by Lisa J. Jackson
With so much information online, it’s getting rare to go low-tech for information, but in researching magazines and newspapers lately, I’ve come to appreciate the up-to-datedness (I made up this word) of an actual masthead.
The masthead (also referred to as a nameplate) is the portion of a magazine or newspaper, generally within the first few pages (just before, after, or with the Table of Contents) that lists the name of the publisher, contact information, subscription rates, and other pertinent stuff readers and writers want to know.
As a writer, your goal is to find the person who manages the department of the newspaper or magazine you want to submit an article to. With a small publication, this could be the editor-in-chief. For a larger publication, you may have several names to choose from.
The masthead is the place to start because it gives you some combination of these elements (and more):
- Logo (very small, obviously, if it’s there)
- Name of the publisher, editors, contributors, designers, and other staff responsible for the publication, sometimes with their e-mail addresses, at a minimum
- Address, phone number, and other contact information for the publication in general, and sometimes by department/area of focus
- Date and volume number
- Subscription information, if relevant, and/or details on how to obtain prior copies, sometimes a customer service contact
- Information on how to submit to the publication
You can click on the image to the right to see some masthead details for this N.H.-based magazine.
Of course, having the information and deciphering that information can be two different things. You don’t want to submit queries or articles to the “editor-in-chief,” “contributing editor,” or “editing assistant,” at least not without research first. You want to find the best internal resource for your article.
Resources, such as WritersMarket.com, have publisher/editor information, but it is collected at least 12 months in advance of distribution, so the information may not always be relevant by the time you find it. Even if the resource sites are updated regularly, unless someone submits the changes, contact information can be outdated until the next print version.
I recently found a valuable online source for masthead details for newspapers across the country. The US Newspaper List (USNPL) lets you see newspapers and magazines by state. Details vary, of course, but sometimes you can get Twitter and Facebook contact info, along with editor names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses.
Of course if you’ve searched print copies and magazine/newspaper websites and are still unsure who to address your query to, librarians are a great resource, or calling the main number of the publication and describing the contact you need can lead to an answer.
I believe it’s best to address a query/letter/e-mail to an actual person whenever possible.
Is this information helpful? (It’s also relevant to print and e-newsletters, blogs, and book publishers.)