Editor’s Diary: Coping In A Crisis

editors diary

This week Editor’s Diary starts with consideration of something that’s been in news a lot recently: coronavirus.

In common with people all over the world right now, I’m keeping a close eye on the news for the latest updates. Partly for personal reasons — and also, of course, for professional ones.

I need to take all possible precautions to ensure the “Friend” continues to be published as usual.

We already have plans in place for how to do this in case of emergency. And the wonders of modern technology mean that we can still create new issues for our readers, even if every team member is confined to home.

We may need to compromise on some details, but we’ll get there!

The situation has me thinking about “Friend” editors of the past. I was consoling myself with the thought that, even during the horrors of two world wars, the “Friend” stayed in continuous publication.

Surely if they could do it, we can, too!

When you think about it, what a towering achievement that was. Those previous editors could not even dream of the technology we have at our fingertips. For them, communication depended on just the telephone and Royal Mail. That was it.

How did they do it? Keep producing a magazine throughout the wartime years?

Learning from our history

When you look through the archives from those periods, the issues of the magazine downplay the massive production difficulties that must have been experienced.

Paper rationing during World War I resulted in a slimmer, scarcer “Friend” as paginations and print runs were cut.

In spite of that, the Editor declared in 1917 that “[the] ‘Friend’ has held up well; indeed, it seems to be more firmly rooted than ever in the warm affection of a large and ever-increasing circle”.

The shortage of paper was a concern in World War II, too. The magazine dropped in size from 20 pages to 16. The font size was reduced in order to squeeze as many words as possible on to each page.

It was during this period that the Editor started encouraging readers to share their copies of the “Friend”:

“It is a kindly thing to pass your copy to someone who can’t get the ‘Friend’ because of wartime restrictions.”

That is certainly NOT something I would advocate in the current crisis!

David Pae, “Friend” Editor during World War I, wrote the following in 1914:

“In time of trouble we all need distraction and cheer, and that is what the ‘Friend’ offers you, and will continue to offer you. To read the ‘Friend’ as usual is one of the best resolutions you can make.”

Stay safe

That says it all, doesn’t it? Rest assured that no matter how tough the next few weeks become, the “Friend” will be packed with the quality, feel-good reading you love.

And if you are worried about getting out to the shops for your copy, don’t forget that you can subscribe. That way, your magazine will be delivered right to your door.

Stay safe, everyone, and take care of each other.

For more from Angela’s Editor’s Diary, click the tag below.

Click here to take a look at more content from “The People’s Friend” archives.

Angela Gilchrist

Angela is Former Editor-in-Chief of “The People’s Friend” magazine. Her passions include cats, Highland ponies, good books, vegetarian food and long walks in the Scottish countryside. Her favourite place to get away from it all is the magical Isle of Skye.