National Enquirer EIC Dylan Howard Explains the Mag’s New Focus on Major News Stories Like ISIS

And discusses the impact of staff cuts on coverage


 

Photo: Alfred Maskeroni

 Specs
Who Dylan Howard
Age 32
New gig Editor in chief of the National Enquirer; editorial director of RadarOnline.com; and vp, news at AMI
Old gig Editor in chief of Radar Online

The National Enquirer moved from Boca Raton, Florida to New York shortly after you took over in June. Why was that decision made?
In many ways it was important because I was based here in New York, but it was also a business decision. As a company, our operations are based here in New York City. Our other celebrity titles are here, including Radar Online, which is the other property that I look after. It made a lot of strategic sense to streamline our resources here because, when you look at the overall operations of the newsroom, what’s the point of having two separate photo desks across Radar and the Enquirer when you can have one photo desk with the same amount of staff, but with people who can operate across both digital and print?

When you began your new role, there was a lot of talk about rebranding the Enquirer and making it more of a legitimate news outlet. But that’s been said before. What’s different now?
Others can judge the content since I took over, but there has been a distinct change in many of the stories that we have presented. We’ve covered the beheadings of these journalists related to ISIS. We’ve done a feature story on the “forgotten Americans,” the 10 people who are still in captivity that we don’t typically talk about. In one of my first issues, we had an investigation into the systematic slaughter of “hero hounds,” dogs who served in combat zones but on their return to America they couldn’t be placed back into homes. Those are stories that probably would not have been in the National Enquirer three years ago.

In 2010, the Enquirer was deemed eligible for a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story of John Edwards’ affair. Why hasn’t there been a story of that level since then?
The John Edwards story will go down in history as one of the greatest scoops to be in the National Enquirer, and probably one of the greatest political scoops in recent memory. What I can tell you is that the pursuit of the story is ever-present.

It’s been said that the staff cuts at the Enquirer in recent years has made it more difficult to get another story of that magnitude. Do you think that’s true?
It is, to some extent, true. You can’t do as much as you used to if your newsroom had 150 people and it now has 60 people. But it’s about looking at how to best boost morale in a news environment like that and utilizing those resources. Internally, the way in which we were spending our news budget has drastically changed. It’s freed up funds for us to be able to go out on the road more than we had previously.

The Enquirer doesn’t have a very strong digital presence. Are you planning on building that out or do you see Radar Online becoming its digital arm?
Radar Online has been the focus of our attention over the past six years. All of our digital resources have been poured into that. That’s a strategic business decision, because if you look at the average age of a Radar reader, it’s almost half the age of an Enquirer reader. Much of the younger demographic is pursuing their news online, and we’re servicing that. The Enquirer is traditionally a middle-aged American, predominantly woman, and they consume their news differently.

Are you actively trying to attract younger readers to the Enquirer?
Absolutely. But the younger reader is still as enthused about the older celebrity as they ever have been. Brad and Angelina sold magazines 10 years ago, Brad and Jen sold magazines 12 years ago, and they still do it today. They’re going to sell magazines for many years to come.