Derek Slater

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If winning Neal awards is any indication, taking risks has paid off big for CSO, a magazine for security executives published by IDG's CXO Media division. The publication won awards for best single issue for its May 2005 edition and best single article for that same issue's 8,000-word feature about online extortion, the longest piece CSO has ever run.

To Editor in Chief Derek Slater's surprise, the extortion story is as popular online as it was in print. "Conventional wisdom says the Web is all about short chunks of content," he said. "But this gigantic, 8,000-word feature is far and away our most-read Web content."

Narrative pieces, in-depth examination and highly visual presentation are critical to CSO's success, Slater said. One recent graphics-driven piece, for example, analyzed the ruins of a Bronze Age Irish fort to offer lessons for today's Information Age. "You've got to provide analysis," he said. "You can't just report and regurgitate."

The magazine's December 2004 issue is another example of how CSO isn't the typical trade magazine. The "Image Issue" explored the role of appearances in security and encouraged readers to make over their look and skills. Looking to consumer magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Men's Health for inspiration, the issue's coverlines touted a leadership quiz, an executive "blind date" and hot metrics to "drive the board wild."

Though some readers didn't like the issue, Slater said he'd do it again in a heartbeat. "It wasn't on a lark," he said. "It was trying to find a way to shift people's thinking about how important image really is. ... You have to say 'yes' to intelligent risk-taking."-M.E.M.

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