I hadn’t even thought about how many different departments of magazine publishing existed, says University of Lincoln third-year journalism student, Talie Colbourne, who has been on placement at Mortons Media.
I started off my university education thinking I knew I wanted to work in magazines, even looking at courses that specifically focused on magazine journalism. At the end of a year of knock-backs and lower than my average grades in every single print story I wrote, I decided to focus my efforts where my strengths seemed to lie – in television, social media and online.
An industry that I had spent months investigating, and being an avid reader of, suddenly seemed too far out of my reach and it was easier to admit defeat and change my goal than persist. When the opportunity to apply for a placement with Mortons came up, I decided to try my hand in the real world of magazine journalism – even better when the application included analysing their social media strategies.
On the first day I was given a tour of Mortons’ printing press (something which has always fascinated me and made my mum extremely jealous!) before being shown around the offices, which were larger than I could have ever imagined. During my time at Mortons I am spending a couple of days with each department, allowing me to gain an insight into everything that goes into getting each publication on the shelves or to a subscriber’s doorstep.
While with the digital team, I was able to write descriptions for the magazines which included key terms that a search engine would pick up; create images to promote some publications’ Instagram accounts using Photoshop (a personal favourite); and dig through the archives of The Railway Magazine to find stories to republish from throughout the 20th century (which secretly fascinated me, thanks for that nerd trait dad).
I started my third day helping film online video content for Kitchen Garden; filming is something I have always enjoyed and regularly find myself watching video content, it was therefore interesting to see first-hand what goes into creating that content (and learn how to use another camera!). It’s arguable nowadays that social media and online is integral to helping boost readership and create a platform for readers to engage in real time, so I have really enjoyed being able to see how magazines which have been established for so long, some as early as the end of the 19th century, are embracing newer technologies.
Once back in the office, Steve explained everything he does to me; it’s obvious that an Editor is going to have a lot to do but the organisation involved to decide what is going to go in each issue and in what order, for example, really satisfied my love of organisation (really exposing myself as a nerd here).
I was then invited to sub-edit some stories for the next issue of Kitchen Garden, which meant my favourite job, proof-reading (definite nerd alert). Being able to read and edit stories which had been submitted by professional journalists and will eventually be published in a professionally produced magazine was very exciting. I also learnt how to format the stories, complying with a new style guide and making sure that all of the images were correctly labelled to ensure they are easily found by the designers and nothing gets mixed up.
I haven’t even brushed the surface of everything I’ve done at Mortons so far: I was allowed to sit in on a meeting to decide on the cover of a magazine that is actually going to make it to a supermarket shelf; I’ve written online stories from press releases; and been given an insight into the analysis of sales in comparison to the previous year. I’ve done so much and it’s only been four days – with many more to come working with design, circulation, advertising and marketing.
Our lecturers have always taught us that work experience is more important than anything else in the journalism industry and I now couldn’t agree more. Sitting in a university newsroom, we’ve been taught about stereotypical reporting, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a journalist. Experiencing it first hand, there are so many things that go on behind the scenes to pull together a magazine. I would hazard a bet that most readers would never consider the scale of work involved in creating their favourite subscription, as I know I hadn’t.
I would like to say a big thank you to everyone I’ve worked with at Mortons for being so welcoming and teaching me so much – as well as making deciding what I want to do in the future so much harder now I have so many more options!