Editor in Chief ofCURVED, Hamburg
We’re like a speedboat.
At the age of 12, Felix Disselhoff already knew: “I’m going to be a journalist.” Following stints at several national publications, he’s spent the past two and a half years as Editor in Chief of CURVED at SinnerSchrader Content. He’s not only concerned with gadgets but also with the well-being of his team and with new formats.
How did you get into journalism?
First I studied media and cultural sciences in Düsseldorf and then journalism at the Hamburg Media School. Early on I did internships and freelance work on the side, such as shooting videos for Axel Springer Digital TV. After graduating, I wrote for various sections of national publications such as stern.de, Zeit Online and Spiegel Online. But technology and gadgets are my real love. I think it’s fantastic to try new technologies before everyone else and write about them.
We want to make our employees successful. We see where their talents lie and how they develop.Felix Disselhoff,Editor in Chief of CURVED
How has the job of a journalist changed over the past 10 years?
When I started, the economic crisis were leading first to an advertising crisis and then to a media crisis. It quickly became clear that the old business wasn’t working anymore. Publishers can no longer sell ad pages for € 100,000 because you can advertise much more cheaply and efficiently on the Internet. But the publishers were making hardly any money online back then.
So was it the wrong career choice?
No, because a virtue was made out of necessity. The cost-cutting led to a lot of creativity. Established publishers are trying a lot of new things as they search for new target groups, such as Spiegel Online with Bento, or the Zeit publishing house with Zett. This desire to reinvent oneself keeps the job exciting.
- Felix Disselhoff
- Job Title
- Editor in Chief of CURVED, Hamburg
- Journalism degree, stern.de, Zeit Online, Spiegel Online
- Fun Fact
- Wants to compete in the Ironman next year. Fingers crossed!
How does CURVED fit into this picture?
Very well. CURVED is a result of the media upheaval. Our editorial team isn’t tied to a publisher but to a digital agency, so we’re a real media start-up.
Which topics do you cover?
When we started, Germany didn’t have tech portals such as The Verge or Mashable, we had Computer Bild for beginners and the Heise Verlag, which addresses a very tech-savvy target group. But while a lot of people are interested in technology, benchmarks and data sheets aren’t the most important things to them. They want to know what they can do with the new technology. We call this target group Generation Touch. And this is the segment we occupied.
SinnerSchrader is an expert when it comes to establishing and running platforms, and that’s exactly what CURVED was at first – a website to be filled with content.Felix Disselhoff, Editor in Chief of CURVED
What was it like when CURVED started?
Everything was new, and even the idea behind it hadn’t existed before. SinnerSchrader is an expert when it comes to establishing and running platforms, and that’s exactly what CURVED was at first – a website to be filled with content. A publishing arm was founded for CURVED: SinnerSchrader Content GmbH. In the early days, there were 2 editors and 20 developers, with agency director Matthias Schrader in the middle. Gradually the editorial team was expanded to include journalists, social media experts, picture editors, and a video team. Now there are around 15 people working on the project in Hamburg.
How does your daily work differ from other editorial teams?
We’re a media start-up with a lot of data and tech expertise – that distinguishes us from publishers or content agencies, and it gives us the opportunity to try many more things and completely rethink content. The same applies to narrative formats, our imagery, and our types of videos, as well as to the platforms on which we place our content. We serve all channels, so we can see which content works best where.
The times are gone when one person stood at the front, dictated the rhythm, and said how things had to go. With the right team, this isn’t necessary.
Is there a formula for successful stories?
Unfortunately media products don’t work that way. You gain new experience every day – namely by trying things out. Otherwise you’d only ever have best-selling books, top-rated TV programs – and every article we write would go through the roof. We see what our readers like, analyse the traffic, and use this information to create what we hope is an interesting mix. But just like every other editorial team, it’s a challenge every day. Our success has proven us right – CURVED has more than 3 million visitors every month.
Where do you get the ideas for the mix?
Mostly from competent colleagues, all of whom are very interested in technology and see more opportunities than hurdles in the digital future. We use tools to analyse which subjects are currently working well on the web, be it Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, or Snapchat. And our success isn’t just expressed in positive figures. We’ve earned a good reputation in the sector, so we often get exclusive stories. And we produce the best visual and film material in our segment.
How do you view your role?
My understanding of the role of an editor in chief fits perfectly with the philosophy of SinnerSchrader. It’s mainly about managing the team and creating an environment in which everyone can do the best possible job. The times are gone when one person stood at the front, dictated the rhythm, and said how things had to go. With the right team, this isn’t necessary. We want to make our employees successful. We see where their talents lie and how they develop. This is a long-term strategy – and it pays off for every one of our projects.
Looking ahead, what do you see?
Media face the challenge of remaining recognisable as content originators. The media are all to be in the very individual streams of users. They compete with news from friends and other brands. You have to respond more quickly. And I’m in just the right place, because this is exactly what SinnerSchrader can do. The agency is fast and agile. We’re like a speedboat in the media business. We feel every wave, but we’re more nimble.
What happens when there are no more gadget stories to tell?
This is a strategic question about what the media canon of SinnerSchrader should look like. We’ve made a start with CURVED and we’re still gaining experience. But who knows – the agency has clients who might also be interested in content. One thing is certain: we could handle it.
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