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Wired Pushes Digital-First Strategy With Facebook Exclusive

Article hits website and tablet, but not print

Earlier this afternoon, Facebook gathered members of the press at its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters to unveil its newest feature: Graph Search. Shortly after, Wired magazine published a lengthy article by senior writer Steven Levy detailing the work that went into conceptualizing and executing Graph Search, complete with exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews with the tool’s main creators and Mark Zuckerberg himself.

While the access granted to Wired is remarkable—Facebook rarely lets outsiders in on its inner workings—so is the way in which the magazine chose to release its story. Rather than waiting more than a month to be able to put it in the print edition, Wired published the nearly 4,000-word story on its website right as the Facebook event ended. A fully designed digital version of the article will also be included in February’s tablet (but not print) issue, which is available for download on Thursday, marking the start of a new publishing schedule that will see Wired’s tablet edition released five days before its print counterpart.

This new strategy—releasing time-sensitive features on digital platforms rather than taking a print-first approach—is the brainchild of Wired’s new editor in chief, Scott Dadich. (Fittingly, Dadich was also responsible for developing the magazine’s iPad edition in 2010 before being named Condé Nast’s vp of editorial platforms and design.)

“When news breaks, we’re now able to deliver a fully formed story package on the shorter timetable that news events require,” explained Dadich. “It really gives us some flexibility, especially as we look to deliver the tablet edition before the print edition and make use of the technology platform that we’ve developed.”

Not producing a print version of the article doesn’t worry Dadich. “We’re really focused on delivering more content wherever we’re able to, and when there is a physical limitation”—like the fact that the February issue has already been printed—“we think digital presents a value proposition for our readers.” Nor does he seem concerned that publishing the tablet edition five days earlier will hurt newsstand sales of the print edition. “This is really about giving more value to the readers who commit to us in the form of a subscription,” he explained.

Moving forward, Dadich plans to keep up the content-first approach, whether that means publishing a stand-alone article in the form an e-book (which Wired did with its John McAfee story in November) or updating a story in the tablet edition after it has been released and alerting readers with a push notification. Additionally, Web and tablet versions of an article will start to look increasingly similar. “As we see the tablet become more dynamic and the Web become even more app-like in certain cases, you’ll start to see that line blur,” said Dadich.

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