“Having returned from a particularly savage 9am lecture one morning I routinely scanned through my inbox expecting little more than a library fine and yet more dissertation criticism. To my relief I had neither, but instead I was presented with a work experience opportunity. For a run-of-the-mill third year humanities student, for whom time is running out, such opportunities are crucial.
This one particularly stood out. A new international magazine entitled Curious Animal was launching, running stories on all things from art, music, books and photography to adventure travel, world affairs and future cities. The editor, Graeme Green, required a team knowledgeable in social media and handy with the written word to run the launch campaign and then write for the nascent magazine.
Only too aware of how quickly such a chance would be seized I immediately got in contact with Graeme and to my delight gained a place working on the Twitter page for the launch. A sizeable proportion of the team is comprised of University of Liverpool students including Malina Modlich, Luke Halls, and Peter Rice. This is no accident, as Graeme explained:
I contacted a small number of universities. I know several people who studied at Liverpool University and I’ve spent time at the city. I know both the city and the University are lively, energetic, and creative, so it seemed like a good one to approach.
With Peter and myself pursuing journalism, Luke deciding between PR and something more music related, and Malina toying with everything from music to politics and even PR, the scope of opportunities this endeavour encompasses is ideal. We have all been heavily involved building up online enthusiasm coming up to the launch, regularly updating social networks with exciting content and researching and targeting key individuals to solicit support.
With social networking fast becoming the primary means by which journalists meet and exchange ideas, these skills are vital to all our intended career paths. Yet contrary to what many may think, writers do still have to write. Within a week of working for Graeme I was tasked with editing an item on cycling. My brief: consolidate the information already there and “do a lively introduction, maybe some Armstrong stuff?”
Peter has already written an album review, Luke has some music articles coming soon, and Malina is writing some articles on travel, music, and current affairs. All of this work experience is vital for us, as Graeme explained:
One of the most important things all through your career, but especially when starting out, is proving yourself to people. With journalism, it’s really useful to be able to show people – editors, bosses, potential employers… – what you’ve done… I spent a lot of time writing for free for arts and culture magazines, getting experience and a ‘body of work’ together. I also did work experience at a few newspapers, and nine times out 10, that work experience led to some actual paid work, often on an ongoing basis.
The site itself went live on 7 May and was well received online. In the coming weeks we’ve got Irvine Welsh, Richard Dawkins and Akhil Sharma books, Tune-Yards and Rodrigo Y Gabriela CDs, plus some Eagle Creek and other gear to give away. There’s one thing we’re learning fast in this career; it’s non-stop.
It must be said though, the magazine itself does most of the work for us. Named after humans, the most curious animals on the planet, Curious Animal does genuinely seem to have something for everyone. Graeme puts it simply:
If people are interested in the world, they’re bound to find something of interest on there. There’s a huge mix on the site, from bands and writers to some of the world’s best photographers and explorers. We’re also running a whole load of stories on big issues around the world, from conservation to human rights. The main thing that, I think, sets the site apart is a real international outlook. The photographers, bands, writers, explorers and other people on the site come from all across the world, from Africa, from Asia, Europe, anywhere… I think it’s a pretty exciting mix.
If you’re curious what we’ve been up to, or just want a fresh diversion from revision, visit www.curiousanimal.com or check out Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Curious-Animal-Magazine/572842039431464 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/Curious_Animal.”
By Andrew Jehring