European Leaders Weigh in on the Future of Publishing

What does Publishing excellence in Europe look like today?

For the first time ever, in 2023, the Lovie Awards will recognise the European Publisher of the Year, an all-new Special Achievement award for European publishing excellence across editorial and commercial work.

The European media and digital publishing scene is booming with an exciting surge of innovation. Publishers are transforming storytelling by bringing a human-centric lens. Business models are also shifting to embrace social impact work and a slow news cycle. The Internet’s expansion into different formats and mediums has redefined how narratives are told. We’ve noticed this shift at the Lovie Awards—from intricate multimedia projects to episodic editorial content. Publishing has been redefined.

As our judges begin to explore work from Europe’s most celebrated, innovative and compelling digital publishers, we’ve convened a selection of Lovie Awards partners, judges and community from the European publishing industry to explore the themes that they see shaping this industry in 2023.

Hear from the industry-renowned publishers who have moulded the space into what it is today:

🇳🇱 Munise Can, Lovie Judge, SVP & General Manager, Highsnobiety

🇫🇷 Rebecca Amsellem, Lovie Judge, Founder, Les Glorieuses

🇬🇧 Lucy Delacherois-Day, Lovie Judge, Global Managing Director, i-D

🇬🇧 Isobel Farmiloe, Group Brand Strategy Director, DAZED

🇬🇧 Ibrahim Kamara, Lovie Judge, Co-Founder, GUAP

🇮🇹 Andrea Scotti Calderini, Lovie Judge, CEO, Freeda Media

🇪🇸 Juan Yuste, Lovie Judge, Director, Cultura Inquieta

Does the publishing work created in Europe represent a difference in perspective, creative or business approach?

Munise Can: Highsnob is global in reach, and local in conversation. Our mission is to constantly serve our audience with cutting-edge stories, the hottest brands and the most sought-after product. These can emerge from any corner of the world, and intriguingly, it is often the narratives deeply rooted in a local context that captivate a global perspective most profoundly.

Rebecca Amsellem: Independent publishing work in France is very aware of the business approach and how creativity needs to work with it. New voices, new perspectives are being the centre of new publications every day and it is wonderful. It means that different narratives are being spread around and legitimised. And, as we need to be creative in terms of editorial approaches, we have to also be creative in terms of business models.

Ibrahim Kamara: In terms of defining values in the creative work created in the UK, I believe there is a strong emphasis on diversity, inclusivity, and pushing boundaries. These values have significantly shaped my work with GUAP. We strive to showcase the diversity of talent and voices across various communities, challenging traditional norms and celebrating underrepresented perspectives. By staying true to these values, we have resonated with our audience and created meaningful connections.

Commercially speaking, what are the most encouraging evolutions you’ve seen recently? What’s different?

Lucy Delacherois-Day: The resurgence of print! As a fashion publication, where the magazine is still very much our brand ambassador and the pinnacle of creativity, it is wonderful to see a renewed interest in print, the tangibility of it and the timelessness.

Andrea Scotti Calderini: Brands have finally understood how essential it is to be authentic, relevant, empathetic, and open to new ideas when thinking about content and marketing strategy.

Having a good product is just the start, they need to focus on what the consumers need and expect from them. Some brands are trying to inspire a positive cultural change: we can think about one of Dove’s latest campaigns, ‘The Cost of Beauty,’ which aims to bring awareness to the important topic of anorexia, making consumers think beyond the product. Dove has understood how impactful speaking with consumers about relevant topics can be beyond its products.

Moreover, social media platforms are moving towards interest-based algorithms, where users only watch and listen to content that is relevant to them. The new cookie policies confirm this direction: creativity is becoming more central again and brands must focus on that as much as they have been focused on media planning, measurement, and optimization in recent years.

In your opinion, what does best-in-class in digital publishing look like today?

Munise Can: The key is to create work that people genuinely care about. That they would tell their friends about. Work that distinctly represents a brand’s voice, allowing individuals to readily identify and connect with it. For instance, they might exclaim, “That’s so Gucci,” “That’s so BMW,” “That’s so Diesel,” or “That’s so Highsnob.” That’s what good work looks like.

