A thoroughly Modern Magazine

White Light MD Eric Campbell attended magCulture’s fourth annual festival of the modern magazine at Central St Martin’s, London recently. Here are his 36 takeaways.

From Kirsten Algera, Editor-in-chief, MacGuffin

1. Make sure your cover stars are wearing pants

Kirsten Algera from MacGuffin magazine shares this insight with us from the recommendation of their Asian distributor. If you want to sell mags in Asia, make sure no pubic hair is on display.

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From Christoph Amend, Editor-in-chief, ZEIT Magazin

2. Claudia Schiffer gives it everything

Zeit Magazin commissioned 40 portraits of Claudia Schiffer for 40 different covers for their 40th anniversary issue. They spent a weekend with the supermodel, shooting her in various costumes tied into the fashion of the past 40 years.

3. The cover is now a journalistic form

Christoph Amend, Editor-in-chief, ZEIT Magazin says that in this modern era of publishing, the cover often IS the story. 

4. Christoph Nieman is a boss!

The talented illustrator has a phenomenal creative vision that graces the pages of two of the biggest magazines featured at the conference –  New York Times Magazine and Zeit Magazin.

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From Terri White, Editor, Empire

5. CINEMA LIVES ON

The boom of on-demand TV channels producing their own content hasn't impacted on cinema attendance. Both cinema and on-demand streaming audiences are up.

6. DON'T ASK, DON'T GET

Empire asked Ryan Reynolds to do a monologue to camera in his Deadpool character, as a joint promotion for the upcoming film and the themed issue of the magazine. The result was a bespoke piece of video content, scripted and filmed by Empire and shared through Ryan Reynolds' own facebook and youtube channels giving the magazine a much bigger reach than it would otherwise have had. All for FREE.

7. PODCASTS WORK

A podcast is a relatively straightforward but effective and intimate way of talking to your audience according to Terri White. But be consistent with your publishing schedule. People HATE a late podcast.

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From the Ladybeard team

8. SMALL AND MIGHTY

Ladybeard is championing the small publisher corner but is looking to pack a mighty punch with the subject and tone of its content.

9. BOLD COVERS CAUSE RED FACES ON THE TRAIN

Issue one of Ladybeard (the sex issue) featured a picture of a dildo on the cover. It was a bold, unapologetic image used to generate discussion. However, it was not a discussion that founder, Kitty Drake's mother was willing to enter into as she read it behind a newspaper on the train.

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From Jack Self, Editor, Real Review

10. TIMELY AND TIMELESS

Jack Self of Real Review has a solid design brief for the magazine: Make it look timely and timeless.

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From Rebecca Nicholson, Editor-in-chief, Vice UK

11. MAGAZINES NEED TO STAY TRUE TO THEIR ROOTS

Rebecca Nicholson says not to change your editorial style online because you think your reader will devour clickbait stories. Keep your 3,000 word feature as it is. If it's good, people will read it. They do on Vice.

12. RESPECT YOUR AUDIENCE

They follow you and read your content because they like what you do. Don't treat them as fools. Vice's young audience are probably the most marketed to demographic there has ever been. As founder Shane Smith says, "they can smell bullshit a mile off."

13. LOOK FOR THE ALTERNATIVE POINT OF VIEW

Don't jump on a news story and report the same viewpoint as other outlets. Take a new look at it. Do something different. Vice took a somewhat leftfield approach to reporting on the giant mouse-eating spider recently.

14. COLLABORATE

Pooling resources to achieve something bigger than you could have done separately makes absolute sense. Vice created the feature-length documentary Chemsex, which was so popular it spawned a new stream of content based around the topic of how drug-taking and sex are interlinked in the gay community.

15. NEVER BE NARROW

Your readership is inevitably affected by the diversity of your editorial team. Rebecca learned from her time at G2 that having a balanced team will reap the rewards of having a multitude of different viewpoints.

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From Paul Gorman, Journalist, currently writing Legacy: The Story of The Face

16. DON'T RILE JASON DONOVAN

He sued The Face for libel in 1992 and was awarded £200,000 which led its founder Nick Logan to launch the 'Love sees no colour' campaign to which writers and artists gave their work to the magazine for free.

