It’s been said time and time again: Community is everything. And it is. Particularly for media platforms. Long gone are the days when content could only be consumed from a few sources. Audiences have a vast array of sources to choose from so you need to make sure not only that you capture their attention once, but that they come to you over and over again after that. And how do you do that? By taking care of your community. And who plays a major role in building and nurturing a community on a media platform? Editors. Editors do.
Nowadays, building community through content is the whole point of content in the first place. It might not dawn on many the role that editors play in this. Being an editor is about a lot more than simply correcting punctuation and grammar, it’s about amplifying the power of storytelling and curating and solidifying brand identity.
For this reason, this month’s volume of TNC Talks is all about digging into the creative minds of some brilliant editors in the industry in an attempt to further understand the role of an editor in building community through content.
Editor in Chief / Fashion Editor
I think there are two ways how an editor can contribute to a magazine’s identity. Either putting your ideas and your vision first. No matter what. Or creating a safe space for young artists to show their visions and put your own ego away. I went for the second option.
It is not about me, my ego, or my vision. I want humans to feel free to create. Help them to find out who they are. And support them even if I don’t agree with everything.
I am so not an office person. The most challenging part for me is all the paperwork, copyrights etc and handling all the different egos working on a project. I love it, but oftentimes it’s also very difficult. The most rewarding part is when we discover a young and unknown artist/designer. And we are the first ones to publish them… Sometimes I come across that same artist/designer in a major magazine later on. I am always very very proud of our artists.
I can not speak for editors in general, but I see my role as kindergartner vs dictator haha.. As an editor, you really need to have a feeling for humans. Each artist, each community is so different. Some need your help, others need you to guide them in the right direction, or need you to be super bossy. To build a good community you need to expect that each person is different and has different needs.
Engaging with your community is all about respect. In the beginning, I answered each comment on social media. But I realized it was taking too much of my private time. Plus, many times I have different views and it becomes difficult to please everybody in your community. I have learned over the years to give each person the respect they deserve, each person in each team!
To emerging editors, I would say: Please yourself and your readers. Go with your own gut. Try not to please advertisers, try not to write any bullshit just because you got paid for that. Your readers are important, listen to them! And if any editor-in-chief tells you your work is not good, then move on. There are so many publications out there… You will find the right place.
One of my golden rules is: Fuck trends… No one really cares about trends.
I am an author of the rubric ‘Vogue’s Talent to Watch’ where I report on local success stories. I think it is important to build a community by reporting about a variety of heroes. Every community needs a hero, a leader who sets an example. As an editor, I choose the report on stories that various individuals in different communities can relate to.
An editor is an individual with their own ideas who works together with people (e.g., photographers) to format a story. I consider myself as someone who adds to the identity one who puts the puzzle pieces together. I am a listener. I am always open to stories. For me, if there is no story, there is no content.
There is a lot of ‘noise’ online. The most challenging part about being a digital editor is therefore not only grabbing the reader’s attention online but also keeping it.
The most rewarding part is finding a place of calm between all the noise online. I try to keep up with the digital landscape as much as possible, hence why I decided to pursue a masters in New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam.
I love motivating people to see each other and their neighbour in a more positive light. I feel like because of digital media and major technological advances (e.g. the airplane), a lot of people think that engaging with others is something that is supposed to be easy. It is not. The most important aspect to take into consideration is that it takes time, passion and hard work to form a healthy community.
Be curious about a variety of subjects. Know who your favorite designer is, teacher, musician and learn about what they do. It is important that you know who the people are that you admire.
Editor / Social Media Manager
I really love working with people, offering them a service and providing them with information. I feel accomplished if I think that my words could become a point of reference for many others. I have to keep up constantly with what’s happening inside the buzzy fashion world. Selecting the right news is another of many tasks: Finding the best way to convey the news to the public through social media communication or articles.
Sharing the same vision and approach of communication as a magazine is fundamental for sure, it helps each other to grow. At the same time, being on the same page helps the public to understand better what the editorial line is, while helping them perceive better the value that the magazine wants to transmit. Let’s say that being an editor implies being flexible and comprehensive of the environment in which you’re working.
The role that I cover can be considered a hybrid, I work both as an editor and social media manager. In this way, I had the chance to build a stronger community around sneakers, which is my main topic. Staying in touch with social media every day allows you to receive more direct and up-to-date feedback from your followers which, writing articles wouldn’t.
Social media platforms function as tools for amplification and are the best way to reach a wider range of people, they work as a proxy. The community itself works as an engagement and it particularly starts everything from here. It is necessary to take into consideration the public’s point of view and value that, in order to have a much better focus on the target. Being part of a community means feeling unified through the same interests, passions and works. Talking about the latter genuinely helps each individual to build stronger relationships.
From my personal experience, I would suggest that emerging editors develop multitasking skills. Having elasticity helps to be empathetic to the community in order to have a deeper connection to their needs. Working as an editor is about giving and receiving.
You have to always be prepared to enrich your cultural baggage, overall always be curious in order to translate it, decode it and send the clear message to the public.
Lampoon Magazine, Spinosa Magazine
Art Journalist / Translator / Copywriter
An editor/writer contributes to the overall storytelling of a magazine’s identity by not only reinforcing the chosen identity of the magazine, whether that is market-focused, personal project, or even expression of ideas, but also ensuring that a personal aspect can be felt through the articles and choice of words. The reader is not attracted to stale writing or repetitive themes.
The satisfaction of publishing a piece that has been well-researched, with a successful interview, or simply a review can transport the reader to an exhibition space or film set. Sharing a piece with others, whether the reach is ten people or ten thousand.
A community will only engage within a space that not only has a utility and talks but also listens, a reciprocation between community and writer/editor.
A community can have varying shapes, forms and aspects, therefore a magazine or online platform should be an open space for these different figures, demonstrating that exclusivity is not always the objective. To engage with it, one needs to be aware of its communication channels whether in the form of social media, newsletters, physical events, and so forth.
My advice to emerging editors would be attention to detail. Be aware of the magazine’s identity, as mentioned prior, and therefore the magazine or platform’s readership. Who will these words reach? Why do I want this piece to be read? When should it be read?
Marina Azcárate Rodriguez
The Next Cartel
Editorial Director / Editor / Copywriter
An editor contributes to the overall storytelling of a magazine first of all by knowing all content inside out. Not only understanding the magazine’s identity but also actively knowing how to present this identity to the public. Streamlining content while ensuring it’s fresh and contributes to the magazine going forward.
Initially, the most challenging part of being an editor for me was definitely when I firmly believed something was a good idea and the right direction and those above me didn’t agree. Falling in love with an idea can be dangerous, you need to learn to let go while still not being discouraged from continuing to come up with ideas and concepts and fight for them. Once you have that down it becomes a lot simpler.
Finding a word that conveys precisely the amount of colour you want it to, a sentence that slaps, a witty and smart closing pun. J’adore.
The most rewarding part is probably when you help someone coin exactly what they wanted to say, exactly the way they wanted to say it.
The key to community building as an editor is realizing that by consuming, enjoying, and engaging with the content yourself you become part of the community too. You inevitably develop a personal relationship with the content, and with the community, and you take care of them both the same way you would yourself: Listen to it. Relationships are a two-way road.
An editor engages with their community by keeping up with what they’re up to and what’s going on in the industry. There are so many channels through which to connect with a media platform’s community. Use these tools to show you care, and the love will pour right back in.
If you want to be an editor I’d say: Don’t wait for things to be possible before you start doing them. Things become possible when you start doing them. Contact magazines, publish on your Linkedin, and consume what other editors are doing. You want to write? Then read. And write. A lot.