Leah Moss is the Jill Behind JACK
She may appear an ingenue but print’s newest darling, JACK Detroit editor and publisher Leah Moss, evokes the tenacity of the New Yorker’s Tina Brown and gumption of Washington Post heroine Katherine Graham. The 23-year-old MSU grad is gearing up for the third installment of her new men’s lifestyle publication and, in the spirit of collegial detente, granted RT an audience.
RT: How did a young upstart find the capital to launch a new publication?
LM: I funded the first issue through two platforms: Startup capital came from donations placed via Kickstarter.com and Hebrew Free Loan’s new division for small businesses.
RT: Why “Jack” over, say, Greg or Bobby?
LM: Jack has his Jill. Greg and Bobby are single, last I heard.
RT: A men’s magazine is a curious choice of audience for a 23-year-old woman; what led you to make that decision?
LM: When I decided to start a local magazine, I had to think strategically about what the Metro Detroit market needed. The void to be filled wasn’t for young women, but rather for men. Journalism shouldn’t be for the journalists but rather for the consumers that will enjoy it and appreciate the content.
RT: How has the reception been?
LM: I’m happy to say people have really loved the magazine. I get calls from our distribution points that they’re already out of copies and want more, and I’ve had people tell me it’s the first magazine they’ve read cover to cover. When people can’t put the product down, it serves as the highest compliment an editor could receive.
RT: You look 19 (it’ll be more of a compliment in a few years); has it been a challenge to be taken seriously as editor and publisher?
LM: It’s been about 50-50. Half the people I meet are just blown away by my age and accomplishments, and are inspired by my story — and recognize I’m a young person trying to help our city. That said, there have been plenty of people who view my age as an easy way to discount my credibility. I do my best to ignore that, focus on the positive, and realize that I’ll appreciate it when I’m 40 but look 28.
RT: Hacked into anyone’s voicemail for a scoop?
LM: I haven’t but can’t make any guarantees about my freelancers. There’s a reason they’re all 1099s — just kidding … kind of.
RT: What’s one thing you’ve discovered about men that you didn’t know before you launched?
LM: The stereotype goes that men aren’t willing to ask for help or ask for advice. I always took that to be true, until the launch of Jack Detroit. I’ve had so many men say “thank you” for providing an entertaining source of relevant and helpful information that they weren’t getting otherwise. In a roundabout sort of way, it’s clear they didn’t want to ask for help but are glad to have it, now that it’s here.