Editor’s Diary: A Trip To The Archives

Eve Conroy/DC Thomson © Stuart Johnstone Pic: Eve Conroy

New Editor Stuart Johnstone delves into the fascinating history of the “Friend”

Becoming editor of “The People’s Friend” is something I am immensely proud of, but as I mentioned in my first weekly letter to you in the magazine, I am also aware of the weight of history on my shoulders, so pride is accompanied by a touch of apprehension. There are very few publications out there that are as loved and revered as “The Friend” and looking after such a treasured title is a big responsibility.

Looking Into The Past

As I prepared to take over from Angela, I spent a lot of time immersing myself in the wonderful of the “Friend”. I decided it was important for me to really get under the skin of what makes a 154-year-old magazine tick. There were two ways I went about this. One was making sure I got to know everyone who currently works on the “Friend”, finding out what they do and how they do it. The other was to look into the past. One Friday not so long ago, Angela and I took a trip to the DC Thomson archive to have a look back over some of that long and storied history of your magazine. I have no guilt in admitting that a trip to the archives is a real treat in a working week.

The wonderful Barry from our archive team was there to greet us, and before we went in, Angela handed him a small box of cakes. One of the many great tips Angela imparted to me over the last few months was that cake opens a lot of doors – and particularly those of the archives! How right she is.

A Fascinating Journey Through The Years

A mission statement from issue 1 of The People's Friend

To call the archive fascinating does not begin to do it justice.  It is packed with back issues, memorabilia, interesting artefacts, artwork and much more and every single item is something that was produced with love for readers dating back centuries. You really feel like you are something special as you very delicately turn the pages of a magazine that dates back to the 1870s. It felt like a real privilege. You also have to be stringent with your timekeeping – two hours can go by in a flash! I barely scratched the surface during my all too brief visit, but I will be going back soon, a box of cakes and notebook in hand.

In 154 years, many things have changed, but what struck me is how the early values and principles of “The People’s Friend” remain true today. The words in the image above, right back from issue one, are still as valid today as they were back then. That is something I will certainly be keeping in mind as we embark on this journey together.

Over To You

In looking back, I am also looking forward. To October this year, when “The People’s Friend” will publish its 8000th issue. It’s an astonishing statistic, and one that is a testament to the place the magazine holds in so many people’s hearts. I am keen to hear just how much the “Friend” means to you. Please do drop me a line on social media or at my email, pfeditor@dcthomson.co.uk and let me know. It could be a memory of a particular story or feature, or just what role the “Friend” has played in your life. It could be anything really. I am beginning to understand just how important “The People’s Friend” is to so many of you, but I want as many of you as possible to tell me, so it’s over to you.

Read Former Editor Angela’s farewell blog

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Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.