At the Folio: Show in October I led a session called "The Art of Magazine Journalism." If our business is indeed an art, the state of it is hard to reckon. Newsstands today are dominated by magazines that would be laughable if publishers weren't laughing all the way to the bank.
Articles by John Brady
The DNA of editing is the word count. It is the basic tool for assigning stories, paying writers, overseeing layouts and making numerous editorial decisions along the way. In a fast-moving, creatively charged environment, word count gives an editor control. Let us count the ways.
A cover strategy begins with the decision on which of three cover approaches to use: journalistic, conceptual or generic. Journalistic covers are informative and direct. What you see is what you get. If Angela Hoofer is on the cover of Blacksmith Monthly, for example, we are doing a cover story about Angela inside.
A sidebar, according to my Encarta World English Dictionary, is "a short news story containing supplementary information that is printed alongside a featured story." The term is also used in Web design, where sidebars provide information through quick links to other parts of the site, or links to related materials on other sites.
Repositioning means change. Change is hard. Yet, when a magazine finds itself going stale, in a struggle for advertising, circulation or market share, it may be time to develop a repo strategy.
Dear Reader: Remember when you used to jump into the pool then call out, "Come on in, the water's fine!" Same thing with the editor's page. You have been swimming around in these editorial waters for a long time, and now you want readers to join you. Hey, leap in, the writing's fine.
I can remember when a magazine design was good for five to seven years. Some publishers liked to extend that even further. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," was the standard attitude. Not today.
Sometimes I think that George Orwell had it about right when he said that journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations. I was reminded of this when a publisher recently asked me to critique a b-to-b publication that she sensed was starting to soften editorially.
Editors usually position a book for longtime readers who are veterans in the field. I call this audience the inner circle. These are the readers an editor knows best because the demo is based upon research and a reader profile in the media kit.