First Hand — It’s Freezing in LA! on using magazines as a vehicle for change

Posted 15 October 2019 Interview by Marianne Hanoun
Written by Martha Dillon

In a world that seems adamant on declaring the death of print, magazines are continuing to prove that their pages can be not only a source of inspiration but a vehicle for change. It’s Freezing in LA is no exception. Taking its name from a Donald Trump tweet reading: “I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!” the magazine aims to debate and discuss much-needed environmental discussions and make them more open and accessible.

This November, IFLA!’s editor, Martha Dillon, will be joining magCulture Live’s stellar line-up, alongside guest speakers from other publications that are also inspiring change through print. In advance of the event, here, Martha reflects on IFLA!’s origins and shares her advice for those looking to set up something similar.

Can you tell us some of the thinking behind It’s Freezing in LA? Why a print magazine?
With most platforms hand-wringing over the same broad, confusing questions, we wanted IFLA! to dissect the nuances of the [climate] crisis. We find big questions and generalisations overwhelming, and prefer to introduce debates which break down the problem in more manageable strands.

Magazines are perfect for this kind of conversation. Readers go in expecting a variety of voices and stories, which is exactly what we need when talking about climate. They also expect good design and images, and the content to be fact-checked and curated carefully. A publication which can do this makes a complex topic infinitely more manageable.

“A low-carbon, permanent publication can be far more valuable than a link you only click on once.”

As to why we print: we wanted to make something beautiful, that people would pick up, engage with and think about properly. All magazines should be reviewing their production, regardless of topic! We used all the usual aspects (100% recycled paper, vegetable inks, local production), but also we do things like sell misprinted copies at a discount, make sure we travel sustainably and produce events sustainably (no meat, accessible by public transport, no non-recyclable packaging and so on). A low-carbon, permanent publication, especially if it’s shared, can be far more valuable than a link you only click on once.

The first issue of It’s Freezing in LA!

How do you think magazines can make a social impact?
Magazines and pamphlets have always been a way to cultivate progressive ideas. They are a phenomenal way to draw together the important elements of conversations about difficult, progressive ideas. At the moment there is a resurgence in concern for the environment, but there needs to be a robust green media for people to learn from, to develop ideas and to build on their enthusiasm. Protest and change-making is important, but it has to be informed.

“Magazines are a phenomenal way to draw together conversations about difficult, progressive ideas.”

How do you fund the magazine? Do you pay yourselves and the contributors?
We all work for free on the team, but we do get some payment from doing external talks and panels. From Issue four we have been able to pay contributors, which has been a great moment for us. Our funding has so far come from sales, and we’ve recently received from funding from the Octopus Energy Art Fund which is going to help us expand.


Inside the third issue

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered along the way?
Time is always a challenge – we all have other jobs. This definitely helps enrich the content and stop our ideas from stagnating, but it also means we need to be careful to make sure no one is too overworked. Finances are also quite hard if you don’t have experience, but there’s more support out there than you think.

What advice would you have for those wanting to start their own magazine?
Start small! Go online or with a tiny print run – selling out is not a bad thing. It’s demoralising to overshoot, not to mention expensive. If the idea is good you can reprint or make the second issue bigger. Also, get involved with events by magazine shops and other magazines. It’s an incredibly supportive community and events are a great way to build a following.

“The biggest impact people can have on systems is through engaging with politics and protest.”

Do you have any suggestions for those wanting to be active in the fight against climate change?
There’s tonnes of advice out there about your lifestyle. Do as much as you can emotionally and financially afford, and keep checking yourself that you are doing as much as you can.

But also remember that system change is the real goal, and normally the biggest impact people can have on systems is through engaging with politics and protest, or through their work. Not just whether your office recycles: do you really need to take a project abroad if there are people there who could do it locally? Is there an alternative way to set up a system or program? It can be awkward, but if we can influence our organisations then change will come much faster.

...

This year’s magCulture Live event is taking place on Thursday 7th November at Conway Hall in London. Championing the very best in editorial creativity, hear talks from gal-dem, New York Times Magazine, It’s Freezing in LA!, NY Magazine, FUKT Magazine and many more. Lecture in Progress members get £20 off tickets here!

Posted 15 October 2019 Interview by Marianne Hanoun
Written by Martha Dillon
Collection: First Hand

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