TSM goes Digital for International Appeal
When Height of Land Publications announced the sale of Telemark Skier last January (2012) to its editor, Josh Madsen, it sounded like a good fit but the move immediately raised questions about the future of the magazine.
Was this just a way for them to quietly divest themselves of an albatross title for a sport that had gone from being in the limelight to the butt of backcountry jokes? Nothing of the sort. According to Adam Howard, executive editor for HOL Publications, “It had become Josh’s magazine already anyway and him officially taking it over was just the inevitable next step.”
Josh Madsen wasted no time in solidifying the crew he had assembled for the last two print issues of Telemark Skier Magazine while announcing the publication would cease printing and transform itself into an e-zine with six issues using Zinio as the digital rendering engine.
Madsen says the elimination of print was a necessary evil because of the high costs associated with print, from printing costs and postage for delivery to missed editorial opportunities in competing with the web. It was apparent there was only enough advertising support for two issues per year, but that barely scratched the surface of what he believed was necessary to give telemark its due.
Asked what his goals are for the title and his first response was to “get more people to see telemark skiing and try telemark skiing so they will become telemark skiers.” Madsen’s trademark enthusiasm for all things tele is evident in the simplicity of the statement, a sort of “build it and they will come” mentality which begs the question of how to do that.The only specifics Madsen would share of his plan are to increase the number of issues from two print to six digital per season for the same low price of ten bucks. There will still be a website with timely news of all things telemark, but then there will be six digital issues using the Zinio publishing engine that can be downloaded and viewed on whatever device you have, whenever you want it. These digital issues will have issue specific themes and have a more timeless than timely nature.
Equally important as the digital distribution format will be shifting the editorial focus from being US centric to having an international appeal. It is evident that the support necessary for a telemark specific title from North America is insufficient on its own. But when geopolitical borders are eliminated, which the web can do, it becomes a more realizable goal.
Those two shifts in strategy might not be enough in themselves, but Madsen appears to recognize that, and is also quick to point out that so far, telemark has typically been defined in relation to other disciplines and always within the context of backcountry skiing.
In the next phase of Telemark Skier Madsen intends to celebrate telemark for telemark’s sake. For those who embraced telemark as a way to experience the backcountry it sounds like promoting the lesser of two features but Madsen simply sees it as approaching the sport from a different direction where earning your turns is but one aspect of telemark, the mechanics of the turn another, the equipment that makes it possible yet another, but the aspects he is most excited to explore and promote are the ones old school pinners have taken for granted, the ones new converts inevitably will revel in and Madsen intends to extol — like marching to a different beat, a rebellious spirit and the free thinking that follow a free heel.In a digital format Telemark Skier won’t be limited to words and still shots, the new brand will be a multimedia experience whose boundaries will only be limited by what the rapidly changing landscape of digital technology allows.
According to Madsen the focus will be on attracting new converts to the world of telemark, which will undoubtedly result in a youth oriented publication. However, he is quick to point out that one of the qualities of telemark and part of why he is such a rabid promoter of the sport is because “it is one of the few sports where there is a common thread that ties all ages together.”