Jo Walker, Editor
We adore some of the life advice Jo Walker, esteemed Editor of Frankie Magazine is sharing with us today. RTFQ is a stroke of brilliance, we assure you! Not to mention her keen interest in amazing babes like Lynda Day and Caitlin Moran. Like us, she loves the magic that happens when you get to work with creatives and specialists in other fields.
Hi Jo! What do you do?
I'm the editor at frankie magazine, so I spend my time thinking up ideas to put in our pages, then bossing other people into making it all happen.
Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?
Yes! "RTFQ". It's stands for "Read The Fucking Question." It's funny – my dad said it to me before my high school exams, meaning: really understand what's being asked of you, and then deliver it. It comes into my head when I'm writing stories (is this quote/anecdote answering the central conceit of this story?), when I'm hiring staff (has this person understood and given us what we've asked for?), when we're working on briefs for ad clients (is this actually delivering on the stuff the client wanted to get done?) Sure, you can give someone more than they've asked for. But make certain you've actually given them what they want first, before loading them up with extra stuff. Be careful. Be clever. RTFQ every time.
What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?
One: being co-editor of my school magazine. I'm pretty sure I thought I was Lynda Day in Press Gang. I went on and tried lots of different degrees (law, marketing, arts) but it wasn't till I realised I'd started off on the right track – then convinced myself to wander off it – that I started to take journalism seriously. It was weird, actually. I went to school in Hong Kong, so I rarely run into any classmates. But in my early 20s I ran into this girl in London — we were sort of friendly but not super close — and the first thing she said was: 'So are you a writer yet?' It's funny that is was even obvious to random people, but not to me.
Two: getting a gig at a street press. A uni friend of mine ran the entertainment section of a street press in Brisbane (a job I later took over), and she was desperate at one point for young people who knew something about theatre to write reviews. I put up my hand, because, yes, I had a wanky drama education! So all my earliest published pieces are theatre reviews and interviews. It was a great (accidental) cadetship.
Three: this would have to be gettingcalled at 2am in the morning and asked by frankie's founding editor if I wanted to take over her job. I was living in London at the time (thus the terrible early morning call), and I think I was a bit hazy on the details. It was the sort of offer you can't refuse, though.
What is your dream project?
Working with people who are super-passionate and hard-working and know their shit. I particularly love working with people in other fields – designers, artists, analysts, IT geeks, etc etc. Basically because I am nosy and like to pick other people's brains.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Only the kind where if I told you I'd have to kill you.
If you could choose to hear any female contemporary present at Make Nice, who would it be and why?
I have a massive girl crush on Caitlin Moran. Every single thing she writes makes all the atoms in my brain go 'ping!'. I would love to hear her talk. I could listen to her for maybe 72 hours straight.
What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?
"Don't read the comments section". Sometimes it's unavoidable, in my line of work. But whenever I can, I cram my fingers in my ears and go: "la la la". It's very liberating.
Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?
I have a good number of female (and male) friends in the media. But I then have even more mates who are more broadly 'creative': authors and designers and makers and artists and musicians, etc. We do drive everyone else mad by talking shop whenever possible. Especially since there's so much doom and gloom around print media, it's nice to have people to moan to.
What are you listening to, reading, watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?
Listening to: new Iggy Pop / Josh Homme album. I am a big believe in 'vitamin rock'. I find if I don't see a gig every few weeks, my batteries run down. Clearly, Iggy is an inspiration. Reading: I'm near a print deadline at the moment, which means my brain craves non-serious stuff to chew on after hours. This week, that has meant semi-terrible YA post-apocalyptic fiction and Deadpool comics. It's not like they're character-building, but they're fun and necessary. Watching: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. She used to be a correspondent on The Daily Show and has just started her own topical news/comedy thing and it's AMAZING. I literally have never laughed so hard about reproductive rights. Samantha Bee is a GEM.
What is one facet of your field that you want to see change?
Pay rates could always be better… I'd also like people to start going into their local newsagents again! We need a newsagent day, like we have a Record Store Day. Thankfully frankie is doing well, but mag sales and newspaper sales are falling across the board, and there are some great titles out there. Lots will disappear if people don't actually go into a newsagent, pick them up and give them a good read.
How can we find out more about your work?