Andrew McDonald, Editor, Australian War Memorial (AM)
Sophie Al-Bassam, Managing Editor, Hardie Grant Media (SAB)
1. Can you describe Wartime magazine in a nutshell?
AM: One of the Memorial’s functions, defined in our founding charter, is to spread knowledge of military history. But we also aim to intrigue our readers, bring them knowledge of our shared history, and behind-the-scenes looks at activities here at the Memorial.
SAB: Wartime is the official magazine of the Australian War Memorial. It includes military history articles and personal stories on Australians’ experience of war. Each issue has a theme, like the April issue on film and photography. The Memorial produces all of the copy and Hardie Grant Media works closely with them on editing, design, production, marketing and ad sales.
2. Who are your Wartime readers?
SAB: People who love history. And often people who have some connection to Australians who served in war.
3. What's special about Wartime magazine?
AM: I have to start with my historian and curator colleagues at the Memorial … they have minds like filing cabinets and their knowledge always amazes me. Then we also have internationally well-known historians write for us, such as Antony Beevor.
We bring readers stories about our huge storehouse of great objects – from tanks and planes to historical records, photographs and art – with knowledgeable and entertaining curators to tell us about them.
And finally, we have wonderful publishers and designers who produce a handsome and accessible issue four times a year. I think it’s classier and weightier than a lot of other military history magazines.
SAB: And most of the images are archive images from the Memorial. They each tell an incredible story in their own right. Sometimes the images have a really powerful affect – they can be disturbing, or funny or revealing.
4. How did you come to edit Wartime magazine and what has most surprised you?
AM: Most surprising was to find that I enjoyed it because I’m not a historian at all. I got a job as an editor here and was put onto it as assistant. Gradually I was given more responsibility. Another surprise is that I am approaching my fiftieth issue as editor!
SAB: I also feel like I fell into it. I started at Hardie Grant Media seven years ago to work on other things, and Wartime was thrown into the mix. I was quite nervous at first because military history is not my strong point. However, my general editor and organiser skills have come in handy and it has been one of the most enjoyable projects of my career. I love working with the team at the Memorial because they are so passionate about preserving and sharing history.
5. What can we look forward to with Wartime magazine in the coming year?
AM: Our Autumn issue focuses on photography and how it has shaped our knowledge of war, and how war has shaped photography… particularly the movies. We have articles on movies from the First World War to the recent past in Afghanistan.
Our Winter issue brings you stories from 1941 in the Mediterranean and North Africa in the Second World War.
For our Spring issue this year we are planning some articles on recent conflicts, such as Afghanistan.
6. What's special about a Wartime subscription?
AM: I love having a magazine arrive through the post! You forget when it’s going to arrive and then it pops into the letterbox and you can take your time reading it.