Atoosa Rubenstein Just Keeping It Real for 'Her Girls'

MediaWorks Q&A: 'I Want to Be a Vessel for Change'

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NEW YORK ( -- Atoosa Rubenstein, the woman who launched CosmoGirl!, is walking away from magazines to start her own web venture, consult and write a book. She talked to MediaWorks about her decision to leave Hearst's Seventeen magazine at the end of this year, how she plans to take her relationship with "her girls" to the next level and how print can keep its place in readers' lives.
Atoosa Rubenstein: 'Frankly, I've been multiplatform all my life.'
Atoosa Rubenstein: 'Frankly, I've been multiplatform all my life.'

MediaWorks: How and why did you make the decision to quit?

Atoosa Rubenstein: What's always been most important to me is my relationship with my girls. For me, it was really very much about that: I got my contract and then I had to have that same kind of honest dialogue with myself that I encourage my girls to have.

I've been at Hearst since I graduated college and am so grateful for the opportunities here. But I've also built a really strong relationship with my girls. I want to have an unfiltered dialogue with them through books, digital, speaking engagements. I feel ready right now to take my audience to new and exciting places. They understand that just because I'm not at Seventeen doesn't mean I'm not in their lives. It sounds corny but it's just taking our relationship to a new level.

This started when I got my MySpace page. I didn't understand it at the time. I became addicted to it -- I don't mean in a creepy way -- but I can hear from them what they're feeling in the moment and throw it right back to them. It is such a visceral conversation.

I see myself as a vessel for change. I want to be that in my readers' lives, or I should say, in my audience's lives.

MediaWorks: You wrote on your MySpace page that you want to get in closer touch with your audience than you were at Seventeen. So is there still a place for print in teens' lives?

Ms. Rubenstein: Seventeen is proof positive that if you have the right editorial mix and have the right vision, you can be a successful magazine. When I came to Seventeen in 2003, we were selling about 80,000 copies less than we are today on the newsstand.

The point is there's definitely room for print -- you just gotta be on the ball. There will always be a role for print; the role may change.

You can't just be a pile of newsy papers because any news that is printed on a paper is old news today. It's a matter of how you use your pages most effectively.

At Seventeen, our second-half numbers are particularly good, which is interesting because everybody else's are particularly bad.

We've been using our cover as currency. Our November cover has Teddy Geiger on it; you can take that cover to a Teddy Geiger concert and it gets you to a meet and greet with Teddy. Our December cover gets you a free Paris Hilton fragrance. January gets you free shorts from American Apparel and an advance screening of "Dream Girls."

This is a printed product but not in the way that it's traditionally been done. Thinking along those lines has been part of our success at Seventeen.

I love to have fun, trying new things. I love, as you can tell, jumping out a window and finding a way to parachute down. Frankly, I've been multiplatform all my life.

MediaWorks: What exactly are your plans for a digital business?

Ms. Rubenstein: Right now my MySpace site is where I am. I take my commitment to [Hearst President] Cathie Black really seriously. I don't want to be here but doing other things.

There will definitely a book. Definitely I'll do speaking engagements. Definitely I'll be working on digital. And the creation of a think tank. I would love to help other businesses service these girls better.

I'm not talking about just teenagers. I'm talking about young women. That 15-year-old when I started CosmoGirl! is still in my world, whether it's in MySpace or my MTV show or my syndicated column now.

There are a lot of opportunities on the table. People are coming out of the woodwork.
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