Thursday, October 30, 2008

Those of you reading this blog on Masthead are surely aware that the magazine and its website are closing. The loss of the website is a big one for the industry and the Canadian magazine community; please let me know if you have any ideas on attempting to fill the void.

But rest assured that this blog will live on in its original home, Bookmark it, subscribe to the RSS feeds or sign up for email updates, whatever works for you. I’ll still be writing.

Thanks to Marco Ursi at Masthead for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with Masthead readers and for promoting my blog to the community. I’ll still be sharing posts with them until they no longer have the resources to update them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thanks to Mark Bertils of index//mb for passing on a link to this (long and detailed) analysis of the creation of by Dan Hill, former director of web and broadcast at Monocle. Set aside some time and read through it – it’s really interesting and there’s a lot to learn.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My vision of this blog is to cover the entire magazine industry (although primarily in Canada) – that means trade, custom and consumer, on all topic areas. But my expertise is in consumer magazines, primarily for women (and, even more narrowly, primarily health-oriented), which means I miss out on a lot that’s going on outside of that sphere.

So please, if you know of a site you think I should visit, or an issue I’ve neglected to discuss, or even a great newsletter subject line that should be added to my list, let me know either by email (kat dot tancock at gmail dot com) or through the comments. I can’t find everything by myself, but with your help I can cover everything in this blog.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Threadless. iStockphoto. Wikipedia. Kiva. Google. What do these sites have in common? They all tap into the power of the masses, in a process journalist Jeff Howe termed crowdsourcing and originally wrote about in a 2006 article for Wired.

Howe has now come out with a book about the phenomenon, Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business. I just finished it and in my opinion, it’s essential reading for anyone who hopes to develop online communities or make use of user-generated content – two strategies that are top priorities these days for many magazines and their websites. On the one hand, it’s inspirational – Howe describes the path to success of the sites (or communities) mentioned above as well as others you may not have heard of, such as InnoCentive, an organization that provides crowdsourced R&D to companies such as Procter & Gamble. But the book is also a cautionary tale of how community-building can go wrong, especially when the primary motivation is profit. (Which isn’t to say making money can’t be a successful secondary goal.)

Howe also passes on a lot of useful information, such as the experience of Linda Parker, the online communities editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer. When discussing soliciting reader submissions, Howe writes:

“It used to read, ‘Be a Citizen Journalist,’” Parker says. “And no one ever clicked on it. Then we said, ‘Tell Us Your Story,’ and still nothing. For some reason, ‘Get Published’ were the magic words.”

I love this proof of the value of experimentation and how the smallest things can make a huge difference.

In short, you should buy the book and read it. Then please, let me know what you think.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I’ve always found it odd that in an industry where copy jobs are so often considered junior or entry-level – implying that you have to go through them to get to senior jobs – it’s more common than it should be for senior editors to have forgotten how to spell. Whether it’s laziness or haziness I’m not sure, but I’m beyond appreciative for the hard-working copy editors and fact checkers who make the magazines we read so readable.

This is one area where the web lags behind. We’re understaffed, and it’s a luxury for content to go past two pairs of eyes before it goes live. We can fix errors quickly, certainly (I love the “report typo” link on, but web copy rarely gets massaged to the degree that print copy does.

It’s a shame, but it’s a reality of our current industry. And this is why it’s so essential that web editors be copy editors, too. It reflects poorly on the magazine for the website to have badly edited content up. Ideally, it would all go through a copy editor. Realistically, the web editor has to perform both jobs.

I took copy editing at Ryerson from Bernadette Kuncevicius (it’s a wonderful class and she’s a wonderful teacher, you should take it too) and the most important lesson she taught us was that a copy editor’s job isn’t to know every rule by heart: it’s to question everything and look it up. At the very least, make sure your web editor has a copy of the dictionary and style guide so they can do so. Even better, if they need it, send them to a refresher course – your website will be all the better for it.

About Me
Kat Tancock
Kat Tancock is a freelance writer, editor and digital consultant based in Toronto. She has worked on the sites of major brands including Reader's Digest, Best Health, Canadian Living, Homemakers, Elle Canada and Style at Home and teaches the course Creating Website Editorial at Ryerson University.
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I'm there says:
breesir, to answer your question, the reason magazines don't have dedicated web editors is quite sim...
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