With over a decade in the publishing industry, Linda Mali has extensive experience in both the creative and business sides of publishing, with a specific focus on magazine editorial strategy.
Having worked on titles such as Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Shape, Kick Off, Sports Illustrated and currently BONA magazine, Mali is well versed in the business of publishing, as well as the latest and hottest trends in the market. Makamba Online recently sat down with the talented editor to discuss the current trends in the publishing industry, pick her brain on the latest trends in the female market, and seek advice for other aspirant women in the media and publishing industry.
Rising star tackling increasing challenges
Mali obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Cape Town in 2006, majoring in Media and Writing and Industrial Sociology. Magazine writing proved to be an emerging passion, Mali describing it as an industry into which she “fell gradually”, by moving into an editorial position at Touchline Media (now defunct), a division of Media24. “My passion really grew when I started to realise the power that magazines have to inspire, inform and give people advice and solutions that they otherwise would not have been able to afford or have access to,” she explains.
By 2009, Mali became features writer at Cosmopolitan South Africa, and in April 2014, was appointed editor of BONA magazine, South Africa’s most read monthly consumer magazine and the only title published in four languages. Her success at the magazine has not gone unnoticed, and at last year’s global magazine conference, FIPP Congress, she was named one of the top 12 Global Rising Stars in Media. This is despite the many challenges as a woman in the industry that Mali says she, and many others, are faced with. She says that women in general still face sexism, “having to prove themselves time and time again, no matter their level of seniority and a general lack of confidence in their skills.”
To this, Mali offers the following advice to other women; “Fear is the biggest killer of achievement. Convert your fear into the energy you need to propel you forward. Do you and start right now.”
Although Mali may be making waves in the magazine publishing world, it is no secret that the industry is becoming increasingly difficult to survive in. With rising printing costs, money-cautious advertisers, and the threat of online, turning a profit makes for many a sleepless night. “The industry is facing the challenge of having to shift its identity in light of growing access to online content. With more access to digital, more people are choosing to engage with content online, affecting print sales. The economy is also a factor; since magazines are considered a ‘luxury’ purchase, they are the first to be cut from a consumer’s shopping list when the going gets tough,” Mali says.
Mali, along with her title, have had to change their approach in dealing with these New Media challenges. “We must think of ourselves as a magazine with digital extensions, we are content creators, creating once and publishing everywhere (print, online and recently television). The fact is, there is no lack of interest in the content we produce; the only thing that has changed is how that content is consumed. We now focus on being where our audiences are to provide content that is compelling and engaging,” she says.
Giving the reader something real
We asked Mali about the current trends in the women’s magazine market, she had this to say; “there is currently great emphasis on content that has practical take outs that a reader could implement in their life tomorrow. It is no longer enough to produce wildly out of reach ideas and concepts simply to ‘inspire’. Give the reader something she can use that will make an immediate difference in her life.”
She also offered there three practical tips for women wanting to balance work-family-social life more effectively:
- Unless there is an absolute crisis, avoid taking your work home, resolve any capacity issues that force you to do this.
- When you are with family, put your phone away and be fully present with them.
- The older we get, the less social we become; buck that trend by spending shorter bursts of quality time with your friends. It may just be the recharge you need to put things back into perspective.
Author: David Nothling