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So What Do You Do, Dan Peres?

Details' editor on the industry's future and the advantage of editing a magazine for men like him

- April 18, 2007
dan_peres_swdyd.jpgBefore editor Daniel Peres was summoned to Details from Paris (he was Fairchild's European bureau chief), the magazine had gone through five editors in 10 years, failed numerous relaunches, and carried a voice that seemed to change with every issue. Critics were many. Seven years later, Peres is still at Details, having solidified the masthead and aligned the magazine's style sensibilities with his own. But, like every print magazine editor, Peres is faced with a tumultuous landscape and traversing the "Wild West" mentality of the Internet, while maintaining his own sanity.

Name: Daniel Peres
Position: Editor, Details
Birthdate: October 14, 1971
Hometown: Baltimore
Education: B.A., NYU, double major, Journalism and History
Marital status: Married actress Sarah Wynter in 2005
Favorite television show: Real Desperate Housewives of Orange County -- "It's spectacular, you have to check it out. It's amazing how regular people allow cameras into their lives thinking they'll become famous."
Last book read: Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon
Last song heard on your iPod: "More Than A Feeling," Boston
Guilty pleasure: Also Real Desperate Housewives of Orange County
First section of the Sunday Times: Styles


What is the most interesting media news story out there right now?
New York magazine's piece on Time magazine was very well done. As a magazine editor, I think we're all looking at what is going on at Time with great interest. That story has gotten, frankly, very interesting -- the competition between newsweeklies. Terrifically interesting story to watch.

What's a typical day for you?
I'm up at 7:00AM. I catch the beginning of the Today show. Outside my apartment door are copies of The New York Times, New York Post and Women's Wear Daily. I do a quick scan of the papers, then, at 8:00AM, I begin breakfast meetings in lieu of the "business lunch," which I try to avoid at all costs. When you do [business lunches] you end up being out of the office for two hours, minimum, and so many people are depending on me for projects to move forward I can't afford it.

In my office waiting for me are the Washington Post, L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal, Variety, and USA Today. I scan those papers. Then, in the office, the day is anything but typical. It's a series of meetings with my staff -- it could be talking about upcoming covers, story ideas, fashion coverage -- it's like a revolving door of various departments. My homepage is a newsmap that updates every 5-10 minutes. Right now, I'm reading about Halliburton. I tend not to look at the popular media blogs (Gawker, Jossip, Fishbowl) unless someone tells me to.

How would you characterize the state of the industry?
It's a bit tenuous. The close of Premiere recently, the third or fourth magazine to fold. It's certainly not seeing a boom. But, on the whole, I actually think it's healthy. I take issue with people who say the print medium is an endangered species. Technology means you have to adapt to the times, get stronger. I'm not a fatalist. Smart editors need to react and adapt to the online space.

I'm editing a magazine for men like me, with my interests. I know what my interests are. And, if I can do that online, we'll draw more readers to it.

What's the toughest thing about being a magazine editor in 2007?
It's no secret that the magazine industry is going through a tremendous period of change, and a number of big magazines have folded.

Do you feel added pressure?
That added pressure is met with excitement. I think I have a tremendous advantage in that I'm editing a magazine for men like me, with my interests. I know what my interests are. And, if I can do that online, we'll draw more readers to it. So, I'm embracing the challenge with excitement and enthusiasm.

What is Details doing online?
Details and GQ -- our homepages have been at men.style.com. It's what people in the company call a "destination" site. But, we're rethinking that. I had to reconfigure my masthead, and now two people are solely dedicated to the Web. And, they are constantly online, thinking about the Web. In 2008, we're going to be breaking away from men.style.com, and we'll be standalone sites.

details_beckham_fbny.jpg

For years, people have referred to Details as a magazine for gay men. How do you respond to that?
I think it's something that lives in the press, the media. It's not something our readers dwell on. My job is to create a great magazine that appeals to our audience -- straight men, gay men, everybody. Like I said, I'm editing a magazine for men like me, with my interests. To be honest, I don't think about it much, except when the media -- like you -- asks.

In the past you've had -- at least superficially -- an adversarial relationship with Maer Roshan. So, what do you think of the new Radar?
We tweak each other, but [we've become] great friends. I think Radar looks good, and I think Maer is incredibly smart, even stubbornly so. And, he's gotten a tremendous amount of press and created this buzz around his launches. He's better at PR than most of the PR people I know. I know if I were ever to have a fall from grace in the press, the first person I'd call for advice would be Maer.

What's next for you?
You know, I'm incredibly happy creating this magazine. I'd never say never, but right now, I feel great about my job, and am excited about the future here.

[Dylan Stableford is mediabistro.com's managing editor, media news. He can be reached at dylan AT mediabistro DOT com.]

[NOTE: This interview contains excerpts, and has been edited for clarity.]



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