Advantages Cheap, not many adverts, I'm in it.
Disadvantages Trashy stories, poor quality paper, I'm in it!
|Quality of journalism|
|Quality of features|
|Value for money||Good|
|Quantity of advertising||Average|
***Intro - TRASH***Now's here's a review I didn't think I'd find myself writing when I joined Ciao! Put quite simply, 'that's life!' magazine is TRASH. It is NOT the sort of magazine I would buy (or at least admit to buying!) out of choice - and certainly not a magazine I would want to see myself appearing in. I just want to clear that up before we go any further!
Trashiness aside, there does seem to be something about the human mind (at least for many women) which draws us to this trash if it happens to be lying around…..or (in my case anyway, please tell me it's not just me, please?) makes me feel the need to read it over the shoulder of someone next to me on the train and get really frustrated when they cotton onto me and turn the page before I've finished, and as a result I never get to find out whether Tracey's baby twins were Wayne's or Gary's…..or one of each! I hope I'm not offending any avid readers of the magazine….even if you like the magazine (and I respect anyone who will admit that) I'm 99% sure you'll agree that it is trash!*A note to readers*:
I would also like to apologise for the length of the review (this is becoming a bit of a theme for me). However, in order to talk about my personal experiences AND give an adequate review of the magazine I felt it had to be this length. I really hope that you do find it interesting and worthwhile to read.
Well, my relationship with the magazine started in December when a fellow director of the self-injury charity (LifeSIGNS - www.lifesigns.org.uk) I'm involved with forwarded me an e-mail from a researcher (we get a lot of media requests). The researcher was looking for a woman between 25 and 44 to be in a magazine - at this point all we knew was that it was one of the magazines in the 'Bella' group. I would assume that most women in the UK will at least have heard of Bella - for the benefit of men, it is a weekly women's magazine.My fellow trustee Sarah appeared in 'New Woman' magazine in January (a far more young and classy magazine I must say (not that I read that trash either) as Sarah is younger and much classier than myself). However, they put the wrong picture next to her story, and also implied that Sarah drank cheap wine which she has never done (this was her biggest concern - what would people think about her drinking cheap wine?). The magazine also (of course as the media does) sensationalised self-injury, using the word 'slash' which Sarah explicitly asked them NOT to use…..but that is the media all over.
Anyway, that is not really relevant except that it has taught us how the media does not really represent reality at all - but then we all knew that anyway didn't we? The point is, that Sarah had done her bit, and now I thought it should be my turn. Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't something that I wanted to do. Being in a magazine read by over a million people has not been my lifelong ambition. I have (and have never had) any desire to be famous, or to see my image glaring out at me as I peer over the shoulder of my fellow commuter. In fact, the only thing that I can think of as worse would be being on TV.You're still wondering why I'm doing it? Well, quite honestly it's bound to happen sooner or later, so I might as well get it out of the way. More importantly though, it is excellent publicity for LifeSIGNS - and anything that means a million people will have heard of us has got to be worth it surely. I went into this with my eyes open - knowing that the article wouldn't be an accurate representation of me and who I am. I know that it is not the 'best' publicity (especially as it is likely to reinforce stereotypes of self-injury being a condition which primarily affects young women, which isn't the case), but it IS publicity, as I was clear that our website address must be printed.
Information about ''that's life!' can be found from http://www.bauer.co.uk/website/thatslife.cfm
***Some background information about the magazine***
'that's life!' is one of the magazines produced by the H. Bauer Publishing group, which produces 120 magazines across 13 countries. The other magazines published by H. Bauer in the UK are Bella, Fate & Fortune, Fiction Feast, Puzzle Portfolio, Spirit & Destiny, Take a Break, Total TV Guide, TV Choice, TV Quick and Win & Go.'that's life!' was launched in June 1995, and is currently selling for 68p. It is a weekly magazine (comes out on Thursdays) aimed at 'young, mass market women with children', the average age being 36. The magazine sells 464,762 copies, but has an adult readership of 1.2million (of which approximately 100,000 are male - I suspect there are more who do so in secret). The magazine can be found at most places which sell magazines (not much of a surprise there then!)
