October 19, 2013
/ by Laura Botham
The beginning of an adventure is always exciting. The open road, the blank canvas, the butterflies in your stomach all add to that heightened sense of awareness. There is always a mystery in what the future holds and how best to unfold the path before you.
When building a new business and launching a new space, there is an abundance of room to wiggle and grow. Creativity takes hold and the excitement is tangible. Bustle, an online women’s publication that launched in August, is bursting at the seams with energy.
Deputy editor Margaret Wheeler Johnson parted ways with The Huffington Post to join Bustle in September, and is eager to settle into her new role. “It’s exciting! The possibilities are endless, so the biggest challenge is prioritizing projects and making choices now that best position the site for longevity and unlimited scale,” she said.
“The thing that most attracted me to working at Bustle is its ambitious goal of being a huge platform for young women to write about the issues important to them, with no topic off-limits,” she added.
Bustle’s quiet launch was followed by an announcement by the CEO Bryan Goldberg, which paired with a controversial profile in The New Yorker caused a bit of a stir in the media world. The press seemed to focus on whether a man with no experience in covering women’s interests could be capable of publishing a smart feminist publication, and whether his unconventional approach to producing quantity of articles would deplete the quantity.
One of his strategies that worked was hiring a bright and diverse staff that is interested in providing quality content. “The criticism wasn’t of our staff, and most of it didn’t address our content or mission. Bustle’s young female editors and writers work incredibly hard publishing smart, fun, unabashedly feminist stories every day. It’s unfortunate that those efforts were overshadowed for a couple of weeks,” Johnson said.
Now that those initial bumps on the road are out of the way, Johnson seems to have settled into her new home – literally. “I went from a desk in a Manhattan newsroom working alongside hundreds of people to a townhouse in Williamsburg where I work on a sofa or at the kitchen table.”
So it comes as no surprise when she describes her transition as “remarkably easy.” She added, “I joined a team of hard-working, smart, funny women who have made me feel incredibly welcome.
In her position as deputy editor, Johnson will be working on building partnerships, creating viral content, and planning special coverage for events like awards shows, holidays and the Olympics.
“I’m most excited about putting Bustle on the map – making sure we’re engaging with a wide range of demographics, forming relationships with many existing women’s sites, creating highly shareable content and bringing first-person stories to the site as often as possible,” she said.
“I’ll also be looking for creative, fun ways to approach evergreen content so that we’re not just replicating what’s been done before.”
Johnson is no stranger to launching a women’s publication as she was part of the team that launched HuffPost Women. This gave her valuable insight and experience in growing a vertical, and creating a fan base.
“Launching HuffPost Women and editing it for two years provided an in-depth knowledge of the women’s media space and how to create a women’s site with a distinct point of view that celebrates female experience and critiques the many ways it is misrepresented, misunderstood and stereotyped.”
The mission of Bustle is to be fast, informative, smart, fun and comprehensive. It aims to be highly accessible to diverse women looking for topics that entertain, move you and make you think. The site itself is sleek and modern, and the content is fresh and up-to-date.
So far, the readers are showing their support for the new upstart. “We’ve gotten a tremendous amount of positive feedback,” Johnson said. “Readers believe in what we’re doing and like what they see. …We want you to be able to visit Bustle anytime and get everything you need to know about what’s going on in the world.”
The best way to reach Johnson is email. “I prefer never to receive a pitch by phone,” she said. “I promise I don’t mind follow-ups if I missed the first email.”
Johnson is available on Twitter at @mwjohnso.
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