Scott Dadich made his name during the noughties as creative director of the US edition of Wired, first for the print edition and later as lead creative on the magazine’s innovative iPad app. After two years at Condé Nast HQ as vice president, Editorial Platforms and Design, Scott returned to Wired in 2012, this time as editor-in-chief. In that role he has revamped every aspect of the magazine, increasing its total audience by 42% while winning multiple awards for its content and design. We speak to him as he prepares to visit London to speak at The Modern Magazine 2015.
Where are you today?
In San Francisco, at our SoMa Wired headquarters.
What can you see from the window?
The Wired newsroom.
Are you a morning or evening person?
I struggle with mornings, but am always glad when I manage to get up early enough for a workout or some early alone time at the office. It’s my favorite time to write and be creative.
Which magazine do you first remember?
I grew up in West Texas, where Texas Monthly was a religion, and even as a kid, I vividly recall seeing many of Fred Woodward’s iconic covers at the supermarket checkout. In high school, my mom became a charter subscriber to Martha Stewart Living, so I remember a house stacked with issues full of Gael Towey’s phenomenal layouts. But no joke, I think one of the first magazines I bought myself was Wired 2.08, the August 1994 edition, which featured Rand and Robyn Miller, the creators of the iconic game, Myst. I think I read half the magazine while I stood at the BookPeople newsstand in Austin, Texas. I found Wired to be unlike anything I’d ever seen, and I fell in love with what magazines can do at that very moment.
What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
I have the new issue of New York sitting in the middle of my desk, so I’ll remember to take it on my flight east later today. Always a great read.
And your favourite website or app?
Depends on the day and who’s writing what where. I read for work online almost every waking hour; Wired alone publishes more than 40-50 stories a day, so that’s a lot of screen time. Elsewhere on the web, I read bits of the Times first thing in the morning, Vulture during any spare moments in the day, and based on what I see perusing Twitter and Apple News: Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The Verge, The Guardian, Pitchfork. My favorite apps are Instagram and Pinterest.
You’ve shifted from designing to editing the magazine; what are the similarities and differences in the roles?
My current role requires both right- and left-brained thinking. You can basically divide the work into two buckets: 1) co-leading the entire organization with my business partner, Kim Kelleher and 2) setting the direction and tone for every story Wired produces.
The leadership responsibilities are significant and ever-evolving. Basically, it is up to me and Kim to create the ethical standards for our organization. Together, we shape the company’s overall strategy and provide direction for our operational units — from creative and editorial to technology and revenue development. I feel an abiding responsibility to devote a significant amount of my time to growing Wired, to expanding the opportunities and resources my colleagues and I enjoy
But I got into this business to tell beautiful, impactful stories, and I’m really fortunate to work with what I believe to be the greatest team in journalism. Together, we are solving the same set of problems I encountered as Wired’s creative director: story ideation, development, selection, flow, pace, construction, presentation, production, and delivery — but on a different kind of scale. Instead of focusing on 40 pieces a month — in print — I’m now setting the parameters for and supporting my colleagues on 40-50 stories a day, across nearly a dozen platforms. Not that all of that media will be published today; some work won’t be public for many months—years even. The Snowden story (cover, below), for example, took almost a year to complete, and this December’s cover literally started to take shape at the end of 2012, in my first days as Wired’s edior-in-chief.
I’m also planning a number of events, including the Wired by Design dinner series, which kicks off in LA next month, putting the finishing touches on our annual style guide for gadgets and gear—‘Design Life’ —and plotting the launch of Wired’s masters degree program at the University of Southern California. Sprinkle in recruiting, HR, budgeting, and collaboration with Condé Nast’s soon-to-be CEO Bob Sauerberg and colleagues, and you now have a picture of my day.
You were a very early supporter of the iPad. How do you see its role for the magazine publisher now?
I love reading on my iPad; I just finished Neal Stevenson’s new book reading almost exclusively on my iPad. But with respect to magazine publishing, I’m really glad to be moving past the static notions of discrete digital ‘issues’ and onto stream-based content platforms like Apple News. My team and I worked very closely with the design and engineering groups that built News, and I’m really excited about Wired’s ability to shape new interaction modes for small, medium, and long form stories—especially on the upcoming iPad Pro. That thing is a monster! If you watched the reveal of the device at last month’s Apple event, you saw a Wired story demo’d onstage as the alpha example.
Can you see a time when Wired no longer appears in print?
I truly can’t imagine that moment occurring in my lifetime. The print edition will evolve and change its form factors and purpose, but I can’t possibly see it going away. Today, the print edition of Wired reaches more people than ever in its history. Print can do a lot of things digital still can’t do; it’s tactile, comics are better in print, big-format photography still looks more impressive, and good old-fashioned graphic design is a lot more fun to make and take in. Those are qualities that won’t matter to everyone, but they are dear to a devoted and important segment of our audience.
What will you be discussing at the Modern Magazine conference?
The past, present, and future of Wired.
What are you most looking forward to this week?
Seeing my wife and then our friends in New York when she meets me there this Friday
What are you least looking forward to?
What will you be doing after this chat?
This instant, I’ve got to run to our daily story meeting for the site, then a covers brainstorm with our editorial director Rob Capps, a design and layout review for our December issue with executive creative director Billy Sorrentino, and a weekly check-in with our video team. This afternoon, we’ll be finalizing our financial planning for 2016, so I’ve got a 90-minute call with Kim. I’d better get going…
Scott Dadich is one of our guests at The Modern Magazine 2015, a day of talks by the best contemporary magazine-makers. London, 29 October.