WHO: Beckie Fox, editor-in-chief and co-owner, Garden Making
WENT TO SCHOOL FOR: Journalism, Michigan State University
FIRST MAGAZINE JOB: Freelance copy editor, Canadian Living (in the early ’80s). “Editing craft and food stories is good training for the step-by-step and how-to stories integral to any type of service journalism. Before that, I was an editor at a community newspaper in Etobicoke, Ont.”
SUBSCRIBES TO: Fine Gardening, Gardens Illustrated, Organic Gardening, Garden Design, The English Garden, Horticulture Magazine, Cook’s Illustrated, The New Yorker, Country Living, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living, Maclean’s, Better Homes and Gardens, Canadian House & Home, The Walrus, Saltscapes, Vines. “There are probably about a dozen others I occasionally buy on the newsstand. The magazines I still miss are Gourmet and House & Garden.”
SO BECKIE, TELL US...
WHAT MAKES A GOOD EDITOR?
- The ability to deliver content your readers want.
- The intuition to deliver content your readers didn’t know they wanted.
- Having a solid partnership with an art director who understands the stories you’re conveying to your readers.
- Respectful relationships with freelance writers, editors and photographers.
Planning and assigning the story lineup for each issue. It’s trying to achieve that magical mix of what I want to read with what the writers want to write, all packaged in a way that will make readers say “Wow!”
The second-best part of being an editor is reading a new writer’s first draft and loving it (while feeling a bit of relief).
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO EDITORS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS?
Make sure you have strong, solid editing skills. Understand that organization and picky details are part of the territory, but you need to look at the bigger picture, too. Respect your own deadlines and don’t make the mistake of thinking a diva-like attitude is the only way to achieve excellence.
MOST MEMORABLE EDITING MOMENT?
This is tough to answer — a single event doesn’t jump out. I’ve had the good fortune to work as a copy editor, managing editor and editor for many years at several wonderful publications. And I still enjoy what I’m doing!
WHAT MAGAZINE DO YOU THINK IS DOING AN OUTSTANDING JOB RIGHT NOW?
I can’t think of a magazine I’m familiar with that’s doing an outstanding job at the moment. Many are good, a few are excellent, but none fits into the “outstanding” category as I define it. I say this with regret and with the risk of sounding harsh.
Unfortunately, shrinking budgets, a lack of direction, a devaluation of content and a reluctance to take risks (settling for formulaic content and design) compromise too many of today’s magazines. Many publishers/owners aren’t as patient as they once were; they’re unwilling to wait for a magazine to build momentum, and earn and retain reader loyalty. I understand why: it’s an expensive business, the economy is fragile and advertising dollars are going elsewhere — or nowhere.
Now that I’ve gotten that rant out of my system, I’ll add that I do savour House Beautiful. Under Stephen Drucker, the magazine combined cheekiness and elegance to great effect. Good display copy and packaging, too. Drucker is no longer with HB, but the magazine still makes a good impression.
WHERE TO FIND BECKIE ONLINE:
Garden Making website: gardenmaking.com
• "Why Tina Brown, Chris Anderson, David Remnick and Others Are Upbeat Despite Media Tumult" by Matthew Creamer on AdAge. Finally, people are starting to talk positively and recognize opportunities, instead of whining about the death of print.
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• "How to Bounce Back From a Big Mistake" by John Caddell on The 99%. You're going to make mistakes; how you handle them is what matters.
Corinna vanGerwen is a freelance editor and writer. She has worked as senior editor at Style at Home, senior design editor at Cottage Life and is the former Canadian Director of Ed2010. She has also held the position of operations manager at a boutique PR agency, where she handled strategic planning and daily operations.