Rebecca Amsellem: It’s when singular stories meet universal feelings. It’s a question of time, of excellence in journalism and slowness. Nothing great happens fast.

Isobel Farmiloe: Best-in-class digital publishing centres the human experience. It allows creativity to shine and focuses on genuine interaction, entertainment and efficiency for the reader.

Simplicity can actually speak for itself and a focus on quality is key. Our recent report showed that there is a huge opportunity in this space. The need for more seamless digital storytelling and experiences is clear—and there’s appetite for it! It is also about using digital to bring communities together in real life. We’ll be launching the Dazed Club app this year, which will allow the community to connect with each other and seamlessly interact with the Dazed brand.

Andrea Scotti Calderini: I think there are three main focus areas that best-in-class companies master and take care of. The first one is how they approach consumers. The company has to interpret the generational changes consumers are going through in terms of values and expectations regarding topics like DE&I, representation, sustainability, mental health and inclusivity in the work environment. Every best-in-class company has to listen, represent and interpret these values and make them their own authentically and transparently.

The second area of focus is related to social media platforms. We know how relevant they are for all generations of consumers, so it is fundamental not only to be present but also to craft creative content shaped for each platform and acquire specific competencies to navigate them.

The third and last area to focus on regards how data is used to inform creativity. It’s undoubtedly essential to focus on creativity when working on content, but at the same time, creativity, to work at its best, has to be informed by data and insights obtained with the aid of advanced technology, which can provide concrete insights and KPIs to analyse. This approach ensures optimised organic performances.

What stories, narratives, new formats or genres do you hope to see be more represented in Europe’s publishing industry?

Juan Yuste: We as society need to slow down and take longer time to pause and reflect. Therefore, all those narratives that require our full attention to grasp and to be transformed by them. It is thrilling to witness how the publishing industry is turning more thoughtful and human-centred.

Munise Can: A new generation is coming of age, refusing to be put in boxes that don’t actually fit. Yet most of the work brands generate is still so vanilla, remains uninspired and predictable, and lacks the uniqueness that resonates with this generation. This is a huge opportunity for brands that get it right, are willing to break free from the “norm” and embrace innovation.”

Isobel Farmiloe:
Technology: The metaverse came and went, but what it stood for is interesting and worth questioning. Technology has completely transformed our lives and identities and it’s only just the beginning. Publishers need to be experimenting more within the digital space and thinking about the community experience online.

Regional and local narratives: As global narratives are collapsing, we’re seeing a rise in the regional and a reconnection with local culture, heritage, tastes and styles. There is still a need to represent the marginalised and culture beyond the West. A recent study by WeTransfer discovered that Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia are 12% more likely to take risks than their Western counterparts, 11% more confident in their ideas, and 11% more optimistic about their careers.

Climate: Yes, it’s scary and overwhelming but it’s here and it’s happening. Now optimism is the new cultural rebellion. Telling stories about the climate through the lens of entertainment and optimism is a great way for publishers to play a constructive role in the climate crisis. Dazed’s platform, A Future World, does just that. Combining pop culture and the planet – we invite our audience to engage with the planet with personality, transparency and fun.

Quality storytelling: We live in such a throwaway and hype culture. Whilst it’s important to stay within the zeitgeist, it’s easy to lose sight of perspective. What we discovered from our report is the love and appreciation for an earlier social media format, such as blogs, long-form written word, mood boarding, and Tumblr is rising.

How has the way you connect with a global audience changed over the past few years?

Juan Yuste: As the media artsy scene has kept on widening and the Internet is overloaded with content, readers become overwhelmed. It is necessary to excel by being as poignant, inquisitive, and loyal to your tone and way to curate and communicate as possible. How you say it has become as important as what you say to gain the trust of readers.”

