Reinvention: An Editor’s Hardest Job
Every magazine editor has a different task they deem the most difficult. Wrangling a messy narrative into shape. Budgeting. De-purpling a lede. Finding a photographer in Antarctica who will work for emojis.
None of these are the hardest things, though. The hardest thing to do in magazines is to come up with new ideas.
Not new story ideas. Not new headline treatments.
New organizing theories. New ways to open a section. New sections. New ways of thinking about what a magazine is and could be.
The magazine as a form has existed for hundreds of years and has been wildly successful. And some magazines have kept that same form for hundreds of years and been wildly successful. Why do we need to reinvent the wheel?
Because there’s value in creating unique products. And not only because, as creative professionals, we’re all special little snowflakes and we need to be seen as such, but because being unique has value to our readership. Your schools have a distinct ethos to them. Your alumni are makers, problem-solvers, healers, or aesthetes. You need to make a magazine with content and structure that speak to those things that make your institution what it is.
But, again, that’s the hardest part. The big ideas aren’t easy. But if you are sitting there thinking, “Great, but there are no new ideas left in magazine publishing—we’re all simply refining the past,” then we’d say, “You can’t smoke those clove cigarettes indoors, bub,” and then we’d have you take a look at this:
That’s right: A fashion magazine wholly reliant on illustration.
There are ideas, some smaller than this, that can make your magazine more distinctive. And we’d argue that they are worth the risk.