Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Content and intention in magazines

Roger McGuinnCover of Roger McGuinn
McGuinn in his Byrds phase

At a Roger McGuinn gig in Aberdare recently I picked up a free magazine called Properganda, the strapline of which reads Shouting About Specialist Music.

After a quick flick through it, the magazine snob in me turned up his nose and made me put it down – it was all over the place designwise.

A few days later I picked it up again and started reading. The snob kicked in again, telling me what I’d say to students who started a feature that way or brought themselves into the story so egregiously.

But after a while the snob’s voice faded away and I became engrossed in the material. This was a magazine made by people who loved music and knew a lot about it. My magazine snob had given way to the tyro mandolin player who wanted to get hold of – no, make that had to have – the two Bill Monroe tribute cds put out by Rebel. Mike Scott’s project putting the words of WB Yeats to music sounded interesting too … could his version of The Song of Wandering Aengus possibly be as good as Donovan’s?

DonovanCover of Donovan
I went out to the hazel grove ...

The experience made me realize all over again that the absolute focus of magazine journalism must be on content and intention –
• the intention must be a clear and driving force;

• the content must be compelling.

But what do we mean by compelling in this context?

Here’s a microthesaurus: authentic, raw, devoted, knowledgeable, passionate, committed, well crafted, skillful story telling.
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