Wednesday, 21 September 2011

For readers with brains

I don't know if I said already that I'm studying an MSc in Publishing at Napier University. Well today (after a lot of confusion and delay) we had an exercise to make up our own magazine, thinking about the design, target audience, price, subject, tagline and title etc. I really liked the one our group came up with - it was called Real, and we never agreed on a tagline - my suggestion of "for women with brains" was deemed a bit too brutal. It was aimed at professional/career women in their 20s to 30s, and it was an anti women's-magazine magazine (i.e. against the mindless fashion obsession that most women's magazines focus on). It was about being happy with who you are, not about being aspirational. Somebody suggested that there was a gap in the market for younger women who want to read magazines that have substance, like Psychologies, but feel that those magazines are aimed at older women. To be honest, I would love to make this magazine a reality. We had all sorts of great ideas about what should go in it, such as having a policy of only using 'real' women who aren't airbrushed as the models, perhaps even using the readers (although we'd have to have some first). I suggested having articles on charity-shop fashion and upcycling, thrifty ways of making things unique, although that is a vested interest of mine, so of course I would suggest that. I don't know how appealing that would be to the general public. Other great suggestions were having a hard-hitting analysis of the news and current affairs, articles on new technologies, which are normally presumed to only interest men, articles aimed at addressing the culture of self-hatred that women's magazines engender, such as an article on enjoying your own company as well as relationship advice, a culture review section on the latest films, books, tv programmes and music, and an advice page with detailed response to letters. Overall, we wanted this magazine to have in-depth articles and features - we don't want it to be just another brainless fashion promotion. We thought about having adverts from affordable high-street shops like H&M, New Look and Zara. I don't know how ethical Zara is, however, and somebody suggested Primark too which I suppose might be inevitable, although I wouldn't be happy with that. If this was my magazine I think I would like to focus it on being ethical. The trouble is I don't know how many women would be interested in that. Anyway, we also thought it might be a good idea to have Lush advertise in it, as their cosmetics have such an emphasis placed on being 'real', organic, homemade, fresh and good for you. We came across a little problem with the adverts, though - would you have a policy that they couldn't be photoshopped either? Could companies deal with that? Pretty much everything is done in photoshop now, even if it's not airbrushing. That could be problematic.

I've just had the idea that you could do something similar to the thing they do in the innocent smoothies emails, where they include links to funny websites and weird videos. Pointing out websites like cakewrecks could be quite fun, and a good way of getting people to use the magazine's forums and extra video content it would have online. I'm actually amazingly excited about this magazine and quite put out that it's not going to become a reality.

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