12 Posts of Christmas: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th. 

This one was written after Paper Giants aired on ABC in April, comparing the heyday of magazines with the impact of the digital world. You can read the original post here.

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of CleoMia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of DollyCleoCosmoMadison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means I can’t always post as early and as often as I’d like.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like JezebelCover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

The Humble Brag.

From “Branding Girls: Is This a Good Thing?” by Erica Bartle on Girl with a Satchel:

“Soroya Darabi, social media strategist for ABC News in the US and former New York Times staffer… [says] ‘I wrote a tweet I now regret,’ recalls Darabi. ‘[It] said, “I’m in a new book about New York social media. God, I hope the character is cool and not a total dweeb.” The tweet was meant to show how this new-found attention weirds me out, but instead I think it came off as shameless self-promotion. Now I’m less likely to write about a personal win because I prefer to be authentic and well-regarded than notorious and famous.'”

Musings of an Inappropriate Woman blogger, Rachel Hills, calls this “the humble brag” in the comments.

I don’t think Darabi sounded like she was “shamless[ly] self-promoti[ng]”; she sounded sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating and genuine. Sometimes it’s fine to say, “hey, check out my latest freelance article in this month’s Madison” (if only I was able to say that!) without coming across like a big-noter. If you don’t talk yourself up, no one will.

But I also understand where Darabi and Hills are coming from in not wanting to sound obnoxious, and that the blogging/Tweeting medium can sometimes misconstrue our tones.

I remember Sarah Ayoub-Christie of Wordsmith Lane (R.I.P.) used to struggle with this. Personally, I never found her to be holier-than-thou, or up on her high horse, which I believe some commenters on the blog did. On my own blog, there are some posts I look back on and think I sound like a pretentious bitch (well, I am, but I don’t want to sound like one!), and others in which I wish I could just change a certain phrase.

But, at the end of the day, you can’t always be “on” when it comes to “personal branding”, and the mistakes and misconstrued comments are what make us stronger. And I also think it’s about finding a balance between the real you, you show your close family and friends, and the “personal branding” version of you, you show to potential clients or suitors at dinner parties.

What do you think?

Elsewhere: [Girl with a Satchel] Branding Girls: Is This a Good Thing?

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Homepage.

[Sarah Ayoub's Wordsmithlane] Homepage.

Magazines: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants?

 

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Mia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of Dolly, Cleo, Cosmo, Madison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means I can’t always post as early and as often as I’d like.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age & Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like Jezebel, Cover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

The Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

Images via ABC, MamaMia, Teacup.

Profile: Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane.

 

In The Scarlett Woman’s first profile, I interview Wordsmith Lane and Chasing Aphrodite creator Sarah Ayoub about blogging, brides and books.

How long have you been blogging at Wordsmith Lane and what made you decide to start a blog?

The idea came to me in June 2009, and the blog officially launched (if you will) in July 2010. I decided to start a blog because I wanted to do something when I was not writing, especially because I was no longer working full-time and I sort of wanted to chronicle my writing journey.

What has been your proudest writing-related achievement to date?

It’s hard to say. Getting published in madison was a high for me, because it is what I consider a high-brow women’s publication. I guess being asked to be a host/panellist at events held by organisations like the Walkley Foundation and The Emerging Writer’s festivals was also a massive achievement for me.

And your proudest non-writing achievement?

This is going to sound silly, but getting engaged! I tend to worry about commitment.

How are preparations going for your wedding?

They are, I must say, proceeding very well considering the timing. I am indebted to my sisters though. My advice to everyone is to send out invites via email, or at least don’t go the DIY option. It’s a pain in the butt. I really wanted to have a big Lebanese wedding, but this one seems to be going along more to my parents’ agenda than my own. Serves me right for being their first born!

How did your appointment to bridal blogger for Bride to Be come about?

I basically pitched the idea to them and they bought it. It was as simple as that, which is why I try to be encouraging to my blog readers. Anything can happen if you try.

