I braved the cold and traveled into Philadelphia to the offices of MetroKids Magazine last Thursday. I’ve been interning for them for the past two and half months. Since most of my time is spent at home updating attractions listings, I wanted a chance to see how a magazine was put together for publication. Little did I know, everything is done on computers, and unless I was in charge of a specific section, I wasn’t going to learn much.
When I emailed my interest to observe the production process, the editors told me to bring in the attraction listings and article I was working on because they were fully engaged in preparing the January issue. I was a bit nervous about bringing in my article on the 10 Family Movies of All Time, since I hadn’t made much progress with it. I couldn’t get a list of 10 movies for ages toddlers to teens to save my life. Another problem I ran into was determining what movies would not only entertain children, but their parents as well and offer discussion topics.
It was a good thing I went into the office to get the entire thing worked out with him. I mentioned I was going to choose a movie or two that would be released in Feb. “Why?” he asked. “If it’s going to be the best movies of all time, then you wouldn’t be choosing a new movie.” A bit of a slap in the face, but I took it in stride and kept on moving. I apparently didn't understand the assignment. Great start!
We discussed my struggle with finding movies for toddlers. They are incapable of truly understanding what is going on in the movie and are only really able to comprehend the colors and movement on the screen. I gave them a few choices, including Leap Frog movies that they shot down. They were looking for more full-length features. I told them that a child that age would not be able to sit still long enough. Eventually, we decided that the toddler age should be eliminated. The movie ages would start at 5.
Ok. Then came the discussion of finding critically acclaimed family movies of all time. Well, not many were available. He didn’t believe me. I gave him several of my choices, but he didn’t seem to like them too much. Mean Girls in particular. I felt that it dealt with very poignant topics of bullying and popularity teenagers face everyday. “Is that critically acclaimed?”
Moving on. I then spoke about finding male and female movies for the tweens and teens. “Why would you do that?” I explained I found many movies for girls, but few for boys and I knew not too many families with boys were going to run out and rent Mean Girls or Twilight (critically acclaimed? Not sure.). I wanted to make sure the article reached a broader range of people. I brought up The Dark Knight. I voiced my concerns for the movie due to the violence and he shot it down immediately, saying it didn’t have any real merit or value. “That wouldn’t be on Common Sense Media website,” (he continuously threw this website out at me when ever I ran into a roadblock). Actually, that’s where I got the idea. He was shocked. Went online to check my story. Common Sense Media called it "an excellent sequel."
I then ran down the list of top 10 teen movies, which included Best of Show. I love this movie, but I know many people didn’t enjoy, laugh or understand the quirky movie. I knew a teenager wouldn’t get it or relate to the dog breeding/showing topic, but he felt it was the greatest idea. So, what I gleaned from this was he was biased about the movies. If he didn’t like them, then they shouldn’t be in the article. I felt his reasoning had little to do with whether the children and parents would enjoy the movie.
After about 30 minutes of me trying to plead my case and the editor trying to prove me wrong, he told me to just go ahead with the direction I was in. I seemed to know what I was doing and he was just mucking up the works. We also revised the topic to 10 Terrific Family Movies. Holy cow! It felt good to know that I was on the right path and I hadn’t run off the road recklessly. I know that he will be impressed with the article and I will write something I will be proud to put my name on.
Is this how all editors work? Being my first experience, I think I learned a great deal in a short amount of time. I need to have the confidence to say I think something isn’t working, with evidence to back up my claim. I need to stand my ground. I did so, not as confidently as I hoped, but my point was made and I have a bit more leeway with the article.
So, what has your experience with editors been like? Do you have any advice on the editor/writer relationship?