MediaWeek | 18 August 2008
By James Manning
LUNA MEDIA WAS launched by publisher Kylie Ahern and editorial director Wilson da Silva in June 2005 with just one title, Cosmos magazine, a science bi-monthly. They have been celebrating Luna’s third anniversary with plans for their fourth major undertaking – G Online – which will debut in September this year.
Cosmos magazine had its content site up and running 12 months after launch in June 2006. It’s taken Luna Media a little longer to get G Online up and running on the web, partly because the magazine has been such a success.
G Magazine launched in November 2006 as a bi-monthly, and Luna increased the frequency to monthly in March this year. To date the G Magazine website has been little more than a marketing site to promote the magazine, but when Luna lift the lid on the new online site next month it will carry separate editorial not carried in the print edition that will be added to the site by Luna’s dedicated online editorial staff.
Publisher Ahern told Mediaweek the success of Cosmos is “all about the credibility of the content via the credibility of the authors we attract”.
The current edition of Cosmos boasts an all-star team who have things like “PhD in particle physics” after their names - Marcel Crok, Simon Singh and Haley Bridger are three of the international writers Cosmos has on board for its August/September 2008 issue.
Cosmos editor, and Luna editorial director, da Silva has just been visiting Spain to speak about the future of science journalism at an international conference. In its early days Cosmos wrote extensively about the possibility of significant climate change ahead and it’s not afraid of stirring debate as it makes science accessible for its readers. It’s not afraid of having a bit of fun too – “End of the world issue” is the cover strap atop the current issue, which further brands itself an ‘apocalypse special’.
“Sex doesn’t sell science magazines, but a marijuana cover we had did very well,” says da Silva.
It’s no surprise that G Magazine has grown so quickly. Ahern says the green space could well be “the next dotcom boom – the investment of big media companies is reflecting that. G Magazine is the first green magazine to be distributed in Coles supermarkets, while we have also just negotiated a deal to be sold in Woolworths.” Both Luna Media titles are distributed by Gordon and Gotch.
Looking after the growth of G Online is online editor Carolyn Barry and associate publisher Alex May has been appointed editor-in-chief.
Barry has taught, researched and reported on science and environment issues over the past eight years. May was publisher of the youth division at EMAP and now has a regular renovation column in The Australian Women’s Weekly and regularly writes property and design stories for The Sydney Morning Herald’s Domain section as well as the blog for smh.com.au, ‘Renovation Nation’. She has been published in The Sun-Herald, Sunday Life, New Woman, Vive, Sunday Magazine, House & Garden, FHM and Mother & Baby.
Ad sales are handled in-house with Luna media’s ad sales team headed by Tatyana Kovalyov and Krissy Mander. Both magazines are attracting mainstream advertisers, in the current issue of Cosmos, Volkswagen has four pages near the front of the book.
It’s no surprise that G Magazine lives the message it preaches. Ahern drives a Toyota Prius when she doesn’t cycle to work. “We are printed on 100% recycled paper, but because that isn’t available in Australia, we have to import it. We also introducing a plastic wrap for subscriber copies that is completely compostable which we have sourced from the UK.”
She added the company is audited for its energy use and it buys carbon offsets, “a substantial investment,” added Ahern.
Subscription sales are an important part of the Luna Media business model, and 50% of the circulation of Cosmos comes from subscribers. Both magazines have advisory boards, with Richard Branson sitting on the G Magazine board.
“G Magazine has set a new standard in the provision of practical advice for sustainable living - essential reading for anybody who wants to protect the future by taking action now,” is Branson’s quote about the Luna Media title.