Publication Profile: OUTBACK

Publication Profile: OUTBACK

Answers submitted by Editor-in-Chief, Mark Muller.

After more than 150 magazine issues, how would you describe OUTBACK?
R.M. Williams OUTBACK is a multi-award-winning bi-monthly magazine that captures the essence of remote Australia and, by showcasing it in a positive way, brings to life a world that is unknown to many people.

Essentially, OUTBACK is about life beyond the city - anywhere that is remote, different, challenging, and non-urban. It is in Southwest Tasmania, the High Country of Victoria, and along the Great Divide in New South Wales, just as much as it is in central Australia.

The subjects we showcase are as diverse as the outback itself: station owners, ringers, stockmen, farmers, travel and hospitality-industry operators, pilots, doctors, miners, teachers, artists, and fishermen - anyone who has a close involvement with rural, regional, and remote Australia.

We maintain an underlying agenda of positivity. That is not to ignore that life can be cruel and harsh, but rather to acknowledge that there are always people tackling their adversity with dynamism and vigour, and that through sharing their stories, we can help spread that sense of positivity, no matter the circumstance.

What are some things readers may not know about the editorial process at OUTBACK?
We have 12 people on staff, with a full-time equivalent of nine. Five of us are trained journalists and editors, three of us are also photographers. The average tenure is around 14 years. We generally have at least two full editions planned and commissioned in advance, so there’s usually a lead time on commissions of around four months. We read and edit everything several times in-house, and also, as part of the process, send every story out to an external proofreader who is not involved in the day-to-day production process. This ensures the magazine is as clean and clear as possible when it goes to press.

As well as OUTBACK magazine, R.M. Williams Publishing produces a range of other magazines and books designed to entertain and inform readers. These are hard-cover books about luxury travel in the bush and publications devoted to great outback stations, poetry, children’s books, and more. We also have a strong social media engagement, with more than 150,000 followers on Facebook, as well as 60,000+ on Instagram. We also produce podcasts and videos.

How does OUTBACK operate differently from other publications?
For more than 24 years, OUTBACK has stayed true to a central task - telling the stories of the bush and focusing on the positives that can be found and shared in that storytelling. This was what drove R.M. Williams when he set up his first publishing company back in the 1940s. We are proud to continue this legacy, and to chronicle the bush - a place where hardship and sorrow are all too often present, but where joy and inspiration are always to be found somewhere. This is what we look for when our contributors travel the country. This is what motivates us. We believe that in telling such stories, we help to inspire others who might not know of the variety and strength of the people who live beyond the horizon.

To paraphrase R.M., these are the men and women from whom something of worth has shone. He said that this indefinable something had no better name in our language than "spirit". We work to share that spirit - to share the strength, humility, clarity and beauty that make the Australian bush and its people unique and remarkable.

How does OUTBACK work with other media professionals?
We have around 250 freelance contributors on our books, and usually commission work from roughly 40 individual contributors each issue. There are people in that cohort who have been writing for us for 25 years and there are also new contributors in each issue. We like that mix of tried and true, and new, to ensure both the continuity of tone and freshness of the magazine.

Our stories come from four main sources. We digest a lot of media ourselves, and that can prompt storylines. We have that cohort of freelancers who pitch ideas to us. Our readers also come up with a lot of suggestions. And we have good networks in the PR world who send us ideas.

This is all fed through a filter of geographical coverage, and aligned with broader narrative arcs that inform our storytelling.

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