This week we hear from Gina Tonic co-founder of The Fat Zine, an independent magazine by fat people for fat people, plus those that care. We spoke about the F word, the influence of Pitch Perfect, being an activist vs being a publisher, Fat Liberation and how inside every thin person there’s a fat person dying to get out.

In the news round-up, we take a look at which publishers have come out of the pandemic in the best shape, ask why there have been so many journalism unions established over the past year, and look at how Reach is using Instagram. Esther questions Peter’s tech credibility, regrets it.

The full transcript is live here, or see below for highlights.

How The Fat Zine came to life

So the Fat Zine was my pet idea, maybe a few years ago, when I first got into self-publishing and the zine culture through zines like Polyester. It was just an idea, it wasn’t something that I ever really took that seriously.

Then when the pandemic started, I was out of a job, I was going to start doing freelance writing full-time. Chloe works full-time as a photographer anyway, but had to move back home for personal reasons. I think she put something on her Instagram story, saying ‘I wish I had something to focus on’. So I thought ‘Well, maybe now this is the time to do it’.

It just became one of those things where we egged each other into doing it. Then it’s blossomed since then.

Making back issues accessible

Something I want to work on, is selling the PDF for a quid or something. Because I think accessibility is super important as well.

On World Obesity Day, I gave away the PDF of Issue One for free to anyone who ticked the box saying ‘I’m fat, and I love myself’. Then loads of people said ‘it’s really handy having a PDF’, because maybe they can’t afford the shipping to America or Australia. Or maybe they just find reading stuff digitally more accessible because they have digital readers, like voice readers and stuff for people who have visual impairments.

That’s definitely a next step that I want to take is making sure that it’s accessible digitally, as well as in print.

Print as a tool for reinforcement

I think just physically having something is just as important as having access digitally. Holding something in your hand as a tactile object, let alone even reading and looking at it and knowing that this was made for you by people like you and those that care about you, like we’ve said. That’s our claim.

It’s just revolutionary, having one publication that the only thing you’re going to see in it is fat positivity. I feel like giving people something physical that reinforces these ideals, because a lot of the time when you access activism online, when you log off, you disconnect from it a bit. You realise that the real world isn’t exactly in the same bubble that you can be online with activism.

You realise that your point of view might not be the mass point of view. So having something that ties you to the physical, real world as well as the digital world, I think is important to have.

Whether she sees herself as a publisher or an activist

Maybe a little bit of both. It’s hard to call yourself an activist really. It’s kind of like calling yourself a punk, it feels like it cancels out. I just see myself as a writer before anything else. I think writing goes hand-in-hand with publishing, especially the way that I’ve gotten into the writing world is through self-publishing.

So neither, I’d call myself a writer. Or all of the above.

Key stories:

News in brief:

  • Guardian Media Group will voluntarily return £1.6m in furlough money to the government that was claimed during the early days of the pandemic to support the salaries of some staff.
  • Record numbers of journalists have unionised during the pandemic. While the trend had been underway ahead of Covid it’s really picked up since. 
  • Perhaps relatedly, there has been a spate of journalists needing to take a step back from their workload over the past year. We’ve seen the research – now two top Wired.com staffers have resigned entirely, citing burnout.
  • The number of readers driven to Reach regional websites from Instagram grew by more than 500% in 2020 – Manchester Evening News, Reach’s biggest non-national title, had 75,000 monthly readers from Instagram at the start of 2020 which grew to 320,000 by the end of the year.
  • MailOnline’s owner has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, arguing its coverage of the royal family was pushed down in search results in favour of smaller outlets.
  • NFTs – a bad idea to begin with – are now ruined further as more newspapers have begun selling them as a new revenue source. We’re all for diversification but it’s very hard to see how papers can tout their green credentials while they invest in this tech.
  • Incoming Apple changes to ad tracking on user devices – at least ostensibly in favour of user privacy – are set to hit Facebook and Snapchat more than most.
  • When we talk about the resilience of print we usually think about it as a vector for news. Research highlighted by Nieman Lab indicates that people continue to purchase print at least in part for the familiarity of it in their routine (and also as BBQ kindling).

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