AJE digital magazine

A new digital magazine was launched by Al Jazeera English last week, with hopes it will help highlight the "broader offering" of content produced by the Qatar-based broadcaster.

The iPad magazine, which will feature freely accessible monthly issues, launched on Friday 14 September, following the launch of similar digital magazines earlier in the year by Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Documentary.

Acting head of online for Al Jazeera English Will Thorne said it was "always the plan" to launch a digital magazine for Al Jazeera English.

"I think the inspiration for it really is one, we have a huge amount of content, which can marry very well into the magazine format, because we have an enormous amount of depth and analysis and features, and video content and infographics etc.

"So there's a lot of good stuff that we can harness and use in a magazine format that was probably not getting the sort of airtime or airspace it deserved.

"But also there's, I think, just a way things have gone with the iPad. It's such a good platform for digital magazines, it works so well in that format, it just seemed like an obvious thing to do, to dive into that market and see what we could produce."

The current issue of the magazine is offering around 60 per cent original content, produced specifically for the platform, compared to 40 per cent which "would have been available on the web", Thorne said.

"I think that will move over time to be honest. I think as we get up ahead of steam and learn from the first edition and hopefully build the editorial team, I think we'll probably try to get more original content in and reversion a little less from the web.

"Some of the kind of really high-end features, some of the really high-end infographics, some of the high-quality documentaries that we choose to use, you wouldn't want to replicate that. For the budget you couldn't reproduce that quality of material. So there are some no-brainer things that I think work perfectly well in both worlds.

"But I think for the magazine to stand out and be something people want to go to I think it's got to retain a fairly high level of original content."

AJE magazine

The first edition was produced by the existing web team, but Thorne said future development of the digital magazine is like to "suck up more effort, energy and resources", and therefore he hopes to hire additional people as time goes on.

Now Al Jazeera English is watching with interest to see if the new iPad magazine will prompt an increase in Al Jazeera English's audience numbers, and bring new audiences to its content.

"It will be interesting to see if it has that effect for us, whether it actually brings in new people rather than just super-serving our existing audience. I'm hopeful that it will bring people to our content that wouldn't normally come to us perhaps."

He added: "I think Al Jazeera's very well known for hard news, for breaking news, for wars ... and it's certainly made its reputation for being a place you go to for breaking news and hard news, but I think what the magazine does actually is it allows us to showcase a lot of the more reflective, long-form stuff we do, so it shows that not only do we do breaking news as it happens ... we'll also do some quite analytical, in-depth features and interesting infographics and interactive graphics."

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