Publishing in the New World

Publishing in the New World

Our Experts and Insights blog series continues with a feature on publishing and media – areas that have seen rapid and fundamental change in recent years.

We were excited to interview veteran editor and journalist Gillian Handley for this piece.

Gillian has decades of publishing and media experience both as an editor and a writer. In 2016 she took up her most recent post as Editor of a new publication.

She spoke with us about the challenges facing the industry today, and shares tips for those looking to break into it.

How did you come to be Editor of Exploring Teens? 

The publisher, Mathea Viles, found my profile on LinkedIn. Mathea wanted to start a magazine that would provide useful advice for parents of teenagers.

She was an avid reader of Sydney’s Child when her children were younger, but she found there was no ‘how to’ publication for raising teens. She decided to start one herself, but she needed an editor…

How have you found the experience of working to build a print and digital publication from the ground up? 

It has been a fascinating experience, but a lot of hard work. Our team is very small, consisting of Mathea, the graphic designer (Mel) and I, so we each have to cover a lot of ground.

We are also working in an exceptionally difficult environment for new publications. The world of publishing has been turned upside down, and even the publishing giants are struggling to come up with a paying business model that works in today’s world of freely available online news and information.

One of the most fascinating aspects has been the setting of our editorial direction. Our aim is to provide evidence-based, relevant and authoritative information that will be of real value to parents of teens.

This means that we are constantly in contact with the most interesting people who are experts in their fields – which can cover anything from the cyberworld to family relationships.

You've worked in publishing and media for many years now, what are some of the ways you think the industry has changed? 

The media world is undergoing a revolution — one that will have major social repercussions and one that could affect the balance of power in society. (Looking at the recent US elections – it may already have done so!)

The biggest change is the shift from print to digital media — a shift that has changed the way we communicate with each other forever.

Today’s digital platforms provide opportunities for content creation and distribution on a scale unimaginable a few years ago. The sheer volume of information available becomes a challenge to the reader. Unlike traditional media, the internet has no editor, so online surfers are responsible for assessing the quality and veracity of their reading material themselves. Social media platforms like Facebook feed us with content based on our ‘likes’ so that our perspective narrows, and our reality becomes more and more circumscribed as we are exposed less and less to new or challenging ideas and points of view.

Perhaps, most worrying of all, is that as content is so freely available, readers are no longer willing to pay for quality journalism – including rigorous investigative journalism. A free and unbiased press has a critical role to play in a balanced and democratic society, and society should be willing to support it.

Unfortunately, advertisers do not see the value in traditional media, and have poured their dollars into online advertising. Readers are unwilling to pay for publications, so publishers who try to produce quality journalism have a real struggle on their hands.

Many people find it difficult to get their first break in publishing or journalism. What sorts of things can be done to get a start in the industry?

Most publishers/news organisations expect journalists to be multiskilled – able to write a report, and file video and sound clips, and publish on Facebook and Twitter (and other platforms) as well. They also want someone who can hit the ground running, so it is a good idea to try to gain experience with local and community radio, TV and newspapers.

Staying up to date with technology is important, so it helps to have expertise in computer coding and development, in audience development and user metrics (especially with regard to mobile and social media platforms.)

It can help to develop a specialist area – e.g. local politics; science reporting; business or finance (the financial press are in a relatively good position, as most of their readers are in the corporate world and are still willing to pay for subscriptions.)

Click here for more information about Exploring Teens.

Gillian will be happy to answer questions or connect with you here

 

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