Hazel Sheffield is a journalist and filmmaker based in London. She cut her teeth writing about music for Stool Pigeon, NME and Intelligent Life before a stint studying digital media at Columbia in New York. Lately she has been travelling the UK reporting on alternative economies with a grant from the Friends Provident Foundation and feeling guilty about the magazines piling up at home.
We asked her to select three items form that pile.
A new issue
Right now, I am excited about the range of magazines trumpeting alternative models of ownership. Yes! magazine calls it solutions journalism. I’m not sure if these magazines have the all the answers, but they have tonnes of underreported stories about people choosing to run aspects of their lives differently. Positive News – which promises “not fluff, just progress” – goes one further by being owned by its readers. It was one of the first media organisations to offer shares in the publication through crowdfunding. Now those readers and journalists own it, rather than it being vulnerable to the whims of the publisher or external investors.
An old issue
I still miss The Stool Pigeon, the music magazine started by Phil Hebblethwaite that gave me my start in journalism. The art department, Mickey Gibbons, would lift old Victorian fonts from libraries and then design the pages in block print and colour. Often the text was barely legible.
It had great spoof covers – one featured Lemmy from the band Motorhead with a revolver held to his temple (above) and a coverline: “If you don’t pick up this newspaper, we’ll kill this dog.” It was a copy of a National Lampoon cover with an actual dog. The fifth birthday issue looked like an old issue of Mad Magazine. I loved all that magazine nerdiness and the way it was so irreverent, in content and design. Nothing looks like that now.
…and another thing
I treasure my copy of the Panorama. McSweeney’s, the publishing house in San Francisco, set out to explore the limits of the broadsheet as far as possible with this one-off, 512-page newspaper published in 2009. The newspaper is an efficient format: for a just a couple of pounds, you get all the news you need in a size that folds up to fit in your back pocket. It’s worth remembering that while publishers continue to grapple with how to make digital journalism pay.