Lianne George – Editor, The Grid
Less than a year ago, Toronto’s Eye Weekly re-launched as The Grid with a new look and direction. Since May 2011 The Grid has quickly become one of the most prominent weeklies in Toronto, providing a provocative and edgy counterpoint to the typical portrayal of the city. The brief mission statement on the magazine’s website sums it up nicely: “Our goal is to capture the vibe and energy of a city in ascendance, largely by rejecting the glossy, doggedly aspirational vision of it you see in so many other publications.”
Lianne George was promoted to editor in January and she promises to continue refining the voice of The Grid, where she was deputy editor since August 2010.
“I’d like to see us further develop The Grid into a dynamic media brand, Toronto’s premier information source for downtown-dwellers in their 20s and 30s,” she said.
With twelve years of experience in both editing and reporting positions at the likes of the National Post, Elle Canada and Rogers Publishing’s Maclean’s magazine, George has developed a strong editorial eye. In 2009, she joined Canadian Business magazine (also owned by Rogers Publishing) as deputy editor. It was the same year they did a major redesign.
”It was undoubtedly my time at Rogers that helped me develop the editorial sensibility and the management skills I need to do my current job,” she said.
These skills are most certainly an asset to The Grid, an outlet that likes to toe the line between being a newspaper and a magazine.
“We set out with the goal of creating a new type of free city weekly,” she said. “The idea was to create a print product that incorporates the best elements of newspapers (currency, grittiness, documentary-style photography) and magazines (dynamic packages, type treatments and graphics). We wanted to challenge the idea that something free and published on inexpensive paper necessarily has to look junky.”
In a media landscape where print publications are struggling to stay afloat and implementing online pay walls has become the norm, the challenge of not only sustaining a free publication that has engaging content but also insuring that it looks great might seem like an impossible task. George, however, believes that it is doable and it’s imperative for the print product to go the extra mile.
“I would be surprised if dozens or even hundreds of publications didn’t go digital-only in the next few years…But I think there will always be print media and maybe it will even have a sort of Darwinian effect of improving the editorial and aesthetic quality of what’s out there on the newsstands,” she said.
Although George is committed to the print edition for The Grid, she is also invested in building an online presence and has plans to embrace mobile technology and social media tools.
“The magazine and the website will always be the heart of what we do, but I’d like to see us further extend our reach into mobile, video and social media, finding new ways to engage and interact with our readers.”
She added, “Obviously not all of our readers are on there [social networking sites], but it gives us a decent sense of what people are reading and responding to, and whether they love, hate or are indifferent to something we’ve done.”
The best go-to advice for making the pitch is to research the kind of content an outlet will and will not print.
“What really catches my attention is when it’s clear that a publicist has read the magazine, understands the brand and is pitching us stuff that is clearly relevant to our readership.”
She added that, “My biggest pet peeve is PR professionals who pursue you aggressively—by phone and email—only to try and sell you on an idea that makes absolutely no sense for you. No, we’re not going to run a story about whimsical toilet plungers.”
George prefers to receive pitches via email. “I hardly ever have time to speak by phone in the middle of the day,” she said.
Follow Lianne George on Twitter @LianneGeorge.
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