Editorial: Here’s to next time
Editing a magazine might not be a hard job, but there are some unforeseen pitfalls. I use three recording devices at once for interviews (belt, braces and stapling your trousers on) but on one occasion all three failed to record. (Didn’t turn ’em on.)
Then there was the writer who misread the number of zeros in the word count. And there was the interviewee who, a week later, wanted to unsay almost everything they said in their interview. The names misspelt, the wrong versions of articles printed. The contributor (not to Reform) who told readers she ‘worked in the public sector’, but we missed out the l. The stuff that sleepless nights are made of.
This month’s mishap is a subtler one. In Reform we plan ahead to ensure the right balance of articles in any given issue, and often have to keep writers waiting until the right slot comes up. One of our feature articles this month is a report by John Grundy on his visit to First Nations people in Canada, in which he reflects on what he has learned about empire as a white British person. Then, next to it, we were going to have an article based on an interview with the United Reformed Church General Assembly Moderators, but now we are keeping it till next month, when we can give it more space.
So we decided to bring forward a feature which we already had lined up for next month, to step into the breach. It’s by one of the moderators, Alan Yates, so that seemed appropriate, and it offers reflections on a hearing he attended about the legacies of slavery.
Only as we finally prepared the magazine to go press did we notice the problem that we had walked into. They are both good articles, but now we have two features in one edition where white men reflect on the issue of race. Not the kind of balance we would aim for. White people have things to say about race, but it doesn’t do the articles themselves, or the issue, any favours to have presented them like this, together, without other perspectives, who could talk from greater personal experience.
We don’t get it all right but we can benefit from our mistakes. You live and learn. Every time you stumble, never grumble, next time you’ll bumble even less, for up from the ashes, up from the ashes grow the roses of success.
We at Reform care very much about offering a full range of different perspectives, about hearing from people with first-hand experience and not just talking about them, about trying to ensure no voices are excluded. Here’s to next time.
This article was published in the April 2018 edition of Reform