Pop-Up Magazine = Serious Journalism + Fun Divided by Live Performance + Time Limit

On May 11, Pop-Up Magazine and ESPN The Magazine put on a show that, some say, will definitely change journalism forever.

Whether you prefer to see the world through National Geo’s glossy pictures, the Economist’s heady text, long-form New Yorker or bite-sized Time, you have fun reading and enjoy quiet time. I do, and I have a stack of unread Businessweek, Economist and New Yorker mags on my bedroom floor to prove it. They’ll be there when I’m ready to read during captive periods on the train, plane, plane delay, plane delay. Pop-Up Magazine, who came through New York City last night, can’t be put on hold, stacked, saved or forgotten about.

At NYU’s Skirball Center last night, presenters spoke, used multimedia, audio clips, infographics (and a little bit of text) for their Issue No. 5. They showed that anything journalism companies want to do online can be done on stage, except the social part is real-life social, not virtual social. The sports issue, done with ESPN The Magazine, was lifelike and humorous, communal and visual. Journalists included contributors from the Atlantic, Businessweek, New York Times, San Francisco Magazine, and stories ranged from two to ten minutes. The two-hour magazine issue was viewer supported – $25 a ticket – and included no commercial breaks. It is my favorite example of what a great journalism model will include in the future.

Running + jumping = More memorable learning
In one story, Neil Janowitz, an ESPN editor donning short-shorts and a headband, nutshelled the power of this pop-up form through a five-minute presentation about world records. He sprinted onto stage, lept and landed in the middle of a 30-foot-long rectangular band of light. “This,” he said, pointing to both ends of the band,  is how far you’d have to jump to tie Mike Powell’s long-jump record. Thirty feet is impossibly far, Olympian far, and, as Janowitz said, much more compelling when you can see it. If ESPN was making the same point in print rather than on stage, there’d be a brown drawing of a sand pit, a couple of arrows and 30 FEET written out. To help us understand the distance, there’d be a drawing of a Chevy Suburban or five grown men lying head-to-toe head-to-toe. Totally unmemorable, de-contextualized, and I wouldn’t learn a damn thing. Plus the crowd would miss a guy in short-shorts.

In another story, This American Life contributor Starlee Kine exposed the Twitter ghostwriter behind NBA players Amare Stoudemire and Danny Granger’s accounts. Kine complemented her on-stage presentation by playing the audio from her interview with the 24-year-old girl who “is” Amare.

The brilliance of Pop-Up + ESPN’s issue was that it blended strong journalism with timeless fun. That’s right, timeless fun. It’s fun to look forward to an event, go to an event, people watch, hear a room fill with laughter, sit back and soak up stories. It’s fun to share an experience. Plus, I got to learn the history of the high five. Sorry, that link cannot be found.

(If you went to the show, please share your thoughts below. Or, act them out, record them and send them to greg@openhousegallery.org)

Make your day better:
1) Follow the man behind Starlee Kine’s handle on twitter
2) Compare upper-guy thighs with Neil Janowitz on twitter
3) Get virtual with Pop Up Mag on twitter
4) Rave about Sports Illustrated to ESPN The Magazine on twitter
5) Definitely join OPENHOUSE GALLERY on twitter + facebook


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