Charles Baker - Editor-in-chief of international affairs magazine, Diplo

11.08.05

Our August issue went into the shops last week and several of the
stories have attracted media interest. I spend the morning putting some
arguments together for an interview later in the afternoon on BBC Radio
2 with Jeremy Vine.

The producer rings me at lunchtime to check that I am prepared.

The only thing I am prepared for is being nervous!

I
feel guilty indulging myself in a morning of journalism – our bank
manager wants to see money, not words, keeping the magazine going.

We
are a small core team of five full-time staff and we work from a studio
on the Gray’s Inn Road in London. Our magazine is now more than a year
old.

The first accountant I approached to help us manage our records refused, claiming that we would not last three weeks. But we are still going. Just.

The
studio is based in the warehouse of the Queen’s appointed decorators,
Hare & Humphreys. Beneath us are seven music recording studios and
the artists often emerge into the sunlit warehouse from the dark
dungeons below.

Death in Vegas have just strolled past.

12.08.05

Hearing of tailbacks of southbound queues on the A3, accidents in
both directions on roads X, Y and Z and delays everywhere else on the
radio this morning. People might sometimes feel nervous in London at
the moment, but I am happy not to be caught up in everything happening
outside of London too.

An organisation has approached us threatening legal action for a
piece we published in this month’s issue and I spend the morning
negotiating with them. We come to an agreement, where we will offer
them the right to reply in the next issue.

A book arrives in the
post from New York this morning as well. But it is not a book for
review this time. It is a book which features us, put together by Time
International’s art editor. They have featured some work in an earlier
issue of the magazine about the designs we did to discuss Islam and the
West.

We are all very excited to see our work sitting alongside
other international names, but we are quickly brought down to earth
when our bank rings, demanding to see some money going into the account.

I
spend the rest of the day chasing up payments and the evening beginning
to sift through a number of articles for the next issue.

13.08.05

With everyone now back from the holidays, the energy for the next issue of the magazine begins to build up.

I spend the early part of the morning finalising our print
arrangements with our printers in Lithuania. They are incredibly
sophisticated – we send the files to them and three days later a
lorry-load of magazines arrives. It is an impressively quick
turnaround, considering the distances and work involved.

We are
beginning a new feature for the next issue of the magazine – a
photographic journal in which our photographer, Greg Furnell, will
spend 24 hours recording the diary of an interesting personality.

With the parliamentary recess and the lack of available politicians, we have not chosen the best month to begin this.

But I have my eyes on an interesting character and hope to convince him.

I
spend the whole of the day on the telephone, seeking to increase the
number of shops where we sell our magazine. I speak to large chains and
distributors, right down to small corner shops, as they are all
critical to our visibility and to magazine sales.

During the day,
I intermittingly spend moments with our editor, rejigging parts of the
magazine, and squeeze in time with our incredibly talented South Korean
designer to finish designing the front cover for the next issue.

The
whole of the issue is in tiny fragments at the moment – photographs,
articles, design work, interviews, illustrations and other bits and
bobs, spread all over the world. But it will all come together very
quickly in the next few weeks, somehow.

I leave the office at 7pm
with Post-It notes littering my desk, to prepare for a small dinner
party for my friends and my girlfriend.

15.08.05

Sometimes I have flashes about why this magazine is so good and
today I remember why. I continue calling more shops to get more
magazine sales for the future.

In a meeting this morning, an advertiser told me that they had never
seen a magazine like this before and that it will go very far. I have
heard this before, but the bank manager normally removes any sense of
romance about what we have created.

But then this morning, among
telephone calls to magazine shops, I learn of two very interesting
possible articles for the next issue. They are fascinating – and I can
sincerely promise that at least one of them will be of interest to
everyone, and that the second might have more serious implications
politically.

I ask the editor to rearrange things again for the
next issue and put into action the writing and design for both
articles. I return to telephoning shops, trying to convince them to
stock Diplo and knowing that they will soon have on their shelves an
explosive magazine article.

By the end of the summer, we will be
in every single university shop in the country, as well as more
mainstream outlets, which is a nice reward for all of this telephoning.

I
finish the day by speaking to the Panos Photography Agency, as we are
to be the media partner at two important events this year: the
Panos-GKP Journalism Awards 2005 and the Goldsmith University Media
Summit in the autumn.

16.08.05

I arrive two hours later than I intended, and when I do finally get
down to work, an electrical explosion in the studio knocks out all of
the computers and the telephones.

The office above ours houses the fusebox, but the occupant works
through the night rather than through the day. I climb up the ladder
and through the window and find his door unlocked. He knows this has
happened before, and we have an informal arrangement where I can enter
his office every time the fusebox goes.

I spend the whole of today telephoning more universities.

It
is a laborious task, but I am beginning to see the end in sight. I now
know the name of every single university bookshop manager – they must
be sick of me now!

I work very late into the evening trying to
make sense of a paper mountain. I know that in the morning my body will
regret working so late.

I read about Felix Dennis before I go to
bed. I suppose that I draw inspiration from him – after all, he has
created a publishing empire from the controversial Oz magazine that he
founded when he was much younger.

17.08.05

I spend the whole of the day researching our investigative article
in the next issue – ringing people up, meeting people and spending some
time at the British library. The BBC has also agreed to provide an
“interesting character” for our new 24 hours photo series.

We will be exhibiting our magazines at the Frankfurt Book Fair in
October, but we have to prepare everything well in advance. I begin to
arrange this with our distributor, Central Books.

Our monthly
party is a week on Friday and I begin making arrangements for that – I
have to find three bands, a beer sponsor and enough people to fill a
warehouse, all within a week. I will do it though – it is a bit like
Challenge Anneka.

I also create and send out our electronic
monthly newsletter in the afternoon, telling people what will be in the
next issue of the magazine.

And so I complete my diary and,
reading back through it, I begin to wonder what my actual job is. How
would I describe it to someone? Whatever it is, it should come with a
health warning!

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