2014 in magazines, on magculture

Transcript of my audio recording of the "best of 2014" on magculture

Hi, I’m Kati, and I am going to tell you about my magazine highlights of 2014. 

There are lots of magazines that I’ve enjoyed this past year. But highlights are emotional. My best magazine moments of this year are all personal experiences. I apologise in advance. 

My first magazine highlight was without doubt launching the first and so far only issue of my own magazine, A Mag for all Seasons. I did this together with two friends, Ana Lessing and Kevin Braddock. And any of you who’ve ever done this will know the excitement when you go from initial idea to decision to execute. The adrenaline rush as you dash to get it done in time,  the light-headedness that comes from sleep deprivation as you work nights and weekends, and finally that post-orgasmic bliss that follows publication. That sequence of chemical imbalances reminded me why people do such irrational things as publish magazines. However, what made it truly memorable was all the work that came after publishing the magazine, which I had completely underestimated. Distribution. Promotion. Bookkeeping! To this day I don’t know how much this magazine has actually cost us because I haven’t done the accounts. And so my admiration for everyone who does this on a regular basis has grown exponentially. 

And that leads me to my second highlight: this year’s IndieCon magazine conference in Hamburg. It was the first indie publishing conference in Germany as far as I know, and the reason it was a highlight was because it didn’t deal with the natural highs afforded by magazine-making, but with its lows: It was all about problems. It was the first magazine conference that I’ve attended that used the combined creative power of its amazing participants not judge covers or concepts, but to pragmatically solve practical problems. And it left me with the conviction that there’s no excuse not to do better. 

And speaking of doing better - here’s my third highlight. I grew up in print – as a print journalist and a print magazine maker. But this year I got to work in digital magazines more than ever before, with Gestalten, Freunde von Freunden and most memorably with Matter at Medium. That work forced me to really face the question of what it means to be a magazine on the internet — not the digital sidekick of a print magazine, not a blog, not an app, not a news site. How do you create identity without a distinct visual framework or a bundle, and across many different platforms? How do you set formats while also remaining flexible and allowing for fast turnaround? How do you use multimedia in a way that actually works for readers? How much ownership are you willing to cede in order to build a sense of community? I’ve only just scratched the surface of these questions, but it’s something I’m really looking forward to working with more next year. 

And that brings me to my 2015 outlook: What I am looking forward to next year is an increase in new forms of magazine-making - most notably audio magazines and digital magazines. Audio magazines is what I would call podcasts with a strong brand identity, high production values and relatively varied content, and I think next year is going to see a boom in those. When it comes to digital magazines, I think the growth will be driven on the supply side by editors and designers who’ve grown up with digital media and on the demand side by shifts in advertising models: native advertising favours strong brands and engagement, which would speak for more distinct and high-quality content. 

I’m going to end this with a request to you: If you know of any outstanding, exciting, quirky and audacious digital magazines, please send them my way, or simply post them in the comments here on magCulture. Help me light up my miserable Northern European January. Thank you.