Q&A: What it’s like to run a monthly business magazine
Katy Smith is the editor in chief of Columbus CEO magazine, which is owned by the Dispatch Media Group in Columbus, Ohio.
Smith became editor a month ago, but she’s no stranger to business journalism. She spent more than 10 years at Columbus Business First, a weekly business newspaper in the city, leading production of the weekly print edition.
She left Business First a year ago and worked briefly for the Central Ohio Transit Authority before joining Columbus CEO.
Smith spoke by email with Talking Biz News about running a monthly business magazine. What follows is an edited transcript.
What attracted you to being editor of Columbus CEO?
CEO is a publication that’s deeply embedded among the leadership of the central Ohio community. It’s an exciting, dynamic time of great change for Columbus and to be a journalist here and now is a privilege.
How does its business coverage differ from that of the daily newspaper?
The daily newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch, is just two floors above us – it is in our family of publications. The business desk’s timely coverage of breaking and daily news dovetails nicely with CEO’s in-depth, long-form pieces that get to the heart of trends and people in the business community. We share their content, and they share ours.
How big is your staff, and how much content does it produce for its website vs. the print magazine?
The staff is about five or six people in-house and more than a dozen freelance writers. We prioritize print, saving our best work for the monthly edition, but also place due focus on e-newsletters, web content and social media.
Who is your primary audience?
Central Ohio CEOs, business owners, C-suite executives and people making decisions about the region’s future.
What types of stories are they most interested in?
Our audience is looking for stories about people, like any audience. Who are the movers and shakers? What’s the thinking behind their decisions?
Who do you see as your biggest competitors?
There is not really any true competitor for us in this market. Columbus has a weekly business newspaper that also reports daily online, but the two products are different enough that I would not call them a competitor.
Are you breaking news, or is the content more analysis and strategy focused?
Definitely analysis and strategy-focused. Our audience is looking for explanation, insights and connections. They can get breaking news practically anywhere.
How do you stay relevant with the print content when the magazine comes out monthly?
We keep a close watch on what people are talking about in the community. We stay well-connected. And my personal philosophy is always to look for stories that I would want to read. I choose content as a reader, first and foremost.
What goes into planning an issue of the magazine?
We take a look at what special sections and features we might focus on that month, then dive into what the cover might be. Our photographer and graphic designer stay in close communication with me all month as our ideas evolve.
When do you start thinking about the next issue?
Honestly, I’m thinking about December right now. I come from the daily and weekly news world, so only getting 12 chances a year to produce excellence is a serious challenge, and I am not giving away my shot.