Splash Magazine Editor Jim Rusnak Discusses Shift to Digital Media

Our Shelly Thiel recently wrote about USA Swimming’s wildly successful Splash Magazine, and what her favorite parts of the publication are. Since then, Splash has entered the digital age with USA Swimming’s recent release of the first online edition. We recently caught up with Splash editor Jim Rusnak to discuss the new format of the magazine, the business model, and the aspects of the online publication that he’s most excited about.

After reading what its all about, click here to access the May-June Digital version!

TSC: What made USA Swimming decide to add the digital version of Splash to the printed version?

Splash: First of all, it’s clear that with the advent of technology such as the iPhone and the iPad, publishing is definitely headed in this direction. We watched a demo of Sports Illustrated’s digital edition and were floored by some of the capabilities they have planned. While the digital version of Splash is not quite as sophisticated as Sports Illustrated’s, we’re excited to get in on the ground floor and grow with the industry as it evolves. It’s really a good starting place for us, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes us.

TSC: People spend more time on their computers and phones these days than reading printed writings. Did this play into the decision at all?

Splash: Like the iPhone and the iPad, social sites like Facebook and Twitter are also changing the way people consume media. The digital edition of Splash offers readers the opportunity to post the stories and issues they like to any number of social media sites. This is big. If even a fraction of our readers “like” or post an article on their Facebook wall, this translates to millions of impressions for Splash and USA Swimming to people who are normally not part of the swimming community.

Readers can also view the digital version of Splash using the web browser on their mobile phones, and an iPhone/iPad app is in the works.

TSC: What does the online version allow you to do that is missing from the printed version?

Splash: Then there are a lot of little things: the ability to add supplemental sound, video and other online content to the print edition. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough room in the magazine to print everything we want to print. With digital Splash, we can link directly back to our Web site (usaswimming.org) for additional content that didn’t make the cut to print. Or we can supplement a written description of a drill or exercise with a video demonstration.

I [also] get lots of requests from readers about back issues and older articles. These are now accessible with the click of a mouse.

TSC: I’m a finance guy, so hit me with the back-end of it. How does this help the magazine’s cost and subscription structure?

Splash: The printed version of Splash costs a lot to produce, so we are restricted to six printed issues each year. With the digital  version, we can now create special extra issues of Splash for events like Nationals and Olympic Trials at minimal cost, and we plan to do so in the future.

When doing research about launching a digital edition, we found out that USA Triathlon’s publication is enjoying increased circulation not just in this country, but around the world. Subscriptions from Australia skyrocketed for them. It’s an exciting prospect for me to see our publication possibly receiving worldwide exposure like that.

Finally, hardcore fans are going to be thrilled that the digital version will be available sometimes up to two weeks before the print edition. Readers can subscribe to the digital edition and will receive notification about when the next issue is available online.

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Splash – Digital Mag is a great interactive tool, like the links to videos (although as a coach I would like to get a bit more underwater footage to coincide with what Mark is talking about). A recommendation of finding new pictures of our stars in legal suits for the magazine and all USA Swimming media. The suits have been gone for a while now, there has to be some pictures out there we can use..If of course you are going to read this thread…

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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