a peek inside the fishbowl

10 Dec, 2014

The editor’s letter

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Publishing/writing/career stuff

One of the things I do in my role as editor of Capital Parent Newspaper is write an editor’s letter in every issue. It can always be found in its regular spot on page two. When I first came on board two years ago it was up to me whether I wanted to include something like this.

On one hand, the editor’s letter seems terribly indulgent in this kind of publication. It takes up a large amount of space, and I used to find myself wondering whether it’d be more useful to use it for something else. For me, it’s important that the writers and photographers get the spotlight. I really want them to shine – for them to get noticed – not me. Ultimately I decided to include my letter as a regular feature for two reasons: (1) It gives a face to the brand, which I think is important and (2) it allows me to talk about a few things related to that particular issue that may not fit anywhere else.

Every month, it’s practically the last thing I do in terms of the production of the paper. Everything else is submitted for layout, but this comes last. For some reason, it’s not something I can write ahead of time. Ideally, I’d take a quiet hour or two and sit down with a coffee and pontificate weeks ahead of time, but it never happens this way. It’s a mental block of sorts. I need to see the paper almost completed in front of me before I start to write. Part of me needs to see the whole package, and let the words gel in my brain before committing them permanently to the issue but I fear that I’m setting myself up for failure if I don’t break out of this bad habit.

I just submitted my editor’s letter for the January issue. January! This is how far ahead we have to work. I’m already thinking about February if you can believe it.

The Editor’s letter appears in the digital versions of the newspaper, but never in the Capital Parent blog. Perhaps the part of me that thinks it’s indulgent, is winning. Perhaps I need to give this more thought.

And then there’s the photo. I had one taken a couple of years ago and although I like it, it’s in dire need of an update. But here’s the thing: I hate having my photo taken. Many other editors have a new one taken for each issue, but I’m just not that kind of person. For awhile I was switching the photos for seasonal ones we took at home, but now I’m thinking consistency is better.

If you live in Ottawa and are a Capital Parent reader (and I hope you are!) I’d love to hear a bit about what you’d like to see in 2015. More recipes? More events? More or less from the editor? ;)

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2 Responses to "The editor’s letter"

1 | Misty

December 10th, 2014 at 1:43 pm

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I have a handful of subscriptions that I read regularly, and I have to say – I always enjoy the editor’s letter. For me, it’s important to see that the magazine is being put together by “real” people….that you’re not just trying to sell papers/magazines, but that you’re actually interested in the kinds of things I’m interested in. So when I read about your experiences parenting, or your favourite restaurant, or whatever, I actually identify with you (by “you” I mean any editor), and I guess that does ultimately give a face to the brand. Which makes it more likely I’ll pick it up and read it.

As for other things, I always love satire. Short articles that have me laughing out loud are great :) And pieces by “experts” are nice!

2 | Rebecca

December 11th, 2014 at 1:30 pm

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I love the editors notes and comments!

For Ottawa stories, I’m drawn to event information, local business stories and fun/clever crafts/activities to do with the kids.

you’re doing a great job!!

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  • andrea tomkins: I KNOW. It's crazy that we are now the parents of an adult. I can hardly believe it myself most days! :)
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  • andrea tomkins: Great ideas Joy! Especially the POST-its! They're actually an expensive purchase for a student, so they'd make a nice addition to a care package.
  • joy: cute and fun - I would love to receive things like this! How about notebooks, magazines, post-it notes, seasonal treats, lip balms, gift cards for fav
  • andrea tomkins: Ooh! Good one Alison! A good (long!) phone charge cord could be welcome as well.

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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