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Q&A with Warren Ryan

By Michael Lotti

Keeping in the swing with specialty publications

Minnesota’s long, harsh winters (2011-2012 excepted, to be sure) may make the golfers of our state even more passionate about their sport than, say, their Floridian counterparts. At least, they’re passionate enough to support four issues of Minnesota Golfer each year. We caught up with Warren Ryan, Minnesota Golfer’s editor, as he and his staff were putting together the popular “Directory” issue, which details locations, prices, and other information about Minnesota’s golf courses.

Q: Describe your job as editor of Minnesota Golfer.

My main goal is to keep our content and contributors within the editorial budget. I provide direction in crafting the editorial menu, approval over all assignments, and so on— just like most editors.

Q: How did you get started in the magazine business?

I got started as a writer. My first break-through byline was a golf feature for a special section to the Wall Street Journal.

Q: What’s the best part about working for a specialty magazine?

Getting the credit for the work of our contributors, of course! Plus, it's not devoted to a simple specialty topic like golf; it's Minnesota Golf. We have a lot to be proud of in that respect.

Q: What’s the worst part?

Getting trapped in using a tried-and-true formula... that gets stale. I’m always looking for new things to do with the magazine and the website. And there really is always something new to write about.

Q: Where do you see the specialty magazine industry in a few years? In 10 years?

There are bigger minds than mine working this question. I'd say magazine content will go wherever our readers consume their media. Some hybrid of website, social network and the tablet or smart-phone platform. That said, there is no substitute for the tactile, visual print experience.

Q: What are the big challenges facing Minnesota Golfer?

Stagnating print ad revenues. Though our digital ad revenues have grown significantly, they are a fraction of what print advertising is capable of bringing in.

Q: How do you keep your work fresh?

I'd like to think it's an open mind, but our collaborators are the ones who make new ideas take shape. A great story is always going to be a great story, period. "Fresh" in the future might be how we package and deliver the content to our readers.

Q: What journals/writers/blogs do you read regularly?

I like to keep tabs on John Rash, Tom Friedman, Eric Black and David Brauer. We get the national golf weeklies and monthlies at the office, but going through these issues every week is a lot like work.

Q: Any gizmos or apps that you can’t live without?

I use Google Alerts to keep me aware of postings on the web. A smart phone is also a must, and a tablet is in this year’s budget.

Q: Any basic personal details you’re willing to share?

Living near one of the city lakes keeps me sane. I'm a transplant from Maryland where the winters are balmy, comparatively speaking. I love creating the work; it's easy to edit another's work, but more fulfilling to make it.  

Contact Michael Lotti