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Focus on Fifty Magazine with editor Alice White

Fifty Magazine’s editor Alice White tells us a bit about the new online magazine for the over 50s, and the importance of reliability and integrity, in today’s Focus interview…

About the publication:

Who reads it and how many of them are there?
Fifty only launched on 1st December so we are currently building a following, but as it stands we are regularly pulling in 60 individuals per day. Our demographic is people aged between 50 and 65, but the articles we have on the site can be read be people both older and younger than this. We try to write about what people aged 50 are thinking and talking about, as well as any interests they may have.

What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
We try to cover all aspects of over-50s life. We have 7 sections altogether; Health, Motoring, Finance, Home & Garden, Leisure & Lifestyle, Food & Drink and Travel. Within each of these sections we have various articles and features that cover a wide range of issues and topics. We also have a section of Mensa puzzles, and also an opinions area where we can pop up any letters and opinion pieces that readers send in to us. We are very interested in keeping a current affairs theme running through the site – not necessarily in every article, but we feel it is important to keep topics contemporaneous and relevant.

What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector?
Other outlets that appeal to the over 50s can firstly be quite patronising. We try not to lump the over-50s into the ‘old’ category – after all, people aged 50 may still be working for another 15 to 20 years, so they are by no means old at all.

Also, we keep our site updated daily with news stories, as well as the monthly updates of features. I don’t think there are many websites out there for the over 50s that can say that they have something new up online every day.

We also cover such as wide range of topics that there is something for everyone on Fifty Magazine. If you want health information, or travel ideas, there is no need to go to 2 different sites – we have interesting, informative and entertaining articles all in one place!

How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
We often use the time of year as inspiration behind the content. Our first month was during December – so we chose the obvious theme of Christmas. This allowed us to theme each article, so our fashion feature was about Christmas party outfits, our Home & Garden section was about gardening in the winter and decorating the guest room for when family come to stay, and our Food & Drink had alternative Christmas dinner recipes and how to clean up red wine spillages.
We also look at national awareness weeks and months for inspiration. For example at the beginning of February it is Fairtrade Fortnight, so we have articles about Fairtrade wines, as well as other products you can buy, and also about how Fairtrade benefits farmers in poorer countries.

Do you produce a features list? Why? Why not?
We do produce a features list, but this is by no means exclusive. We always welcome suggestions and pitches from freelancers. We produce a features list each month for a few reasons; firstly it gives us direction when planning out the look and theme of the month’s features. Secondly it makes it easier to budget and plan our finances when commissioning articles from freelancers.

Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
We do use contributions from freelancers, in fact we welcome them to get in touch with us if they have any ideas of their own for any topic area, or if they want to join our mailing list for each month’s content list.

About you and freelance journalists:

Do you like freelance journalists to get in touch with you directly to pitch ideas? And if so,how? (What should the pitch include and any specifics about how they should send that information to you)
We welcome freelancer to get in touch with us – they can email me to pitch any ideas they may have. A pitch should normally include a sample paragraph such as the introduction to an article, and briefly detail what the article would be about and the direction it would take.

Name the three most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out for you and would make you use them again?
Reliability is definitely the most important. We need to feel that we can rely on a freelancer to submit their work on time. We also like freelancers to feel they can communicate with us freely and easily if they have any problems. We are very friendly here so if any problems arise, we always prefer to talk them through.

Lastly we like freelancers to have a sense of ‘self’ and bring a voice to their work. It is always great to read through an article that has style and really stands out and is memorable.

If you can, tell us about the best approach you’ve seen from a freelance…and the worst…
We are a very young publication so we do not have too many stories to tell I’m afraid!

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events) or do you keep them at arm’s length?
We are in contact with a few PR companies, but we always keep our own integrity at heart. We do not feature advertorials, and if we recommend a product it is because we truly believe it to be good, rather than doing it to help out a PR company.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
We would ask that they appreciate that, as a publication, we value our integrity highly and that blatantly plugging a product, whilst it may be beneficial to their client, can be damaging to our journalistic reputation. Therefore we like to write an article first, and then recommend a product that fits around that article, rather than write an article purely for advertising purposes.

How should a PR approach you about their client?
It is fine to email me if a PR company have any suggestions. I prefer a PR pitch to just have links to products and clients so that I may view them for myself – that way I can make up my own mind if they are suitable for Fifty.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?
I can be contacted any time during the week. The deadline for contributions is the 10th of each month before publication – so the deadline for March features will be 10th February.

About you:

Describe a typical day at work: What are you editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
A typical day at work will always start with turning on my computer and checking my emails! It can sometimes take me a while to work my way through them all, especially on a Monday morning! My other duties include researching and compiling the list of features and articles that we will commission for up-coming months, and organising the paperwork for invoices and purchases orders which I send over to the accounts team.

I also upload all the articles into the CMS (content management system), which can be time-consuming, but very rewarding once they have been uploaded and I can view them in their finished layout!

What interests you most about your job?
I love how my job is never finished – every day there is something new on the to-do list, and that it is always something creative. I am a very creative person and whether it be laying out a new article on the CMS, writing a feature or editing someone else’s, I am always using my brain and learning.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I graduated from Bournemouth University with BA Hons Multimedia Journalism in 2010, and was very fortunate to apply for this job and get it! I picked up a lot of experience during my time at university – both through the course and through various work experience placements. Some people may think me inexperienced, but I have enjoyed being chucked in at the deep end with Fifty and I have always been a quick learner! And whilst journalistic experience is valuable, it is also about having a passion and yearning for the job, which I definitely have.

Do you Twitter? Why, why not?
I do Twitter, and you can follow our tweets by adding us @FiftyMagazine. We also have a twitter feed on our site which displays our favourite tweets of the day.

Twitter is a great way to keep in-touch with current affairs and news as they happen, both from big corporations such as the BBC and more grass-roots sources. I always make sure I have Twitter open as I work!

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I was ever given was from my Media Law lecturer at university. After frightening us all to death about the likeliness of us all being sued for various defamatory, copyright or contemptuous reasons during our careers, he advised us to always be careful and double check every fact, and then check again!

What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning?
The first thing I do in the morning is either put on the TV or the radio to find out what is happening in the world. Once I get to work I always have a look at the BBC News website, as well as Twitter, and on my lunch break a newspaper is a must!

If you could time travel what time would you go to?
I would travel to the future, see what scandals were taking place, and then come back and ‘predict’ them all before anyone else!

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[img|jpg|Alice White]