Friday, 6 August 2010

Job Roles within the Magazine Industry


An editor is the top position in the magazine industry. They are responsible for setting goals, developing a vision, and assembling the staff that will carry it out. The ultimate success of failure of the publication rests on their shoulders. The pressure is felt by many to be a challenge. Editors thrive on making their magazines the best they can be.

Everything from the look of the magazine to the quality of its articles to the placement of advertisements is approved by the Editor. He or she has final say as to what is included in each issue and why. The cover artwork or photo, as well as the lead articles, can have tremendous impact on sales. Editors are savvy about the business of publishing as well as the actual writing, and they use this expertise to advance their magazines.

Tremendous responsibility rests on the shoulders of Editors. While other senior staff can pass off controversy, the buck stops here. Any lapse in judgment by reporters, editors, photographers, or other staff members ultimately comes down to Executive Editors. They are held accountable for complaints, grievances, or lawsuits related to copy. They must be experienced leaders as well as journalists to handle these situations with finesse.

Furthermore, the Editor is the face of the magazine in the community. It is his or her role to represent the magazine in public and to reach out to the community at large. Editors must enjoy and thrive in this public role.

To become an Editor you would need to have a degree in journalism or English and up to 10 – 20 years of magazine/newspaper journalistic experience. You also need; Excellent writing, reporting, and editing skills; sound news judgment; good leadership and managerial skills; savvy business sense; flexibility and ability to work well under pressure.

Art Director

Magazine journalism offers a wide range of positions. In addition to writers and editors, there are other creative professionals that contribute their talents to produce a quality publication. One of these professionals is the Art Director.

The look of a magazine has much to do with the image it projects to readers. Before they even have the opportunity to open it up and scan the contents, consumers see a magazine cover and make a quick judgment as to what it is all about. Together with the editorial staff, the Art Director leads the artistic team to create a product that will meet its goals and be a success. They strive to create a format that is eye-catching, appealing, and targeted to the magazine’s market.

For each issue of a magazine, the writing is only part of the picture. In order for readers to connect with the contents and articles, the design, illustrations, and photographs play a crucial role. Art Directors are responsible for the overall look of each issue. They oversee every page to make sure the layout is flawless. It is their artistic sense and creative vision that determines the structure of the pages.

As managing editors and executive editors determine the editorial direction, Art Directors guide the artistic direction for their magazine. Their realm includes the art, photography, and design departments where they supervise all staff. This staff can be comprised of full-time art editors and directors, photo editors and directors, designers, and freelancers.

For each story that comes in, the creative team gets to work. Art Directors assign illustrations and photography to appropriate staff members and freelancers, determining who would be the right artist for each piece. Working together with these professionals, they decide how the art should be approached and what the final copy should look like. Along the way, Art Directors may approve sketches, check in, and oversee the work process.

Once the artwork and photographs are complete, Art Directors and their teams begin the layout process. In order to create a story, they must interpose art with words in a way that makes the copy clear and readable. The art serves to enhance the words and draw the reader in. Most of this work is done via computer, and Art Directors and their teams are experts on these systems.

To become an Art Director you may need to have a degree in art or graphic design, however a portfolio is more important that formal education. You would also need at least five – seven years experience in art or design for a magazine. You also need; Creativity; good artistic sense; strong management and organizational skills; knowledge of graphic design and related computer programs; understanding of magazine journalism.

Picture Editor

Picture editors find images for a wide range of media products including books, magazines, newspapers, television, multimedia and internet websites.

They work mainly with publishing, design, advertising, film, TV and video industries. Other employers include picture agencies, picture libraries, art galleries or museums. Picture editors may also work freelance.

The picture editor is briefed on the image needed, the format, the target audience and the budget available. Tasks then include:

§ finding the appropriate image (mainly sourced from on-line image banks or using established picture libraries and archives);

§ liaising with the client ;

§ dealing with licensing and copyright restrictions;

§ negotiating the terms and conditions of the contract and the fee;

§ keeping records, storing images and undertaking necessary administration;

§ using IT skills to edit and manipulate images and navigating online search facilities;

§ commissioning photographers to provide new images.

Picture editors need to be creative and methodical with excellent IT skills.

To become a picture editor you may need a career in photography since it is important to have working knowledge of the practice. However, it is more important to have experience than anything else is. The best way to get started as a picture editor is to work your way up through the ranks of a magazine or newspaper. This usually starts with an internship as an editorial assistant. After finding work as a paid editorial assistant, expect to move through the ranks as an assistant picture editor before you have earned the title of picture editor.

Features Editor

A magazine features editor ensures that their publication is full of entertaining, informative and newsworthy articles.

Most opportunities are in large publishing companies that produce a wide range of titles. However, features editors are also employed by trade magazines, specialist publishers, online media and in-house magazines.

The responsibilities of the role can include: generating ideas for features, commissioning work by freelance writers, editing and proofreading, managing writing staff and liaising with artists and photographers.

Magazine features editors do not always need specialist knowledge of the subject they cover, unless the content is highly technical, although an interest in the subject is usually expected.