Editor - Jo Checkley
Publishing Director - Andy Brooks
Advertising Manager - Lisa Carver
Production - Karen Way
I'm afraid I do not wish to comment on its sassiness and grittiness - I'll leave you to come to your own conclusions!
Well, I'm a woman (if you hadn't already guessed from my name and picture), I'm between 25 and 44 (being 25 I only just met the criteria!), and I have personal experience of self-injury. I e-mailed the researcher/writer back to tell her this, and gave a brief bit of information about myself, and my relationship with self-injury. I was informed that the article would be in the Health section (which is thankfully the least trashy part) of the magazine, either as the lead feature, or the "A Change in Me" article. I bought a copy of the magazine - that week's lead feature was a woman who had completely lost her memory. I e-mailed the researcher to say that my story is not half as exciting or dramatic as someone who has lost their memory (and that I could probably find someone else who would be willing to feature). However, she assured me that she was interested in my story, and felt it could be the main health feature, once she'd got a few more details and spoken to the editor.I answered the basic questions - when I started self-injuring, what methods I used (which I don't really like to discuss in detail as I don't want to encourage people to try different methods), why I self-injured etc. I was also phoned by the researcher (more on that in a bit) and agreed to a photographer coming to take pictures of me at some point - she was particularly eager that I would be able to be shown with scars on show (I said that at LifeSIGNS we are not happy about this as it sensationalises self-injury and is unnecessary) but I agreed, on the basis that my scars will not show up in their photos anyway (they are mainly white) unless they are just taking a picture of my arm which I would not allow anyway.) The magazine is not renowned for high quality pictures anyway! The editor said it was ok to run the story, and I was sent a contract. The contract did make me laugh - I had to agree not to sell my story to another magazine or paper until after 'that's life!' have published it. I mean, come on! It's not like I've slept with Robbie Williams or something the papers might actually be interested in!
I did feel a bit like I was signing my life away, and every now and then I do get a nagging feeling as to whether I've done the right thing or not. But I have to remind myself, I am doing it to raise awareness. There is an added bonus that I will get £250 for the article, and although I would love to go and spend it on something for me (like a makeover so that no one will recognise me), I will give it straight to LifeSIGNS, because I'm just such a wonderful person. Seriously though, I don't think it's really right to personally profit financially for my self-injury is it?
This was the phone call I came to dread throughout February once I had signed the contract. The e-mails I could just about handle. Perhaps I'm looking back on it now thinking it was worse than it actually was, but it did seem at the time that it was question after question after question.In the course of e-mails between myself and Kate (name changed) I feel that I told her absolutely anything and everything about myself and my life. To be honest I felt she was getting a bit too 'pally' with me, signing e-mails with 'Love and hugs', which I do with friends, and even with Internet people I don't really know….but I wouldn't sign professional e-mails with hugs (I did once from work by accident, and it was very embarrassing!) She also suggested I might be interested in her weekend therapy courses in London for couples with intimacy difficulties. I had never mentioned any intimacy difficulties, but she assumed that since I self-injure that I probably would have….I politely declined!
I don't mind e-mails, it's how we do most of our LifeSIGNS correspondence. I have always hated phones, but I was aware that she might want to speak to me a couple of times, so for once kept my mobile on while at work. I dreaded my mobile ringing and seeing her name on the screen. I'd pick it up and she'd say "Hi Mary, it's Kate from 'that's life!'" I felt like screaming "I f**king know, I can see your name on my phone!" In addition to that, I don't know any other American women who know my mobile number, so that kind of gave it away a bit. This might sound a bit unreasonable of me, but she started phoning me, to ask silly little questions of no relevance.
"What's your husband's name?"
"What's his date of birth?"
