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CBJbanterWelcomeToBanterHedingInIntroThis is a blog by staff at CBJ that we’re hoping will be full of stuff to make you think – about news – about university life – and about what ever pops into our heads at the time! Your role is to get involved.  We welcome your comments. What do you think about the latest post? Let us know and let’s get some interesting discussions going!


PPA Festival: hot topics in magazine media 2016

We were at the PPA Festival, an annual coming together of editors and publishers from all corners of the magazine world in London on Thursday (May 12).

Masses of good advice was shared and there was excellent pull quote material (see below).

There were also some interesting and surprising nuggets about the health of the industry in the UK, including the fact that £1.2bn was spent on magazines last year.

More ominously, there is a ‘ticking timebomb’ in the form of privacy and data protection laws which could shoot a hole in companies’ efforts to exploit in other ways the info they gather about subscribers and other customers.

People love the paper product.
No one collects websites

Elsewhere, one theme that stood out was the resilience of the printed magazine. People love and will continue to love the paper product you hold in your hand; some titles are still so prized that readers hang on to them, sometimes for years or even decades. And no one collects websites, as was pointed out more than once.

But alongside valuing the tactile appeal of magazines, the other message coming through with overwhelming clarity was the role social media is now playing, not just as a promotional or research tool but as a publishing platform, making it a big area for investment.

Steve Hatch, UK managing director of Facebook, told the packed session on social that stories in its Instant Articles format are 20% more likely to be read than others online.

Social scene: Steve Hatch of Facebook talks to a full house at the PPA Festival 2016. Pic: Julie Nightingale

Social scene: Steve Hatch of Facebook talks to a full house at the PPA Festival. Pic: Julie Nightingale

Maggie Hitchins, Shortlist Media’s digital editor-in-chief, said going to where the audience is – whether it’s Instagram, YouTube or otherwise – is key, meaning the website is no longer the first port of call for publishing online.

Meanwhile, aspiring journalists like those on our MA/PGDip Magazine Journalism and BA Journalism courses at NTU would have been heartened to hear that one way to get yourself noticed by a top magazine editor is to produce a brilliant magazine on your course – like @MagazineCBJ’s Classic Bride and Quack! – and take it to the interview.

Here are some more top quotes and insights from the day:

A miscast editor is like a fog over a beautiful view. When they leave, the fog lifts – Nicholas Coleridge, managing director, Condé Nast

A significant number of consumer publishers have no digital offer at all – Jim Bilton, PPA Futures Report

I’m amazed by how adults are affected by what they read about themselves on social media. You don’t have to read the comments! – Alexandra Shulman, editor, Vogue

There’s so much clickbait out there. I don’t care about massive numbers, I want the engagement – Julian Linley, editor-in-chief, Digital Spy

‘Tinder opening lines’ is an example of ‘evergreen’ [non-topical] content that’s much looked for online – Cathy Ma, audience development director, Bauer Media

The under-30s are relaxed about ‘everything being advertising’, partly because they seldom pay for content so they don’t question ‘value’ – David Hepworth, director MixMag Media and magazine titan

People talk about content like it’s a bucket you can fill and empty at will. Our staff are creatives, wordsmiths, artists – Anna Jones, CEO, Hearst

Read more at the PPA Festival storify

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Classic Bride clinches win in magazine Dragons’ Den

A wedding magazine aimed at women marrying later in life has taken top honours in this year’s Dragons’ Den contest for magazine journalism postgrads at Nottingham Trent University.Classic Bride

Classic Bride (right), the brainchild of Caitlin Kelly, Vicky Lomax and Chloe McNab, was described as “a gem of an idea” by the judges who said it was “genuinely meeting the needs of the reader” with its ideas for features on celebrity marriages, honeymoon destinations and tackling the etiquette of the wedding invitation.

It would make an excellent quarterly ‘coffee table’ magazine or a supplement to an existing magazine such as Good Housekeeping, said judge Elise Wells, editor of Slimming World.

