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June 25, 2018
Culture

Thank you. And goodbye.

A final missive from our outgoing editor Farrin Foster.

I never wanted to be an editor.

In my first proper journalism job, at The (now defunct) Independent Weekly newspaper, I remember walking up to the desk of editor Hendrik Gout and telling him that not just one, but three, of my stories for the week had fallen over. It was the day before we went to print, and I was leaving some very large gaps in that edition.

Farrin Foster is the soon-to-be-former editor of CityMag and the current editor of City Standard.

Hendrik hesitated only briefly before nodding, smiling slightly, and sending me back to my desk. The next day, the two or so pages that should have contained my stories were instead filled with things Hendrik had written – articles that had been conjured somehow overnight, and yet were as newsworthy and well executed as anything else the paper had published.

In this incident, I saw a great cautionary tale. I decided to never become an editor, because when that is your role, every problem of a publication is yours to shoulder. Its money woes, its readership, its staff, its lawsuits, its relevance, and – most alarmingly – its empty pages, are your burden to bear.

Joshua Fanning (publisher of CityMag), though, had other ideas.

We had worked together at a community radio station, and I’d contributed a little to his first magazine – Merge. We also started dating, and I served as his deputy editor on the first editions of Collect, his next magazine, which was made in partnership with Adam Johnson.

By edition 10 of Collect, I was its editor.

At the time, I thought this elevation was largely practical. Josh needed to run the business side of the magazine, and I had more editorial experience anyway.

When we launched CityMag together in 2013, I was editor from the outset. I thought that this, too, was an arrangement made for the same practical reasons.

But from where I sit now, five years later, I realise it was probably much more than that. Josh would have made an excellent editor, but instead of taking on a role he would have loved for himself, he placed me in it. He saw potential I had yet to acknowledge, and he set about bringing it out.

For me, this is one of the major (though not public) stories of CityMag.

Josh has built a vehicle to elevate me and a great many other collaborators. He and I have not always agreed about methods, but his intent is always generous.

And because of that, my experience of becoming an editor has been eased. Budgets have been handed over to my control with the backing of a publisher who has allowed me to make mistakes while I learn to run them, the threat of being sued alleviated by the jokes that there’s not much to sue for, the empty pages filled with help from an always-available collaborator.

As Josh has shepherded me into the role, other people have appeared around us to help make CityMag more than it would have been.

We knew when we started the magazine that we were setting out to tell a different story about Adelaide, but we didn’t know how much that different story would be shaped by new voices that came into our lives. Early designers Jasmin, Dan, Rowan, and Marie extended the magazine’s aesthetic, Lauren revolutionised the way the magazine looked and the way the team worked together, Owen was smarter than us all, Jules was sharper, Sharmonie, Louie and Johnny pushed us to be better because they are better than we are. Tyrone flipped us upside down.

Regular contributors André, Jessica, Ben McP, Ben McG, Sven, Connor, Jono, and Josh G used their skill to make us look good.

They have all taught us how to do what we do better.

I never wanted to be an editor, but I’m glad that I did.  Now CityMag has been acquired by Solstice Media (publisher of InDaily), I’m leaving the role (voluntarily).

The magazine needs to keep evolving as the city’s needs evolve, and I have evolved to need a little more time to myself for sitting quietly.

But I am very proud of what we have made, and immensely grateful that you all have engaged with it. Because of your readership and your ongoing input, I’m cautiously optimistic that it has had value for the city, and I’m certain that CityMag can grow from here.

And I am immensely grateful for the rare privilege of having worked alongside a person who cared more about me and about the mission of telling the city’s story than he ever did about money, or about himself.

Thank you all, and goodbye.

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