hat better way to bring on the next generation of editors, designers and feature writers than by offering them an opportunity to showcase their
creative talents? Why? Because we believe it is important to capture the interest and enthusiasm of young people before they take decisions about college and university courses. It makes sense that PPA, the association for the magazine publishing industry, should be at the helm of a project to nurture new publishing talent.
And so a competition, aimed specifically at Scottish secondary school pupils, was launched in 2006 by PPA Scotland. Through this competition, young people are given the opportunity to discover the thrill and satisfaction of seeing their work in print, regardless of how simple or flamboyant the end result is. We help pupils gain an insight into the exciting world of publishing and encourage school-leavers to consider the magazine industry as a career choice. The aims and objectives of the competition are to:
- Improve literacy, design and business skills
- Promote collaboration between departments within schools
- Raise awareness and understanding of the skills required by the magazine industry
- Provide work experience opportunities
- Reward the winning entries and acknowledge their achievements
Are we achieving our objectives? Absolutely. During the first three years of the competition, 170 schools registered to enter. Participating schools clearly understand the link between school work in the classroom and the skills required for future business opportunities. Many entries display innovative commercial awareness and all of them work hard to create publications of a very high standard. Publishers and industry suppliers have wholeheartedly embraced the competition. Determined to Succeed, the Scottish Government's strategy for enterprise in education, has supported the competition from the outset.
Sponsorship and endorsement has come from Times Educational Supplement Scotland, Quark Systems, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, Menzies Distribution, Matthew Ball Design and Trader Media Print Group. Leading Scottish magazine publishers such as DC Thomson, Pinpoint Scotland, White Light Media, Craven Publishing, The List, Clash Music and Holyrood Communications are major sponsors. Many members of PPA Scotland, including Newsquest (Herald & Times) and Fusion Flowers, have provided mentoring, talks and presentations, work experience, factory visits and photo-shoot opportunities. The 2007 and 2008 award ceremonies took place in the inspirational surroundings of The Scottish Parliament with the Minister for Schools and Skills as guest of honour on both occasions. Representatives from the overall winning schools attended the annual Scottish Magazine Awards as guests of PPA Scotland. For the 2009 event, a new Magazine Morning & Exhibition has been set up prior to the award ceremony, bringing together publishers and industry suppliers to provide information about the 'next step' for pupils.
So the publishing and printing community is lending its weight to the success of the competition - but what happens after that? Where do students go to learn more? Where are the courses in magazine publishing within further and higher education in Scotland? They are hard to find.
Magazines are part and parcel of our private and public lives. There are thousands of them - yet it would appear that learning how to write and create a commercially sound publication, which is successfully marketed and distributed, is left to chance. In order for the next generation to take their place in the magazine world, we need to work together to provide a stimulating and relevant environment for them to flourish and much of that will fall on the shoulders of further education establishments.
There are superb journalism, creative and media courses available - and the word 'journalist' is liberally scattered throughout the prospectuses of a dozen or so further education establishments in Scotland. But who is providing an holistic approach to the teaching of magazine publishing? There are no Scottish universities or colleges running Periodicals Training Council (PTC) accredited courses but there are around 12 universities in England which are. Clearly this is a situation that needs to be addressed
and two of Scotland's leading universities, Stirling and Edinburgh Napier, which do run courses in journalism and publishing, are evaluating how changes might be made to include more magazine modules. Both universities are very supportive of the school magazine project.
Jenny McKay, Director of Stirling University's undergraduate Journalism Programme is a regular judge of the school competition and has long been a champion of magazine journalism and publishing in higher education throughout the UK. She outlined the problem in an article called 'The Invisible Journalists' for Media Education Journal.
"More journalists work for magazines than newspapers in the UK. Career prospects are good, career development and training much more systematic and professional than in many, if not most, newspaper organisations, and salaries, particularly at the entry and middle level, considerably better. Why is it, then, that magazine journalism and the magazine industry attract so little attention from outside?
"Universities, colleges and even schools now regularly teach courses which include journalism whether as a training in how to do journalism, for those who want careers as journalists, or as a field of study and intellectual inquiry in its own right. Yet newspapers and broadcast news are invariably the focus of attention. It's almost as if magazines didn't exist in the eyes of academic and journalist media commentators. Even more surprisingly, those who train journalists in colleges and universities tend to ignore the periodicals sector too."
Magazines are an important part of communication for all of us, bringing information, entertainment and points of view and encouraging contact and action concerning the things that matter around us. The magazine industry in Scotland is thriving, contributing around £157m to the Scottish economy so we need to work harder at raising its profile and supporting it - and we need to create the right courses for students to learn those 'next steps'.
This country's future depends on young people with positive attitudes and good core skills; who understand about business and entrepreneurship; who are eager to benefit from lifelong learning which starts in the classroom.
As we gear up to launch an even bigger and better competition for 2010, we invite you to get involved. Why not work with us to put something back into the community, engage with secondary school pupils about careers and opportunities and take some practical steps to build corporate responsibility into the way we work?