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Monday, June 23, 2008

What magazine editors should consider before they appear on video

In the near future magazine editors will be hired as much for their ability to "front the brand" as to decide what goes on page 60. Now that cheap video has come together with cheap broadband a few of them have been tempted to go in front of the camera. It's not as easy as it looks. How come?

10. In young people's magazines the editor is generally old enough to be the readers' mother. Seventeen is America's leading teenage girls magazine. Most of the team who pop up here in this hectic tip-athon are in their mid-twenties. I'm guessing the editor-in-chief is a bit older.

9. If you let daylight in on magic, well, you can see just what arm-twisting, log-rolling and bogus sincerity is involved in getting a celebrity as earth-girdling in her fame as Jessica Alba to do anything. Here she meets the hundreds of interns at Seventeen magazine. And my, aren't they a wonderful reflection of the diversity of America?

8. Although women's glossies promote messages about being comfortable in one's own skin and finding one's own personal look most of their editors refuse to appear in front of the camera. This is because they are consumed with uncertainty about their personal appearance that borders on self-loathing. If you find an editor's video message from the big glossies I want to see it.

7. The youngest and blondest member of the editorial team will always find themselves charged with the job of fronting the video. I've no doubt Valerie Jamieson is more than qualified to introduce New Scientist's round up of science clips but if Tomorrow's World ever comes back, they won't see her for moondust.

6. At Word magazine we take the belt and braces approach by having the new issue clip fronted by anyone who could be described as either young or blonde.Rob Fitzpatrick and Kate Mossman go where neither Mark Ellen nor I will tread without a makeover. Note high quality production values, achieved through Fraser's camera phone. Which is a reminder...

5. Anything that has an opening titles sequence featuring tumbling logos over copyright-free music means that the production company is trying to do something to justify all that money you're paying them through your nose.

4. There's nothing in media quite so nauseating as a hack telling us how fabulous it was to meet a fabulous person. Peter Castro of People reporting back on his encounter with Jennifer Lopez's twins is a classic of the genre. It also proves that if you hire a TV pro to front your video all it will achieve is to make your hack look even geekier.

3. Men's magazine editors should never appear on a camera because they always look as if they're getting less sex than the readers. Somebody should tell the editor of Loaded. Just have done.

2. Confidence is a great thing. Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair is the perfect representation of his brand. He looks like an educated man dedicated to gossip who has had a fair number of lunches in the pursuit of said gossip. His little intros to the new issue of Vanity Fair are further distinguished by the appearance of the Vanity Fair Orchestra.

1. But really, this is how you do it. Runners World magazine celebrate their industry award with a clever, watchable, funny self-administered pat on the back. It's fronted by an editor who has not been hit by the ugly stick and features all of the team, young, blonde and otherwise. For the moment this is the gold standard.