What does a magazine editor do on his/her (in my case, her) first day at a new publication? While I can’t speak for every editor, I can offer my own experience at San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles as a peek at what it was like for me on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
I arrived in San Diego at 4 p.m. the previous day, having flown back from a week in Oregon to my previous home, Palm Springs, and then loading the car and making the drive down (listening to the greatest hits of John Cougar Mellencamp all the way). I settled in (as much as one can settle in to an extended-stay hotel) and planned my next day’s outfit (to be changed five minutes before leaving the hotel the next morning).
When I arrived, Mike Evans, the associate publisher (whom I knew from our days together at Palm Springs Life magazine) was behind his desk. I handed him my “gift” of two newspapers I picked up on sidewalk just outside the entrance. He walked me to my beautifully arranged, newly painted office.
Facing my desk are shelves with architecture/design/gardening books that I plan to peruse when I have the opportunity. On top of a smaller set of shelves sits an unabridged dictionary, which was open to pages 1098-1099. Being a person whose world revolves around words, I couldn’t help but wonder if pages 1098-1099 bore any particular relevance. I promised myself I would investigate the page further for clues; but when I mentioned it to CFO Stephen Sadler when he came by to welcome me, he immediately noted that the top of one page read “legible.” OK, maybe. But as we’re living in the digital age, where little is handwritten, I’m going with “legwork.”
I’ve worked in the publishing industry since the mid-’90s. Today differed in that I found myself among a team of people who clearly are happy to be where they are and doing what they’re doing. Publisher Mark McKinnon brought me orchids; Chairman Michael McKinnon, whose office is on the KUSI-TV side of the company’s complex, also expressed delight at my coming aboard, while making it clear he expects great things from me (which is much better than working for someone who doesn’t).
Senior Editor Phyllis Van Doren immediately became my mentor for SDH/GL procedures. She knows the interior design community “inside and out” and will introduce me to movers and shakers at the ASID Design Excellence Awards on Saturday.
Tom Shess, whose regular contributions to the magazine include features and departments, brought me a journal (inscribed “A new adventure begins …”) that I am using for notations throughout the day to aid me in writing this blog.
I read emails about upcoming events, communications to the magazine and press releases. And I edited copy for the February issue. This being my first day, I also spent time reading and signing H.R. policies and forms. Tomorrow morning, I will witness a KUSI interview with three of the magazine’s “Stars of San Diego” (from the December issue). Phyllis will do on-screen honors, but she’s also attending a photo shoot in the morning. Before long, I‘ll be doing similar schedule juggling. That’s one of the aspects of an editor’s job that keeps it exciting.
As this blog continues, I will offer my insights into what happens behind the scenes of house scouting, photo shoots, interviews and more. But as I sat in an extended-stay hotel after my first day, I thought my initial impressions were worth noting, because San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles has a formula that San Diegans should embrace. I look forward to enhancing the magazine’s attributes and letting people know, through this blog, what it takes to put that formula together.