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When All Else Fails, He Writes About It

Jason Zasky may be one of the few people who smile in the face of failure. (He's the editor of Failure Magazine.)
Jason Zasky may be one of the few people who smile in the face of failure. (He's the editor of Failure Magazine.) (Jason Zasky)

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jason Zasky co-founded Failure Magazine 8 1/2 years ago, when the United States was riding high on tech-boom success. The country's a bit different today, but the magazine is as focused as ever on failures and missteps in every avenue of life -- from business to history to science to sports. (His latest article is on the "spectacular failure" of the Detroit Lions' ousted general manager.) Zasky, 38, lives in New York, where he writes for and edits the online magazine at http://www.failuremag.com.

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-- Dan Zak

Most magazines devote themselves to the best-dressed celebrities, the most competitive athletes, the biggest-earning companies. So the topic of failure corners a very specific market.

At the same time, failure is a very broad subject. It also is constantly intertwined with success. I think most of our stories are not very obvious. Failure is in the eye of the beholder a lot of the times. That may be the case with this election coming up.

What's a good example of the type of story you do well?

There was a golfer named Moe Norman. He was a Canadian golfer, and we billed him as "the greatest golfer the world's never known." He was this unbelievable golfer, but he was kind of like the Rain Man of golf. Because of some challenges he'd had personally, he never lived up to expectations and never made it on the PGA Tour. That's a good example of a story you'd hardly ever hear of that also had two sides. Here was this fantastic golfer -- one of the best ever -- but as a commercial entity he was a failure.

I assume the economic and political climates have provided good fodder for the magazine.

The failures of the past eight years, with the Bush administration and Republican leadership -- at times that's aided traffic to our site. People are doing a lot more failure-related Web searches. The first time I really noticed it was with the response to Hurricane Katrina. In some ways, the failures of the past eight years have helped. We're probably one of the few entities where that's the case.

What's the biggest failure ever?

When we first launched the magazine, we did the Failure of the Millenniums. It was Charles the Hammer and the Battle of Tours [a 732 A.D. conflict wherein the Frankish empire stopped Muslim advances into Europe, which perhaps delayed mankind's progress in math and science, according to Zasky]. And every year we do a Failure of the Year. If we want to relate this to politics: In 2004 our failure was "the American voter" for reelecting Bush and being fooled twice. In 95 percent of the content there is no angle, so to speak. We're very neutral, but this was one of the few exceptions.

What are your plans for Failure?

We'll relaunch the site in the near future. I guess I'd like to see a big media partner provide us with more support. And I'd like to host a "failure week" on the History Channel.


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