Thursday, 25 March 2010

In the Editor's Chair - Sophia Jackson

There are loads of magazine out there which act as a guide to life in London; some are good but some are quite brilliant. Enter Lime magazine which acts as a guide to cultural London covering anything from music, theatre, comedy, radio and TV from a multi-cultural perspective. The editor is Sophia Jackson who is a bit of a media maverick; she has worked on a variety of publications such as Blink, New Nation, The BFM and also edits the Screen Nation Awards magazine. She is also the founder and editor of Afrizidiak Theatre News which covers African Caribbean theatre. I caught up with her to find out more about Lime and life in the fast lane as an editor. 

How did you get into journalism? 
Journalism is something that I’ve always wanted to do, however, I dragged my feet and found myself doing various admin related jobs until I panicked and realised that if I didn’t take my dreams seriously, no one would. I did work experience at The Journal whilst studying for my BA in Media Arts with English. At the time, Barbara Campbell was the editor and I then went on to write reviews for various publications. This gave me some experience in journalism but I needed something more concrete. So for two years, I did a part-time course studying for a Masters in Journalism Studies at the University of Westminster whilst working full-time.  My lecturer, Alan Hiscock, sent out an email about doing work experience for the black news website, Blink, and I decided to go for it. Working with Lester Holloway, who was the editor of Blink, was a life-changing experience. He was the first person to give me a paid journalism gig, and gave me many opportunities to develop as a journalist. He was like a mentor to me and meeting him was invaluable to my journalism experience and career. I then joined him at New Nation as their listings editor. Since doing my MA I have been the editor of the Screen Nation Awards magazine three times, another life-changing experience and again, I’m grateful to Screen Nation CEO/founder, Charles Thompson for believing in me. It was the first time I’d been editor of a magazine and although it was daunting and hard work, I loved it – probably because my creative flair is tinged with elements of being a bit of a bossy boots. I’ve also worked for BFM for a number of years on their bi-monthly magazine as the sub-editor and entertainments editor. I’ve been editor of their website for just over a year. Now I’m editor and founder of Afridiziak Theatre News, a website celebrating African-Caribbean theatre and editor of Lime magazine.
Describe the concept of Lime magazine.
‘Lime’ is a word used around the Caribbean which in a nutshell means ‘socialising with your friends, family and having fun’. We felt this was the perfect word to describe the magazine as it is a multi-cultural events listings guide. We’re all about good times, going out and socialising so we want our readers to ‘Come Lime with Us’ at the many cultural events, gigs, plays, gallery exhibitions, community events and film screenings that London has to offer. We also have some of the hottest interviews around - from A list stars to up and coming talent. We combine all of this with engaging features and all the latest reviews.

The design is very contemporary, how did you decide on the art design of the publication?
Thank you. We have been getting positive feedback and I think it’s because each issue gets better and better because we keep tweaking and working on the strengths from the previous issue. Also, our publisher, Got Media has a super creative eye for design. We also work with talented designers who are at the top of their game. As a team, we all want Lime to stand out from the crowd – so far, so good. I think the re-design of our front cover style has helped strengthen our brand, also. I’m torn between whether this cover or the Idris Elba (Feb 2010) is my favourite, so far. 

Who is behind the magazine and how many members of staff work on Lime?
Team Lime is me, the editor. Dean Serieux, head of sales, Michelle Adabra, our features editor, Audrey Brown, our features writer and Jerome DeFreitas, our designer. Dean, Michelle, Jerome and I are all former New Nation employees. With New Nation going into Administration in January 2009 it’s great that we’ve been able to turn that around. Lime also has a team of contributors on board too which is brilliant for us as we’re pleased that so many talented writers, like yourself, who want to get involved. 

Describe a day in the life of Sophia A Jackson. 
If I was ever followed around by a film crew for the day, you would wonder how I managed to cram so much into one day. My life is a series of deadlines being carefully juggled, managed and negotiated. I am ruled by my inbox and unless I stay on top of my emails things could get messy, neglected and pushed down the priority list. My BlackBerry is like a limb I wouldn’t want to live without – it’s a part of me. It’s probably slightly unhealthy but I just love the fact that I don’t have to do everything when I’m stuck at a laptop or PC. A typical day involves liaising with Team Lime – we often communicate with each other several times a day. I am in regular contact with people who work in entertainment PR, arranging for a journalist to review a gig, play or event or setting up interviews etc. Or I am busy writing reviews, doing interviews, editing copy, thinking of creative ways to keep the magazine fresh with unique themes, chasing images, forward planning, updating the ever-changing flat plan, and keeping the website up to date. I also have to keep my own website, Afridiziak Theatre News up to date so you can imagine my life is hectic. But I do feel blessed. I’m doing what I want to do, it’s not perfect but I’m happy and if you can be happy in your work then you’re in a good place I believe. I love meeting new people and going out with friends and family, and having new experiences. Which is why it’s hard to sometimes say no to press nights, launches, invites etc but you can’t do it all. Now I’m happy to encourage other writers to go out and about as I don’t feel I have to do it all anymore.

Which blogs do you check out regularly?
Tricia Wombell’s Black Book News, Angel Smith’s A Taste of Angel Cake and yours, of course.

What magazines do you read? 
I absolutely LOVE the free women’s weekly magazine, Stylist. I think it’s a publication that fills a gap, the editorial is on point, interesting and well targeted. I also buy Pride magazine religiously out of loyalty because it’s the only black women’s publication in the UK which has survived over the years and I like that.

What tips do you have for anyone who wants to become a magazine editor?
Be prepared to work hard and only work for a publication you are passionate about and believe in. Be conscious of the fact that you need to have serious time-management skills, love communicating with different kinds of people, all day every day, learn the art of networking and relish the thought of meeting new people. You’ll also need to become a professional at maintaining your contacts because without them well... Lastly, keep your friends and family close because you need them to keep you sane in this crazy media game and to remind you of what’s really important in life.

The March 2010 edition of Lime magazine is out now: The Goddess Issue is a salute to all women in celebration of International Women’s Month.

Check out Lime magazine's website here.  

You can can follow Lime on Twitter here.

3 cool comments:

Angel said...

A Fantastic Article and I am honoured that she reads my blog!

MsQuiche said...

Awwww what a fantastic read, thanks Ronke. Sophia is so inspiring, don't know how she manages to juggle so much, one can only dream...

Aulelia said...

Lime sounds like an interesting magazine. How much are they charging per issue?