Media careers: The Magazine Editor

lindsayLindsay Cochrane, 28 from Airdrie, is the editor of Source Magazine (that’s right – the mag!), and its sister publications Enable and Teachers’ Resource. She’s worked in journalism for over 10 years – here’s what she’s done along the way.

Why did you want to become an editor?

I’ve always loved writing, I’ve always been nosy and I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the world in some way, so journalism was a natural career path for me. But it was Smash Hits! magazine and the thought of interviewing boy bands that really sparked it for me, if I’m perfectly honest! I’ve always been a magazine addict, and I just loved the idea of being in charge of the running of a publication.

What does an editor do?

I don’t think my role as an editor is your typical editor role – I’m employed by a company called DC Publishing, which is a really small magazine publishing house based in Glasgow. I’m the only permanent member of staff working in editorial – that’s the department that deals with the words on the page – so it’s quite busy to say the least! As well as working on Source, I look after two other titles – Enable, which is for disabled people and carers, and Teachers’ Resource, which is for teachers, funnily enough. I’m in charge of planning out what’s going in the magazines, and writing the majority of the content, researching, interviewing, editing and proof reading. The magazines are my babies, basically! I also work really closely with our advertising sales team to make sure we’re getting the right message into the mags both in terms of editorial and the ads we print too.

What does your job involve day to day?

That’s a hard question to answer, because it’s a little bit of everything! Generally, I get into the office for 9 (or before then if I’m feeling enthusiastic), and I’ll plough through my emails. I’ll then get onto checking social media and news sites to see what’s going on in the world for our audiences and see if there’s anything we can turn into a story for any of our websites. I might have interviews lined up – I usually do that over the phone. That could be with anyone from a pop star to a politician! I then might have a meeting with our publisher to discuss where we’re at with the magazines. I’ll then maybe go write up the interview – transcribing interviews is one of my least favourite parts of the job! – and put that together. I’ll usually spend part of my day researching for upcoming articles that I’ve got deadlined in, and contacting people for help with articles – maybe someone handling PR for a charity or a celebrity agent. I’ll eat my fair share of biscuits along the way, constantly be checking what’s going on in the world, updating social media and trying to be one step ahead at all times!

How did you get into this line of work?

I got started in journalism at the age of 16, when I was in fifth year at school and studying for my Highers – I was a teenage columnist for the Daily Record! From there, I did loads of work experience and freelance work while I was studying, doing things like book reviews and album reviews for various outlets. The best job was when I took on the role of ‘teenage agony aunt’ for the Record – it was weird and wonderful. I did that for two and a half years. While I was doing my postgrad, I did some work experience with Source Magazine, where I interviewed a boy band backstage at the Clyde Auditorium (possibly the most showbiz moment of my LIFE). Denise, who’s in charge, must have like what I did, because a week after I finished my course, she gave me a full-time job! I started as the company’s staff writer, and I’ve worked my way up to editor along the way.

What’s your educational background?

I did a three-year arts and social sciences BA, specialising in French with journalism and creative writing, at Strathclyde University, and then I went back to Strathclyde and did a one-year postgraduate diploma in journalism. The PgDip was a really good course – the focus was a lot more practical than my undergraduate, and we learned things like shorthand and media law, which have been really helplful in my job day to day.

What skills and qualities are important to your role?

You’ve got to be organised, quick thinking, determined and – above all – nosy! You’ve got to be comfortable talking to random people too.

What’s been your best job along the way? 

I really love what I do now, but you can’t beat being able to say you were an agony aunt, can you?

What’s your ultimate career aim?

I always said I wanted to be a magazine editor, which I achieved by the age of 27! I’m not too sure where I’d like to go from here if I’m honest. It’s really good being a part of a small but growing company, and I’m excited to see where things go for the company where I am just now and to be a part of that – we’re definitely going places! I’d love the chance for my writing to appear in some of the big glossy mags eventually. And I still have a dream of reviving the magazine that inspired me to get started, Smash Hits!…

What’s the best part of your job?

With Enable, our disability title, I do a lot of ‘real life’ stories. When people share something very personal with you – something life changing or heart breaking – I feel really privileged that they’re trusting me to tell their story for them. And interviewing boy bands is quite fun too.

And the most challenging? 

Constant deadlines! I like to think I’m an organised person, but nothing can prepare you for something dropping off or someone cancelling an interview or a major event causing things to change and you’re two days away from print with pages and pages still to write. It can be a bit stressful.

What’s your advice for anyone wanting to get into journalism? 

Get writing! And don’t just write blog posts and opinion pieces – get out there, talk to people, find out information, tell a story that no one has heard before. Get work experience, get your name out there and work your socks off. It’s hard work and it’s really competitive, but nothing beats the feeling of seeing your name in print!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *