Up Front: June 2008
Recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to sit in on our editorial department’s weekly meeting. That might not seem such a big deal, but keep in mind that most of the 18 years I’ve spent in print media have been in sales — the Dark Side, reporters and editors sometimes call it. When I worked at the Raleigh News & Observer as a display advertising sales representative, account manager or whatever impressive-sounding title the powers that be gave us in lieu of raises, the ad department was in a separate building from the newsroom. People working in either department rarely had contact with those in the other unless they were smokers, huddling in designated smoking areas. Even then, they were much more likely to discuss the weather than their respective jobs.
Coming to Business North Carolina, I was not surprised to find the so-called Chinese wall dividing editorial and advertising. Journalists — the good ones, at least — deplore the concept that their objectivity can be influenced. That’s especially true with a business magazine, which must by its subject matter cover companies that are current or potential advertisers. So when the editor in chief asked me to attend the meetings, you can imagine my anticipation as well as apprehension. Not only do I supervise sales, but I’m the publisher. I sign the paychecks. It’s my job to make sure the magazine makes money. And did I mention that I’m the owner’s son? I do, however, spend a lot of time traveling the state and get a lot of feedback — good and bad — on our magazine. Maybe I could bring something to the table.
Fortunately, my presence has been well-received, and what I have been exposed to is impressive. For our editors, working for BNC is more than a job. Not only do they put in ungodly hours, but they’re always looking for different and better ways to do things. For example, a recent meeting diverged from a discussion of events across the state to the noir style of Raymond Chandler. What could we learn from the legendary crime writer’s use of language, pacing and narrative to fashion business stories as taut and compelling as a Philip Marlowe yarn? This is what separates BNC from other publications in this state. It’s not only what we write about but the way we go about it. It’s a commitment to craft that goes into every detail, from the depth of a cover story to the blurbs on the table of contents — always with a deadline looming over our heads.
Does it matter? As publisher, I want to know — and I feel our editors need to know — if all that effort is worth it. There’s a letters section in this issue. We would like to run one every issue. What do you think? What do you like about what we do? What could we do better? Send your thoughts on these or any matters dealing with the magazine, its content or our BusinessNC.com Web site. We’ll discuss them at our meetings and provide a format to share them. Send them to email@example.com or to me at the feedback + comments section below. Thanks in advance for taking the time to make your voice heard on a subject we’re passionate about: our product.