The other two contenders, Baker to Baker and Young Entrepreneur, also won praise for their imagination and the quality of their ideas.

Baker to Baker (B2B), the magazine for the baking industry devised by George Ellis, Leo Forfar and Stewart Thorpe, had a “zeitgeisty name”, said judge Tim Relf, communities and farmlife editor at Farmers Weekly.

Dragons deliberate: (from left) Sophie Turner, Elise Wells and Tim Relf

Dragons deliberate: (left to right) Sophie Turner, Elise Wells and Tim Relf. Credit: Dan Hodgett

Judge Sophie Turner, one of the team behind last year’s winner, Women’s Tri, and now a digital marketing assistant at Nottingham Trent, said the third title, Young Entrepreneur (formerly Pulse), had clearly identified a target market around the interest in setting up a business among people in their 20s and 30s and the pitch by Jodie Armstrong, Charlotte McIntyre and Emma Turner, had “great authenticity”.

Julie Nightingale, course leader for the MA/PGDip in Magazine Journalism in the Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism at NTU, said the competition helped students to grasp the challenges of thinking up a good idea then translating it into a product for a particular readership.

“Dragons’ Den isn’t just a nice exercise. Both the judges on the day and the feedback on our blog, where the pitches are also posted, give students professional, honest critique, just as they would get in industry. That is exactly what we want for them: our students must leave the course understanding the realities of the market they are entering while also being enthused about the possibilities.”

Classic Bride will be worked on by all of the students on the course this month (February) and will be published online in April.

Magazine students prepare to go head-to-head in Dragons’ Den

It’s back!

The competition to find the best new magazine idea pitched by CBJ magazine journalism students returns this week with three titles vying for the winning spot.

After last year’s triumph by the sport and fitness concept Women’s Tri, 2016’s contenders focus on young entrepreneurs, the baking business and weddings for the mature market.

Pulse cover

Business magazine Pulse targets 20- and 30-year-olds hoping to be the next Michelle Mone or Richard Branson with content all about how to set up and thrive in business. Devised by Jodie Armstrong, Charlotte McIntyre and Emma Turner, its editorial ranges from how to finance your start-up or deal with maternity leave rules to what makes the best entrepreneurs tick and how to dress for a meeting.

George Ellis, Leo Forfar and Stewart Thorpe have gone for a business-to-business (b2b) magazine, aimed at capitalising on the boom in baking sparked by the Great British Bake Off and the interest in niche products, such as gluten-free. Features include the increasing popularity of baking among men and the campaign for real bread.

Classic Bride

Third in the line-up is luxury brand Classic Bride, a wedding magazine designed to appeal to brides over-40 with advice on how to choose a dress, the etiquette of wedding invitations and tying the knot in a foreign location. It’s the brainchild of Caitlin Kelly, Vicky Lomax and Chloe McNab.

On Thursday January 28, the three concepts will be pitched to a panel of media experts, including Elise Wells, editor of Slimming World, one of the top five best-selling magazines in the country, and Tim Relf, who combines his job as community and farm life editor at Farmers Weekly with a parallel career as a novelist.

The winning magazine will be written and produced in spring by all of the students on the MA/PGDip Magazine Journalism course at the Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism.

Course leader Julie Nightingale said: “Dragons’ Den is one of the most popular projects we do. The fact that it is judged by real industry people gives it an edge and sets it apart from other assignments.

“Last year produced some phenomenal ideas and the winner, Women’s Tri, was eventually pitched for real to a magazine company. I think this year’s look equally promising but it’s up to the Dragons on the day.”

Which magazine gets your vote? Leave us a comment below

David Bowie: the man, the media and the headlines he will inspire

David Bowie. Credit: Wikipedia

David Bowie. Credit: Wikipedia

‘Why is there so much coverage of his death? Was he really that important?’

