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12. Magazine editor|
Phoebe Smith (Wanderlust)
What’s so great about it? I love words and I love putting together magazines. The whole process is what keeps a smile on my face. I work with passionate people. I like having deadlines and I thrive on dealing with the challenges being an editor throws up, and how you have to think on your feet when something goes wrong. In a way, it’s not dissimilar to the same things I love about travel: putting trips together, meeting new people, thinking on your feet. My job has taken me across Siberia on a train, allowed me to reach and sleep at Everest Base Camp, taken me beyond the Antarctic Circle for a polar plunge, and allowed me to reach remote Inuit communities up in Nunavik, all things I have to pinch myself about even now. Career highlights include walking part of the Camino de Santiago, meeting a porter from the 1953 Everest Expedition in Namche Bazar, Nepal, and seeing my first grizzly in Glacier National Park, Montana, not to mention meeting my hero Bill Bryson.
The hard reality: The truth is, as magazine editor, my day is like a lot of people’s office-based jobs. As well as logistically putting a magazine together and the fun parts, like dreaming up feature ideas, there’s also a lot of reading through proposals (I get several hundred a week), commissioning articles (and dealing with people’s disappointment when they’re not commissioned), loads of emails to go through (endless emails), lots of meetings, networking events in the evenings, planning workshops and seminars, dealing with budgets and managing a team. Most people think being editor of a travel magazine involves a lot of actual travelling, and while I can’t complain (I work hard so that I can fit in some travel), the reality is that I have to turn down a lot of dream trips and often end up sending someone else on my dream trip, which never gets any easier.
Skills and Qualifications: A good, successful travel writer is a writer who travels, not a traveller who writes, and it’s exactly the same for a travel editor. The editing has to come first. You have to love journalism and magazine craft as much - if not more - than travel itself, and don’t expect to be on the road an awful lot. But editing means you get to plan issues, commission and craft other people's words and take pride from the fact that you can make someone else's article sound the best it possibly can. Everyone’s way into the job is different. I did a combined Honors degree in Journalism and an MA in English, and still had to do an internship on a newspaper and even an NCTJ course before I got my first job as staff writer on a magazine in Sydney. You need to write well, understand journalism and work hard. People always told me I’d never be able to get this job. But I always remind people that the difference between those who make it and those who don’t is that the ones who made it never gave up.
Phoebe is now editor at large for Wanderlust and a freelance writer/broadcaster/presenter.