Last week, we reported that Dan Rubinstein, editor of the year-old, Edmonton-based Gen X business title Unlimited, would be leaving the magazine in October for a senior editor position at Canadian Geographic. We spoke with Rubinstein, 34, last week about his experience as Unlimited's launch editor, as well as his future with Canadian Geo. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.
Masthead: What’s the experience been like, launching a magazine from the ground up?
Rubinstein: It’s been incredibly rewarding to take the kernel of an idea and to build it into an actual magazine that has issues that are full with stories and pictures. It’s been a great learning experience and like I said, really rewarding, especially because of the success we’ve had right out of the gate—the awards we’ve won [Best Art Direction for an Entire Issue at the National Magazine Awards and Best New Magazine at the Western Magazine Awards] and the incredibly positive response we’re getting from readers.
M: What were some of the challenges of being a launch editor?
Rubinstein: Every little piece you’re starting from scratch—you’re constantly devising and refining the voice of the storytelling, the focus of the stories. It has to be as close to perfect as possible in each issue because you don’t want to risk alienating potential long-term readers. You need to constantly question and refine what you’re doing.
The newness of this magazine is that it’s a national magazine out of Alberta. We’re going into relatively uncharted water, which puts another level of rigour onto what we’re doing. We know we have to make it that much better for readers in Toronto or Vancouver to pick it up and to keep on reading.
M: Any stories or issues you’re particularly proud of?
M: Why are you leaving for Canadian Geographic?
Rubinstein: It was a tough decision to make. I do really believe in Unlimited and the potential the magazine holds. My goal was to help make it the best magazine in Canada. It’s got a long way to go but it’s started really well.
But Canadian Geographic is a magazine I’ve admired and loved for a long time. The focus and subject matter is something I’m really passionate about: Environment, nature, animals, culture and history—these are areas I love exploring in a literary way. It’s an opportunity to work with a really talented team of editors. I know I can learn and grow as an editor and at the same time, hopefully help inject something that the magazine needs and help re-invigorate it to some degree. I can help provide the perspective from the West and I've also lived in the Maritimes so I think I know Canada pretty wel.
And on a personal level, all my family is in Toronto and all my wife’s [freelancer Lisa Gregoire] family is in the Maritimes, so this is an opportunity for us to be a lot closer to them.