The Story Behind: Glasgow Scooped

GLASGOW Scooped was launched earlier this month, as ‘a free digital tabloid magazine for the city’, with the team behind it claiming an impressive 1,000 downloads during its first week.

The project was conceived by James Forrest and Brian Anderson, the former a digital publisher of other magazines – like Amped Up Scotland, a free music magazine – and the latter a photojournalist.

Here, James Forrest answers the questions…

What exactly was the brief?

The objective, from the off, was to give the reader something different, something a bit meaty, something entertaining but educational as well.

On top of that, we are both proud passionate Glaswegians and we feel this city sometimes lacks a mythology in the way of other cities and we wanted to start uncovering some of her secrets and helping that mythology along.

We are both heart sick of the current political discourse, plus – from some of our media outlets – disinformation disguised as news.

So, as well as providing entertainment, we’re also going to go out there and dig about for the facts that put the debate in perspective. We’re going to talk to people on benefits, to frontline public servants who are labouring under rising costs and stagnant wages, to people who’ve been victims of crime, to those who’ve been unfairly accused of crimes… in general, we’re going to give a platform to the people who normally don’t have one.

This magazine is theirs too.

We’re tiny right now, but we’re bleeping on the radar already.

In time, we’re going to move this to print (we’re working on doing that within months), and then I think you’ll see a show.

What first struck you about the job?

It was Brian who suggested this one.

We were working together on another project, and – as the first phase of that neared the completion stage – he pitched me this idea he’d been carrying around in his head for a while: a Glasgow magazine which would be a kind of National Enquirer for the city.

I loved the idea right away.

It was the kind of thing I thought would be well received and bring to life a lot of things I loved about Glasgow itself.

There was no way I wasn’t going to do this. The second he dropped it on me, I was instantly on board.

Describe the process from conception to completion.

I set up my first publications via Glasgow Jobs and Business, and I went to one of their social events and I met a guy there who had an idea for a kind of artistic, upmarket periodical, and he asked to meet me for a beer the following day.

I went along, not sure what he wanted me to do.

It turned out he thought I was some kind of advertising genius (which I’m not! If you are and you’re reading, get in touch; haha!).

When I’d dissuaded him of that idea, we had a good chat about other stuff.

His mate had come along to the meeting, and that was Brian.

He had brought with him a copy of a publication the two of them had worked on, a true crime magazine called Prohibition.

I was hooked on that, and Brian and I started talking about a digital version.

That’s how we got together, and our work on that led us towards Scooped.

His was the concept. I came up with the name, and we both liked the nice wee double meaning that all Glaswegian’s will identify with!

We spent a while just talking about the kind of stuff we wanted in it, and, over time, came up with the sections: The Big Scoop, The City Scooped, the Cultural Scoop, the Ice Cream Scoop and so on.

Each one was to have a different colour code in the magazine, so readers could find their favourite bits before reading the rest.

We knew we wanted serious sections and not-so-serious ones. We knew there were a lot of great Glasgow tales waiting to be told, and we immediately started looking for those.

We then mapped out the basis of the first three issues.

I set up the website, and found our slogan: Any city has its stories. We’re not just any city.

I spoke to a couple of people who’d written for other publications I’ve put out, and we’ve also built a nice wee writing team up.

Once people started to send their stuff to me it was a simple matter of putting it all together. We’re doing this on near-zero budget, so that’s tough as we can’t spend cash on advertising, etc… but we’re hoping that a little word of mouth helps with that.

Pantone numbers, fonts, use of space, kit, etc?

We can’t afford a designer, so I do that stuff myself.

When I was first getting started, on Amped Up Scotland, I was working with a design guy but he was going to cost a fortune we didn’t have.

So I locked myself in a room for a half a week and taught myself InDesign and Publisher.

Over time, I’ve read up on design and looked at how other magazines set themselves up and my girlfriend has taught me some of the tricks of using Photoshop and stuff like that.

I don’t kid myself, though; I’m nowhere close to being at the level of a professional but the design of Scooped is clean and bright and works for our purposes at the moment.

What most excited you about the project and what pleases you the most about the finished article?

Two things grabbed me about the idea: the scale and the potential if we could pull it off, especially if we can quickly get it into print.

The finished article is something we’re both immensely proud of, and especially the interactive digital PDF which links to all our sites and has a nifty navigation system on the contents page.

Any particular inspirations from your past that have shaped you and your work?

I’ve been very lucky to have worked with some extremely talented people in the last four or five years.

They all know who they are and that I wouldn’t be here without them.

Mostly, what’s meant a lot to me, and channelled my energies best, is the feedback I get from people who’ve checked out our other stuff, like the blogs and the other magazines.

They keep everything right, and they push us forward and they’ll make this a better publication that it otherwise would ever have been.

Been impressed recently by someone else’s work?

Without wanting to sound like I’m bumming up our own guys, I am in complete awe of how good Brian Anderson is at what he does.

I think he’s genuinely world-class.

His own individual project, Glasgow Eyes, which I’m damned proud to feature in the magazine, is like a photographic chronicle of the city, doing in pictures what we want to do in words.

The book he worked on, Faces is more than just another crime showcase… it’s genuinely artistic and brilliant.

A friend of ours, Joanne Reid, has just released a magazine called SalonNV.

Whilst not in our field, and not one I would read myself (it’s about the boutique industry; I’m more of a football and politics guy!) it’s spectacularly well put together.

I know how much hard graft has gone into that project and I’m delighted for her, even if I can see a lot of stressful nights in her future!