The Magazine Diaries: 2020

About six years ago, I reached out to friends and colleagues in the magazine industry and asked what it felt like to be working in magazine publishing “in the middle of the biggest disruption in publishing history”.

The Coronavirus crisis is clearly now the biggest disruption in publishing history and I’m resurrecting The Magazine Diaries to chronicle how magazine people are coping with the chaos that this awful disease has unleashed… and support The Big Issue

How you can help

The first Magazine Diaries project became a lovely little A5 bookazine. This time round I’m keeping it digital, at least until we’re properly on the other side of lockdown. But the content will be exactly the same – 100-word posts written by magazine people about working in our industry during the pandemic.

I want you to write about: 

  • The frustrations or the joys of working from home 
  • Managing or working in remote teams
  • Falling retail sales or rising subscriptions
  • No face to face interviews
  • Changes in your relationship with your readers?
  • Stories that have gone away – restaurant and event reviews, travel, sport
  • New stories – health and wellness, technology, home schooling and cooking
  • The instant switch to digital
  • Your hopes or fears for the future

If you would like to contribute, and I’d LOVE for you to contribute, all I need you to do is write (exactly) 100 words… NO MORE… NO LESS.

To be fair, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Saying what you want in 100 words, especially about such a big topic, can be a challenge. Making everyone of those words sing is even tougher.

But you can do it. You’re a magazine maker.

Once you’ve written your 100 words, just email peter at magazinediaries dot com with your 100-word submission, your name, your job title and magazine/company and your Twitter account if you want to share it.

If you want some inspiration, have a look at what some of your favourite magazine people wrote last time: The Magazine Diaries 2014.

Helping the Big Issue

And here’s the best bit… by pitching in, you will be helping to raise awareness of The BIG ISSUE’s emergency subscription campaign.

With vendors kept off the street by the lockdown the Big Issue needs everyone who normally bought it when they were out and about to take a three month subscription. Every 100-word post on The Magazine Diaries: 2020 will link directly to The Big Issue Subscription page.

I really hope you’re interested in helping out. We raised £1,000 for charity last time and collected some amazing insight into how the wonderful people of the magazine industry were feeling.

This time could be even more powerful.

Any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me, and please share this page with any of your colleagues that you think might be interested to contribute.

Stay Safe


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Snowflake creatives

Sally Hampton
Consumer Magazines Publisher
DC Thomson


I guess I knew this already but lockdown has underlined just how resilient and innovative magazine people are.

When the threat of Covid-19 became obvious, these “snowflake” creatives calmly picked up their kit and began making their publications at home.

They also responded magnificently to the transformation of readers’ lives. I can’t put it any better than this unprompted comment from a reader, “They did a great job in tweaking content following lockdown – presumably at short notice – so it didn’t appear to come from a bygone age!”

A magazine is a friend who has your back – never more than now.

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Fall hard or fly

Paul McNamee
The Big Issue


When it happens, you fall hard or you fly. And boy, we flew! 

Covid gripped, The Big Issue was off the streets for the first time in 29 years. We had to help vendors and make sure we were to be around when it’s over.

We called out with subscriptions. Readers came. We went into shops (for the first time ever). Readers came. 

We built an App and we built a podcast. We fixed online. 

The public support moved us in majestic, glorious ways.

Like being on the back of a wild horse, it’s terrifying at times. Onwards, we ride!

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The Magazine Diaries makes it to Singapore

Magazine Diaries in Singapore

Jo Upcraft, Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Singapore, posted this picture to Instagram with this glowing review.

Just read @MagazineDiaries. Made me laugh, cry (a little bit), feel nostalgic for the past, hopeful for the future and more in love with the industry than ever. For anyone who’s been at it as long as I have, or has any passion for magazines and creativity, just order yours.

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An introduction to the Magazine Diaries

I stumbled across an old New Yorker cartoon a while back. The forever-missing Wally is sat alone at a bar in his trademark hat and stripes. Four or five drinks in, he complains, “Nobody ever asks how’s Wally?”.

That’s how I feel about working in magazines. Everyone is frantically searching for a sustainable future, endlessly debating where our industry is headed, how best to make money, how best to save money, what new platform will or won’t work. No one ever stops to ask anyone else how they feel about making magazines in the middle of the biggest disruption in publishing history. Continue reading →

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