26.10.2006 At midnight last night, we finished production of our November issue, which we have sent for printing in Turkey for the first time. The last issue was printed in Lisbon, and the issue before in Paris. As an independent magazine, securing the most competitive price for each issue is critical.
As a consequence of last night's late night, we start today dazed and confused, but ready to begin all over again for December's issue.
Our creative director has been invited to Paris by the newspaper Libération to create an exclusive, illustrated report for the next issue of Diplo. This French daily, espoused by France's socialists, is in trouble, and we want to catch everything in a beautifully illustrated report before it disappears completely.
I spend the morning arranging our approach with him (he is off to Paris first thing tomorrow for a week and I am very envious).
One of our articles from this month's issue has been picked up by Metro (London) and they have asked to repeat it in tomorrow morning's issue. It takes a little time to finalise the logistics of this.
The afternoon is taken up fielding requests from other media about various issues and articles, as well as juggling around some invoices and payments. I have been invited to an evening with David Cameron next week, which I am very excited to go to. I will take a good friend from the ICA with me, for a fun evening.
27.10.2006 I spend the day on a Creative Accelerator course arranged by the London Development Agency at the London Business School. It is interesting to meet some of the other independent magazines in London. The volume of exports for British magazines is huge and it is part of a growing wave of new magazines in demand from far-flung places around the world.
I return to the office at 8pm to prepare my papers for tomorrow (and to be told I have just missed the Borat film screening).
30.10.2006 I arrive in the office at 7am, still dripping wet after scootering from home in the rain. We have an agreement with the Probation Service to train young adults who are consistent re-offenders, and we are halfway through training one of them. Since I was responsible for the creation of this programme, I take responsibility for each "youth". They are normally incredibly eager to learn and we can teach them the fundamentals within the two weeks.
I spend the remainder of the morning juggling telephone calls and steering him.
I never cease to be amazed by the efficiency of European printers. This morning at 9am, the issues arrived… all the way from Istanbul.
I would challenge any British printer to match such courtesy and efficiency. The day has flown by, and after 12 hours in the office, I leave to watch the filming of the Jonathan Ross show with Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazak creation, Borat. Missing the screening yesterday is more easily stomached. 31.10.2006 In the current issue, we were informed that Charles Taylor, the former warlord Liberian president, was about to begin his journey to the court in The Hague. We were invited to cover the journey. Because of the massive security implications surrounding the event, we were only told two hours before of his exact departure point — a military airstrip… in Liberia. Within two hours, we had arranged for a journalist to board the plane with him and cover his journey — exclusively. We accomplished an amazing collection of photos.
In the new issue, coming back in eight days time from Istanbul, we went one step further. We didn't ask permission and secreted an undercover journalist onto death row in Jamaica. The repercussions will be massive and people's lives have been put at risk.
The journalist accumulated vast knowledge of the Jamaican system, as well as detailed information about some of their most violent criminals. I spend the morning with the editorial team and various other groups planning for the fallout of the article. Another medium has already secured exclusive syndication of the article, once it has appeared in Diplo.
I also prepare for our meeting with a senior delegation of Chinese government officials in a few days time. They are eager to allow their hungry audiences access to medium levels of information. But they are historically not very good at doing this. They want to change, and we have been invited by the Government to present what we do and lessons that can be learned from it. We have been told they are very senior, very sensitive to the subject and cannot speak any English. It will make the presentation doubly hard. I top the day off by trying to grapple with the costs of our accelerated growth plan, and leave at 9pm to watch the new Andy Warhol documentary.
01.11.2006 Although with a full and busy office today — more people than desks, computers misbehaving and a constant flow of visitors — I manage, somehow, to dedicate a whole day and what turns out to be evening, purely revising and re-writing our Business Plan. We are developing new ways for readers of the magazine to enjoy the Diplo brand, and are taking it to new platforms and technology. This all comes at vast cost too, but I am careful to make sure expansion is tailored to the demand. We have the next VAT deadline looming and this is constantly at the back of my mind. I leave at 8pm.
02.11.2006 We exhibited at the international Book Fair in Frankfurt a few weeks ago, and we finally begin the very long process of replying to emails and developing further some of the ideas and contacts that we made there.
One thing I learned is that Tyler Brûlé, founder of Wallpaper*, is preparing to launch a new style and current affairs magazine — the exact same principles as Diplo. The launch of his new title is especially interesting as he made a BBC feature documentary about us a year ago, championing what we were doing. Obviously he thought it was such a good idea, that he would have a stab at it himself. Competition will be good.