Then 5 minutes later another phone call:
"What date did you get married?"
It got quite awkward, as I'd have to go into the photocopier room, as I really didn't feel comfortable talking out loud about that sort of thing in front of my colleagues. The final straw came when she phoned to say, "Mary, the editor and I have been talking. We are not quite sure how someone can cut themselves with a pair of scissors?" My response being "I won't even dignify you with a response. How the hell do you think?!"Actually, that wasn't the final straw. The final straw was when I was waiting for my husband to pick me up from work to take me to the hospital for my wisdom teeth to be removed (not a calm time). She called me 3 times in 15 minutes to ask about the type of knife I used the first time I cut myself. Or perhaps the final straw was when I was at home recovering and I opened my e-mails to find yet more questions.
Honestly, the amount of questions I answered she could have written my autobiography. At the end of the day the article is only a few hundred words and most of the questioning was irrelevant. I wish she'd just asked me what she needed to know.
The funny thing about the article is that it's written in the first person, but it's not written by me. Anyone who knows me will recognise straight away that it is not me (that is a good thing I think!) and I'm sure that if any Ciao'ers get to read the article that they will see that as well. It is REALLY weird reading something written in the first person when you haven't written it yourself. Kate had said I could try and write it myself, but to be honest it would probably have been rewritten to fit with what their readers want, so I didn't bother - for instance I would never choose to talk about how exactly I cut myself or each cut. One of the most important things to remember about self-injury is that the physical severity of the injury usually bears no relation to the emotional distress behind the injury (anyway, if you want to know more about self-injury just ask me).Kate e-mailed me what she was sending the editor. I made a couple of alterations, and she then sent it. Following that were questions (these were the ones I mentioned above) which frustrated me as I had thought it was all over by then - Kate had even sent me a 'Thank you' card in the post saying how she thought my article would really help people and how great I was (now I know that was just to butter me up before the extra questions). The editor wanted to change some things, and the end result is that parts are just not true at all. One that springs to mind is "I got drunk and spilled the beans to my mum." Now that isn't the case at all. I got drunk at school, and my self-injury (among other things) came out then. It was the school who informed my parents - I would not have 'spilled the beans' (and certainly not have used that ridiculous expression)!
By this stage though I couldn't be bothered to argue the technicalities. The article does say I haven't self-injured in over a year which is actually unfortunately not true (my relationship with self-injury is very complex), but I agreed to it saying that because according to Kate it had to.At the beginning of March I had a phone call from a photographer. We agreed he would come to my house at a weekend (I didn't really want to do it in my lunch break at work) - he had to come from Manchester, as they don't have photographers out in Cumbria.
The photographer was nice, but had trouble since we have no plain walls in the house - he took a number of different shots including me sprawled on the floor with my LifeSIGNS leaflets, and I hope that they aren't too bad. Being a bit overweight at the moment, this was the thing I was least looking forward to, and I will probably be even less happy when the magazine comes out. He also scanned a load of photos of me growing up, to give the magazine people some choice. I think they are going to use the one of me and my husband at university, but don't know.A week or so later the magazine phoned me up and read me the final article (again I was at work). My first impressions were that it really sounds like a bit of a sob story and not like me at all. But I was as happy as I was going to be. I clarified that there would be a facts section with the LifeSIGNS web address included - and it was confirmed.
I am writing this on 12th April. Now it is a case of waiting and seeing. I am nervous, but trying not to get too worried. While it is not the sort of magazine my family and friends would read normally, since I have told them about it (I warned my mum it might upset her) I will have to let them know when it's out….and my colleagues as well. I am dreading seeing which picture they use and how hideous and fat I look in it.
