Felix Dennis is the chairman of The Week magazine, which keenly—and sometimes irreverently—curates, summarizes, and contextualizes the news and opinion content of other publications. Dennis is also a high school dropout, has been jailed for obscenity in his native Britain, is a best-selling poet, and created a media empire that includes such magazines as Maxim, Blender, and Stuff. The Guardian named him “one of the most powerful men in British journalism.”
On April 17, Dennis spoke at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, sharing his strong opinions about the “heresies” to be avoided in journalism, the power of talent to combat the industry’s financial woes (“talent has always ruled in the media. It always will”), the fact that we should “relax” about the so-called threat of the Internet (“as far as writers and editors are concerned, the growing power and reach of the Internet represents, I believe, nothing but good news for you guys”), and the relationship that readers develop with the magazines they read regularly:
Familiarity is a vital weapon in the armory of virtually all periodicals and magazines. It’s a kind of armor against direct competitors and other forms of media .Readers on the whole, don’t want innovation .What they want in their magazines is just about the same for every magazine in the world. They want to be informed, they want to be entertained, simultaneously, and in a familiar format . Consistency and stamina really count in our business.
An audio file of the talk is available here.