Yale-based online magazine launched: interview with Roger Cohen of Yale Environment 360

Earlier this year, Yale Environment 360 launched as an environmental, online-only publication with an international audience in mind. The articles cover global and national environmental issues and concerns.  Allison White spoke to Editor Roger Cohn about the publication’s online goals for the magazine and its audience.

Why did you choose to go solely online? What are the benefits and draw backs?

We chose to go solely online for two reasons: the first is that we saw it as a way to reach a wider and truly international audience.  We are covering global environmental issues, and we are looking to have readers internationally. 

Also, we are published at Yale University, and Yale has made a priority of being a global university.

The second reason we didn’t also do a print magazine in addition to the online magazine, is that there would have been significantly more costs involved.

As for the benefits of this approach, it enables us to reach an international audience.

The drawbacks? Maybe that we don’t have a print version to promote our brand, but I don’t really think that’s a significant problem.

What kind of user community do you plan on building with the site?

We are looking to build a user community of informed, but not expert, readers who follow environmental issues – environmentalists, scientists, policy makers, academics, “green” businesspeople, and people who simply have a strong interest in these issues.

We look to bridge the gap between academic online journals on the environment and more popular, green lifestyle sites.

How will people interact with your content?

We have a comment area at the end of each article, and it’s turning into a place where users can engage in some fairly robust comment.  So far, in our first four months of operation, we’ve had over 350 comments posted, with numerous highly spirited and informed discussions.

We are planning to expand the interaction on the site, with authors of articles engaging in discussions with readers and with experts debating each other on the site.

Who is your audience and how do you think that affects how users interact with your site?

Our audience, as I noted above, are informed, but not expert, readers who follow environmental issues – environmentalists, scientists, policy makers, academics, “green” businesspeople, and people who have a strong interest in these issues.

I think our audience feels passionately about many of the issues we cover, and so I think we have the opportunity to engage readers more in interacting with the site.

What are your plans for the online publication, especially considering involving readers (if at all)?

We intend to include more multimedia – video, slideshows, and audio.  The subject we cover, the environment, lends itself well to visual approaches.

We also will seek to expand the opportunities for discussion and comment on the site, particularly with making authors available to discuss issues with users.

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