Time to Go Big

Time to Go Big

Mark Jannot
Published: 09/13/2013

When I came to Audubon nearly four months ago, I was drawn in by the organization’s well-earned reputation, founded in Audubon magazine, for publishing the very best content in the conservation world. I was attracted by the passion of all of the dedicated members, friends and citizen scientists who act on behalf of birds and their ecosystems. And I was energized by the opportunity to create a 21st century content strategy, supercharging our ability to deliver deeply engaging content across all platforms.

Because let’s face it: While Audubon magazine has remained a paragon of excellence, magazines have a very different place in the world today than they did just a few short years ago. The publishing and media landscape has changed in exciting and perplexing ways, and we now consume content in a dozen different ways from networks large and small all day and night.

Meanwhile, many of the nation’s largest and most influential media outlets have scaled back their environmental reporting, or abdicated altogether. The New York Times closed its environment desk and shuttered its Green Blog this year. Media Matters for America reported that Reuters’ coverage of climate change declined nearly 50 percent from 2011 to 2012. In response to these trends, the Center for American Progress recently announced it would expand its own climate change reporting endeavors.

Audubon has to help fill the breach, as we have so many times throughout our long and storied past. We have to redouble our efforts to seek out and create the best environmental content in the country. And we have to deliver that content in new and innovative ways, keeping our current readership strong and expanding our reach into new communities. (Attention, Audubon: tablets and Instagram exist.)

And so, we’re going to be making some changes. We’ll hire more content editors, a photo director, a cross-platform production designer, and two digital editors. We’ll build a new website from scratch, and we’ll expand our publishing into the mobile world. Editor-in-Chief David Seideman, who has served Audubon magazine with passion and dedication for nearly two decades, leaves his full-time role at the magazine, effective today, with our deep appreciation for all that he has done for this organization.

Going forward, I will be responsible for the editorial oversight and direction of our content across all channels, including Audubon magazine, which will remain a centerpiece of our efforts. I fully intend to continue publishing Audubon in print form as long as people enjoy reading magazines, which seems to me will be true for a long time to come. We’ll continue working with the best environmental journalists and photographers in the world, and we’ll continue cultivating a terrific team of contributing editors, including, I hope, David Seideman, whom I’ve asked to consider a new role as editor-at-large.

Our journalist-turned-conservation-CEO David Yarnold brought me to Audubon to build a content powerhouse that produces deeply insightful and provocative reporting and multimedia storytelling to reach, serve, and activate a broad and diverse range of audiences to drive Audubon’s conservation mission. That’s exactly what we’re going to do.

It’s going to be a great ride.