Magazine editor ins and outs

The Magazine Editor is one of the most visible and public of the media professions.


Magazine editors are very involved with the writing and actual content of a magazine or other type of publication. Depending on the company they work for, some editors are more or less involved in writing, assigning stories and editing those stories. Magazine editors must be competent in all areas of journalism, and many begin their careers in media as journalists. Magazine editors are only as strong as their contacts. They need to have good relationships with many writers, journalists and photographers, whom they call upon when needed to complete assignments, etc.

Book editors and magazine editors do many of the same jobs, but there are some big differences. Magazines are dealing with current events and timely information on a continuing basis, while a book is a static piece which will remain the same once it is complete. Magazines are continually published and their content changes all the time. Magazine editors work on more stories but spend less time on each, and book editors work on many fewer publications but spend much longer working on each. In addition, magazine editors are often responsible for suggesting topics for publication and story ideas.

Stories and topics for magazines are either suggested by a writer, developed by the editor, or a combination of both, usually in an editorial meeting, where ideas are shared and developed by the editorial staff team. Group meetings allow people to share ideas and bounce around opinions to help create a finished piece. Newspapers work on daily deadlines, magazines usually work on weekly deadlines, and books take their own time, so the schedules of an editor depends on the format and media that they are working in. Breaking news and current events play a big part in news and magazine publishing, but less so for books.

Magazine Publishing

Magazine publishing and the newer use of digital properties, is a huge, growing market which caters to the needs of readers seeking information on every imaginable subject. Magazine publishing at its most basic is the process of production and dissemination of literature, music, technical data and anything else that one can conceivably share with others. In some cases, authors may be their own publishers, meaning: originators and developers of content who also provide the media required to deliver and display the content for the same. In other cases, authors just create content, leaving the publishing, marketing and distribution to one or more specialists in their fields.

Magazines can be divided into two main types – consumer (retail) magazines and trade magazines or publications. Consumer magazines typically deal with consumer products and services such as titles related to health, food, travel, fashion, cinema, music, gadgets, technology, etc. Trade publications usually cater to a specific industry, a niche market which consists mainly of professional readers specific to a particular trade.

Magazine publishing, whether digital or print, include many types of jobs, including both creative and technical positions. Both formats share some similar requirements, but there are also specialties specific to either print or digital environments. Editorial positions are the ones that come to mind first, and their job descriptions are very similar. The actual manufacture of a print publication is obviously completely different and much more cost and labor intensive than a digital product.

The magazine publishing business certainly faces some strong challenges as it transitions from print-only to print and digital, or in some cases digital-only formats. The competition is building and changing as technology evolves and new player join the game and others fail and fade away. A strategy focused on leveraging core strengths can help publishers to mitigate weakness and lessen any impact that new technological developments have on their core business. Some large, multi-brand publishers will do this well, organizing their magazines around core messages and audiences. Some will do it poorly and less profitably.

A key segment that must be addressed and strengthened is that of advertising revenue. There are now many more exciting ways to engage and keep readers, and they key is for publishers to work with advertisers to create ad campaigns that use the strengths and features of digital technology to engage new readers and keep current ones. Publishers need advertisers to survive, and vice-versa.