Insert caption here…
A typical Thursday: three days to go until we publish and it’s a full sprint from 8am to 10pm.
At the European edition of Time – as at any news magazine – we spend the early part of the working week creating elaborate plans for the next issue.
Then we spend Thursday tearing up those plans and starting over. (I don’t schedule lunches or dinners on Thursdays and Fridays so I can focus on the magazine.) When I hear that Russian prosecutors have just frozen 44 per cent of the shares in Yukos – the oil company run by Russia’s richest man, jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky – I decide to put Vladimir Putin on Monday’s cover.
We already have a story in the works, but I’ve been worried it might feel stale next week. (Making sure Time stays relevant and ahead of the news is the most important thing I do.) Today’s drama tells me the story has legs, so we hold another cover project to make room, and order up sidebars, charts and graphics. I’ve just got one problem: my Moscow bureau chief is in Vermont.
A lot of news organisations these days make do with one correspondent or freelance in Moscow. Fortunately for me, Time has a two-man Moscow bureau, so I’ve got a seasoned, wellsourced reporter named Yuri Zharakovich on the story.
He’s going flat out and will keep at it until we close Saturday night.
Reporting from Paris and writing the story is my senior business writer, Peter Gumbel. Zharakovich is a passionate Russian, Gumbel an unflappable Brit.
They’ve never teamed up before, but I can tell it’s going to work. Now I can turn back to the other dozen stories we’ve got going this week.
Up early and into the office to do my “mock-ups” – schematic diagrams of the four editions we produce in London (British Isles, continental Europe, Middle East, Africa). Each edition has different editorial and advertising configurations, so planning them is a bit like playing 3-D chess.
Story meeting at 10, then a blur of phone calls and e-mails and meetings.
Picking pictures, approving or tweaking designs, massaging stories and headlines. We close most of our pages today: a nice arts-and-media story on gay-oriented TV channels in France and Italy; a strong business report about Volkswagen.
The Russian story comes in, and it’s good; we send an edited version back to Gumbel, Zharakovich and our reporters in Washington for their comments and corrections, which will come in overnight. Leave the office at 3.30am.
Back in at 1pm with some very strong coffee and my Saturday staff.
Call me a masochist, but I enjoy Saturdays. I get to read through the stories that have been produced this week by our US, Asian, Canadian and Australian editions and assemble a global magazine for my readers.
We update the Russian story and put together our notebook section of newsy nuggets, along with the people, milestones and contents pages. No big breaking news tonight. The computer servers crash a few times, but by 2am – a couple of hours later than usual – the issue is finally closed.
Ten o’clock conference call with my bureau chiefs. In at 11am for a story meeting and to page through the magazine.
(This week’s baby has got all its fingers and toes; this is good news.) Meetings with the business side, then a bit of fun: to the Royal Festival Hall with Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival (Time is a sponsor).
Tonight we’re lucky enough to hear Shakti – the sublime melding of Indian music and jazz led by guitarist John McLaughlin and tabla master Zakir Hussain. Then, at The Ivy restaurant, Claude regales us with warm, funny, gently outrageous stories about every jazz and rock great you’d care to name. A splendid man.
Starting to get serious about this week’s issue. I can’t tell anyone yet, but we’re picking up a secret cover project from the US edition: the real story of Jessica Lynch, the US soldier captured in Iraq and rescued (on videotape). She says she’s not a hero.
Lunch with former Time Europe editor Chris Redman, who’s working on an ambitious television documentary.
It’s good to see Chris, who was pivotal in creating Time’s European edition when the decision to regionalise was made back in 1995. Home early.
Time: up for two FPA awards
Good news: Time Europe has been nominated for two Foreign Press Association awards (and I’ve been shortlisted for Editor of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors.
Would they give it to a Yank?) Lunch at Christopher’s with Ian Burrell, media reporter for The Independent. Burrell did a story the other day about how Newsweek International published one issue with multiple covers.
I mention that Time really has multiple international editions and is the world’s leading English language magazine, is edited and published in the various regions and is the world’s leading English-language news magazine.
A fun, wideranging discussion – London newspapers, the future of Iraq, Johnny Cash. Then on to a World Economic Forum meeting.
Afterwards, I plan to go back to the office to look over stories, but instead divert the taxi home. Tomorrow is Thursday. I can always tear things up then.