Launching a new magazine can be chaotic even in the best of times. The Week Junior made its debut last week in the midst of coronavirus chaos.
Two days before the first US issue of The Week spinoff for kids was set to go to press, the staff, led by chief editor Andrea Barbalich, had to start working from home. Yet they produced the magazine on time — landing 25,000 copies in paid subscribers’ homes over the weekend.
“We worked ’round the clock,” said Barbalich. “We wanted to give them hope and cheer with the news — and give them something to do while they’re stuck at home.”
In a way, the first issue of the weekly kids’ magazine came at the perfect time. Children across the country are stranded at home with nothing to do, as schools and public spaces are locked down to prevent the virus’s spread.
“Parents and teachers are already writing to us, thanking us for getting this to their kids in these difficult times,” Barbalich said of the magazine, which aims to bring original staff-written news reports to its audience of children ages 8 to 14.
“The team came up with a really great idea for the cover of the first issue — how human acts of kindness in the coronavirus crisis were helping to make the world a better place,” said Kerin O’Connor, chief executive of The Week in Britain and the US, which provides weekly news and analysis for adult readers.
“We had 25,000 paid subscribers at launch,” said O’Connor, who spoke to Media Ink from London, which ordered its citizens to shelter in place this week. Another 10,000 copies were originally going to be distributed to schools for free as a marketing tool, but with schools shutting down en masse, the plan was changed. “We had to pivot to digital very quickly,” he said.
The magazine, which is already offered in the UK, sells 48 weekly issues at $75 per year, slowing down only over the summer months, when it will be published every other week.
O’Connor is banking on word-of-mouth and digital marketing to help boost readership. “If we got to 100,0000 copies by the end of the first year, I’d be very comfortable,” O’Connor said.