Phillip Smith

The Fate of the Ocean: remixed.

In January, while checking out the Independent Press Association’s conference in San Francisco, Matt Thompson and I put our heads together to explore some ideas about extending the work of progressive publications — namely magazines — online. Matt’s background as a journalist and producer at Independent World Television (now called The Real News) led to many conversations about short online mini-documentaries; my background working on online campaigns had me focused on a compelling story and e-mail acquisition. And, we both struggled with some basic questions about the challenges for traditionally print-based publications as they struggle with how to deliver their content online.

On that trip, I had the opportunity to meet with the Publisher of Mother Jones magazine Jay Harris and Bruce McCurdy the General Manager for Mother Jones online (many thanks to Jason Mogus for putting us in touch). At that meeting, we discussed their then upcoming issue on the Last Days of the Ocean. It was a powerful magazine that digs deep into the issues that are ahead of us thanks to climate change. At that meeting, Jay and Bruce presented me with a design challenge: how can we increase the impact of this magazine using the Internet?

Logo from the Ocean Voyager campaign<p>Matt and I met shortly after that meeting to brainstorm and document some creative approaches. Two weeks later Matt and I delivered a proposal back to the folks at Mother Jones magazine. And the result of that proposal — thanks to the legendary effort of Matt as the day-to-day producer and Laura Shapiro the design lead at Mother Jones (and the support of many other people at Mother Jones and here in Toronto) — is the Ocean Voyager experience. I encourage you to check it out, invite your friends, and let us know what you think.</p>

If you’re interested in some of the thinking behind this campaign approach and looking at some of our early mock-ups of the idea, I’ve attached the propsal and slides to this post. What I’m most interested in is your ideas on how to improve, evolve, or re-mix this idea for other types of organizations and campaigns.

Your first assignment is to visit Ocean Voyager and sign-up for the experience.

Then your second is to report back here after five weeks and tell me what you think. Where does it succeed? Where does it fail? Is it a strategy that you could put to use in your organization? On one of your campaigns? In your classroom?


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.


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