PS – A special thank you to my first subject, Patrick Walsh, who has provided me with a fabulous kick-off to the series.
WHO: Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief and brand manager, Outdoor Canada
WENT TO SCHOOL FOR: Print Journalism, Centennial College
FIRST MAGAZINE JOB: Assistant Editor, Muskoka Life magazine, in his hometown of Bracebridge, Ont. "It was 1983, and it was a paying job for my final term work placement."
SUBSCRIBES TO: Esquire, Field & Stream, Ontario Out of Doors, Outdoor Life. "I wish I had time for more. I'm now resigned to picking up the odd copy of other titles at the newsstand."
I'm married to another magazine editor, Jackie Kovacs, who is deputy editor of Today's Parent. Our three children (ages 9, 13 and 15) accordingly share our penchant for editing poor grammar and punctuation in roadside signs.
My first magazine award was the Greg Clark Outdoor Editorial Writing Award, which I earned in 1984 for a profile I wrote in Muskoka Life about legendary Algonquin Park trapper Ralph Bice. My most recent award was Editor of the Year, presented this past June by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors. [The Outdoor Canada] team also earned Magazine of the Year (in the medium circulation category) and the Jim Cormier Award for Display Writing. Our heads are almost back to normal in size.
SO PATRICK, TELL US...
WHAT MAKES A GOOD EDITOR?
A love of the medium, but also the understanding that your magazine's brand must expand beyond the printed page in order to continue to flourish. Today, a good editor is also a good brand manager; the job now entails so much more than just words and pictures on paper. Think digital, web, merchandise, broadcast, consumer show and so on.
That said, there are some decided editorial skills and traits that will always apply: energy; enthusiasm for the subject matter; the ability to identify a great story; creativity; and, of course, the requisite know-how to tidy up prose.
You also need to play well with others, and constantly think of ways to take things up a notch.
A good editor always carries a notebook to jot down ideas; you never know when they'll come to you.
FAVOURITE PART OF BEING AN EDITOR?
When I was a kid, I always enjoyed doing school projects – researching and writing about a particular topic, creating illustrations, clipping pictures and then packaging it all together in a Duo-Tang. I get the same sense of fulfillment as an editor with each issue of the magazine we put out. You're always learning something new, but in a creative, sharing way. So, my favourite part is simply being able to create something new and fresh with each issue.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO EDITORS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS?
Be persistent. Take any job to get started, and build on it. If you're good at it, people will notice, and advancement will come. Guys like me are going to go out to pasture eventually.
MOST MEMORABLE EDITING MOMENT?
This is probably the most memorable moment because it's the most recent: When writer Charlie Wilkins thanked me during his acceptance of the Gold award [in Sports & Recreation for "Another Fine Day Afield"] at the June 10 National Magazine Awards gala. He's a fantastic writer, and we have been working together for about nine years now. He can also be a prickly writer, willing to go to the wall over a comma change. Nonetheless, we've developed a great working relationship based on give-and-take and mutual respect. To have him acknowledge that to a room of 600 people was quite special.
WHAT MAGAZINE DO YOU THINK IS DOING AN OUTSTANDING JOB RIGHT NOW?
Esquire. I've heard other magazine folks suggest Esquire "isn't what it used to be." They say this in a pejorative sense. I disagree. Sure, Esquire isn't what it used to be, but I don't find that lamentable. The writing, editing and level of clever creativity are, to me, greater than ever, as is its sense of voice. And at the same time, the magazine is breaking new ground, making us rethink the way we present information to our readers. From contents page mash-ups to running marginalia to the use of cover flaps and coded markers, Esquire has been leading the way.
WHERE TO FIND PATRICK ONLINE:
Outdoor Canada website: Outdoorcanada.ca
Blog: Field Findings
Is there an editor you would like to see profiled on Dream Job TK? Email Corinna at vangerwen [at] gmail .com with "Dream Job TK Profile" in the subject line.
– Evan Hansen, Editor-in-Chief, Wired.com, on what qualities he looks for in a web editor, responding to a question from the audience at MagNet 2011's marquee session, "Welcome to the (Digital) Jungle"
Until someone is doing the job, there's no true way to know if they're a fit. Which is why FlightCaster cofounder Jason Freedman doesn't interview potential employees. He hires them instead.
He doesn't hire them full-time, but as contract workers so he can see how well they, well, work. He pays them a contractor's fee to complete a defined project over the course of a few weeks, and if he's happy, they have a job.
I love this idea, and think that magazines are particularly well-suited to the practice. Hire an editor to handle some stories and work through production, and you'll know by the end of it if they're worth bringing on full time. And it gives them a chance to determine if they want to work for you.
What do you think? Would you try it? Would you do away with interviews?
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.