How to start a magazine – The Sunday Fringe at WORD Christchurch

The Sunday Fringe at the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival was at one of my favourite new Christchurch places – Space Academy / Kadett Cafe in St Asaph Street. It’s just such a pleasant space to be in – great hot drinks, yummy food, AND an exhibition of The Smiths posters.

I was keen to go to this session, being a magazine lover from way back – raised on Twinkle, Tammy, and Misty comics, then Mizz, Q, Select, NME, British Vogue … Also, the library has just launched a magazine uncover – huraina.

The panellists on How to start a mag are eminently qualified to talk MAGAZINES: Debbie Stoller’s mag-baby is BUST (up to issue 100), Luke Wood (Cheap Thrills), and Duncan Greive from online mag The Spinoff (via Real Groove). The session was ably chaired by RDU’s breakfast host James Dann.

How to start a magazine
How to start a magazine. Flickr 2016-08-28-IMG_5856

In the world of magazines, the tension between quality content and business/advertising/the Web is massive:

  • Don’t sell your soul to the advertisers. Magazines can become deformed by demands of the advertiser and fat with ad pages.
  • The culture and the capital are never going to be compatible.
  • How on earth do magazines make money?
  • How do you sell magazines when there are fewer bookshops and less people buying mags?
  • Why would people buy content they can get free on the web?
  • NZ Herald and Stuff are both trying to be gossip sites, magazines, and provide serious news. The broken economic model dictates incoherence.
  • A world without intelligent discourse gets you Trump and Brexit.
Duncan Greive at How to start a magazine
Duncan Greive. Flickr 2016-08-28-IMG_5852

Who wants to advertise to smart, funny feminists? Turns out – no-one.

Debbie Stoller at How to start a magazine
Debbie Stoller. Flickr 2016-08-28-IMG_5850

So why make a magazine when it’s all against you? The big driver is PASSION. As Luke Wood said:

As a designer I guess I do fetishize the object. Somehow when it is in print, it is more archived. I believe in the content that we’re publishing.

And the experience of reading a magazine is different to consuming “weird snackable crap” on the internet. Debbie Stoller said:

It’s the quality of the time that you spend with it. It’s a more quiet focused time – it sticks in your memory more.

Luke Wood at How to start a magazine
Luke Wood. Flickr 2016-08-28-IMG_5853

I can’t finish with mentioning this rather splendid quote from James:

Magazines smell really good; the Internet doesn’t.

Agreed.

WORD Christchurch

Photos from How to start a magazine

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