So despite the – well, let’s just call it “tumultuous” – climate for magazines all over the world, it seems that the Time Out franchise is taking its chances and starting up a new Shanghai division – an English Shanghai division, that is (Time Out Shanghai has been out for years in Chinese). What we were surprised about is how much of the new TOSHE (as we’re gonna call it now) writing group we knew. Guess that media circle here is smaller than we thought. TOSHE will feature:
- Amy Fabris-Shi, of that recent Shanghai pocket-sized food guide (SilkGuide) and That’s Shanghai (way back when) doing the mind and body section.
- Crystyl Mo of Cityweekend straying not far from her claim to fame: food.
- Our own Jake Newby taking up the helm of music and nightlife.
- Xhingyu Chen, who also had a stint with us once upon a time before moving on to Artinfo, writing for art.
- And Gary Bowerman and Paul French as consultant editors.
There’s more familiar faces, but top dog Toby Skinner (previously part of Time Out Beijing) said he was keeping it under wraps. He did answer some of our questions about why now and what we can look forward to though.
In reply to why now:
There are a number of reasons, but the main one is that we want to consolidate the success we’ve had in Beijing, especially over the last year or so. Despite the economic climate, our advertising revenue has actually improved, largely because readers are getting more sophisticated and starting to recognise quality. That has had a knock-on effect with advertisers, who are finding the benefits of being with a quality title and a quality brand that readers like and don’t just throw away. We feel that Shanghai readers are sophisticated and ready for something new, and that our reputation with Time Out Beijing gives us a solid foundation to start from. More generally, Shanghai has always been crying out for a Time Out – we can’t wait to really get under the skin of the city.
In reply to how Time Out seeks to differentiate itself from… say That’s Shanghai and Shanghai Talk:
I’d say that our main selling point is simply the level of quality that we’re aiming for. Our aim is quite simple: to be the most informative, entertaining and thought-provoking magazine in Shanghai. In other words, to be the best.
We’re an international brand, with international standards of editorial and design quality, and Time Out is obsessive about its values of independence, honesty and in-depth local knowledge. Those brand values mean a lot of things when it comes to us. One is that where you read opinions in the magazine, they will all be the opinions of experts – you won’t read music reviews or food reviews written by interns or English teachers who fancy giving journalism a shot. That authority plus our unflinching honesty and independence means that we can be a trustworthy voice for readers. If you read a four-star review in Time Out Shanghai, it’s genuinely a four-star review. We’re also intent on covering the entire city in all its glory, not just the expat bubble – in fact, the word ‘expat’ is banned; we’re a city magazine in English, not an expat magazine.
Really, though, I want people to read Time Out Shanghai and judge for themselves. I’m confident that people will like what they see, and I’m confident that, with an extremely talented editorial team, the magazine will only get better as time goes on.
Fighting words! We’ll see when the first issue (January 2010) comes out in late December. It’ll be monthly and – we’re excited about this aspect – free.