Multiplatform Multitasking: A Chat with GOOD Magazine's Ann Friedman

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Ann FriedmanAnn Friedman has her hands full. Hired just six months ago as GOOD magazine's executive editor, she's hard at work on revamping the site, hiring new staff, and refining the editorial tone—not to mention actively juggling "6, 7, 8 platforms."

"I think of it in terms of metabolic rate," says Friedman, who draws from her experience both as a deputy editor at sober Beltway political magazine The American Prospect, and as a blogger at the more fun and freewheeling Feministing.

At GOOD, content with the fastest metabolism races across Twitter at a pace of 15-20 pieces per day. Next up, five slightly longer Facebook and/or Tumblr posts each day. Weekly stories and monthly columns help keep the site lively. The magazine itself ambles along every quarter at a stately pace, anchoring the rest and providing space for more carefully crafted, visually rich features. And then there are the less easily classified features, ranging from videos to data visualizations, contests to user-generated doodles—all designed to engage a young, creative, socially conscious audience. Friedman sees more such bespoke projects in GOOD's future as tablets become users' go-to reading interface.

From the beginning, GOOD has been more than a magazine. Launched in 2006 by 26-year old Ben Goldhirsh—son and heir of Inc. magazine founder Bernie Goldhirsh—it was distinguished from the start by both a bold graphic style and an unconventional approach to business. As a media company, GOOD has produced feature films and events, and most recently merged with Jumo, a social engagement platform designed by Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes to match users with like-minded causes and nonprofits. 

Friedman still sees her task as less of a community-building challenge, however, than an editorial one: how to make do-gooder content compelling to a general interest audience? GOOD readers are smart and engaged, she says, but not "wonky or hyperpartisan." The goal then is "make a really awesome product experience for people who are interested in making the world better."

To that end, the Fall 2011 issue aims to treat a wonky topic—data—in such a way that it provokes wonder and exploration. Stories range from the pitfalls of "best cities" lists, to tongue-in-cheek charts about charts, to art by Mark Lombardi, who created delicate, obessive diagrams linking politicians, terrorists and corporations.

chat historyFriedman says she's thrilled to work with a staff of developers and designers, who have the freedom and skills to experiment with different platforms and illustration technologies. But sometimes, she notes, the stories that work best rely on strong first-person storytelling. For a story that deftly combines high-tech with gut-wrench, check out  Chat History by Rebecca Armendariz.