17. THE ROBBIE WILLIAMS DEATH KNELL

The mega pop star's appearance on the cover of The Face proved to be the beginning of the end of the magazine as he was seen as being too mainstream for their more trendy readership.

18. WALLPAPER. NO THANKS

Nick Logan turned down Tyler Brûlé's offer to buy Wallpaper magazine, which is believed to have been the closest in editorial style to The Face at that time.

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From Kai von Rabenau, Editor/publisher, mono.kultur

19. MONO-KULTUR. MULTI-FORMATTED

The design and format of each issue of mono.kultur is dependent on the chosen designer of the issue. Publisher, Kai von Rabenau is the man that selects both the interviewee and designer for each issue.

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From Penny Martin, Editor-in-chief, The Gentlewoman

20. JENNIFER

The name of the woman that The Gentlewoman said would never appear in the magazine when it launched. They were referring to Anniston, Lopez, Lawrence – the big-name stars that were gracing every women's magazine title at that time, but had very little to say.

21. BANQUETTE

The Gentlewoman will not write a feature off the back of a junket. The editorial has to be relevant and the stars are not allowed to hawk their latest product or film.

22. SEXY

The word 'Sexy' is banned from The Gentlewoman.

23. SHARED IMAGERY

The Gentlewoman once shared a fashion shoot with the Sunday Times Magazine. They looked completely different, showing that context can play a major part when you use imagery.

24. NOT YOUR AVERAGE GENTLEMAN'S CLUB

The Gentlewoman Club launched off the back of massive reader interaction. It now has around 28,000 members.

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From Tony Rushton, Ex-art director, Private Eye

25. PRIVATE EYE SELLS 230,000 COPIES EVERY FORTNIGHT

A phenomenal figure that is still rising as other magazine circulations fall.

26. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR MATERIAL?

The more embarrassing a government is, the more material they have to use. Times are very good just now.

27. ALMOST SUNK

A High Court jury awarded Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe's wife, Sonia, £600,000 damages against Private Eye in 1989. This was reduced to £60,000 on appeal, but if it had stood at the higher sum, the magazine would have gone under.

28. THE PRIVATE EYE LOGO WAS DESIGNED BY TYPOGRAPHER AND DESIGNER MATTHEW CARTER

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From Seb Emina, Editor-in-chief, Happy Reader

29. READING HABITS

The Happy Reader gives an insight into its interviewees by publishing their reading list at the end of the interview

30. MINING FOR GOLD

The second half of the Happy Reader reviews a classic from the Penguin archive. Editor Seb Emina compares it to 'fracking classic literature for feature ideas.'

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From Gail Bichler, Design director, The New York Times Magazine

31. NEW YORK DESIGN

The New York Times Magazine takes advantage of its non-newsstand format by using images and design techniques that you wouldn't normally get away with.

32. 'THAT' COVER

The one with Hillary Clinton in 2014 almost broke the internet

33. COVERING ALL ANGLES

The lengths that the team at The New York Times Magazine go to in order to realise a concept is phenomenal. Just one example from the Donald Trump helium balloon cover here

34. DONALD TRUMP

The final photo selection used on the Donald Trump confetti cover was not popular with the man himself. The magazine had to stay neutral and not show him being celebrated over Hillary Clinton, so the unusual angle with confetti obscuring his eyes was chosen. There was no Photoshopping done to the image. If there had been, it would have to carry a photo illustration credit, which would blow the integrity of the shot and the impartiality of the magazine.

35. NYT VR

The New York Times took a big step into new media when it launched its NYT Virtual Reality (NYT VR) initiative in 2015. Ironically, the early success was down to the paper using its print legacy to send out the cardboard headsets to all of its subscription readers to try it out. Without that audience they would have had to start from scratch.

36. SPECIAL ISSUE

The New York Times Magazine launched a special, 800 Feet issue with all the editorial rotated 90 degrees and using the tall format of the magazine to showcase the volume of regeneration work being done on the Manhattan skyline. There was some amazing skyscraper photography commissioned and a special typeface was designed by Matt Willey to be used inside. Even the advertisers bought into the format and redesigned their creatives for this one-off.