The storm in my coffee cup – GRAM Magazine

Last Wednesday I received a phone call from Rob, the editor of GRAM Magazine wanting to discuss the publication of GRAM, my blogpost, and ongoing shitstorm. I had to feel for the guy. Their publication had been dragged through the mud kicking and screaming by the very people they had hoped would embrace it.

The reasons for this he told me were numerous: Poor communication; flawed assumptions; and a general failure to execute on their vision. But as the discussion continued I heard a general theme. The root cause of the mess was one thing. Cluelessness. They jumped into this without consulting anyone, telling people what was happening, using an opt-out policy rather than an opt-in and even then not letting everyone know they could opt-out.

I told him, that he should himself publish a blogpost. Tell people what they were trying to achieve, that they had missed the mark, and that they would attempt to improve the situation with the 3rd edition. I also agreed to meet him for a coffee and discuss plans for that edition.

An irrelevant photo of a coffee.The coffee (which he paid for) was good. Rob’s vision for the magazine is that it should more closely mirror people’s conversations about food and restaurants than the current mainstream media. He is acutely aware that they ballsed up the first attempts of this vision. To his credit, he’s not letting the negativity get him down and is forging ahead with an approach which provides a heap more value to the reader and the bloggers.

The core idea of the new magazine will be to pay bloggers for the right to republish whole existing posts – possibly with photos and create a magazine with repurposed content. To me it’s an obvious way of improving the magazine and getting the particular bloggers onside – of course it’s going to come across as trying to buy the love of the blogger’s scorned yet what other options are there

The mockups he showed me were great. Well designed and laid out. From a reader’s perspective I think it can really work. The 2d scanny codes are still there, and will link back to the specific article, the blog, or to some related links. The photos will exist, and depending on the layout will be either GRAM or blogger supplied (for $$$.)

I recommended the design focus more closely on the actual bloggers. I suggested leaving space for a small amount of text for a description of the blogger and perhaps a photo. This hopefully will let the reader learn who the actual people behind the words are and be more likely to go and check out the blog itself. I also recommended they use shortened URL next to the scan codes so that people don’t have to necessarily download the software.

I think the concept is great. Clearly it’s going to come across a little bit poorly after the rigmarole that has erupted but progress is progress. I’ve no doubt that the idea of buying/selling blogposts won’t go down well with certain parts of the community and that it ads a new dimension to the ethics involved but to some extent it is easier to handle. The posts will be sold after they have already been published and no content will be specifically commissioned. This leaves the blogger in a position where it is all off their own bat. They’ll be rewarded for posts that they have already and were always going to write.

Finally, he asked if I’d like to be paid for my content to be included in the next edition. My answer: send me the rates when you decide on them, and I’ll definitely consider it. Truthfully, I’ll be jumping at the chance to have my posts published in print. For my integrity’s sake, I’ll be donating the proceeds of the first few to StreetSmart. I think the money is nice, but the concept is great.

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40 Responses to “The storm in my coffee cup – GRAM Magazine”

  1. Ed commented:

    I can’t see how anybody can complain assuming a decent rate is paid for blog posts or any ethical concerns. But if they want to be part of the blog community they really have to blog properly and this is where most media properties miss out.

    In principal i like the idea of a mag that celebrates blogs.

  2. Jo - secondhelping commented:

    After being contacted by GRAM I am meeting with Rob tomorrow. I was “published” in their Issue 1 (unbeknownst to me at the time). I am interested to hear what he has to say.

  3. Fitzroyalty commented:

    A transparent licencing arrangement for the resuse of existing content is standard practice in the publishing industry, so as Ed says this is normal. But whether they can overcome their own cluelessness is another matter.

    Blog publishers make their content free and audiences have easy direct access to it. This is as efficient as it can be. Audiences don’t need another commercial intermediary between themselves and the content they want to consume.

    And I can’t see the business model working. Print is expensive and advertising is lame. It’s an antiquated delivery mechanism and an associated redundant business model that has been surpassed.

  4. lolly commented:

    I recieved my email today.. i have accepted.. interesting oppurtunity

    great post michael!!