All images courtesy of Safari magazine

Is Safari the Future of Print Media?

by Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström Nov 2, 2011
I have to admit. When I first stumbled across Safari, I was blown away.

From the publishers of Africa Geographic comes Safari – a sleek-looking digital travel magazine that incorporates all types of multimedia – vivid photography, video, audio sound effects, and animation – to share stories, interviews, and photo essays in a very interactive fashion.

While many print magazines are moving to digital versions that are usually static flip-through Flash-powered pages, Safari takes digital media a different direction while still maintaining a classic print magazine look-and-feel.

For example, in traditional print magazines, when you flip to the editorial page, you get a listing of contributors, editors, and an opening note from the editor-in-chief. With Safari, you get a video of editor Paul Steyn introducing the latest issue while driving a 4×4 through dry Savannah grasslands in Africa.

In Safari, double-page photo spreads are now replaced with 360° rotating panoramic images. Full length features are accompanied by high quality audio, and “48 hours in…” pieces are introduced with ground level video.

Images courtesy of Safari magazine
Intrigued, I reached out to Safari’s editors – Paul Steyn and Holly Meadows – to take us behind the scenes of their relatively new (and quite frankly, kick-ass) digital magazine.

1) Congratulations on a visually stunning platform! How did the idea of Safari come about and who was/is your intended audience?

Thank you. Media consumers are increasingly mobile, empowered and connected to each other via multiple networks – we wanted to give them content that does justice to their media devices and their expectations. Why would somebody pay big money for a wonderful device and then be satisfied with content made for print?

We love our print magazines, but when we’re on our laptops and tablets we want something else. And so, given our passion for telling stories about Africa and our innovative approach to digital media, Safari was born to give travelers a truly dynamic and interactive insight into our mother continent.

2) How is Safari different from Africa Geographic or do both content go hand-in-hand? For example, will I find the same content in the October issue of Africa Geographic on Safari as well? Will I find the same writers/photographers in both mediums or is Safari growing its own contributor pool?

Safari and Africa Geographic are completely different with regards to content, contributors and of course, medium. Africa Geographic is a print magazine covering natural history and conservation, with a bit of travel. Safari is an interactive magazine entirely focused on everything to do with travel in Africa, and encompassing rich multi-media including video, sound effects and animation. The two magazines have independent editorial and design teams – with little cross-over.

All images courtesy of Safari magazine
3) The word “Safari” conjures up a limited view of Africa, one which is characterized by wildlife and the Big 5. How does Safari (the brand) differ and what does it offer in terms of travel to/around Africa that paints a more complete picture?

Of course the word ‘safari’ actually means ‘long journey’ or simply ‘journey’ in Swahili, and we use this quintessentially African word in its broader context. The continent offers so much more than just wildlife, and so in Safari we feature many other aspects of travel like food, festivals & events and celebrity interviews. In the last edition of Safari (September/October) we featured a wild horseback adventure through Namibia’s desolate Fish river Canyon, and in the second issue (July/August) we explored the Swahili shores of East Africa.

4) Beyond wildlife and the adventure aspect of Africa, does Safari also cover ground-level human stories? If so, can you please point our readers to an example or two?

Indeed we do. We do regular interviews with high-profile personalities who know and love Africa. In our launch issue, we were lucky enough to receive a personal contribution from Sir David Attenborough. We’ve also featured Richard Branson, resident explorer Riaan Manser, and in our current edition we screen a video-talk with world-famous primatologist Jane Goodall.

Our interactive ecosystem also includes our blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn platforms, pulling in many people at ground level who like to share their travel experiences and photographs with us.

We host a portfolio of bloggers from all over Africa – African Parks volunteer Catherina Hall-Martin posts from the wilds of Congo Brazzaville, award winning blogger Alecia Cohen contributes from her Moroccan home in Marrakech, and celebrity chef Justin Bonello (South Africa’s version of Jamie Oliver) posts an endless stream of African-inspired recipes.

All images courtesy of Safari magazine

5) Safari’s interactive platform is extremely attractive and quite cutting-edge. Do you see this as the new route for print magazines going digital?

Absolutely. We’re not about creating PDF page-flippers with a few added extras. The vision of Safari is to challenge what we consider a magazine to encompass. We believe the future of publishing is tightly bound to multimedia: story-telling needs to be rethought, and editorial workflows refined to make the most of technology.

We looked at the magazine concept from the ground up and developed a customised workflow to allow for the inclusion of video, photography, interactive graphics, social media integration….produced by a digital savvy editorial team and a production unit sitting on the pulse of digital technology.

Soon we will be launching Safari apps for the various tablet platforms (like iPad and Android). The future will see publishers adopting either pure-play digital or hybrid models (print publishing within an interactive social media ecosystem) – there will no longer be successful pure-play print publishing.

6) And finally, Safari is 3-issues old so far. How has the response from your readers/viewers been? Where do you see Safari a year or two from now?

All images courtesy of Safari magazine

Editors Paul Steyn and Holly Meadows

It’s been an incredible reaction from our readers – both travel trade and consumer. After three issues, we already have 22,000 unique readers notched up and almost 5,000 registered subscribers. Here are just a few comments we’ve received so far:
  • “Never seen such a digital magazine! The music and the images make you calm and fill you up with energy. I want to go……”…Niko Moerman, Netherlands
  • “I may never leave my computer….I feel like I’m IN AFRICA even though I’m far away in Hawaii”…Judy Guffey, Hawaii
  • “Just wonderful – from a South African on the French Riviera who’s now terribly homesick! A superb magazine – congratulations!”…Gilly Lloyd, French Riviera

One year from now we see Safari having a substantial readership in both the online and app versions, as well as a thriving and very sticky social media ecosystem with plenty of happy advertisers.

We are soon launching a travel trade directory within Safari, our own listing of establishments, agents and tour operators that has an exciting “X-Factor” – it comes with digital wings. So in one year, we’ll have a well-populated Africa travel directory acting as a resource and an awesome planning tool for travelers. Exciting times!

Check out the latest issue of Safari online. 

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