Monday, October 16, 2006

Magazine Markup Language

Tonight I spent several hours reading -- and marking up -- the current issue of Fast Company. It's a magazine I worked for for eight years -- I was hire No. 17, I helped launch the Web site, and I helped launch the blog -- and it's a magazine I love dearly. Dearly!

It was, I think, an interesting exercise worth encouraging. I plan to send my markup -- a Sharpie'd copy of the issue and two construction paper pages with notes -- to the current editor in chief.

And I think it's an experience other Media Dieticians should pursue. Take your favorite mag -- or a magazine you want to encourage -- and read it. Take notes on the pages of the magazine as you read. What works? What doesn't? Think in terms of design, source selection, and story selection. Look for consistencies and inconsistencies. Lend praise -- and criticism.

At the same time, write the editor a letter. Keep it to two pages, max. And keep you major ideas to three to five primary points.

Then mail it, unedited and uncopied, to the lead editor of the title. Be sure to say how long you've read the book, whether you subscribe, and who you are in relation to the magazine.

They may not respond to you, but my guess is that no one else will do that this month, and that they'll pay attention to it -- and discuss it with other editors, writers, and team members.

If you really love the magazine, do it again.

I know I will.

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