Your name has popped up on some other blogs (namely Musings of an Inappropriate Woman) in relation to workaholism and the work/life balance. How do you balance all your commitments?

I don’t. Something always gives out, like nights in front of the TV or deadlines for my thesis. I don’t have the time management thing down pat yet, and considering the size of my family, I don’t have a lot of time to myself either. I am hoping things will settle down a little after the wedding.

What is your favourite way to unwind?

Reading. Watching movies in my PJs and eating copious amounts of food works wonders.

Because most bloggers blog about things they’re passionate about, as I know both you and I do, do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out articles, book reviews and the like, as previously you would do those things for pleasure? Because that’s definitely something I struggle with from time to time.

I guess my readers can tell when I do something for pleasure because I gush about it, whether it’s a book or make-up and I do think I come across as fairly honest. If it’s not something I am interested in, it doesn’t get a review. Just a mention that it’s out and what it’s supposed to be about. I definitely think I should perhaps cut down to blogging about quality though. I really need to prioritise, as the blog doesn’t really provide a return investment for me at this stage, and there are some more pressing things to worry about, like my thesis, my freelancing and definitely my novel.

What are some of your favourite blogs?

I read Girl with a Satchel religiously, and follow Rachel Hills because she makes me feel smart. Once or twice a week, I read The Blog Stylist, Sarah Wilson and Holly J Curtis’ Am I There Yet? I’ve just got onto Nicole Haddow’s blog after a reader recommended it to me and I read Megan Burke’s Literary Life (she is my intern and she blogs about the creative writing industry which is good for me, as I’d like to get into it soon). And I love the way Liv Hambrett writes at A Big Life. I think I am her biggest fan, and I doubt that she knows how talented she is. She literally makes me see the world through different coloured glasses.

What advice do you have for other bloggers?

Write, network and comment on other blogs. Shamelessly promote on Twitter. And do it for love not money, at least in the beginning. It’s a lot of hard work.

And finally, where do you see yourself, writing-wise, in the future?

My dream job would be able to live off freelancing as a full-time features writer, while working on my novels in between and maybe doing something once a week on TV or radio. That’s not necessarily where I see myself, as opposed to where I would like to see myself.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Frock & Roll has some poignant points on how to “network, promote and get your blog out there” aka “hustle”. I’ve only read part one of the series, but you can find part two here, with part three on its way.

Who do you write like? Apparently, from the sample I typed in to the analyzer, I write like David Foster Wallace, author of one of Time magazine’s All-Time Greatest Novels, Infinite Jest! Not too shabby!

It’s no secret Prince is one of my favourite musicians, but according to Fajr Muhammad of Stylish Thought, he’s also a style icon, assless pants and all!

Edward Cullen sparkles, but feminism certainly doesn’t. Amplify Your Voice discusses “What Twilight Teaches Young Girls”.

Author Marketing Experts suggest “Seven Powerful Ways to Find New Readers For Your Blog” (there’re actually eight!).

An oldie but a goody: Inappropriate Woman Rachel Hills muses on Gossip Girl, Serena & Effortless Perfection”.

In the vein of last week’s “In Defence of Taylor Momsen” comes the case for Lindsay Lohan as she is released from jail and shipped off to rehab for the umpteenth time.

On Tuesday night, “I Went to See Killers, and It’s All Your Fault”, Jezebel!

Girl with a Satchel has two (here and here) fab pictorials up of this year’s September issues. Here’s just a little taste…

Show Me Your Desk

This month’s Madison features “the most stylish workplaces” of florists, interior decorators, brand managers, Red Bull’s “product marketeers”, and clothing boutique owners.

The article, “Step Into My Office” inspired me to share with you The Scarlett Woman workspace: my desk. As you can see, I have a Tiffany blue and pink colour scheme, an antique chair of my mothers’ and war-time desk, photoframes without pictures in them, which is quintessentially me, ornaments, perfume bottles, sentimental cards, and a Wicked mug that doubles as a pen holder.

Today, however, I’ve relocated to the couch…