Media Moves

New editor: Fortune’s future is in building its brand

October 17, 2014

Posted by Chris Roush

The future of Fortune magazine is in building the brand of the magazine as well as its staff writers, said new editor Alan Murray on Friday.

Fortune “is an iconic brand of business journalism,” said Murray. “And I am a big believer in brands.”

Murrya mentioned technology coverage, the Fortune 500, the Most Powerful Women, the Broadsheet newsletter, Dan Primack‘s coverage of private equity and writers Allan Sloan, Jennifer Reingold and Shawn Tully as some of the top brands at the magazine.

Murray, who replaced Andy Serwer as the top editor at Fortune, spoke Friday morning at an invitation-only Talking Biz News event at the Time Life building in midtown Manhattan. Norm Pearlstein, the chief content officer at Time, also spoke briefly.

All journalists today have to think about building an audience and who they’re writing for, said Murray. While he said that reporting and writing skills have not changed since he entered journalism, today’s reporters and editors have to be able to engage their readers by using video, interactive graphics and other new technology.

“It’s much more complicated,” said Murray. “But it’s a lot more fun.”

The Broadsheet newsletter, which covers women in business, has been adding 1,000 new subscribers a day and has an open rate of 60 percent, said Murray, who added that the name of the newsletter was chosen by the female journalists who run it.

Murray praised Sloan’s ability to read a company’s balance sheet and cash flow statement and find a story. “We need more people like that,” he said.

When asked whether journalists could develop larger brands than Fortune, Murray said, “I don’t worry about that too much.”

He added that errors — both in the print magazine and on its website — hurt Fortune’s brand, but that the most serious error he has dealt with in his two months running the magazine has been in print, not online. All Fortune content online is edited before posted, he said.

One strategy that Fortune is using to expand its brand is by publishing its content in Sports Illustrated, another Time publication. Recent stories have focused on the enterprises of former athletes such as Gary Fencik and Roger Staubach.

“Fortune readers care a lot about sports,” said Murray. “Those are interesting to people in both titles.”

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