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.


  1. I got all excited when I got to the bit about Runner’s World, as I used to work on the UK version and still know a few people there. Shame it’s the US bunch instead.

    But they’re a good choice to prove your point. RW staff are expected to live the magazine’s ethos (running is good for you, anyone can do it, etc) - one reason I left was that I wasn’t really interested in the semi-compulsory lunchtime training sessions. As you say, the staff on men’s and women’s mags aren’t always quite such perfect representations of their brands.

  2. Dylan Jones, Alexandra Schulman, the Editor of Grazia - in today's Independent media section we're told these editors embody their brands, and that all good editors should do this.

    I've no doubt. But if you're not a natural Dylan Jones, what should you do?

    Is this actually a load of bollocks?

    I ask as an editor who hates the very thought of being a media tart.

  3. Well, everybody *says* they do it.
    As for the "media tart" problem, well, lie back and enjoy it. My eldest daughter works on a magazine where one of their little traditions is to answer a little question every week on the staff block. She rang me and said "how shall I describe what you do for a living?" So I told her. Few days later her younger sister texted me and said "What's a hack?"

  4. Anonymous7:01 pm

    Ah! I saw said question and answer (cough, it was my girlfriend's copy, ahem), and seeing her surname and her father's job description I did wonder whether there was a link.

    Heaven help us if they make computer programmers like me appear on video...


  5. Anonymous7:29 pm the latest Collings and Herrin podcast it was revealed that some unkind commenter had said that Andrew has a great face for radio and a good voice for mime! Pretty harsh I thought.

  6. The loaded vid is the saddest most hairy palmed thing I've seen in long while

  7. Anonymous8:49 pm

    I suspect the RW team are cunningly employing the 'boy-band' principle: ie, the young pretty band prance around in the foreground.

    And hidden in the background on the keyboards doing all the work is the fat bearded middle-aged producer/manager - doning a 'Boy' baseball cap in a futile attempt to blend-in.

    Also, it's reassuring the know that Loaded is as facile and unreadable as it ever was - even now that it's apparantly edited by Superhands from Peep Show.

    And I think there's definitely a horror movie to be made with some Jason/Freddie type bumping off the WASP interns from Seventeen magazine one by one, perhaps wearing a Bill Clinton mask.

    I do remember two young beautiful hipsters who once fronted Whistle Test back in the 80's. Now that was how to do it.

    Whatever happened to them ...?

  8. Heh, me too! Swoon...

    That Loaded piece of patheticness is a great reminder of how low mens' magazines have become. Whither the great days of the magazine when it had a double-sided poster with a hot chick on one side and Harry Hill astride a giant badger on the other? I also find it fascinating that when someone from The Sun is interviewed, Rebekah Wade never appears, but instead one of her 'minions'.

  9. It's a ver god video piece but profreeding the credits might have spotted the 'Retaurant'.

  10. I'm starting to loathe magazine web videos. Every time I set up a photo shoot with someone (I'm a mag art director) the web bods piggy back on to it and send a video crew along to interview the subject at the same time. Then I get a call from the photographer the next day saying "the shoot went great but I could have done without the video people getting in the way"

    Were all the interns in that Jessica Alba video grown in the same laboratory?