Editor Kathleen Morgan reveals how her childhood passion for journalism led her to forge a career in the industry.
Here, Kathleen shares the highlights of her career so far – including interviewing the Star Wars alumni Ewan McGregor and his uncle Denis Lawson – and pinpoints the skills necessary to forge a successful career in today’s ever-changing media landscape.
I’m an editor at Think, a publishing company specialising in providing communications for membership organisations.
I’m responsible for three membership titles – a UK health and wellbeing magazine and two Scotland-wide cultural magazines. I work alongside designers, fellow editors, an editorial assistant and sub editors, and enjoy the team aspect of my work. The job tends to be fast-paced, with multiple deadlines across titles to keep an eye on.
What magazines do you work on?
The titles I have worked on during my two years with Think are: Be Healthy, for the not-for-profit healthcare provider Benenden, one of the top twenty magazines by circulation in the UK (launch editor); Explorer for National Museums Scotland (launch editor); Historic Scotland, for Historic Environment Scotland; Connect, for Crohn’s and Colitis UK (launch editor).
All four publications are highly visual, with strong design and photography, which suits me. As the former editor of weekend supplements for Scottish national newspapers, I was always interested in photography and design, but now I also commission photographers.
I have also learned to deal with clients and editorial boards, rather than just a newspaper editor and readers. My practical knowledge of InDesign has also improved.
How did you end up in your current role as an Editor at Think?
Prior to my role at Think I had taken time out of the industry to lecture in journalism, and enjoyed working with students at university, college and NCTJ Diploma levels.
After five years of teaching and freelancing I was missing being part of a magazine team. I applied for the editor’s job at Think two years ago and have enjoyed being back in the saddle since.
Did you always want to get involved in journalism?
I had wanted to be a journalist since secondary school. I loved George Orwell’s journalism as well as his novels, and was brought up on a diet of four or five newspapers.
I started as a co-editor of Glasgow University Magazine and trained in journalism at the University of Cardiff before joining a newspaper in Aberdeen and later becoming editor of The List, the events guide to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
After working at the Daily Record as a features and TV writer, I edited the Sunday Herald Magazine and The Herald Magazine, where I enjoyed working with a great team including investigative journalists Michael Tierney and Eamonn O’Neill.
Career highlights so far?
Some of my most memorable interviews have included The Satanic Verses writer Salman Rushdie while he was living in hiding under a fatwa, and Star Wars actors Ewan McGregor and his uncle Denis Lawson, whom I interviewed on a hotel bed.
Besides my current one, my favourite job was as editor of The Herald Magazine. Our team beat the UK qualities to a British Press Award for newspaper supplement of the year.
What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing a career in journalism or looking to progress their career within the industry?
Look for strong stories based on cracking interviews, and be prepared to tell them on various platforms using the most appropriate tools. Technology can never make up for a strong, well-sourced story with a fresh angle, but it can help you reach your audience in innovative ways.
The traditional route into journalism, through local newspapers, still exists, and can be a route into other journalistic roles. Be flexible and open-minded when pursuing stories – and employment opportunities.
What would be your dream magazine to edit?
Any magazine with a mix of reportage and lighter journalism with strong photography and design!
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