Sunday, December 7, 2008

Overeditors Anonymous

Anyone on the editorial side of publishing knows that his or her work is going to be tweaked multiple times—whether it's to whittle down the word count, clarify a point or make the text fit the magazine's overall tone. But Ed wants to know: At what point does the revising become too much?

Recently, Ed was chatting with a junior-editor friend about how manuscripts are circulated between the senior editors at his magazine. “I write a page and it makes the usual rounds,” he says. “Then I make all the corrections and send it around again. After three go-rounds, it’s supposed to be final, but sometimes my supervisors will make additional changes without telling me. Is that okay?” Ed had to think long and hard before responding because the answer (while seemingly obvious) isn’t really clear-cut.

In an ideal scenario, yes, the junior editor should be advised of any changes made to his/her writing before it goes to print. For one thing, his or her name may be attached to it. Secondly, how else is the neophyte supposed to learn exactly what was wrong with the original copy? Sure, a lot can be learned from careful observation, but no one’s a mind reader!

At the same time, the magazine world moves at an ├╝ber-fast pace. Even the most nurturing senior editors don’t always have time to explain their notes to newbies, most of whom are expected to learn on-the-fly.

What do you think? If a junior editor writes something and feels the end product bears absolutely no resemblance to what was initially submitted, should he or she speak up or just accept that it's part of the learning process? And if a senior editor rewrites the piece, is he or she obligated to go over the revisions or even give the whippersnapper a head's up that the manuscript was changed?

Share your thoughts!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Maybe it's Time for Law School?

Last Friday, Ed got some bad news. His beloved CosmoGirl is following in the footsteps of Teen People and ELLEgirl, R.I.P.

Many insiders believe teen mags are unable to sustain their reader base because most teens want to read Cosmo, not its younger sister, and turn to cheap weeklies like Us Weekly or People for their celeb fix. News reports about ad pages flooded Ed's screen, but all he could think about were his friends at the mag trying to pay rent or health insurance bills for the next few months.

Breaking into the industry is notoriously tough, but is this more evidence that print is getting closer to its last breath? Even CG founder Atoosa Rubenstein spoke out about the industry's dire situation: “I don’t think it’s the death of the girl, but the death of the magazine, and certainly the sign of the times” she told WWD.

Everything's been hit by the recession economy and ad pages are no exception. Thousands are getting laid off in every industry. Ed's other friends think the mag world is here to stay--albeit in a different form. Ed has been brushing up on his HTML, but can't field a lingering doubt that maybe his parents are right and it's time to give up that pesky childhood dream of writing for a living? Ed hates to say it, but is it time for whipping out those dusty law school applications?

What do you think? Will it be tougher for college grads to get jobs in May than ever before? Are Seventeen and Teen Vogue next? Ed wants to hear your thoughts!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Toe the Line

In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, what's the deal with...coverlines?

Isn’t it strange that that popular womens’ magazine coverline—“Walk off the weight”— is often shown alongside teases like “Scrumptious ice cream cakes” that have tons of calories a serving? And, what’s with lines that claim to “Save your life with this health test” or “Spice up your sex life with 5 easy moves”? Ed’s asking: Are misleading coverlines ethical?

Well, in their Code of Ethics, the Society of Professional Journalists says that journalists should “make certain that headlines … do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.”

Think about all the times you’ve read a coverline that totally enticed you (“Organize your closet in 5 minutes!”) and later, you opened the magazine to find three short, unhelpful tips? You feel duped and let down, right? Your magazine’s audience feels the same way. Too many false promises, and their trust in you will start to wane.

Don’t get Ed wrong—he knows that coverlines are a big part of selling magazines. He understands that they are meant to be entertaining and are a simplification of the stories inside. But couldn’t they be a little more…well…truthful? Ed’s sure we can all still write clever, persuasive, authoritative lines. Those brainstorming meetings might just last a little longer now. :)

What’s your take on the coverline issue? Thoughts?


Monday, October 6, 2008


Lately, as the economy's been tanking (gulp) and Ed's been having to count out his pennies in order to cover a venti skinny latte (vanilla, please!) he's been racking his brain for some creative ways to rake in the cash.

Obviously, there's bartending, and more than a few of Ed's mag friends leave the office on Fridays to head to shift #2. There's also babysitting, dog walking, cat sitting, personal training . . . all part time jobs Ed's friends have held while trying to climb the magazine ladder.

Finally, there's writing. Some of Ed's ultra-word driven pals spend their evenings and weekends furiously typing out query letters, essays, articles, and even books in order to rake in enough dough to cover their New York lifestyle. After all, a shiny $2 a word assignment at a magazine can really help pad a bank account. While most of these get the A-OK and well wishes from their boss, some of these staffers also fly under the the radar—using fake names or dropping bylines—because of rules prohibiting freelancing at their current mag.

