I think we were above average in terms of realism and preparedness in early March, but we still had to turn our ideas bucket upside down and give it a good bash.
Each time we looked at our works-in-progress, something else would jar.
A feature on the health benefits of holidays?
A whole magazine on visitor attractions that no one can visit?
Two people – from different households – hugging on the cover?
The potential scandal!
Lots to rethink and redo remotely. Creativity, good communication and responsiveness more essential than ever.
And now… what happens next?
2020 is the first year since 1987 that I haven’t been involved in magazines. Zilch. Nada.
I’ve worked on more than 50 magazines, as a writer, editor or publisher. I’ve written about football, booze, movies and newspapers. I’ve ghost-written ‘true stories’ for Take A Break, been interviewed by Radio 5 Live about moles feasting on Juicy Fruit gum, and had a warrant issued for my arrest by the Turkish Army. But mostly, I’ve worked on B2B mags.
I’m still busy writing and, if offered freelance magazine work, I’d snap it up. But for now, I’m enjoying reading other people’s magazines.
This year I taught most of my practice-based magazine module via Zoom. Students worked remotely and across time zones, pivoted editorial ideas and content to meet changing reader expectations. Like the industry, they collaborated, negotiated and upskilled to create four brilliant magazines.
Print may not be where my students live. Chances are they’ll go on to do amazing things in digital. But their magazines will always serve as a tangible marker of the work they put in to finish their degree. I’m glad they’ll have that hard copy reminder of a journey curated, edited, celebrated and completed by them.
A cheeky flick is a thing of the past.
In shops we’re encouraged not to pick up and then put back. It’s now socially unacceptable to flick though a magazine before we buy, we’ve got to make a purchasing decision before we peek inside that glossy on the shelf.
The cover, the magazine’s prime real estate, has increased in value. It’s now the only way to close a sale.
In a time of flick-less shopping we’ll need to rethink how we tell stories. Swapping tried and tested design tricks for new ways to build a deeper relationships with our readers.
As I rinsed the bleach out of my daughter’s hair, I noticed it had a more mustard hue than the icy blonde the box had promised. In that exact moment I realised I’d seriously misjudged the timing of this lockdown ‘project’. I spent the next hour on the phone losing myself in the memories of my 86-year-old French interviewee; my attention flitting between imagined coffees in the Mediterranean sunshine with ol’ Pablo Picasso and the *very real* frantic panic of my freshly bleached teenager throwing me death stares and notes saying, “HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FIX MY HAIR MUM??!!!”