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AK: Traditional wine magazines made it very easy for us to be fresh and hip and stand out, because they haven't really done a whole a lot in that regard for themselves. I actually do a lot of layout myself and something that we strove for is was to have the layout cater to the information, rather than the other way around. It's so hard to make wine and beverages approachable as it is, that our first priority was to ensure that the information was readily and easily accessible by virtue of how we laid out the magazine. Issue 3 was the first one where we really got the look we were going for, by having [regular] columns, which is something we didn't have in issues 1 and 2. So now, the magazine has [specific subject matter] columns, which feature ideas that are revisited in each issue typically by different writers; anchoring those are a couple of feature articles to support the columns. It's a formula that we're finding really works. More and more people want to be a part of what we're doing; they reach out to us, wanting to be part of the Mutineer revolution, if you will. And those people are helping to make our product better.
NM: To whom do you see the magazine specifically appealing? Who is your audience?
AK: We aggressively target 21 to 35-year-olds, the younger demographic. But we recently compiled some statistics and found that while we're heavily read by that demographic, we do have readers in all demographics. In fact, some of our staunchest supporters are older folks. We've realized that our stories are not age specific. While we are going for that younger demographic — just because of the potential there and we feel that our content is something they can relate to — we've found that readers of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels can relate to Mutineer Magazine because the stories that we're telling haven't been told (at least not that we've seen).
NM: Would you say that it's a growing trend in journalism, this direction that you're taking, or would you say that you're more of pioneer? And how do you see your role on the landscape of beverage journalism in general and wine journalism in particular?
AK: I think, if anything, it's been the Wine Spectator(s) and the Wine Enthusiast(s) — the traditional magazines — that are the trends. I think that Robert Parker came up with a cool idea, the 100-point system, which within reason is a great tool, but people have taken it way too far and now it's just too influential in wine journalism. So, what we're doing is taking this idea of relaying stories and communicating culture, which is a very fundamental idea in journalism, and trying to apply that to wine writing. There's a lot of great wine writing out there — unfortunately, a lot of it isn't in magazines. We just want to tell the stories, we don't want to pretend like we have the answers, because we don't! Realizing that, the best that we can do is get out there and immerse ourselves in the culture. Right now, we're in the Pacific Northwest for six months, with the specific goal of learning as much about the local culture as we can and then communicating that to our readers. After that, we'll go somewhere else. We want to make those kinds of connections and share those sort of intimate experiences with our readers.
NM: So, you're actually on location right now in the Pacific Northwest to do research for future issues?
AK: Certainly! A lot of magazines publish things like the "Seattle Report," "the New York Report," whatever — they go to these regions and try to cram the news they gather into one feature. Well, you can't get under the surface of something when you do that! [Spending time on location and digging deeper], you have such an awesome opportunity to establish a dialogue and really inform people about cool things that are happening in the industry. Last night, I went to the Space Needle; I was there all night. I talked to the wine director, I talked to the food and beverage guy, I talked to the head chef, I talked to all these people and found that they're doing some very cool things with that property. And I'm excited to write about it in the upcoming issue! As we speak, I'm driving up to headquarters for Jones Soda, because we're going to interview them; they're doing some great things with soda. We want to get as many local producers and businesses as we can in our magazine. And then, when we go to our next destination, we'll do the same thing — because there's that many exciting things happening in these different locations.
NM: In a sense, you're engaging in nomadic journalism that's going much deeper than is typical, in an effort to get a comprehensive picture of a particular region that you're covering. This is really very different, what you're doing. Can you say more about the thinking behind it?