Media Interview with Lydia Andal, managing editor of The New Idealist
Lydia Andal talks us through The New Idealist's recent launch and its plans for the future.
About your publication
Who reads The New Idealist and how many of them are there?
A print version of the magazine is distributed to political commentators, key influencers, university academics, students and not-for-profit organisations, with the digital version read by an international audience online.
While we have a print edition, our main focus is on our digital readership at www.thenewidealist.com which is growing month-on-month; we have only just launched our second issue and have already registered over 20,000+ individual page views to the site. Most people visit the site at least three times and look at multiple pages, which is encouraging.
What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
The New Idealist is a current affairs magazine and we cover politics, international affairs, science, philosophy, travel and personal development. While we are not a student title, we have a dedicated student section with its own student editor. It goes down well with that audience and helps to draw in people who might not typically pick up such a title.
How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
Each issue has its own theme. For example, the first issue covered social mobility, the current issue covered intelligence and the next issue will look at American politics; so while what we cover changes significantly each issue, the core themes are the same.
I am quite a visual person, so I tend to sketch out the cover theme and headlines for each issue and pass it over to the designer to use their creativity to turn it into something amazing.
Do you produce a features list? Why? Why not?
There is no features list as the actual content of the magazine is only ever confirmed close to deadline.
What makes you different from other titles in your sector? Does distributing the magazine for free help distinguish your title from the rest?
The magazine has had really great feedback since launch. People understand that because the magazine is not run for financial reasons we are genuine about what we are doing and not subject to any outside influences.
As a new publication, how do you access The New Idealist's early impact? What does the future hold?
We have only just launched the second issue and are in our infancy at the moment so I’ve no idea how to assess the early impact other than people seem to know we have arrived! We’ve had some high-profile readers commenting on how they like what we are doing so word is getting around.
The magazine was designed to give people who might find it difficult to get heard in the mainstream press a platform to discuss issues that matter to them; our international diaries section and charity interviews are good examples of this.
This was always meant to be an international title and so far the print magazine has gone out across Europe, the US and even to a little village in Malawi. Online, we also have a large proportion of visitors from the US so all in all, that’s a good start.
What types of PR agencies does The New Idealist work with?
We work with all kinds of PR agencies, in-house and independent PRs.
Do you tend to work with the same PRs or do you receive contributions from a wide range of sources?
We do receive contributions from a wide range of sources.
Of all the press releases you receive on a daily basis, what percentage of them make it to publication?
As we are a contributor-based magazine we are always looking for interesting contributors, so if there is an author of an interesting political book, for example, we might ask them to write a contribution.
Do you find that your idea of what makes a story and a PR's tends to differ? How?
So far, I’ve found it very easy working with PRs as the contributor would always work to a set topic so we are all on the same page to begin with.
Describe a typical day at work: What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
I coordinate the entire publication from start to finish, including editorial and design. Currently, the second issue has just shipped so now I’m sourcing contributors for The Big Debate feature for the next issue, which is always a challenge as the topics are always a bit controversial; I’ve been discussing a potential contribution with a US news pundit and have just asked a PR to go back and pitch an article a different way to a potential contributor I am interested in – every day is different.
What interests you most about your job?
We have just been testing the water with the first couple of issues so over the course of the next year more will be revealed about what we are hoping to achieve with the magazine. I’m looking forward to where it’s going next.
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I have zero prior publishing experience, but I did write my first magazine on a typewriter and sell it for 10p to my friends when I was about 8. It was about computer games; does that count?
Do you tweet? Why, why not?
I’m naturally tweet-phobic but have been persuaded to set up a new twitter page @thenewidealists – it hasn’t launched yet but hopefully will do soon!