Joe McNally has a post up reflecting on his time with Jack Kevorkian, the doctor who in the 1990s was in the news for encouraging – and practicing – physician assisted suicide. He spent a lot of time with Kevorkian for Life magazine over the span of six months.
Disregard the politics of the subject, McNally has some great insights into the way magazines work.
It’s funny, my feeling is that people outside the magazine business might think assignments for major publications are attended to with lots of planning, forethought, trumpets blaring, an emergency session of the House of Representatives, a Papal Fiat, or some sort of whole shebang type of deal. Doesn’t happen that way at all. Many magazine go week to week, month to month on gut calls, hunches, hoped for stories, and reaction to stuff that just plain and simple either does or doesn’t work out. Cut and paste, improvise, and turn on a dime is often the watchword of a pub cycle. Except of course at the National Geographic, which tends to have life sort of planned out for the next couple of years