Under the Radar with Paul Douglas
T3's Global Editor-in-Chief reflects on reviewing websites pre-Google to adding Google Analytics to his work arsenal...
Ellie Austin scored a job at Immediate Media as a Features Writer for Radio Times after graduating from the Magazine Journalism MA course at City University. Here she talks about working in the fast-paced world of a major weekly magazine and the power of a good coffee.
What made you want to work in the magazine industry?
I grew up reading magazines including The Face, Blitz and Mixmag and it was while studying for my degree that I decided I would love to work in the magazine industry. I was a big fan of i-D magazine at the time, so I wrote and asked if I could do a work placement there. They turned me down.
Can you chart your journey from when you started out to your current position?
The internet was just taking off when I left university and I was hooked, so I wanted a job where a) I could get free, fast internet all day and b) I could work in magazines, so I took a job as a Production Editor on a magazine which wrote about the internet, as weird a concept as that probably seems now. We reviewed websites, because Google didn’t exist, and we wrote tutorials on how to use obscure services such as Usenet and IRC [Internet Relay Chat].
I worked on a bunch of tech mags over the next few years before joining TechRadar as Editor. I was later promoted to Global Editor-in-Chief there. After that, I worked on an Android news and reviews website in Berlin for a couple of years, then I joined BikeRadar at Immediate Media as Global Editor-in-Chief and now I’m at T3 at Future.
Do you have a go-to work outfit?
Trainers, skinny jeans and an unironed shirt. I’m not sure that really counts as an outfit as such, but hey.
What do you turn to when you’re on deadline – tea/coffee/snacks?
Working online means we’re on deadline every day, or multiple times a day, so I don’t turn to anything beyond my bottle of water, which I usually forget to drink until I wonder why I have a headache.
What’s the most unusual situation you’ve found yourself in because of your job?
Living in Berlin. I had no plans to move abroad, but I was approached by a company based there and I thought that if I turned the opportunity down I’d regret it for the rest of my life. I feel hugely fortunate that my career path gave me that opportunity – I now think of Berlin as my second home and return there when I get the chance.
What would people be surprised to know about your job?
It’s really boring. I mean, it’s not! But people assume that on T3 we get to attend loads of cool product launches in interesting places. We do from time to time, but that’s where the writers go. You’re more likely to find me in the office working on ideas with the editorial and commercial teams or poking around in Google Analytics looking for interesting opportunities.
Walk me through your typical day.
I have a list of things I want to get through each day and I work through them. They generally centre around creating a better product, which could mean working with writers on story angles, coming up with ideas in response to commercial briefs, analysing our traffic trends or submitting product requests and bug reports.
If you didn’t have to sleep, how would you use the remaining hours in the day?
I’d time shift my working hours and work while it was dark and then spend more daylight time getting out on my motorbike and my bicycle.
What is the last photo you took on your phone (at time of interview)?
It’s this amazing piece of art. If I park in a multi-storey, I’m hopeless at remembering where I left the car so I usually take a photo so I can find it after a day out shopping.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Nineties Eurodance! Ace of Base, 2 Unlimited, Dr Alban...
Whose phone number do you wish you had?
David Bowie’s. Obviously, there’s not a lot of point in having it now, but he was such an inspiration for me growing up that I would have loved to just be able to phone him up one day and say thank you.
What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve heard a couple of times that having a fast car is good, because you can “accelerate out of trouble.” Now, I’m all for having fast cars, but it strikes me that flooring it in dangerous situations is not a smart safety strategy – unless perhaps you’re being chased by an assassin.
What/where is your happy place?
Sitting on the grass in a park in Berlin on a hot summer evening, drinking a cold bottle of beer from the local Späti [corner store] and watching the world go by.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have a degree in advertising and before I worked in journalism I worked in direct marketing.
What would be in your Room 101?
People who walk slowly. Pavements need a dawdling lane and an overtaking lane.
Introvert or extrovert?
An extroverted introvert, apparently. It is a thing, you can Google it.
Optimist or pessimist?
Definitely an optimist, or I’d never get out of bed.
Film or television? What are you binge-watching at the moment?
TV. It’s just so good at the moment and you usually don’t have to sit next to random people eating popcorn. I’ve finally got around to watching the Fargo series and I’m really enjoying it.
Sweet or savoury?
Savoury. I don’t like sweet food at all, which seems to completely baffle people who do like sweet food.
Morning person or night owl?
Tea or coffee?
Coffee, but I generally limit myself to one cup a day.
Emojis – cool or cringey? Which emoji do you use the most?
I love them, and I use them to the point where I wonder whether my work colleagues think they are conversing with a teenager. I probably use the eye-rolling one the most at the moment, but only in the T3 Slack channel, not in replies to emails from my manager.