Part two of our interview on ‘Report Every Rape’ with Reveal’s features editor Su Karney
“The one thing a women’s magazine can do now is interact – if magazines don’t evolve and find new ways to interact with their readers, it’s going to be harder to keep people buying print publications” – in part two of our interview with Reveal’s Su Karney, we discuss the future for the ‘Report Every Rape’ campaign, keeping your readership engaged with your brand, and how digital publishing and social media has affected traditional revenue streams for print magazines while providing different opportunities online.
Part one of this interview can be found here.
Hopefully the campaign gets a lot more signatures and support – where are you hoping it’ll go?
The petition will be open for a year and while we’re getting such a great response it would be foolhardy to stop. We’re going to keep talking with the police and MPs and see how far we can take it.
Alongside your work on the campaign, what are your main responsibilities as Reveal’s features editor?
Myself and Sarah [Sarah Whiteley, senior features writer] do all the real life stories for the magazine, so it could be something very newsy to do with a court case; a three-page study line up; a diet story; it could be quite jokey and light, or quite emotional. It could also be hard hitting, so the 'Report Every Rape' campaign falls into our section as well. We also do debates, which are very topical. We do everything – writing, editing, commissioning stories from agencies, freelancers – it’s hard to keep up, really.
How has the role of features editors and writers changed – you have to react quickly to reader response now.
Social media is part of our everyday life now, and in the past two years that has certainly been the biggest change. We use Facebook and Twitter as tools to get the message out there, to say what’s in the magazine this week, and to request case studies for a particular feature we want to do, or to ask opinion.
In terms of how the role has changed aside from interaction, it grows ever more difficult because of everyone getting their news online. You have to think of different ways to produce a feature that’s not going to be old by the time it comes out in the magazine; you need new angles to give something an edge; longevity. Us weeklies used to be seen as fast-paced, but obviously now we’re behind everything that happens online! We're keeping up with that demand.
A magazine has to be a whole brand now?
It’s definitely a brand – you’re not just one publication, you’re everything at once. When you’re working on a story, you have to think to yourself ‘what extra can I get out of this? How can I get the reader involved?’ It’s a multifaceted approach now.
And monetising brands – how is that changing? Is the role of advertising and PR still all-important?
Sales within the whole print industry have declined, so you have to find new ways to win advertising such as on your website – making it successful and reaching people so it’s attractive for advertisers. It brings new ways to do promotions.
There’s a lot of debate around the word ‘feminist’ – would you consider yourself a feminist, and would you consider the work that you’re doing with Reveal feminist?
That’s such a difficult one, because people hear that word and they think it’s really scary; that really old-school view. I would say that yes, I am. To me, it means that you think women are equal to anybody else, and that you have just as much right to everything. Certain aspects are more of a struggle for women, but in our office it’s so hard to say, because there’s only three guys – they’re outnumbered! Feminism is alive and well at Reveal!
Some say that if you work on a women’s magazine you can’t be a feminist because we objectify women. Obviously there are magazines who always come under the hammer for portraying a bad image of women; that everyone should be stick thin, etc. But I do think that we work to help make our readers just feel happy, proud, and that they can get involved in Reveal. If they’ve got a story to tell, we’re here to hear them.
Support Reveal's ‘Report Every Rape’ campaign by signing the petition here.
More information on Reveal’s ‘Report Every Rape’ campaign:
Su Karney: “We started the campaign back in February: it was spring-boarded off of figures that came out in the New Year from the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice that estimated around 95,000 rapes take place in the UK every year. The stats are pretty shocking because only about 15,670 rapes were actually reported and just over 1070 rapists were convicted."
Following overwhelming reader response to features in the magazine and to individual stories shared via a dedicated email address on the website, Su felt that "if there were people who are willing to share that with us, it was just the tip of the iceberg".
"’Report Every Rape’ is a voice for victims. In nine out of ten cases the person knows their attacker – maybe it’s a family member, a neighbour, a teacher, anybody very close to them – and they feel that they’re not going to be believed; that’s the number one problem. A lot of people have a very bleak view of having to come forward and tell somebody what’s happened to them. We wanted to put out there that some women do have success when they report it to the police, but first and foremost we wanted to let people know there is help out there to deal with the trauma."
"We looked at what we could do to affect some real change. In our work with Rape Crisis, Yvonne Trainer – one of the directors at the organisation – suggested we could help by petitioning the government to make more funding available for ISVAs (Independent Sexual Violence Advisors). What a lot of people don’t realise is that once you report a crime like this, you’re not just the victim, you are the witness to the crime as well. You can’t talk to your husband, your mum, or anyone about it; you’re not allowed to. If it comes out that you’ve done that, it could hinder your case in court. This is where ISVAs come in – they’re trained fully in supporting a victim through the criminal justice process, but there aren’t enough of them around the country."
Reveal launched the petition for signatures and support for the funding of more ISVAs in September, which can be found on the government website.