A weekend well spent in the capital is often hard to get right with so much going on, and this week we spoke to the Managing Editor of three publications that work to cover the huge variety on offer. Kohinoor Sahota spoke to us about her love of arts and entertainment journalism, the challenges of editing three titles and her shared love of London with Sadiq Khan.
What made you want to work in the magazine industry?
I was obsessed with magazines as a child. I used to hoard them under my bed, tear out spreads and stick them on my wall. I would make magazines for fun, whether it was at school or for my family. When I was 10 years old, I created a magazine for my school called Stuff – I stuck lollipops on them and sold them for 10p. It was not cost effective, but lots of fun. Whenever I read the news, I was always fascinated by representation – especially of women and ethnic minorities – and this became a motivating factor for me to work in journalism, understand how stories are told and have control over narratives.
Can you chart your journey from where you started out to your current position?
Internships were my foot in the door. I knew I wanted to be a journalist, but I didn’t know what type. I gained experience at Vogue, ITV and Financial Times. Once I was at Time Out London, it felt like I was in my spiritual home and had found my calling – arts and culture. I worked on the Time Out guidebooks, and travel articles for City AM and The Guardian. When the recession hit, it forced me to be creative: I launched my own magazine business, The Book, which was an entertainment magazine. The aim was to make the arts accessible to a young and diverse audience. This fast-tracked my career – I was then headhunted by Morris Visitor Publications and joined as the Editor of Where London.
What is the biggest challenge of being the Managing Editor of three titles?
As we have a transient audience, it is difficult to get feedback. We rely on engagement online, concierges in hotels who distribute the magazines and, surprisingly, the occasional hand-written letter from readers.
What has been your biggest achievement as Managing Editor?
I was the driving force behind London Planner's YouTube channel. We used a comedian to create How to Guides, from how to use the London Underground to how to get into town from the airport. Today it has almost 500,000 views and 9,000 subscribers. The channel has been nominated for the PPA Awards’ Digital Initiative of the Year.
What is the most unusual situation you have found yourself in because of your job?
If you work as an arts and entertainment journalist, you often find yourself interviewing your heroes. Growing up, I was a big fan of the film director Gurinder Chadha and had written about her in my university dissertation. When I was starting out, I met her at a party and she kindly suggested I send her my dissertation and interview her. After a press junket of back-to-back interviews in a hotel, she then gave me the privilege of talking to her in her home and meeting her screenwriter husband and mother.
How do you handle deadlines?
As I oversee all the editorial team, there are so many titles with different deadlines – the core ones are Where London, London Planner and IN London. The key is planning in advance. If you are in charge, getting stressed when on deadline does not help. I have the best team and they are always ready to help when deadlines loom.
Can you walk me through your typical day?
There is no typical day! I could be coming up with a theme for the next issue, interviewing a celebrity, presenting a video guide or overseeing a photoshoot.
How has being a member of the PPA added value to your brand?
Morris Visitor Publications is a proud member of the PPA. We have attended events and awards. I’ve been nominated four times for a PPA Award. It is exciting to be shortlisted, as it feels like you are gaining recognition from your industry. It’s the Oscars of journalism!
What’s the last photo you took on your phone and why?
I always take pictures of news stories that interest me, so that I can go back and research them in more detail.
Whose phone number do you wish you had?
Sadiq Khan – he’s the bastion of London. He writes a welcome letter for us each month in London Planner, so I feel like we could be best friends as he loves London and I love London.
Introvert or extrovert?
I have learnt to be an extrovert. There are times, as the Editor of a magazine, that you just have to put on the confidence and talk to people.
Optimist or pessimist?
Optimist – you have to be if you’re the Editor. If I am pessimistic, it’s only going to make the team pessimistic.
Film or TV? What are you binge watching at the moment?
Why choose? These days you can have both – film on TV. I’m waiting for the next season of The Crown.
What magazines would you read on a long train journey?
The Sunday Times – it keeps me going for the whole week. Condé Nast Traveller – it would inspire my next holiday. Vogue – it always surprises since Edward Enninful became Editor. Time Out and ES Magazine – they are London bibles and I look forward to reading them cover to cover each week.