Thursday, 4 December 2008

Magazine staff roles and responsibilities in a nutshell:

All magazines have a publisher - both in the sense of the entity (organisation) that owns it and the person that manages it. With an independently published magazine this can be the same thing. In a large publishing organisation there will often be ‘group publishers’ who manage a number of different titles, typically organised in genres such as ‘lifestyle’, ‘motoring’, etc. (Above this level will be a publishing director or a board of directors - this is at the upper levels of the business, and it normally follows standard business management structure conventions.)

The publisher’s role is to:

  1. manage the overall strategy of a magazine
  2. Long-term direction
  3. Big advertising deals (not the day-to-day ones)
  4. Any large-scale economic considerations

They will not normally get involved in the day-to-day running of a magazine; that is done by the editor and the rest of the editorial team.

The structure of a magazine’s editorial structure will generally be something like this:

Editorial assistants

  • Researching for others
  • Writing smaller items
  • Picture research
  • Admin
  • Milk and sugar in your tea?

Staff writers

  • Ideas for stories, features and news
  • Write large portions of a magazine

Section editors

  • In charge of parts of the magazine
  • May write content, may commission staff writers or contributors
  • Liases with the design team for illustrations, photos, etc. for articles
  • In conjunction with the editor, proofs and signs off pages as they go through production

Art editor

  • Responsible for the look of the title and visual content of articles
  • Art-directs most photo shoots
  • Commissions photographers and illustrators

Designer/junior designer

  • Tackles the normal design tasks; customising feature layouts, etc.
  • Liases with photographers and illustrators
  • May also do production work

Production editor

  • Manages the production of layouts and final artwork
  • In charge of the actual production of the artwork
  • The voice of God when press day comes around: do NOT cross the production editor!
  • Needs to be a multi-tasking detail meister and control freak

Sub-editors/production subs

  • General layout production
  • Proof-reading and copy-fitting
  • Work with page templates and house styles


  • Legally responsible for what gets printed
  • May write a lot, may not (often determined by the size of the publication, which dictates the overall workload)
  • Proofs and signs off pages as they go through production
  • May have a deputy editor who helps share the load

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