Monday, June 08, 2009

what I learned at MagNet: tips on service journalism from Anthony Licata

A few notes on service journalism from the session "Service Centre: How to Tune Up your Magazine"[update: session info no longer available on MagNet site] with Anthony Licata, editor-in-chief of Field & Stream.

Clear is better than clever. Don't make your readers do too much work; they'll just turn the page.

Make it fresh. Evergreen stories can be deadly; if you've seen it before, so have your readers.

Be ambitious. "Wouldn't it be cool if..." ideas are always worth pursuing. Take them as far as you can go before reigning them in.

Don't cut the life out of short writing. It's hard to write short, but when you're trying to fit, cutting the fun phrases and other bits of personality out can make a piece read like an instruction manual.

Teach with a smile. Service pieces can pack in a lot of information and be exhausting. Lighten the mood and keep it fun so you don't tire out your readers.

Your cover should make a compelling promise. Deliver on it with a service package that's well worth the cover price. Even if they read nothing else in that issue, readers should feel they got their money's worth.

It's not all about service. Pacing is important; you can't use the same approach for all stories. Neither should all stories be service pieces; sometimes you just need to tell a good story. Give breathing room to all those itsy bitsy pieces.

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