CATCHING UP WITH JASON: Before you even see the founder and publisher of DuJour magazine, Jason Binn, you’ve likely heard his voice.
This story first appeared in the June 13, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Booming and loud, his words tumble out, vigorously at an uneven clip, leaving fragmented thoughts and sometimes unfinished sentences. That quirk, combined with his seemingly endless energy, habit of casual name-dropping of his plethora of rich and powerful acquaintances and his references to his personal Instagram account, which is stocked with guileless selfies with celebrities, and it’s easy to dismiss the publisher as a mere party guy.
Over time, it becomes apparent that there’s more to Binn, as those incomplete thoughts are slowly pieced together to form a larger narrative. It begins with Binn’s talent to connect with just about anyone — all to serve the cause of his magazine.
Two big news breaks — he sometimes dips into reporting — in which Binn got disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Don Sterling on the record admitting he wished he paid off his ex-girlfriend, as well as Dennis Rodman talking about North Korea, got him media attention as well as a spot on CNN with Wolf Blitzer talking about his scoops. Both drove traffic to DuJour’s Web site, which is as integral to Binn’s project as the quarterly glossy magazine.
While Binn is still seen by many as the hustling never-stop-selling-ads founder of Niche Media — which he built to encompass Hamptons, Ocean Drive, Gotham and more by shamelessly focusing on wealthy local residents eager to see their photos in the magazines — he long ago sold that and reinvented himself as a hustling never-stop-selling-ads digital maven by linking up with Kevin Ryan, founder of Gilt Groupe, first as an adviser and then by getting Ryan and Gilt to invest in DuJour. That took care of the online part of DuJour and gave it an immediate readership since the magazine goes to Gilt’s top two million clients. Binn next lined up James Cohen of Hudson News, now part of Dufry (of which Cohen is the largest individual shareholder), giving him a newsstand presence, albeit a limited one. Issues sell for $7 a copy, “Newsstand is more for our image,” Binn said.
DuJour predates the launch of other e-commerce/digitally spawned magazines by the likes of Net a Porter. Gilt sends more than 2 million emails to a targeted audience with a link to dujour.com, making DuJour’s ads shoppable.
“Everything in the magazine is shoppable,” he emphasized, “even the fashion spreads.”
DuJour said its quarterly group package ad rates, which include print and digital, total $65,000 a page net. It is also in the process of an audit by BPA for the distribution of the 250,000 print and two million digital circulation. “Newsstand is more for our image,” Binn said, offering: “I’d like to print more but 50 percent of our overhead is from printing and production.”
His ability to become a connector has lured in talent like Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, who shot DuJour’s latest cover of Sylvester Stallone, as well as Patrick Demarchelier, among others. And costs aside, when asked if all the digital advertising and fancy shoppable technology detracts from the editorial objectivity of the magazine, Binn quickly underscored the importance of reporting. “Our editorial team [led by editor in chief Nicole Vecchiarelli] is big and growing. It’s 30 to 40 people,” he said, flipping through the spring 2013 issue, featuring a profile on Kim Kardashian. “Everything’s got layers.”
Looking at the black-and-white spread, which depicted a Gauguin-esque Kardashian — shot by Bruce Weber — Binn stopped at the profile on the reality star, who has become a friend. (Binn was at Kardashian’s wedding to Kanye West, and he even snapped a few selfies with Kris Jenner in a plane to the wedding in Paris from Florence).
“It’s got a bite to it,” Binn insisted, thumbing through the Kardashian profile to the next feature.
“It’s like a mini-Madoff story,” he said, sounding rather editorlike, before pausing. “Whoever thought I’d go back into magazines. I never thought I’d go back into print.”