Tim Pollard, BSME
Tim Pollard has worked for many of the UK’s biggest car magazines, including Car, Autocar and What Car?, and is now Group Digital Editorial Director at Bauer Media, the UK’s largest publisher.
He is also the 2022 chair of the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME), the group that represent the needs and views of all digital and print editors. We meet him as he prepares to hand over to the society’s 2023 chair, at this week’s annual BSME Awards ceremony in London.
What are you up to this morning?
I’m just back from an early-morning dog walk with Molly, my golden retriever. She’s been a godsend these past three years—keeping me sane during lockdowns, giving me exercise and screen breaks and a generally fun, fluffy friend. She’s currently curled up on the floor by my laptop (below), as I work from home. I’m typically WFH for half the week, with other days spent in the office or out-and-about on industry events. I’m enjoying working at home: seeing more of my teenage children and watching the garden change as the chilly grip of winter takes hold is a refreshing antidote to deadlines and algorithm changes.
I am a curious case of someone who knew from a young age exactly what they wanted to do. I was 12 years old when I first stumbled upon a row of car magazines in a newsagent in Swanage, Dorset. I hadn’t realised that such publications existed—and they married my love of toy Matchbox cars and writing in one exquisite package of printed joy.
I spent £1.15 of my pocket money on the August 1986 issue of Performance Car magazine (I still have it, above) and was hooked, my grandfather buying me an annual birthday subscription thereafter. Exposure to motoring mags in the 1980s and ’90s grew my knowledge of cars, magazine craft and superlative writing from some of the best names in the business, including LJK Setright, Gavin Green, Russell Bulgin and Steve Cropley.
I can’t quite believe I’ve been able to work in this industry for quarter of a century—it’s opened so many doors and even led to me chairing the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) this year.
Describe your role at the BSME
As the 2022 chair, I lead the BSME committee, made up of 16 senior editors, editorial directors and art directors from across the industry. They’re a brilliant bunch—being immersed in the different perspectives and viewpoints from across the UK’s biggest publishers and indies, consumer titles and B2B mags, is wonderfully invigorating. We’re all joined in a mutual passion for our industry.
Together, we plan the activities of the BSME throughout the year and I have weekly calls with sub-committees and the society’s wonderful administrators, Juliette McCrinnon and David Cotter. Highlights of 2022 include our return to physical events (like the Talent Awards with celebrity doctor Dr Ranj Singh, above), a successful membership drive among larger publishers, a significant increase in awards entries and a wonderful event at Shoreditch House this summer, exploring how best to produce a front cover with impact on every channel. It’s an example of how we’re trying to make sure the BSME keeps up to date with the challenges facing all of us.
My year in charge is coming to a close: I’m keeping the chair warm for one year, before handing over to 2023’s incumbent, who will be announced in the next 24 hours…
What does the BSME stand for today?
The BSME has a Ronseal quality to its mission: we are the British Society of Magazine Editors—run by editors, for editors. We offer a meeting place for that most bruised and battered and brilliant of journalists: the editor. It’s a time of huge change for our members as the magazine landscape is radically redrawn by technology and we’re here to support them every step of the way. There’s risk and turbulence aplenty, but also enormous opportunity to build and connect with audiences in new and engaging ways.
We hold events and training courses, networking opportunities (above) and awards throughout the year to nurture and inspire our editors and prepare them for the multi-channel future. It can be quite lonely editing a magazine or website – the BSME’s purpose is to support them at every level, swap best practice and help make them better editors.
What are you doing when not attending to BSME matters?
I’ve worked in a variety of print and digital roles and am fascinated by the changing face of media. For me, the sweet spot comes when old-fashioned editorial values—journalistic insight, inquisitive minds and high production values—dovetail with the data, analytics and storytelling possibilities of the new digital landscape. Without the human touch, digital journalism is just robotic, cold and probably quite click-baity.
The best modern journalism is impactful, original and gripping. That’s the culture I try to foster in my day job at Bauer Media. I manage the digital editors of our biggest websites to ensure we are keeping standards high as we move to multi-channel distribution. Of course, I’m completely obsessed with physical magazines, too, and my desk is cluttered with copies of Car magazine (60 years old this year, below) and titles I’ve bought or picked up along the way on my recent travels. Big shout-out to the innovative motoring mags Road Rat and Magneto in the automotive space—they’re really innovating.
What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
The BSME Awards are happening tomorrow night, Tuesday 29 November. It’s the highlight of the society’s year and we’re preparing to host several hundred guests at the Pan Pacific Hotel in the City. I’ll be presenting with comedian, actor and author Stephen Mangan, which should be fun. It’s not my natural habitat to be behind a mic on stage and I’ll probably be suffering from frightful nerves beforehand! It’s such a great event, though—and I can’t wait to toast the best editors, art directors and columnists in our amazing industry.
It’ll be a celebratory night, awe-inspiring and a chance to come together and remember the thrilling power of magazines. It’ll be quite the party – just a shame I’ve got to check in for a flight at 7am on Wednesday morning…
This year’s BSME Award winners will be announced on Tuesday 29 November. Follow @bsmeinfo on Twitter for live updates. magCulture is proud to sponsor the Independent Magazine Editor of the Year category of the Awards.