Munise Can: Certainly, labelling them as a homogenous audience seems less and less relevant, and less and less true. We still use demographics and catch-all terms to cast the net wide, but we ultimately are seeing a splintering of mainstream groups into smaller, more niche communities driven by special interests. This is where real influence happens – many companies talk about reach as the key metric, but for us, it’s impact. If we are able to deeply connect and engage with a hyper-local fashion community in Paris by truly understanding their universe, values, and needs, then we’re creating real impressions with them that percolates into wider communities.

Lucy Delacherois-Day: It has become much more of a conversation and much more focused on community building with your audiences across multiple platforms. The rise of Tik Tok has played a significant role in how we communicate with our predominantly gen z audience.

Isobel Farmiloe: Empowering youth has always been at the core of the Dazed brand since day one. For the first issue of Dazed, our co-founder Jefferson Hack wrote a manifesto saying, “This is not a magazine”—it was born as a platform, a community that eventually became a movement with the mission to empower youth through creativity, and it has successfully been that for the last 30 plus years.

In 2022 we launched Dazed Club. This is our membership platform that allows the audience to dive deeper into the Dazed world and connect with other like-minded creatives through festivals, parties, workshops & more. This is a two-way exchange that plugs into every part of the Dazed ecosystem. From audience insights, recruitment internally, and Dazed Studio brand projects, to having their work featured on Dazed digital. Dazed Club reflects the need to bring the next generation into businesses and create a two-way value exchange.

The next generation are re-imaging culture in revolutionary ways. We need to listen and involve them now, more than ever before.

What is the single most exciting development you have witnessed in this industry in the past year?

Juan Yuste: The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence is both obligating and helping us to rethink the industry.

Rebecca Amsellem: I am very impressed with the development of Vert, le média – an independent media dedicated to ecological issues (in French). Also, I love what my colleague Megan Clement did with the Impact newsletter (in English)—making this newsletter weekly and talking about everything that matters in the feminist world.

Lucy Delacherois-Day: The power and the general interest in fashion is so prevalent it is so interesting to watch how fashion publishers build their ecosystems and offerings to service to service creativity and be a platform for it.

Isobel Farmiloe: The publishing model is constantly evolving. Culture is also becoming more fragmented, with traditional power structures being dismantled. It’s increasingly hard to reach audiences and build trust.

Publishers have incredible connections to culture and audiences. At the same time, brands are needing more than ever before to connect to global culture. We found in our recent global study on the future of youth culture that working with relevant cultural partners is more important to a brand’s influence now, this has increased a massive +217% (Dazed Youth Culture Survey, 2023).

The media model also reflects a more agile and open way of working, that allows us to adapt to the changing landscape and ensure we’re ahead of the curve. From editors, data scientists, strategists to creatives and CGI artists, we embody an entrepreneurial spirit and drive to challenge the status quo, encouraging brands to listen and stay close to their audiences.

Ibrahim Kamara: One emerging trend that excites me in my field is the increasing intersection of technology and creativity. The advancements in augmented reality, virtual reality, and interactive storytelling present exciting opportunities for innovative and immersive digital experiences. I am eager to explore these new frontiers and leverage them to create impactful and engaging content.

What’s a piece of European publishing work that took your breath away?

Rebecca Amsellem: This podcast series on transidenties on Meta de Choc produced and hosted by Élisabeth Feytit. Oh and the entire L’intimiste newsletter written by Sandrine Tolotti, it’s so beautiful. The tagline is the literary and long format newsletter that tells life as it goes (or not…) and the sensitive daily life. I just love it.

Juan Yuste: Nowness, NITCH, Dezeen, Milk, CLO, It’s Nice That, MUBI, LensCulture, Designboom to name a few.

Ibrahim Kamara: When it comes to digital projects that inspire me, I have been drawn to platforms such as TED Talks and their ability to disseminate knowledge and spark meaningful conversations. Additionally, I find inspiration in the storytelling prowess of media companies like Vice and their ability to shed light on untold stories and subcultures.

Learn more about the European Publisher of the Year award here, from judging criteria to our guide on our best and most electric categories for publishers yet—like Best Multimedia Storytelling, Best Writing, Best Use of Photography or Video and more!