I began my Michener study leave last April by visiting Harrowsmith and Equinox magazines in the relaxed rural setting of Camden East, just 15 miles from Kingston. I had worked out a research strategy for the study leave and here, among familiar colleagues, i was able to test the strategy without pressure.
Harrowsmith was created about 12 years ago by former Whig-Standard writer James Lawrence, who some years later also launched Equinox. Both magazines have earned enviable reputations and stand as proud examples of what can be achieved by a small group of enthusiastic journalists with sound vision and a commitment to excellence.
I talked to staff members about editorial policy, design principles and technological change, then tracked a specific article as it passed through several sets of hands along the production line. The department editor and four copy editors poured over the article, each marking up the original manuscript with different coloured pens.
A full-time researcher checked every fact (are there really 254 varieties of ferns in the Costa Rican rain forest? — call a Costa Rican botanist to be sure). After the art director and paste-up editor finished their jobs, page proofs were sent to six freelance proof-readers. At the Whig-Standard Magazine, the same article would have been edited and designed by one editor, in one pass, sent to the back shop and published. No proof-readers. No second chance. We have a long way to go!
Halfway through my second week at Harrowsmith and Equinox, i was recalled to the newspaper to deal with a staff crisis. It was a crisis that ended with the resignation of the editor who was replacing me while i was on leave. i had to stay put until other arrangements could be made and until summer vacations were over. i took my own holidays in September, then resumed the study leave in October.
The Ottawa Citizen had just introduced its new Sunday newspaper, and I was particularly interested in talking to its editor and designer about the project: had they considered including a magazine in the package? They said they had; after some discussion, however, they decided against a magazine. i talked to the design director — a former news editor — about his job and the working relationship he had established with the section editors whose pages his department designs. I want The Whig-Standard to establish a design department and am building an argument in its favour. Later in the month I went to Toronto to talk with the executive art director of The Globe and Mail with the same purpose in mind. He also showed me how introduction of pagination equipment at the Globe had affected his job. We will install the same pagination system next year.
I had hoped to visit Saturday Night magazine that trip, but John Fraser said it was a bad week, and could I return another time. I said I would.
Also in October I attended a design workshop in Louisville, Kentucky, and visited the Louisville Courier-Journal, which publishes its own Sunday magazine.
Roger W. Bainbridge.