EDCH 2017: The Gentlewoman, Delayed Gratification, and more

Posted by Grace Wang on Saturday, March 11 2017

Highlights from the second day of design conference Editorial Changes

Yesterday was another 9am to 9pm day jam packed with speakers at EDCH. German readers can find full coverage of the entire event on EDCH’s blog, but for everyone else, here are our highlights from the day. (You can also read about the five things we learned from yesterday’s talks.)


1. Why start a magazine on Slow Journalism?
Delayed Gratification | Rob Orchard

Delayed Gratification is a magazine that revisits the news three months after the dust has settled. It’s a leisurely, thoughtful look at the significant news and its long-lasting impact. Founder and editor Rob Orchard gave a talk about the decline of news media, and their reasons for starting the magazine. In 2011, 20 million people discussed the death of singer Amy Winehouse before the media got to it — Twitter and other forms of online communication were moving at a pace news media couldn’t keep up with. This, along with excess amounts of online space to fill, resulted in the rise of ‘churnalism’ — the generation of content and synthetic outrage as an easy way to get clicks. He showed the video below of BBC journalist Simon McCoy reporting from outside St Mary’s Hospital in London, awaiting the birth of Prince George with no facts to go by.

When resources are limited and there is so much space to fill, news media rely on PR. Mainstream media also pertains to a herd mentality — outlets all covering the same thing, at the same time, before collectively moving onto the next — which makes them value being first over being right. Aside from taking time and care to analyse the news, Delayed Gratification wants to revisit stories, adding in serendipity to fight against algorithms and echo chambers.

2. Making an arts and culture magazine in Istanbul
212 Magazine | Heval Okçuoğlu

Drawing from the Chinese phrase “may you live in interesting times,” 212 magazine is a large-format, photography-focused title from Turkey that wants to interrogate the time they’re living in through arts and culture. Editor-in-chief Heval Okçuoğlu explained the magazine as “schizophrenic”, not from the east nor the west, and the first biannual magazine to exist in the country.


They experience difficulties right from the start — contributors have security concerns due to the political situation, and independent publishing is under constant lock down. Bombings and pressure from the government (there are currently 155 journalists in prison in Turkey) also makes it hard to focus on a lifestyle magazine — “it puts you in an existential crisis” — but Heval says that they get off the horse, and just have to get back on it again. This, touchingly, elicited spontaneous applause from the audience.


3. How to make a music magazine
Rough Trade Magazine | Liv Siddall

Liv Siddall gave an informative talk on starting Rough Trade magazine, and we learned about her process from conception to the final design. First, she researched the field and realised that there were already so many great music magazines that she didn’t feel like she needed to add to the pile. Then, she drew from the magazines she liked (The Face, Private Eye, VIZ) and pinned down what she liked about them — the people are always smiling, and it looked like it was a lot of fun to make. After that, she tried to apply it to Rough Trade. This included defining what the store means: the door is always open, there’s a family vibe, irreverence, hangovers, and the staff. These aspects resulted in a magazine that didn’t try to speak specifically to a wider musical context, but a publication about the shops, what it’s like to be there, work there and be a part of it. She added that they never use press photos, but if they are given them by musicians’ PR, they cut them into collages to get the look they want.


4. How did The Gentlewoman make a niche magazine that’s as successful as it is?
The Gentlewoman | Penny Martin and Veronica Ditting, interviewed by Steven Watson

Now in its eighth year, The Gentlewoman is one of those independent magazines that has moved beyond just being a niche publication. Sofia Coppola seems to fittingly grace their latest cover, but as editor Penny Martin noted, they have been trying to get her since they started the magazine. “Everyone thinks that as your circulation grows, people trust you enough to be a part of the magazine,” she says, explaining that it still takes a lot to get someone to agree.


Though it might appear effortless, the magazine has, since its conception, worked hard to balance “dry” content with the more fun side of women’s interests. They wanted to move away from the “pornography” of women’s magazines, and inject humour, confidence and authority. Fashion is only a fifth of the publication, because it’s important to them that the people they feature appear as they are, and are “not made over like a stolen car” or wearing makeup or clothes they wouldn’t usually wear. In the case of Nicola Sturgeon, who appeared in the latest issue, her publicists were obviously concerned that she wasn’t seen “with a gigantic handbag”.

Similarly, the magazine’s design is always going through small tweaks. To the outside eye there didn’t seem to be a major redesign, but they uphold an anti-repetition ethos like their sister magazine Fantastic Man. For example, references of the images within the text has changed, with tiny image thumbnails added in. When their FM colleagues said they were going into neurotic detail, Penny answered: “They don’t know women.”

The magazine wilfully ignores industry standards — having older women (Angela Lansbury) and black and white photography on the cover; featuring women from Pamela Anderson to Robyn to Beyonce — because they don’t want to contribute to narrowing down the perception of what a ‘smart women’ is. They also avoid pitching to temporary debates, which is why they don’t feature straightforward feminist writing, though the magazine as a whole comes from a strong feminist agenda. “It’s a given without talking about it; the feminist perspective is assumed,” art director Veronica Ditting says.

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