Overnight suc­cess

Finweek’s new edi­tor faces daunt­ing chal­lenges

Finweek English Edition - - ADVERTISING & MARKETING -

MARC ASH­TON is un­der no il­lu­sions about Finweek. The job of Edi­tor is one many might have turned down, given the un­promis­ing mar­ket for print pub­li­ca­tions, the concern about the fu­ture of print and a de­gree of con­fu­sion about the best po­si­tion­ing of busi­ness ti­tles.

“ Finweek has been lurch­ing from one end to the other as far as its po­si­tion­ing is con­cerned for 14 months,” he con­cedes. “We never seemed able to marry it with the on­line ser­vice (Fin24). The in­te­grated news­room never took off and we were left with a prod­uct lack­ing an iden­tity. Fin24 has achieved great brand recog­ni­tion and now Finweek will have to re-es­tab­lish it­self as an in­de­pen­dent brand.”

Unas­sum­ing and self-ef­fac­ing, Ash­ton will over­see the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a rad­i­cal re­vamp that will turn this mag­a­zine into a dif­fer­ent kind of pub­li­ca­tion: still about money and in­vest­ment but serv­ing the needs of the in­di­vid­ual rather than the cor­po­rate world. Of­fi­cially, he’s “acting” Edi­tor un­til the com­ple­tion of in­ter­nal for­mal­i­ties.

“Re­struc­tur­ing has been done very fast,” Ash­ton says. “It’s a big risk for me. The repo­si­tion­ing made us look closely at our own brand and our skill sets. We don’t want to take the FM head on. We need to make fi­nance fun and in­ter­est­ing.”

Though Ash­ton is a “dig­i­tal na­tive”, he’s in­trigued by the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties of print. “I con­sume most of my me­dia on the In­ter­net. I can’t think of the last mag­a­zine I sub­scribed to in print for­mat. It was prob­a­bly FHM. On­line tends to of­fer less anal­y­sis. Head­lines are turned into sto­ries. The mag­a­zine will give writers the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand on their sub­jects in a way that isn’t pos­si­ble on the web.

“We have clear fi­nan­cial ob­jec­tives from the pub­lisher. Our losses have been pub­li­cised. This can’t con­tinue. We’re deal­ing with dis­tri­bu­tion prob­lems as well as new me­dia con­sump­tion pat­terns. The mar­ket­place in SA is rel­a­tively un­fa­mil­iar with fi­nance. In Aus­tralia, stand­ing around a bar­beque you can talk about PE mul­ti­ples and ev­ery­body can con­trib­ute. Here they think you’re talk­ing about Port El­iz­a­beth.”

A prod­uct of Bryanston High School, Ash­ton at 30 is young for the job. But he sud­denly emerged two years ago as a multi-award-win­ning jour­nal­ist at Finweek and is a suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur in pub­lish­ing and small busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. Those skills will serve him well.

MARC ASH­TON

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