November 15, 2013


Viva la digital weekly!

Pitchfork Media is the latest media organization to experiment with a reverse-publishing format that I’ve championed before. It’s a trend that includes the Atlantic Weekly, Esquire Weekly and the Awl’s Weekend Companion.

The format and goals of Pitchfork Weekly, which launched Thursday, should be familiar to anyone who has consumed weekly digital editions before:

Pitchfork Weekly offers an opportunity for readers to have a totally immersive experience with Pitchfork’s original content in an offline environment. It serves as a “weekly magazine” version of the site, drawing inspiration from the design of a print publication with enhanced photos, graphics, and long-form features and cover stories. With the pace of the web, it can sometimes be difficult to slow down and engage with great writing, and the sheer amount of words that we publish each week can be overwhelming. Pitchfork Weekly allows for a more focused reading experience, while at the same time taking advantage of the multimedia possibilities tablet and mobile apps provide.

For casual readers of Pitchfork, the new app — available for iOS only, but not in the Newsstand! — nicely presents an opportunity to catch up on the week’s reviews and news. The sheer number of reviews published to Pitchfork’s website means they fall off the homepage quickly, so this bundle of content allows good content to resurface for readers who aren’t on the site every day. (Then again, if you’re only a casual Pitchfork reader, maybe you won’t seek out a Pitchfork app.)

Overall, the design is clean and visual, with headlines only appearing over photos when the user is scrolling. The app also includes an audio bar at the bottom for listening to podcasts while you browse. It launched with a sponsor, too: Lexus.

Headlines in the heavily visual Pitchfork Weekly are inactive (left, in an iPad screenshot) until users touch the screen and begin to scroll (right).

The same crucial problem facing all digital magazines applies here: It’s a closed-off ecosystem that can’t be entered via social media. Readers can use the app to post Twitter or Facebook links to web versions of the stories, but the app annoyingly forces you to include a photo:

That isolation from social media will also apply, of course, to Pitchfork’s other upcoming reverse-publishing effort: Pitchfork Quarterly, a print product.

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Sam Kirkland is Poynter's digital media fellow, focusing on mobile and social media trends. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a digital editor,…
Sam Kirkland

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