Gente do papel: Johannes, King's Review
“Gente do Papel” é uma rubrica assinada pelo Manifesto. Com esta série de entrevistas queremos dar a conhecer o fascinante mundo das publicações independentes. Jornalistas, fotógrafos, editores, designers, ilustradores entre tantas outras pessoas são os protagonistas desta rubrica regular produzida pela equipa do Manifesto.
Nesta edição da "Gente do Papel" falamos com o editor Johannes Lenhard sobre a sua revista King's Review, uma publicação que pretende aproximar o meio académico do grande público.
Who is Johannes Lenhard? Tell us a little more about your background.
So far, I have been a student all my life; I started with economics in Germany, went on to do a Master’s in sociology and ultimately came round to anthropology. For the last five years I have looked into issues surrounding homelessness, both in London and Paris, and I am about to finish my PhD on how people in Paris make temporary homes while living on the street. For three years, I have also been the Editor-in-Chief of the KR.
King’s Review combines academic research with long form journalism. What have inspired you to create such a singular magazine?
The group of friends which founded the magazine about five years ago was frustrated. The academic world – at least the one in Cambridge – felt so insular; it didn’t seem to want to look beyond its own horizons. The experiences of postgraduate students here are often inward-looking, focused on discipline-specific details and more and more caught up in the administration of a career and of publications. The KR was born out of this frustration with a slow-moving, introverted academy. We wanted to make academic writing accessible and to share the important ideas which are produced during research. Turning research into narrative-driven long-form journalism, and pairing it with high-quality photography and illustration, was our way of trying to realise this vision.
Most of the times, academic research doesn’t reach more than just a few peers from the same field of work. Do you believe that if academic writing was more accessible, people would be more interested in it?
My direct peers are researching problems, riddles, ideas and issues which are significant in a context far beyond academia. Most of them go out and observe, look around and try to understand a piece of the world around them. The knowledge they create or uncover is absolutely of interest to a general public. I believe that only the form and the paywalls (academic publishers do not only not pay their writers, but they also charge unjustifiable amounts for access) is what keeps people disengaged. We’re attempting to rethink academic publishing.
What’s your biggest challenge as an editor?
Continuity. The team is constantly evolving and changing. Editors move away after their research ends — some of them stay involved, others leave. On the one hand, the ever-changing talent comes with fresh and new ideas, which is exciting. On the other hand, it is difficult, in a situation where half of the editors change on an annual basis, to keep the quality of the magazine high and follow a constant rhythm of publishing articles. I see my role at least partly in making sure that stability is kept up over time.
One of our favorite articles was “In/visibility in Transit” by Hanna Baumann. Do you have a favorite feature from the Encounters issue?
It took us about two years to commission and select the pieces in ENCOUNTERS, so I think of all of them as excellent and elaborate pieces of writing. But I think the most important piece for the development of KR in this issue was Kat Addis’ one. We discussed it a lot, and whether we could include it – it wasn’t quite academic journalism after all. Her piece was one of the first – also Konrad Laker’s essay on becoming a doctor in the same issue – in which a first-person narrative, fictional elements and academic ideas are interwoven into one whole.
How do you see the new wave of print publications?
It is fantastic to see services such as Stack, which sends you a different independent magazine every month and also Magculture, which just opened their own shop in London last year. Magazine shops – shops that only sell independent magazines – are popping up all over the world and it is really great to be able to walk into DoYouReadMe in Berlin or ofr in Paris to see what is happening in these cities. The new wave of independent magazines provides a different view onto culture. It broadens the idea of culture for a wider public by including things such as queerness (Hello Mr), anthropology (Peeps) or new feminism (Ladybeard). I like how important issues are put onto the agenda in this form and that public debate is widened.
One word of caution, however: while the world of independent publishing might seem all high-class and glitzy from the outside, there is still a huge problem with funding. Most of the writers, editors and many artists are not paid and I don’t see a way out of this lack of money for now despite the high magazine prices (which are often just able to cover the production costs). Let’s see what creative solutions we will collectively come up with.
Which magazines inspire you the most?
I enjoy reading many mainstream literary magazines, such as the New Yorker and the LRB. I like the White Review a lot, too. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed titles in different genres such as Vestoj. Anja Cronberg is such a fantastic editor who for me has redefined what fashion journalism can do. She cuts out all of the adverts and focuses on intelligent analyses of different issues surrounding sartorial matters in the widest respect.
What do you hope King’s Review will achieve in the future?
We are currently working on the next issue which will be all about EXTREMES. A lot of new editors came on board who brought many new ideas so we are excited to come up with a fresh set of pieces and formats this time. The general concept will stay the same – academic longform journalism, photography, illustration – while the philosophy is changing slightly. In the upcoming issue, we want to tell beautiful but important stories on extreme situations, places and people. We will try and go one step further and focus more on narrative and story-telling than just ‘translating’ academic ideas. We believe that this might draw in even more people.
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