Erm, ok, maybe not! But last month I did spend a day at Cosmopolitan magazine, thanks to icould.com.
Having no preconceptions, I was pleasantly surprised by the normality of the environment. Don’t get me wrong, the super stylish staff and the Cosmopolitan signage made it clear that I was in the office of a top women’s magazine, but the busyness alone confirmed that the production of a publication is very much business focussed. And rightly so!
After being briefed on the structure of the day, we sat down with Advertising Manager Jordanna Anderson, who talked us through the construction of Cosmopolitan magazine. With the average issue being 300 plus pages deep, it was no surprise that the Cosmo team were working on the forthcoming May issue in February. But despite the three-month lead-time, I quickly found that planning and producing the publication is no easy feat.
I’d always wondered how the different departments co-ordinate their contributions to the magazine, and the answer is a flat plan – an outline of all the pages in the magazine, showing where all articles and adverts are located. Using the flat plan for the May issue, Jordanna spoke to us about the challenges of placing an advertisement in the right place and some of the conditions that have to be accommodated.
Whether it’s an advert, an editorial or a photoshoot, each page of Cosmopolitan has to be aesthetically pleasing. Shelly Vella, Cosmopolitan’s Fashion Director, highlighted how they like to feature affordable items alongside the luxury products. During our chat, Shelly also spoke about some of the issues associated with fashion shoots months in advance. Some of the clothes photographed might not even make it into the stores - leaving some readers a little annoyed! Nonetheless, Cosmo readers are a determined bunch and it isn’t unusual for them (men included!) to contact Cosmopolitan in an attempt to locate sought after items!
As my dream job day progressed, I came across a few less obvious but equally important jobs, such as the essential role of Chief Sub Editor. Responsible for ensuring that the copy is grammatically and factually correct, Michaela Twite, shared some advice with us, “be thorough and never assume,” Michela advised, “there is no room for error in print publication“. The Cosmo team work as a synergy to complete certain tasks, in short, each feature moves from the editor to the sub editor, the sub editor to the art department, the art department to the sub editor then the sub editor to the law department – well depending on the circumstance. With accuracy being key, we also discussed the advantage of having a solid grammatical understanding - significant when we consider that the turnaround for a feature can be anything from a day to a few weeks.
In contrast, the production of online content is very different. Bridget March, Assistant Editor for Cosmopolitan.co.uk explained that the fast paced nature of the internet and the urgency to upload new content, means most blogs bypass the regular print editing process. There is no doubt that being quick and ahead of the game has its benefits. Bridget wrote a blog about a specific show during London Fashion Week and the following day was top of the Google ranking!
During the day I had the privilege of speaking to a total 12 members of staff across the range of departments – everything from beauty to features. Having spent the day at Cosmo, it’s inspiring to think that a fairly small team can plan and produce such a large-scale, high quality publication! I learnt lot from my Dream Job day and would like to thank icould and Cosmopolitan for the amazing opportunity!
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