Flat Planning PWOZ
How like and how unlike
Rachel Bartlett, in England, provided a summary of experiences by traditional magazines as they experimented with reader participation, using the word “crowdsourcing” in the sense that the readership was allowed or invited to contribute articles and topics for special issues of the magazine. In this, number six of ten points to learn from, the experience taught the magazine leaders to maintain editorial control. Failure leads to disappointed readers; the editorial staff, after all, are the experts and they must balance their skills with the unskilled readership.
This essay takes place on the imaginary island of Perfect Studios, the island of domains-of-expertise in asset management and legacy transfer. In my plan to launch a printmaking magazine online (or, Ozine), these islands in my fantasy region, Emeralda, each manifests a culture of learning alongside a culture of expertise.
There may be up to a dozen magazines under the mantle of PrintmakingWorld Ozine (PWOZ), with each one dealing with an aspect of the creative multimedia arts. Asset management and legacy transfer is rarely heard in the printmaking world of the last two centuries, yet it is the very thing that resulted in what we know about printmaking today. Without the legacy and the transfer of knowledge, skills and attitudes of artists, craftspeople and designers, there would be no printmaking today.
The following section is copied verbatim from Rachel Bartlett’s article.
6. Keep some hold on the editorial reins
One of the key pieces of advice shared by all three publishers centered on the crucial role the editorial team must play to ensure the end product follows the same style and standards as a regular issue would.
Toiminen, for example, said this was a lesson the Olivia team learned after its first try at a co-created edition in 2010.
"At first the team was very careful about not giving enough voice to the participators, so actually they made a magazine that wasn't really Olivia's concept," she said.
"It was much looser and had less narrative and fewer good, well-written stories, because they just wanted to let out all the voices within. That was a disappointment for the crowd sourcing people and for the journalists and for me as a CEO."
But since then the team have worked on how best to "integrate the process", and have gone on to produce crowd sourced issues on an annual basis, with the fourth one due out later this year.
They now understand that "they don't have to be too democratic" if it were to result in a final product "that disappoints the audience," Toiminen added.
In reference to the number of people who participated in the Femina crowd sourcing project in April this year, Rai added that "you can't risk ignoring your readers for the sake of the 7,000 or 60 contributors".
"The responsibility of producing a very good issue, an issue which people enjoy reading, is still the editor's."
He added that the way he explains it to colleagues, is that "you can abdicate or you can delegate your authority, but you can't delegate your responsibility".
At Company magazine, they learned a similar lesson the first time they ran their graduate issue, which sees a group of fashion graduates join the team for a month. "You have to remember you are still the experts and you shouldn't expect that people would have your levels of expertise," she said, explaining that for the first issue they had told the graduates to "re-do the flat plan" in whatever order they liked.
"They looked at us with slightly blank faces, and they just ended up moving everything around for the sake of it," she said, adding that in reality, "that wasn't any use to us or them".
"How would you know how to flat plan a magazine, if you're coming to it completely blind? So you are still the experts, but what you want is the enthusiasm and the ideas."