Archive | January 2016

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