''Outside' Tackles Sexual Harassment, Enjoys Digital Growth

In the wake of sexual misconduct cases emerging from all industries and communities, publishing has been slow to address the issue head on. But some outlets, including woodsy veteran Outside, are tackling the issue among readers and via editorial.

Neiman Journalism Lab’s website highlights the publication’s efforts in a feature story.

Last November, Outside magazine took to Facebook to ask its readers about experiences with sexual harassment in the outdoors world. Response was varied. Many men replied with jokes about wildlife, while women were grateful to be recognized by the outlet and shared their stories. The article reports the results of the survey will be used in a later issue of the magazine about sexual harassment in the guiding world.



What’s interesting, in addition to a publication that had a historically male readership addressing its female audience, is the move helped Outside grow on social media. The magazine saw its Facebook group membership rise profoundly following the survey. 

In addition to the Facebook survey, Outside has been careful to keep a 50/50 balance of male to female writers on its verticals, and much like Slate’s recent decision to close DoubleX and run stories about women’s lives site wide, Outside has done the same. The combination of engaging more deeply with its audience and rounding its editorial has led to monetary returns, too.

Digital revenue is growing quickly and the ratio of readers is closing. Over the last five years, digital revenue has grown by 20% annually, and the same is expected for 2018. While the print magazine’s readers are 30% female and 70% male, the website sees an audience made of 35% women.

Aiding the growing revenue stream is an affiliate program launched by Outside Online last year.

According to the story, revenue skyrocketed to six figures in only a few months from long-form gear reviews and shopping-heavy pieces curated by industry experts. The site also publishes a gear-shopping newsletter twice a week, which it launched in December.

“A big initiative this year has been not just to reach more people, but to engage with them in a more meaningful way,” Scott Rosenfield, Outside’s digital general manager stated in Neiman piece.

The numbers, on both edit and revenue fronts, make it hard to argue with that premise. By taking abstract audience numbers and giving them a face through engagement, Outside is showing that a publication can stay true to its editorial mission while creating new, invigorated spaces.

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