It was lucky I checked in the shops, as ''that's life!' magazine has a really ridiculous habit of publishing a magazine with the following week's date on. Stupidly I was expecting that the issue with me in it would be out on Thursday 26th April. But no, Thursday 26th April will be out on Thursday 19th April. If I waited until the expected date I would have missed it, and ended with Thursday 3rd May.Now this REALLY annoys me, I do not see any logical reason for it. It annoys me only slightly less than "The Best of 2007" CDs being sold in time for Christmas 2006 - as if someone in 2006 knows what the best hits of 2007 will be. That is one of my pet hates.
In order to get my review out allowing dedicated Ciao members ample time to see my public shame, I felt I should review the previous issue. This also means that if you do part with your hard-earned 68p, I won't have given away the excitement of what wonders await you. It also meant that I had to buy another copy, and had to explain to the shop assistant that it wasn't for me, and felt I had to buy a Toblerone bar as well to avoid my cover being blown.
***A review of Issue 16 dated Thursday 19th April - out on Thursday 12th April***
Writing a review about this magazine is actually harder than expected, and this is my third attempt (I am now writing this on 16th April) - bear with me!On picking up the magazine I am struck by the bright colours - it's very red, pink, and yellow (even the model has a yellow tinge). Big bold headlines across the front cover, such as "He set himself on fire!" I am struck by the poor quality paper, but on opening the magazine, even more so by how 'busy' it is - no space is spared, which evidently keeps costs down.
After attempting a page by page analysis of the magazine I thought that would get impossibly long (and as you can see it's long already!), so have decided to go by the Contents. There are other smaller stories and bits and pieces along the way, such as "I went to work wearing odd shoes", but I hope you can live without them! One thing that I think is important to note is that the magazine is consists almost solely of readers' stories. It is not about celebrities, which I think actually makes a welcome change - at least the people choose to be in this magazine!
◊ 4 - He set himself on fire because he couldn't be a daddy - your typical shock horror feature. Woman meets man, woman gets pregnant, man gets jealous and obsessive, woman leaves man, man stabs woman, man sets himself on fire - are you starting to get the idea?
◊ 14 - I was her fat identical twin - need I say more? Actually there is a mention of self-injury in this story…the magazine must like self-injury.◊ 28 - Having his baby…but bonking my ex - self-explanatory.
◊ 42 - She wore her tiara to die - a sad story about a little girl who died.If you would like more information on each story, please leave me a message, and I'll get back to you - serious requests only please - lol!
◊ 37 - Super-Sue! - A story about a woman who took on a man trying to stab someone.
◊ 31 - A mini marvel!
PLUS A sign from heaven - a couple of quick stories.
◊ 47 - Trumpety Pump - not as exciting as the title makes out - a woman sung 'Nellie the elephant' in a pub, as someone nearly died.I'm starting to get bored now, but I must persevere.
◊ 9 - Horoscopes - I have never understood how I share my destiny with 1/12 of the population - what bollocks.
◊ 13 - It happened to me - £200 says he'll propose - A woman got her fiancé to propose to her for charity.
PLUS - A rocket felled my man - ok, this was a firework, not a space shuttle.
◊ 20 - Love Confidential - Sadly I missed Part 1 which was in last week's magazine, where Alison popped home to find her 16 year old daughter shagging her boyfriend. So, I feel that with that in mind, I'm off the hook and don't have to read Part 2!◊ 22 - Crime Scene: Strangled for Daddy's debts - a tragic story of an 11 year old boy murdered by his dad. Tragic, but hardly the stuff that entertains me.
◊ 30 - Sue sorts it! Your problems. - Now I normally quite like problem pages (just for the laugh), but they weren't as dramatic as I'd expected. Nothing will ever be as amusing to me as the time in Just Seventeen where a boy wrote in "I'm 16 and my penis is 2 cm long, have a got a problem?"◊ 36 - Your hot mail - letters and photos from readers.
◊ 36 - Tightwad tips - some really useless money saving tips, like using orange juice cartons as paint pots. Why not just use a jam jar?◊ 38 - My true life secret - A woman has written in anonymously revealing that she lied to her daughter saying she was really ill, as an excuse not to look after her grandchildren full-time. How about being honest and saying "They're your kids, and they are little sh*ts (which was the real problem), that's why I won't have them full-time."
