Monday, August 9, 2010

Boston Globe - A New Read on Masculinity

The Boston Globe offers a nice look at The Good Men Project and their magazine project.

A new read on masculinity

Magazines see a market for stories about parenting, home life

Publisher Lisa Hickey, cofounder Tom Matlack, and editor Benoit Denizet-Lewis of The Good Men Project Magazine, an online venture.
Publisher Lisa Hickey, cofounder Tom Matlack, and editor Benoit Denizet-Lewis of The Good Men Project Magazine, an online venture. (Michele Mcdonald for The Boston Globe)

By Johnny Diaz
Globe Staff / August 7, 2010

When Elliott Fitzgerald wants to read stories about marriage, fatherhood, and how to balance work and home life, he doesn’t head to the newsstand, he logs onto his Brookline home computer and reads “The Good Men Project Magazine,’’ a new Boston-based online publication that focuses on modern men.

“These topics definitely speak to me,’’ said the married software developer and father of two.

The Good Men Project, at, was launched in June and is one of a crop of new magazines — mostly online — that cater to men with features about parenting, relationships, and mental health as opposed to articles about sex and sports common in some traditional men’s publications. The new magazines are intended to reflect the changing role of men in society, but they are also being rolled out at a time when other men’s titles are struggling.

Tom Matlack cofounder of The Good Men Project and former chief financial officer for The Providence Journal newspaper, said other magazines have faced challenges, but his new publication has a chance for success because it focuses on issues that men would be hard-pressed to find in other magazines.

Recent features include a first-person essay by a father trying to understand his teen daughter’s fascination with the “Twilight’’ movies; a straight man’s perspective on playing in a gay Boston softball league; and a college graduate who wonders when he should start calling himself a man.

“Traditional titles have to adjust or fail, while we can build our brand and infrastructure from the ground up,’’ said Matlack, 45.

Woburn native Michael Rideout will launch next week. He said the website, which plans to launch a print version in the fall, has five major sponsors, including Ray-Ban Sunglasses and men’s clothing chain Bonobos, instead of traditional ads. Rideout declined to say how much revenue the site has generated. Copies of the magazine, which is geared toward men ages 25-34, will be mailed to the brands’ customers and men who fit that demographic, he said.

Rideout, 37, is a married father of three and describes his initiative as the “anti-Maxim’’ magazine, with articles and videos that encourage responsibility and inspire men to improve their finances and relationships.

In Cincinnati, Craig Heimbuch is editor in chief of, an online magazine launched in June with how-to articles, from the best way to approach your pregnant wife about remodeling a nursery to how to get children to complete their chores. He said that he and his staff of five are trying to counter negative images of men in the media with useful content — a strategy he believes will be successful. ManoftheHouse declined to say how much revenue it has generated, but the site has Gillette and Head & Shoulders as advertisers.

Heimbuch said his target reader is “the guy who has given up on the bars and is settling into life.’’

Analysts say these new magazines are a gamble in a tough economy in which some popular men’s titles have suffered. Circulation for GQ, a monthly men’s magazine focused on style and culture, fell about 2.8 percent from about 919,880 copies in December 2008 to 894,005 in December of last year, according to the most recent figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Adding to that, there are already at least 16 magazines in the United States that are classified as men’s-themed publications, according to ABC.

Additionally, there have been other failed attempts at similar titles. For instance, last year, Best Life, a spinoff of Men’s Health, closed. And in 2008, after three years, Conde Nast folded Men’s Vogue, a monthly publication, back into Vogue after drops in ad sales.

The new magazine editors declined to give figures on unique website visitors, but some analysts say that by launching online first, they have a better shot of surviving. Additionally, they say recession-related job cuts have led to a renegotiation of familial roles — a reversal that has left some men looking for stories that better reflect their new reality.

“There is an occurring evolution of masculinity and these magazines reflect that,’’ said Melissa Chessher, a magazine publishing professor at Syracuse University.

Matlack, from The Good Men Project agrees, saying there’s an untapped audience of men and a pool of advertisers looking to reach them. The online magazine is a spinoff of a book that Matlack and business partner and venture capitalist James Houghton published last year called The Good Men Project, a collection of 31 essays by men who defined what it means to be a man today.

The site, which has five full time staffers, generates revenue from sales of the book, traditional banner ads, and from featured books by authors who write for the site. Matlack declined to say how much revenue the site has generated, but brands such as Ford Motor Co. and Huggies have ads on the site. The magazine donates 25 percent of its revenue to The Good Men Foundation, a nonprofit in New York that helps at-risk youths.

Johnny Diaz can be reached at

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