With the new Exeter Magazine ‘hot off the press’ we talked to the Editor, and Astley Media Chairman, Marc Astley, to find out more about his latest business venture.
Marc has extensive experience and insight into the world of media and has lived in Exeter for many years, working to provide and shape local news to suit the community whilst building a home and family here.
In taking on the Editor role for Exeter Magazine (formally Exeter Life Magazine) he returns to print with a new perspective.
About Exeter Magazine
Marc started by giving us a flavour of the new magazine and who should read it.
“It’s a magazine that’s going to be lifestyle in nature but very much geared towards the business and professional community.” says Marc.
“There are a number of lifestyle magazines around but we don’t feel like there’s a publication that serves that sector. It’s very much going to be celebrating the people, organisations and charities that make Exeter the great place it is to live and work, so we’re going to be shining a spotlight on the city.
“The aim really is to be the antidote to a lot of the negative media at the moment.”
Online media often doesn’t reflect the businesses and communities that people know as it’s written with distance, so by grounding the magazine in more positive, local and focused stories, this new publication hopes to better reflect our great city.
Whilst it’s impossible to encapsulate all of the vibrant and fascinating stories that are going to be explored, Marc has given a preview into the tone and style of the magazine by letting us in on some of the features in the first edition: “It’s going to be a mixture of in depth long feeds, in depth behind the headlines features and some brighter, shorter, sharper material as well.
“For example, every edition will have what we call a big interview, that we’ll be conducting with a key person in the news or a key person making things happen.”
The first big interview is with Karim Hassan, exploring his dual goals and responsibilities towards becoming carbon neutral whilst growing the economy, the video of which will be available online. Other highlights include a piece on Exeter Chiefs player Kate Zachary who supplements her income by working nights as an Account Manager for an American SEO company.
Marc also discusses the shorter, regular features of the magazine, including “My Inspiration” and “My Life in Pictures”, stating “there’s a real mix of content in there, from centrepieces to interviews to in depth looks behind the headlines, to personal interest stories.”
When explaining how he came to be involved with the magazine, Marc said: Initially I was a journalist and later on founded Astley Media ten years ago, and before that I was the editor of the Express and Echo newspaper for six years. After that I did a bit of media consulting work but had no appetite to get involved in print media, or any media, until about a year or so ago.
“I started working with a company called Archant newspapers and got to know the chairman there quite well. He subsequently left to set up his own publishing company starting with a newspaper called The Torbay Weekly. The model was quite different from other newspapers in that they don’t publish any bad news they only publish good, positive, upbeat news – quite a brave step to take but it worked and that newspaper is thriving now.
“On the back of that he has bought a number of other titles including the North Devon Gazette, The Moorlander and then a magazine which used to be Exeter Life which we’re repurposing as The Exeter Magazine. I wasn’t really interested in any print media since leaving, but their model, their approach and their philosophy was so compelling I just had to say yes.”
With a new, influential media platform, a strong sense of values is essential to ensuring the integrity and quality of any publication. Marc discusses this prioritisation, stating: “Our values really are to champion the people of Exeter and the future of Exeter- our strapline is Celebrating Our City, Its People and Future. We want to be an integral part of shaping the future of Exeter through our positive publicity.
“Through highlighting some of the things people don’t know about, we hope that we’ll play a significant part in creating a better future.”
This is manifested in Marc’s keen support of the 2030 carbon neutral goal and the magazine will be dedicating two pages per edition to Exeter City Futures, the organisation working to support this aim. It will also have a section called ‘Green Teams’ in each issue, highlighting a person or team that are doing their bit for the environment in the local community. The publication is also extremely supportive of Exeter’s education sector and thriving tech sector, dedicating at least 6 pages each per issue to focus on this topic.
Print in the Age of Digital
Despite the boom of online news, the print industry is still finding success. During the interview, Marc provided fascinating insight into this subject, stating: “I still think there’s a place for a printed magazine, if it’s the right sort of magazine doing the right sort of thing. For the last ten years I’ve not found the right sort of magazine or newspaper but I think this model of being positive, supportive and selective is something different.
“We will have a digital offering as well. No media has ever replaced another media, people said TV would replace radio and DVDs would replace the cinema but these media are still thriving; they’re just operating in a very different way.
“We still believe there’s an appetite and a need for print, a bit like how people are now going back to vinyl, there’s a nostalgia there for having something in your hand that you can thumb through and leave on the coffee table and pass on and sit with somebody and share.
“With the Exeter Magazine, we’re in a brilliant city full of brilliant people and we’re going to reflect that so why wouldn’t people want to read about it in a high quality, classy magazine?“
The magazine has a focused local centre, acting as a love letter to Exeter. Marc’s final comments explained why our city is such a special place to write about: “I’m not from Exeter but it’s my adopted city. I’m from Leicester in the Midlands originally which is the most landlocked city and came to Exeter in the early nineties to work at the Express and Echo newspaper. I loved my time here, loved the city, loved the people. It’s not too big to be sprawling, it’s not too small to be cliquey, it’s full of really ambitious, really positive and really can-do people in great businesses and organisations in a great geographical location. Let’s not forget we’re a stone’s throw from the moors and the sea and the city itself is beautiful.
“I just love this part of the world, I love the spirit and the people, I love its ambition. We’ve got a world class sports team in the Exeter Chiefs, we’ve got massive amounts of development in the city, a world-beating university and a first class college. It’s got the county seat, its where the county council are, where southwest water is, the met office and more. For the size of the city, what it’s achieved and what it’s going to achieve is incredible.”
Getting a Copy
The magazine hit the newsstands on March 3rd and will be coming out every 2 months. They’ll be distributing 6000 copies for free throughout the city, including a couple of thousand given out to shoppers and people in the city centre over a weekend, to give people a good introduction to the magazine’s approach. They’ll also be delivering 6000 to people’s homes, and another 2000 will be going to offices and office spaces.
To read the first edition for free online, please visit: https://bit.ly/35NQbAH