◊ 41 - Fight for your rights - a story about a woman and her front door. Yes, really.◊ 44 - Aren't men daft - readers submit their pictures and stories about men, to make them look stupid. For instance a man in a shop mistaking a kitchen roll for a toilet roll - hilarious!
◊ 44 - Rude jokes of the week - oh dear, now these really are bad! To give you an idea, I'll share with you one of the shorter ones:
Q - What can you use to make a shrimp feel sexy?
A - Prawongraphy.
◊ 39 - Face Facts - Plastic Surgery or tricks of the trade? - The pros and cons of sorting out your face at home, in the salon, or under the knife. I'm sure some might find it fascinating. I don't.
♣''that's life!'!'! Kitchen♣:
◊ 25 - Get cracking! Good eggs - a selection of recipes using eggs (no surprise there then!) - they look quite nice and are simple, but nothing that really inspires me.
◊ 34 - Me and my food - One woman's story about losing weight (seems to be one in every magazine).☼Prize Puzzles☼
If I have missed anything, please let me know, and I will add it either here, or somewhere else in the review!
Payment for articles varies depending on which section it is in. I have already mentioned that I will get a cheque for £250, and hope to get this within 4-6 weeks. This in my opinion is pretty good - Sarah only got £100 for 'New Woman'.Basically, you get between £100 and £500 for a story in 'that's life!' You can also get money for letters (up to £50), and jokes (£15). If you are interested, I would suggest that you have a proper read of the magazine to see where your story might fit, and how much you could expect to earn. You will also find where to write to (different e-mails for each type of submission), but the general postal address is: that's life! 3rd Floor, Acadamic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT
I would advise people not to enter into something like this lightly. Please consider the effect it might have on your life and that of those who you care about. Once it is done, there isn't anything you can do about it - don't say I haven't warned you!***The Important Part - Am I happy?***
Since I want to publish this ASAP and I know that many people are dying with anticipation about what my mystery review will be, I will write myself some questions to answer on Thursday.?????Am I happy with the following?????
The Layout - Yes, it looks fine, and the other articles on the double spread aren't about anything dodgy - fine for my mum to read it then!The Picture - It's actually not as bad as I'd expected. I don't look hideous by any means, just a bit dopey! The picture is bigger than I'd expected. The other two pictures they have used are nice ones, the one on the left is when I was 18 going to a ball, and on the right is me and Al at Uni.
The Headline - "I kept cutting my arms." - it could be a hell of a lot worse!The Article (e.g. have they changed it?) - yes, it is different from what the magazine read to me on the phone. In fact that bit I talked about spilling the beans is not there at all. It makes me wonder why the writer actually wrote the article, and not the magazine editor!
To be honest though, the only thing that is blatantly wrong is that they say Al is 20 - perhaps that's because he was 20 in the photo. Makes me feel like a bit of a cradle snatcher. For the record, Al is 26, the same school year as me.Information given about LifeSIGNS - Yes, it is there - thank goodness!
Would I do it again? Yes.Would I recommend it? I think so, yes.
Would I recommend the magazine as a whole, based on my feelings today? I only got the magazine 20 minutes ago, so have only read my article (so have 2 of my colleagues - they said it should have mentioned the wonderful influence they've had on my life - lol!), and the one on the same double spread (the 'A change in me' health article) about a girl with a spotty chin.
So, my opinions on the magazine haven't changed - if you want a trashy read, then this is the magazine for you.
Most of you will be reading this long after the edition I'm talking about. But just be aware, you might be waiting for the doctor or dentist a couple of years down the line, and you might just see me staring out at you from the magazine which you happen to pick up to keep you occupied - a scary thought!
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That's Life - CD
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Known affectionately as "Salford's answer to Pavarotti," UK classical music singer Russell Watson has proved adept at mixing up his classical...
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