Friday, June 18, 2010

Reader's Digest actively recruiting freelancers to fill out list of contributors to magazine

In what is a relatively simple, and easy, initiative, Reader's Digest, traditionally a hard to crack and demanding market, is reaching out to Canadian freelance writers. The process is being led by Carmen Starnino, who is editor of maisonneuve magazine, but is moonlighting as the full-time commissioning editor of RD, working for former maisonneuve publisher Derek Webster, now the managing editor of RD.What's unusual, and noteworthy, is that this is a dramatic change in direction; as far as I know RD has never gone so far in searching out new editorial voices as it is doing now.
Starnino has put out a call to, among other lists, the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserv, saying "I'd like to significantly expand the magazine's stable of writers." Now, I'm not sure the term stable is all that flattering, but you get the idea. Here's what he says they're looking for:
* Making it Matter: 1200-word profiles of people who are doing something good for their community, their country, or the world. Eg, “ Speaking Their Language,” about the multilingual team that run Toronto’s Mobile Health Clinic helping immigrant women get the health care they might not have known how to ask for.
* Character: 1200-word profiles of quirky, unique individuals. These pieces need memorable quotes, eye-popping scenarios, or the ordinary made extraordinary. Eg, “The Hunter’s Apprentice,” a profile of Vancouver taxidermist Frank Gilbert.
* Influential Canadians: 1500-word profiles of leaders of Canadian society, either well known or flying-under-the-radar. More than just a CV—we need to know why their contributions are important. Eg, “Ben Perrin’s War,” profile of crusading U.B.C. lawyer stopping worldwide sex trafficking by developing international human rights law.
* Heart Features/Dramas in real life:1500-2500-word stories about medical miracles, tales of courage and endurance; human stories you remember days and weeks later. Eg, “Leap of Faith,” a dramatic story of one baby’s tenacious grip on life, narrow avoidance of a heart transplant, and near-miraculous recovery in defiance of medical science.
* Service Features: Information that helps readers deal with life, health, family. Short, factual pieces—something to stick to your fridge. Eg, “Aim to Claim”: seven things to consider before filing a claim with your insurance agent.
* Issue Features: 2000-2500 word investigative pieces about social issues and medical concerns. Eg, “Beyond Blue: Fixing Teen Mental Health Care”—why doesn’t Canada have a comprehensive plan, as do England and Australia?
Starnino can be reached at or



Blogger Long Runner said...

No to take anything away from Derek and Carmine, who I know are doing a great job, D.B. but in 2005/6 senior editors Mary Aikins, Bonnie Munday and I met face-to-face with writers individually and in groups in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa to tell them why they should write for RD. Among the top notch writers we attracted to RD were Anne Mullins, Tom Hawthorne, Alisa Smith, Dave Bidini, John Lorinc, Doug Todd, Bill Richardson, John Gradon and a host of others. You may not realize at that time we were producing 90 per cent original Canadian content to fill the pages of the magazine, and it took a lot of great writers to provide the material we needed. Just want to set the record straight.
Peter Stockland
former editor-in-chief
Readers Digest Magazines Canada Ltd.

4:38 pm  

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