Chapter 7

The editor and the visual

Magazine editing is not simply about leading people and working with words. The essence of modern magazines is visual appeal. A small number of entirely text-based publications continue to exist, usually for official purposes. Every other magazine editor, from the creator of a church newsletter to the person directing a major consumer magazine, must consider the visual aspects of the task.

Publishing is never a purely verbal matter: printing words always involves design issues, even if it is only the selection of a typeface. Magazine design takes that process and extends it through the incorporation of photographic and illustrative material.

Sadly, there can exist a strong clash of cultures between those members of the magazine team who have come from a journalistic background and those with a design training. Early on, you as editor must learn to conceive of ideas in visual terms, considering the illustrative possibilities at the same time as you think about the material itself. Indeed, the word 'illustrative' itself is an unhelpful one, tending to suggest that the task of the designer is to find visual material to 'accompany' or 'support' the words, to prettify someone else's raw material, when the relationship should be much more organic than that.

At the same time, those who come from a design background need to appreciate that magazine design is not a form of fine art. Magazine designers are, increasingly, visual journalists. The object of their efforts is neither for the designers to express themselves nor, actually, to produce something inherently beautiful. The point is to turn design to the task of expressing the underlying ideas and thoughts that motivate a piece of published material; and the end product should be something unique, an amalgam of words and visuals that is greater than the sum of the separate elements.

This is, of course, an ideal. Much of the routine work of a magazine's art department cannot be expected to approach it, for reasons of time as much as anything else. Nonetheless, it is always important to keep the ideal in mind: page creation as one process, rather than the merger of two.

-147-

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Magazine Editing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Becoming an Editor 4
  • Chapter 2 - The Editor and the Reader 26
  • Chapters 3 - The Editor and the Team 52
  • Chapter 4 - The Editor and Money 84
  • Chapter 5 - Content 1 99
  • Chapter 6 - Content 2 127
  • Chapter 7 - The Editor and the Visual 147
  • Chapter 8 - The Editor and Production 179
  • Chapter 9 - The Editor and Technology 194
  • Chapter 10 - The Editor and the Public 208
  • Chapter 11 - The Magazine Business 228
  • Appendix 1 254
  • Appendix 2 - Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice 256
  • Glossary 260
  • Index 271
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