When I launched Lucire into print in 2004, it brought with it some unwelcome elements. On the plus side, it raised the company’s profile and no doubt that helped sales. No one had ever taken a website into print before, with the exception of Yahoo Internet Life, as far as I know. Certainly no one in the fashion space, and it wouldn’t happen again for many years.
The negative side was the people who would cling to you and even try to worm their way into your company to wreck things from within.
I remember one New York label who asked for unsold copies to be used in their goody bags at fashion week. I said yes, provided they paid for shipping. Not a problem, here’s our FedEx number.
The copies were shipped over, then FedEx said they would have to charge me for services rendered.
The number was fake.
It wasn’t a one-off. It was relentless how often this happened, freed only when we made some very difficult decisions to bring things back to basics and to remove some of the trouble-making influences.
I have done some of the best work in my career (so far) over the last eight years, since fashion and beauty ed. Sopheak Seng and I revamped the print edition’s format, and we added Lucire KSA to the mix, thanks to our late and dear friend Simon Brindle. The difference this time: I kept my trap shut. Barely any press releases. Just keep your head down.
Maybe I needn’t have worried as much as Lucire is far more a closed shop, relying on extremely loyal writers and editors, most of whom had been with us for over a decade.
There was a certain joy of doing this great work under the radar. Our readers must have appreciated us: I was very pleased to find that the only other Wikipedia profile of me was in Arabic. I must have done something right.
And even if I wanted to shout about our success, to whom would I do it? I couldn’t really tell the local broadsheet-now-tabloid, since they haven’t bothered much with me since I announced my 2010 mayoral campaign and they published on their front page in 2013 that my accent didn’t help with being understood—why bother with fake news merchants? Scoop consistently stood by us, and I am grateful (they do free speech well); then Daniel Dunkley did a wonderful profile in 2021 in Business Desk. It took an expat Brit to recognize there was something special about being one of the few (or the only?) licensors in the land and for being a pioneer, not always something that’s always welcome by the more established institutions. In terms of local media, there wasn’t much more.
I may have been too quiet, an overcorrection from the heady days of the 2000s. No one could worm their way in to the organization as easily, and having doubled my age since I started Lucire, I might just be a little wiser. I also have my dear Amanda who says she would ensure that the wrong sorts wouldn’t get past her.
It’s the business proprietor’s job to keep the awareness up. Whether it’s in one’s immediate circles or the wider media depends on the business itself.
I’m not sure if Linkedin’s the medium, and the other Big Tech platforms are falling over one by one. I think we should support media if they have the nous to stand by their integrity; it remains better to have someone talk about you than you about yourself. It might take a while to find the right media outlet but it’s worth it. To earn that coverage, we should be creative above all else—make a more beautiful magazine, invent a better product, compose a sweeter song—because all of those are more important than a world where chat bots generate empty, soulless content. I once created a tagline for my friend Panos Papadopoulos when he had his swimwear label: ‘Dare to be human.’ We have to, it’s how our stories are made.
You think I’m hard on Google? Read Cory Doctorow’s Pluralistic for June 15. The headline: ‘Google makes millions on paid abortion disinformation’.
‘Google … accept—and make a fortune from—paid disinformation, across every category.’
Speaking of fake news merchants, Jo Maugham KC of the Good Law Project deserves the final word in this post, on the subject of our least favourite New York-born serial-cheating politician with funny hair. OK, our second least.
To all those journalists who are calling Johnson a liar now. Why didn’t you call him a liar then? During the referendum? In the Prorogation? During Covid? That was your job—not kicking him now because he’s finished. We’ve paid a terrible price because you didn’t do it.
We will learn all the wrong lessons. We’ll pretend the problem was Johnson: it isn’t. That the problem has gone: it hasn’t. The problem is our media, which is supposed to hold power to account, and is deferential in its face. It’s why we got Johnson—and will get his successor.