The role will vary according to the size of the publication and the nature of its content, but responsibilities will typically include:

§ overseeing the layout, appearance and content of feature articles;

§ generating ideas for features with writing staff;

§ commissioning articles from freelance and in-house writers;

§ managing writing staff and freelance feature writers;

§ editing and re-writing articles, some of which may be rejected or returned to the writer for revision;

§ overseeing artwork, design and photography for the features section of the magazine;

§ attending photo-shoots;

§ organising meetings with writers and artists to discuss ideas for artwork, layout and features;

§ negotiating payments with freelance writers;

§ dealing with legal matters;

§ selecting feature articles for each issue;

§ sending out briefs to writers which can include word count, deadline, fee and writing style;

§ proofreading all pages before going to press;

§ raising the profile of the magazine;

§ networking with others at industry events;

§ assisting other staff to meet their deadlines.

To become a features editor you could have a degree in Journalism, however having a degree in something else like Art or Geography would give you more of a specialism to write about. You would also need; creativity, persistence, confidence, the ability to take constructive criticism, management skills, the ability to multi-task, attention to detail, decisiveness, organisation skills and excellent writing skills.


Magazine Photographers capture the visual effects that accompany the articles in their publications. Whether shooting high fashion models, victims of torture, war-ravaged landscapes, natural wonders, or simply ordinary people, they are responsible for the photo shoots that bring these stories to life. They use their artistic vision to tell the story behind the words and give readers more information to interpret the articles’ meanings.

Unlike newspaper photographers, who often complete several assignments in one day, magazine Photographers often work on broader deadlines. Since magazines often are published weekly or monthly, Photographers usually complete one or two assignments per issue. Sometimes Photographers will go on location for magazine photo shoots. This may be to an exotic tropical locale or to a small town where the interview subject for the article lives. Other times, photos are taken in a studio near the magazine’s offices.

Photographers run the photo shoots from start to finish. This can include scouting locations, deciding what equipment to use, and hiring models. Furthermore, subjects for photographs must sign releases that they agree to have their pictures used in a magazine. Photographers may obtain these signed releases, sometimes working with the subjects to feel comfortable with the process.

Once the photos are taken, Photographers process the film. This process is often performed digitally, using computer disks. Photographers may send the images digitally back to the studio or magazine headquarters from on location if necessary. They work with picture editors to edit and make decisions about which shots will work best with the stories.

Without the pressure of breaking news, magazine Photographers can often focus more on the art of their photography. Setting the scene for a shoot is very important. When photographing people, it is important for Photographers develop good rapport with their subjects. The ability to put people at ease comes into play as Photographers build relationships and enable people to open up. Photographers also make use of lighting, exposure, shadows, and other features to convey the right mood for the shoot.

To become a magazine photographer you could have a degree in art, photography or photojournalism. You also would need to have training in photography. Like how to use a darkroom, use cameras and use editing software. You should also be creative, artistic, with a good eye.

Staff Writer

For many people who choose to pursue a magazine journalism career, their ultimate goal is to write. They may be skilled editors, but their true passion is to see their byline under a story that they developed and brought to fruition in their own style. For this reason, Staff Writer is often a coveted magazine job.

Staff Writers contribute specific content for each issue of their magazine. They may be responsible for writing certain sections found in every issue, as well as covering new stories and features each month. Sometimes they are assigned articles developed by senior, managing, or executive editors. However, they are also expected to contribute their own story ideas and pitch them regularly.

For Staff Writers, the creative process is exciting. It is one thing to have a good idea, but another thing altogether to conceptualize how to bring this idea to life. For each story they initiate, they have a vision about what it will achieve in print. They plan out how it will meet the goals of the magazine and serve its readers. As Staff Writers get ready to pitch their ideas, they conduct background research and develop outlines that will guide their brainstorms into finished projects. This is how they sell their ideas to the editorial staff.

Furthermore, Staff Writers must be creative not only when they generate their own story ideas but also when they work on assignment. If an editor assigns a story, Staff Writers need to determine how to make the most of it and make it their own. However, they also need to work with that editor to make sure his or her vision and goals for the story will be met as well.

In order to get story ideas, Staff Writers constantly must have their fingers on the pulse of the genre or industry covered by their magazine. Whether their area is fashion, travel, or politics, Staff Writers scour the media to find out about new developments. They read competing publications to see what topics are covered and with what angle, log onto numerous Web sites daily, read newspapers, and watch related television programs. Furthermore, they extend themselves, speaking to people who are knowledgeable about new trends and happenings that will be of interest to their readers. This helps Staff Writers build up a crucial network of contacts for stories.

For each of their pieces, whether they are feature articles, cover stories, or brief reviews, Staff Writers work diligently to write and rewrite. They must decide how to handle each story, always considering who the target audience is, what it will cover, and how it will meet the needs of their readers. Staff Writers must know the art of reporting and how tell a story in a way that is interesting.

It is important for Staff Writers to understand various genres of writing and develop their own styles. Style is partially dictated by the publication, but it is also up to the writer to put his or her own stamp on it. Some writers are known to write in a narrative form, while others develop informative lists, essays, investigative pieces, columns, or profiles. Staff Writers strive to develop ideas and text that will engage and appeal to their readers. Additionally, the layout plays a role in determining the style of each story. Staff Writers may also work with designers to organize artwork and text into a format that fits the tone.

To become a staff writer you may need a degree in English or Journalism. You should also be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines, and also be focused and flexible.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Amy - your research is well-written and thorough. You need to include some Primary Research however into the job vacancies listed.