not increasing trade among countries of the world both in terms of goods and services and in terms of people. There's fierce debate over this and we're in the thick of that. Foreign policy has really come to the core in the past couple of years, since 9/11, and we're dealing with that, we're discussing that in the pages of the magazine in a way that is interesting and that is not dogmatic, because our readership and our writers all take different views on the legitimacy and the efficacy on the current occupation of Iraq...

I find a lot of traditional political magazines and political and cultural coverage magazines to be incredibly boring, partly because they take themselves way too seriously and they take actors in the political theater too seriously. Also, that they're not really talking about the things that change people's lives and that really affect people's lives

One of our guys is just finishing up a manuscript about the Burning Man Festival. If you look in the December issue, we've got a list of 35 heroes of freedom. And these are just people, none of whom would ever be put in the same list by anybody else, the vast majority of these people are not political, they are innovators either technologically or scientifically, or lifestyle-wise. In the end, that's what matters.

Matt Welch is a temporary associate editor in L.A., at least until the Burning Man book by Brian Doherty (who's on leave) is finished.


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