Rinku and Colorlines

Citizen Wealth

rinku sen_low-resNew Orleans Rinku Sen somehow had perfect timing.  She happened to be in New Orleans as a board member for Restaurant Opportunities Center and its national operations, but as an author sharing the same publisher (www.bkconnection.com) and editor of Colorlines, she and I were having lunch on the day we sent Social Policy to press and were getting to finally hold Citizen Wealth in our hot hands.  It was good to see an old friend, but even more valuable to talk shop and get her advice.

Colorlines it seems, like almost every publication these days, is having the print or web debate.  Rinku seems to feel the web is the future, and given the great interest and success of the magazine on the web, it’s easy to understand why.  More than 100,000 unique visitors are coming onsite to check out Colorlines and its perspective every month.  There’s no way to match that readership in print or unfortunately with subscriptions making them paying customers.

When I moaned at hating the loan delays between receiving and article and putting it between the covers and in the readers hands, and my temptation to start putting it on our website at www.socialpolicy.org , Rinku was clear:  put it on the web! Business model or no, Rinku was clear that it made sense to with the largest voice, regardless.  If anything was going to be subsidized, better to sink the money into 100K.  She mentioned at one point that in analyzing the magazine it was costing them $5000 for every “pair of eyes” that worked on the magazine.  I’m not sure I totally understood that, but I was scared thinking about the economics there.  Perhaps more compelling on the mission side of the magazine, they had found that they were reaching huge numbers of young people on the website, and that was where they felt they could impact the debate and direction of thinking about race most acutely.  Who could disagree?

Rinku’s books also seem to be doing well with movie options being discussed and new versions of old work.  I had the feeling as I dropped her off that the Applied Research Center might be looking at some changes, but was hitting a high stride now that Rinku had taken the wheel and was putting the pedal to the metal.