GOOD Magazine has found success in a world of suffering print publications primarily due to its creative approach to storytelling and emphasis on taking information and translating it into action. We had the opportunity to sit down with Joshua Neuman, Head of Programming and Editorial Director at GOOD to learn more about what makes GOOD the magazine that it is today. Founded in 2006, GOOD targets “the global citizen and creative changemaker” and works more like a think tank than a newsroom. We took a tour through the office and got a sneak peek at the upcoming annual GOOD 100 issue, celebrating 100 creative changemakers that best represent the global citizen in 2014. We also found out what’s next for GOOD, which includes some big news sure to excite any fan of the publication.
Can you break down GOOD and what it stands for?
GOOD is a lifestyle companion for the global citizen and creative changemaker. We like to focus on this kind of life intersection between personal, local, and global. Particularly this growing sense that there’s a global aspect to our local actions. We also believe that the most exciting part of the changemaking state can be the creative state. So we try to consistently at the magazine shine a light on the most creative forms of changemaking.
There is a sense of transparency in GOOD. You include critiques of past issues at the beginning of each new issue. Why do you think this is important?
The letter to the editors section is the old trope of magazine making which feels like a tired form to a certain extent. We changed this old model and found an opportunity to bring in somebody whose work we really respected and get a reality check. Each issue we invite a different media personality to evaluate the GOOD mission in general, but in light of prior issue. In the past we’ve had Kurt Andersen, Reza Aslan, and Douglas Rushkoff amongst others contribute. So, the prior issue becomes this template to meditate on this idea of creative changemaking in the immediate and be a force for good. It’s in the spirit of pragmatic idealism that we could be doing a better job.
Who is the GOOD Magazine Reader?
They are essentially millennials who are fairly evenly split between male & female. They are the people who give a damn. They might not be running non-profits, but nevertheless, doing good is one of many parts of their identity. They are people that are doing many things at once. They are urban, they are cosmopolitan, they are educated and they look for ways to get involved. They are doers, they want to do things and we try to engage that appetite through content that celebrates doing.
Who is the GOOD Magazine staffer?
We are looking for someone that’s really excited about the power of ideas: the way that ideas can matter, fuel change and create opportunities. People that are just super creative. A lot of people here have really exciting other lives. It’s a truly fascinating group from top to bottom. I’ve worked at many magazines and walking into this office feels a lot more like walking into a think tank than a newsroom. It’s like a creative incubator to a certain extent where we’re constantly testing out ideas with an eye toward progress and pushing the world forward.
Art plays a big role in GOOD, how do you think this helps tell your story?
Certain stories are intrinsically visual. Other times, art can be used to call out something that we think is special about the story. We can use it to create a kind of dialect in the story to converse with; something that might get overlooked otherwise, but is also important. Visuals are very core to the GOOD brand. It enables us to show that these ideas can live a life in the marketplace of ideas, and that life they live can really flourish. We don’t sit around and say “what’s this story going to look like?”. We want our articles to not just be pieces of content, but experiences, and visuals are what enable those experiences.
To finish each issue, tips are provided on how to apply learnings from the feature section to a reader’s life. How did the Learn/Do sections come about? Why is this so important to GOOD?
The learn and do is a core component of GOOD because we believe that media can propel action and be an inspiration for engagement. When we think about creating media, we’re trying to create media that doesn’t just reside on a page, but gets deployed into the real world. We love the idea of getting out there, getting your hands dirty.
What are you looking for in the people/organizations that you cover in your magazine?
If I reduced it to a formula I probably wouldn’t have a job. It’s something you can’t quite define, but you know it when you see it. Authenticity is number one and creativity number two. Their story needs to be transparent. We’re constantly looking for stories that haven’t been told yet. We like to discover stories and voices and ideas that are improbable and dissonant and new. Stories that challenge us and the ideas that disorient us to the universe rather than the ones that reaffirm our beliefs.
What does the future hold for GOOD?
We went through a period of really questioning our media limits. How constitutive media was to our brand. We came out of that conversation realizing that it’s a cornerstone of our brand. So in addition to quarterly print periodicals that we’re going to continue to publish, starting in May we are going to publishing monthly microsites. They are going to feel like little magazines and have that same sort of emphasis on interaction and experience, but in a digital form. We’re going to be increasing our editorial output in part because of the conversations we’ve been having over the past year, but also because of the success of the magazine.
Find GOOD Magazine at an Alternative store near you.
Written by Kate Koeller
Photos by Hilary Bader