61 Digizine editor Jamie Ceaser: The future is CD-ROM! INTERVIEW

Today’s Guest: Jamie Ceaser, editor of Digizine.

Originally Published September 16, 1996

Jamie Ceaser will either be on the cutting edge or the cutting room floor of new media. As managing editor of Digizine, one of a wave of magazines on CD-ROM showing up on newsstands, she faces an uphill battle in making the technology work and in gaining acceptance among tech-frazzled consumers.

“We’re a little above the learning curve in getting people familiar with CD-ROM,” she says. “It’s kind of like working in an art gallery on television.”

Digizine covers movies, music, books and technology. What makes a CD-ROM magazine different from a paper magazine is that when you read about an upcoming movie such as Last Man Standing in Entertainment Weekly, you can’t see the actual trailer. On Digizine, you can.

“CD-ROM opens up your mind,” according to Ceaser, who previously worked as a producer for a Chicago public television station. “You can go in so many different directions with this, whereas in television you have to think from one edit to the next. This provides the viewer with an exciting way to look at something. It demands you be active, not passive.”

It’s a new interactive frontier, with navigational challenges and graphic innoventions. Sometimes it’s clever, such as connecting the CD-ROM disc with the World Wide Web via your Internet browser. Intrigued by the Abuse-a-tron? Two clicks of a mouse takes you to its Web site.

Sometimes it’s daft, such as the “Wheel O Mama!” which offers reassuring audio clips such as, “That’s okay, honey. I’ll bet one of the Power Rangers is a bed-wetter, too.”

One of the challenges facing Digizine — standing out in a sea of new magazines — should be easy for such a graphics intensive media. Although its screen graphics are clever and bright, the cover art — well, it sucks. Issue No. 2 is easy enough to describe: It’s red.

Another problem: Newsstands don’t know what to do with it. Anything with “Digi” in the title winds up with the computer geek zines, even at magazine-savvy stores such as Barnes & Noble, which is where Mr. Media discovered it.

“Why was it in the computer section?” Ceaser wonders. “Maybe because it’s a CD-ROM, they think it must be about computers.”

It is, but only peripherally. Mostly, Digizine covers pop culture. If you enjoy Bikini, Wired or Might — all stylistic magazines with quality editorial content — Digizine might be worth a spin.

If you have the patience for mastering the subtle navigational controls, Digizine promises 10 hours of entertainment on every $9.95 Macintosh/Windows-compatible disc.

“Until you see it,” Ceaser says, “people just don’t have a clue.”

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