Jana has had a successful and varied career in some of Australia’s best-known and top-selling magazines. While working at a small magazine publishing company, Jana tried her hand at everything and discovered a passion for the editing and publishing side of the business. She went on to work on Girlfriend, marie claire and donna hay magazine, and is currently the editor of the newly launched Emporium, a joint publishing venture between News Magazines and Myer department store. She is also the associate editor of Inside Out.
The editor should have a helicopter view of what’s happening day-to-day on the magazine then bring everything together – visual and design components, words, marketing, advertising, look, feel and philosophy – to create the final product. For example, you might ask yourself if there’s a good range of stories, if the photography and style is consistent throughout the magazine, and whether you are delivering to the readers what they expect and more.
Putting a magazine together is a very collaborative process and the role of the editor is to unify and utilise the incredible talent of the people on the team. People look to you and value your opinion so it is important to be confident, articulate, decisive and have a good combination of management and creative skills.
I think it depends on the sort of magazine you are working on. I have always worked on magazines that have an entertainment base, like fashion or lifestyle magazines, and these certainly come with a lot of lovely perks.
I have been lucky to do a lot of memorable things that I am sure I wouldn’t have done if I were working in a bank. That said, like any job there is still filing to be done and boxes to be ticked. It’s inevitable that the things we do day-to-day in our jobs are not always glamorous. However, it is certainly very nice to work on something where the end result is beautiful and enjoyable.
My first job was at The Sydney Morning Herald as an editorial assistant, which opened my eyes up to the whole world of publishing and the vastly different careers you can embark on within it.
My second job was in a small magazine publishing company and I was lucky to have access to all different sorts of jobs every day. I always liked the subediting the most – the production side and making sure everyone handed their work in on time interested me more than the writing.
My next job was as chief subeditor at Girlfriend magazine, which was another great learning experience because it had a very commercial focus. It was on the newsstand and every month you waited with bated breath to see how many people would buy the magazine. I went on to become the deputy editor of Girlfriend, and from there I went on to my first launch magazine, which was called marie claire lifestyle. When it unfortunately folded, I became the managing editor of marie Claire, where I was very involved in the advertising side of things – which is an important part of the magazine business.
After that I came to work on donna hay magazine, which was again a launch magazine, and I was the editor of that for six years.
Oh yes, the lives of people in magazines and newspapers operate very differently. One thing is the time frame. The magazines I have worked on have been at least monthly, so it is not like you are going to have a scoop that comes up at the last minute. You should be able to plan in advance, whereas in newspapers you do not know that when you leave to go home somebody is not going to call you back and say two planes have just crashed into the World Trade Center and one of the biggest news days in history is starting.
Yes, there is a lot of word of mouth. My advice to anyone coming into the industry is to pull in any contact that you possibly have and nurture any contacts that you make. As you get a few years’ experience under your belt, your contacts recommend you, or let you know when jobs are coming up.