Half a notion: Depth magazine
edited December 28 2014

There’s an increasingly vocal number of people who are unhappy with recent trends in journalism. Modern journalism is often a 24-hour affair that poops out an endless stream of shallow, poorly-investigated current topics. (...hmm, looks like I might be one of those people. I’m not that loud about it though.)

Meanwhile, a lot of publishers are really struggling financially, and the vocal minority keeps swearing up and down it would be happy to pay for good content.

It would be kind of neat if there were a magazine that really tested that. Publish a 15 to 20 page issue once a month, or once every other month, and a larger 50 to 75 page issue once a year. Each issue examines a single topic, starting with an introduction for people unfamiliar with it and then going in to great detail about it. Each issue would be full color and have no advertising or filler content — every page inside the cover is dedicated to the topic of the issue. Throw in some beautiful graphs for the data visualization nerds (like me). Include commentary and interviews with subject experts. Aim to leave a reader fairly well educated not just on the basics of the subject but also on its nuances.

Create the kind of publication that well-read people will want to leave on their coffee table in public view when they have company over so that they can say, “look at how well-read I am,” without ever having to let those words actually spill from their lips.

And then charge for it. $75, $100 per year or more. Really see if there's a market. Offer online-only content for a slightly lower price maybe. Make the online content public a couple of months after it has been published for members (and make that content ad-laden, why not).

The main point would be to test the assertion that “people will pay for good content”. I’m not honestly sure they will, but it would be a fun and hopefully worthwhile experiment.