Free copy can flow into a magazine through any of three sources—PR agencies, guest contributors or columnists, and, lately, bloggers on the Web site. In an age of tight budgets and editorial overload, any no-cost copy may seem like a godsend to editors, but there is often a hidden price to pay.
Articles by John Brady
In an age of marketing overload, readers want information that is processed, not just dropped into place. They want magazines that are edited, not written. Younger readers are especially interested in getting to the best, quickly.
When it comes to shaping the personality of your publication, reader opinion means everything. But how do you find out what your readers are thinking?
Does anyone here remember that wonderful year 1996, when Time magazine did a redesign that caused a reader revolt? Well, I remember it well.
A few seasons back, while doing research for a magazine story on the literary establishment in Boston, I hooked up a recorder to my phone line and called George V. Higgins. “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” I asked the late, great novelist.
Lately I have noticed a few trendy magazines using photos without captions (called cutlines in some offices). The reader is supposed to figure out who the people in the photo are and what they are doing—presumably by reading the story. I’m not sure it works that way.
In the beginning was the word. Advertising came later. Much later. But here we are in an era when editors are under more pressure than ever to bend, to accommodate advertisers, even at the cost of editorial erosion.
When used on the cover, numbers go beyond mere numerology; they become editorial quantifiers, limiting the range of individuals or items to a selective list. As quantifiers, they are numbers—only more so. Readers want to know who made the cut. Curiosity brings them into the magazine to see what’s going on here.
While the Web has been a godsend to those who deal with images, the Internet’s vast resources have also complicated many professional lives. “Here we are, in the final stages of producing our next issue, and once again many of the images we most want are available on the Web,” e-mails Cable Neuhaus, editorial director at Newsmax.
You can indeed teach an old magazine new tricks. Here's a list of examples to prove it. "If there were anything new in this business, we would have done it six months ago," a cynical old editor once told me. Still, I see new things in old magazines that you may want to consider in the New Year ahead.1. Rethinking the TOC.