Every week we bring you the best that Oman has to offer. Here, Penny Fray introduces you to the small but dedicated team who make it happen
Have you ever found yourself thinking ‘I wonder if it’s really like that?’ whilst watching the latest installment of Ugly Betty? Did The September Issue leave you wanting more? Well, let me put your mind to rest, as I give you a unique insight into life at a weekly lifestyle magazine here in Oman.
Y’s office is based in Muscat’s achingly authentic fishing village of Seeb. It’s from here that we flit from fashion shows to café openings, food tastings to film screenings – and lots, lots more. With our network of contacts, we also find hard-hitting news stories that matter to you – whether they concern education, health or corruption.
By virtue of our jobs, Y’s five-strong team of journalists and creatives (not forgetting our columnists and contributors) understand more than most about the vibrant life available to the Sultanate’s urban professional. And the magazine you’re reading is the distillation of our knowledge, curated and dictated by me – the editor, aka The Devil Wears Primark.
Being a journalist is fun. There’s never a dull or repetitious day. But equally the hours are incredibly long, the pace is fantastically fast and the challenges are endless (try writing an average of 35,000 researched words in less than four days.) That’s why I swapped a career as a lawyer to join it. Like Kate, our section’s editor, I saw journalism as the lifeblood of democracy and daily newspapers as the bastion of principled and balanced journalism. No one (no one I ever knew, anyway) entered the world of print with the intention of getting rich, becoming powerful or having a balanced lifestyle.
An average day starts at 7am going through emails, brainstorming, writing, interviewing, party planning, sales strategising, proof reading… (take a deep breath)…meeting movers, shakers and everything in-between, plus finding solutions to the daily problems that keep sneaking into the editor’s office. By the time I’ve reached home, it’s usually well after midnight, my mind still buzzing with ideas and future plans while my belly groans with hunger (six cans of Diet Coke and eight packets of Kit Kat doth not a meal make).
But I’m not alone. Kate, our seasoned news guru, is constantly scouring the Sultanate, sniffng out stories to keep abreast of the fast moving developments in this dynamic country that we all call home. Tom splits his time between writing features and checking pages for errors, while Jerzy’s camera flash is endlessly popping here, there and everywhere. In the meantime, Matthew, our designer, is putting the pages together (although this week he’s on holiday and a creative genius called Freddie is at the design helm.)
We have very different personalities and skills but what we all have in common is professionalism and a passion for our product.
We may be small but we have big ambitions and our journey has just begun. Happy birthday Y!
Name: Penny Fray
Role: Managing Editor
Background: A qualified and highly experienced journalist turned editor. Under her guardianship, several lifestyle magazines for both Trinity Mirror and Archant in the UK were revamped and driven to commercial success.
Star sign: Leo
Interesting Facts: She’s a Welsh speaking former lawyer who can read people’s palms.
Name: Kate Ginn
Role: Sections Editor
Background: An English Lit graduate with more than 20 years experience as a journalist on national and international newspapers in both news and features. She has worked on several publications in the UK and the Middle East, including the Daily Mail in London and The National in Abu Dhabi.
Star sign: Leo
Interesting Facts: Been on death row in the US, drank tea with ex UK PM John Major, and once slept in a treehouse for a week on a story.
Name: Tom Robertson
Role: Contributing Writer / Sub Editor
Background: An accomplished writer and strategist for high profile politicians. Previously worked as a policy adviser in the European Parliament.
Star sign: Gemini
Interesting Facts: Can speak French and basic Arabic.
Name: Matt Herbst
Role: Art Director
Background: Attended the famous Johannesburg Art, Ballet, Drama and Music School before going on to work as a mixed medium artist and designer (among other things).
Star Sign: Libra
Interesting Fact: His paintings are showcased in Saatchi’s online gallery.
Name: Jerzy Wierzbicki
Background: A Polish archaeologist turned photographer whose pictures have appeared everywhere from National Geographic to Newsweek.
Star Sign: Virgo/Libra Cusp
Interesting Fact: Has just completed his 248th trip into the Omani Interior.