The question arose ten minutes into our @MagazineCBJ snap session on David Bowie this week, exploring how the media reacts when a much-loved public figure dies.

The answer was simple.

Yes, some of the media coverage was over-wrought. Yes, it triggered a display of public anguish that was, in some cases, more about jumping on the latest grief bandwagon than heartfelt sorrow.

Nevertheless, as we explained to the magazine journalism students, all in their early 20s, Bowie was a performer whose influence extended beyond all forms of music into every corner of popular culture and especially visual culture; from art high and low, to fashion, design, technology, philosophy, literature and the media itself.

Then there’s the liberating effect, spoken of movingly by so many this week, of seeing a man in a dress, high heels and unmissable eye shadow draping his arm around guitarist Mick Ronson and taking Top of the Pops by storm in the Britain of 1972.

You cannot measure his influence but it is everywhere. That is why he was so important and his loss is a blow to so many.

Lessons from the media

The media reaction WAS intense and a powerful case study of how a big story breaks and is covered in modern journalism and the challenges it presents to journalists. Here are some takeaways:

  1. Breaking news – social media is the default platform for breaking news with the web increasingly becoming an archive source. Rumours of Bowie’s death were circulating on Twitter and Facebook early on Monday January 11 and it was confirmed on his son, Duncan Jones’, accounts at 6.30am, although . . .
  2. Verification – BBC5 Live broadcast ‘reports of’ the death just before 7am. Today on Radio 4 made no mention until 7.06am. The delay would be down to the need to confirm that the original social media posts were not the work of hackers.
  3. You are not the story – journalists live on TV and radio broke the rule about impartiality, letting their own feelings about Bowie’s death take over their reporting. Understandable? Or self-indulgent?
  4. Curation – the internet was flooded with millions of online stories and posts about Bowie without hours, leading media outlets to sift through for highlights. As Paul Bradshaw says here, curation is the new obituary
  5. Find an angle – some local press went to great lengths to localise the story, as in the tale of the Croydon milkman who delivered Bowie’s milk more than 45 years ago
  6. New material – many outlets took the opportunity to release previously unpublished Bowie material. Among GQ’s excellent coverage on the day was this gem from Robert Chalmers about telling Bowie, by mistake, to f***off. In the US, CBS 60 Minutes shared clips from an unseen 2003 interview – not aired at the time, apparently, due to ‘correspondent conflict’.
  7. This is the end – the last official portrait of Bowie, taken by Jimmy King posted on Instagram a few days before Bowie’s death, is a work of art and a lesson in semiotics. What does it mean that he’s wearing shoes but not socks? Is it, as some think, a reference to death?

Finally, back to Bowie’s influence on culture, popular and media, explicit and subconscious.

Besides the songs eulogising the man, the fashion shows paying stylistic tribute and the novelists who will use his life and death as continuing inspiration, expect the journalists to get in on the act with magazine covers, spreads (celebrities dress up as their favourite Bowie characters), tribute supplements, more TV specials, columns and philosophising.

Above all, let’s look forward to a rash of Bowie-inspired headlines, as in:

Figgy Stardust – @BBCGoodFood celebrates figs

Ciders from Mars – reports on innovation in the world of scrumpy @CraftBeerBrew

Ashes to Ashes – Country Living magazine chooses your ten best woodburners @CountryLivingUK

Man who Bowled the World – England cricketer Jimmy Anderson becomes the world’s top wicket-taker. Any newspaper. @jimmy9

Moonage Daydream – Tim Peake’s autobiography @astro_timpeake

Station to Station – great railway voyages as reported by Sunday Times Travel @ST_travel

Golden Years – Saga. Of course. @SagaUK

Absolute Beginners – tips for handling your child’s first day at school, Mother and Baby magazine @MotherAndBaby

All the Madmen – Media Week profiles the movers and shakers in advertising @MediaWeek

Under Pressure – anyone writing about Jeremy Corbyn @jeremycorbyn

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