if i had a magazine deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle dee
April 1, 2004 11:16 AM

You can so tell that Alison is a teacher sometimes. In a good way. This week on WHB, she asks how we'd run a feminist magazine, if we ran one.

Like Brigitte, I think of running a feminist media outlet (although I've always thought television, not print) as something I'd love to do with my future millions. It's not something I'd take on now, when I'd have to solicit investors and advertisors in order to get by, but if I had enough money on my own...

The principles I'd apply to my television network could also be applied to a magazine. It's primary goal would be to make people feel in touch with a network of others, and to motivate them to act (politically, primarily).

  1. Represent "regular" folk. Get political contributions from people whose political experience is mostly voting and getting involved, not politicians and theorists. Let people tell their own interesting stories. Kim mentioned this, too. Don't go crazy touching up or dressing up people for photo shoots - show them as they are, and as they're comfortable. I think we'd all feel more beautiful, more intelligent, more informed and more connected if we were exposed to the array of other people out there.
  2. Give readers a wide range of perspectives. While I have a very particular political slant, I don't think I'd want the magazine to have that. What I'd like it to do is show many sides of issues that are being discussed more flatly in other media, and also draw attention to issues that other media might be ignoring. Basically, I'd like to point out things we ought to care about and help people understand how global issues affect them, but without creating the sense that there's only one side to any question. To do that, we'd probably spend each issue dealing with only a handful of topics, so we deal in detail with our subject matter. This is a damned complicated world; I'd like to have a magazine that gave people more tools to think for themselves.
  3. Provide a lot of resources for readers to take action. When we profiled an issue, I'd want to include information about what you could do to get more information, or to get involved on either side of the issue. You know those 10-page "Where to Buy" sections in the back of women's glossies? I'd do something like that, but with a network of sources and ideas.
  4. Be gender-neutral. Also. Be queer-neutral, sex-neutral, size-neutral, race-neutral. While I see this magazine as aimed at people of more or less my generation, I'd like it to be accessible to a lot of different people. It should feel more like a thinking person's magazine than a women's magazine. Ideally, it would appeal to people like me, 12-year-old girls, and men in their sixties, but I think I'd let that come later as the audience grew.
  5. Design the magazine in a way that promoted all of the above. It would be a pretty substantial departure from the format of feature articles vs. columns vs. blurbs that most magazines follow. Whatever topic we focused on, I'd want to give equal weight to each aspect of it, and each contributor - with the exception of the resource list and advertising, I'd imagine the design of each issue flowing almost like a chaptered narrative, with each question a chapter, then with two opinions on question X presented visually near each other, contrasting slightly.
  6. Seriously limit advertising. I think I'd be willing to have small businesses and DIY folk advertise in the magazine, but I'd want to keep advertising more of a service to those people than a revenue-generator that the magazine depended on (we'd obviously be basically non-profit, relying on my investment, actual sales & possibly donations). I'd like advertising to function only as a way to call readers' attention to products or ideas they wouldn't otherwise hear about.

That's pretty much it. I'm not diametrically opposed to celebrities being involved - I mean, ultimately, they're another breed of regular folk. But I wouldn't let their publicists dictate how they appeared in the magazine - they'd be as straightforward and unairbrushed as anyone else, and their opinions would be given no more weight that anyone else's.

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your wicked thoughts

What can I say, I spend my life making up questions!!!!

these are the thoughts of Alison on April 1, 2004 05:38 PM

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