Quick Q & A with Robert Newman, Creative Director of Reader’s Digest

Bob Newman from Reader's Digest speaks at SND STL

We caught up with Robert Newman, creative director at Reader’s Digest and SND STL panelist to find out a little bit more about what makes him tick:

SND STL: You’ve done amazing work at a lot of great titles over the years. If you could have editorial and visual control of just one magazine anywhere — during any era — which one and why?

NEWMAN: If there was one magazine that I could get my hands on, it would be Newsweek. I’d turn it into a real alternative weekly magazine, a left-wing scandal tabloid–the National Enquirer meets Mother Jones–with gossip, lots of photos, graphics, and cartoons, but also investigative stories, and editorials that skewered the rich and powerful and ridiculous. And I’d combine it with provocative, poster-like covers. (All this is not unlike what we did at The Village Voice in the early 90s, but it would be much more flashy and gonzo, and have higher production values….and bigger salaries.) I think a progressive, populist magazine with a lot of attitude would be big fun, and it probably wouldn’t lose any more money than Newsweek is losing now.

SNDSTL: Desert island disc time: You’re stranded and you can only get one magazine subscription for the rest of your life (don’t look too deep at the logic in this question, please, I mean, I KNOW the mailman would be able to rescue you, but this is theoretical, right?)… anyway, which mag and why?

NEWMAN: The Beach Boys The Smile Sessions (coming out in November). Oh wait, you want to know which magazine I want on that desert island? I’d say Reader’s Digest, but I’d be reading that on the iPad edition. The New Yorker would be my #1 choice, because it’s so stimulating, both content and visuals, and it’s always diverse, surprising, and entertaining. And that way I’d finally get to read every issue, front to back.

SNDSTL: Ever been to the Lou (St Louis) before? What are you most looking forward to, aside from the conference?

NEWMAN: I visited St. Louis once in the mid-70s. I’d love to find a store that sells cool, old magazines.