Ed believes that honesty is the best policy, and talking over your goals and writing with your editor is the best way to get what you want, both in your writing life and in your work life. What do you think, Edsters? Do you have rules prohibiting freelancing? And what have you done about it?

xo, Ed

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Decreasing Ad Pages Means Increasing Ad-Driven Content

Ed has a serious love/hate relationship with advertisements. Love: ads make it possible for magazines to exist. Hate: ads pay for space, which enables magazines to exist. So Ed started wondering if those producing the editorial content “owe” something to those paying the big bucks for ads. In an ideal world with unfaltering journalistic integrity the answer would be no, but sometimes it seems that ads have more say in editorial content than we’d like. Don’t get Ed wrong, he has high journalistic morals and knows you do as well, but has seen how ads can affect editorial content.

Ed’s heard from his friends how ads can drive editorial content – sometimes in a subtle way, sometimes is a major way. For example, one of Ed’s friends was recently told that a certain brand had to be included in a list of travel accommodations for a feature, and another friend who works in digital was told that coverage of a certain person had to be taken off the homepage during an advertiser’s presence – yikes, this all sounds pretty editorially invasive to Ed. Furthermore, do editors even have a say or choice in the matter?

So with ads sometimes (hopefully a very small percentage of the time!) affecting editorial content, Ed’s wondering if this will only increase with the current state of dwindling ad pages. All media hounds are talking about these days are the lack of ad pages and thinner issues, which Ed thinks might pump up ad-driven content. What do you think – have you experienced ads creeping into editorial content, do you think the sparse amount of ad pages will affect this even more, and can editors say no to this pressure? Seriously, Ed wants to know what you think.

– Ed

Saturday, September 27, 2008

To Pay or Not to Pay

Babies. From Angelina Jolie to Clay Aiken, it seems that everyone's having them these days. Call it Hollywood's hottest trend. Unfortunately, celebrity weeklies are eating it up. It's become the norm for magazines to pay millions for pictures of Hollywood's elite little tikes. So Ed got to thinking: Why are the pictures so desirable? And is it justifiable for mags to pay that much -- or at all?

Ed's come to a few conclusions of his own. First, celebrity babies in the U.S. are held in the same esteem as royalty in other countries. Ed's envisioning those moments when a European princess comes to the top of a large staircase and shows her child to the press for the first time. (A similar incident occurred in America involving Michael Jackson and a balcony, but it wasn't as well-received.) Let's face it: Whether we agree or disagree, there is a demand for these pictures. After all, magazine covers featuring a celebrity and their child sell better than most other covers. Ed's not defending celebrity weeklies; he's just putting the facts out there.

Secondly, Ed decided that maybe more of the fault lies with the celebrities themselves. Not only are they allowing a magazine to pay for a picture of their child, they're also in some cases pocketing the cash. (Like they need it, right?) Ed has to give credit to Angelina and Brad for at least donating the money to charity. And Halle Berry showed what she's made of when she refused to be pictured with her baby girl, Nahla.

But as always, Ed will let you draw conclusions of your own. What do you think of the celebrity baby craze? Are celebrities exploiting their children? And more importantly, has the issue harmed the public's perception of magazines?


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Does the political race equate a media race?

Is it just Ed, or is the media getting more and more attention-and slack-as the race for the new president-and ratings-gets closer-and more heated? Though Ed would like it to first be known that he’s non-partisan, he can’t help but notice the scrutiny being placed on news networks, such as Fox 29, for being what many are calling biased. Between news segments, talk shows, articles, YouTube videos, and endless blogs, it seems everyone has something to say about “what’s being said” about this year’s presidential candidates and issues.

Now, Ed knows it’s not terribly uncommon for media outlets and members of the press themselves to be placed under the microscope during such significant events, especially when covering differing political views and many controversial topics, but perhaps with the announcement of John McCain’s VP pick, many are questioning more than ever before whether the face of the media- and America- might be changing.

Between recent articles like “Sarah Palin’s Family Drama” in People and “John McCain’s Vice President Sarah Palin: Babies, Lies & Scandal” in Us Weekly, daily water polls addressing Palin’s readiness to become VP despite her daughter Bristol’s teen pregnancy, news of Lindsay Lohan’s politically-based blogs (come on!), and now constant coverage of the so-called “lipstick incident,” which recently served as the main source of entertainment for one of Ed’s fellow bus riders and her friends via BlackBerry, it seems no one is safe-and the media is left to blame.

One huge example of this is the recent boycott Oprah is facing from talk show viewers and magazine readers upset that she won’t have Palin on her show, which has now lead to countless posts on her website and even magazine subscription cancellations.

What do you think of the recent 2008 Election coverage? Do you think that the media has a responsibility to report on any, and all, facts pertaining to a political candidate and their families or does a certain type of so-called tabloid-like coverage in a race to get the story first actually serve to minimize a network or publication’s credibility by addressing scandals at the cost of the often deemed real issues at hand?

Or is it that the media is simply getting a bum rap in a new age where the blogosphere and the ability to self-broadcast have taken the center stage resulting in news (subject to interpretation) spreading faster than ever before? Tell Ed what you think here!