By Nadine Tousignant for CNW
Launched in June 2015 by St. Joseph Media, Twelve Thirty Six quickly became Toronto’s go-to lunchtime tabloid. We spoke with Marc Weisblott, editor of 12:36 about the eclectic e-newsletter, his typical workday and where PR fits in the mix.
Follow the outlet @1236.
What has inspired you to start 12:36 and what is its mission?
The email newsletter idea emerged from a few thoughts, like: (a) getting beyond the dying era of clickbait journalism because many articles sourced online that are better told in a few sharp sentences; (b) producing a product which has a direct relationship with every reader instead of leaning on other people’s platforms; (c) serving readers in Toronto and beyond with a lunchtime tabloid that interprets the great chatty newspaper column style in the digital domain. From all of the above, Twelve Thirty Six operates as a media brand, which can also translate into other formats—but since we’re stuck with the name, it also means delivering at that minute.
How is social media useful to you?
Mostly, it’s not useful? But the occasional amazing discovery makes it the most compulsive part of the process of producing a uniquely unpredictable media piñata. Also, social media is still highly underrated as an outlet for the process of news production: sharing found items, seeing if anyone else has an observation to add about them, layering a different perspective upon whatever else is being talked about. Obviously, the Twitter account can bring new subscribers, but it’s not about trying to get a click, it’s a utility that feeds into the email. (And that includes floating half-thoughts or tangential links just to find out whether anyone out there cares.)
What does a typical day look like for you?
Producing the newsletter starts at 12:36 p.m. … the day before the next one. The afternoon of dipping in and out of assorted streams, overhearing virtual (and even participating in actual!) conversations, wandering around parts of Toronto: it all feeds into the following day. Plus, plenty of what’s newsworthy by the next morning is online by nighttime, so that requires noticing, too. Mornings start with checking out what other people are outraged about, or are trying to get on the agenda, and trying to think of a spin that will make those worthy of a place in the lineup. But since irreverence is paramount, it’s not like those news judgments are based on deep authoritative responsibility—short of ensuring that it all lives up to basic journalistic standards.