Since moving into the top editorial spot at Forbes back in May, Lewis D’Vorkin has put a number of unconventional initiatives into action — creating an editorial model in which Forbes writers essentially function as independent entrepreneurs; crowding the brand with “hundreds, if not thousands” (his words) of outside contributors; giving advertisers their own blogs on Forbes’ website.The latest of these just got underway: In a move that opinions editor Michael Noer describes as “the first ever attempt of its kind,” Forbes is crowd-sourcing a portion of its January issue.
“We are lifting the veil on how we create cover packages,” Noer wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. “What’s important is that the content of this issue … will not be solely determined by a handful of editors in our Manhattan offices. If all goes well, you — the Forbes community — will largely determine what goes in the issue and what kind of placement it gets.”
The short story is that Forbes wants readers to recommend people for a feature package tentatively titled “Names You Need to Know in 2011.” The longer version is that Forbes, as D’Vorkin explained in the lead-up to the magazine’s September relaunch, is reinventing itself as a sort of interactive forum that has “broken down the barriers” between print and web, between writer, reader and marketer, thereby “creating a transparent, participatory platform with Forbes’ authoritative journalism firmly planted at the centre.” (Again, D’Vorkin’s words.)
The crowd-sourcing effort is clearly an extension of that idea:
Starting this week, a bunch of Forbes writers are going to blog about one or two of their “Names.” As they put up their posts, I will be linking to them from this post, so check back often … Agree, disagree with our selections? Tell us about it. Get the discussion rolling, and keep it going on other blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter … Even better, submit your own Name You Need to Know in 2011 on this page we specially designed for the project. Comment on other’s ideas and vote up the ones you really like.
“You should feel like you are sitting in our editorial meetings,” Noer wrote, “standing beside us as we toss ideas around the water cooler, and in my bosses’ offices as we cull the strong ideas from the weak and somehow weave it all into a compelling package of text and images.”
Noer is a longtime staffer who we hear is favoured by D’Vorkin and very much on board with his thinking. But we can’t help but wonder if projects like this trigger eye-rolls or grumbles from other Forbes vets. Then again, the vets are becoming fewer in numbers — two more of them, editor Mary Ellen Egan and senior writer Dirk Smillie, recently left the magazine. And those who remain “know this is the direction we are going in,” one insider said.
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