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Focus: Horsepower Media's LinuxUser & Developer

LinuxUser & Developer is written for key IT professionals within organisations which use Linux or have expressed an interest in using Linux.

Editor Keir Thomas provides detail on the magazine in this week's FeaturesExec Focus.

About the publication:

1. Who reads it, and how many of them are there?
It's aimed at the IT purchaser or decision maker who's interested in the Linux operating system. It used to be exclusively controlled circulation but we've opened it up recently to newsstand sales too. And we're doing very well! It's a young market on the newsstand but we're pushing forward all the time.

2. What makes you different from the other publications in your sector?
We're issues-driven. Yes, we have reviews and tutorials like lots of computer mags. But our main features are discussions about the big topics affecting Linux, and about the major players. Linux is unique in the IT field in that there's a lot of politics involved, as well as a lot of very big business.

3. What's the greatest moment in the publication’s history?
It's yet to come! We're planning the LinuxUser & Developer Expo 2004 at
the moment which will take place in Olympia in April ( This tends to set in concrete what's happening in the Linux community and shows just how much support there is out there.

About PRs:

1. Do you work closely with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events) or do you keep them at arm’s length?
I'm never quite clear about how PRs define their role in life, so I'm a bit worried I'm going to cause offence here! I look to PR people for support and help getting hold of stuff like information, or perhaps pictures. I prefer to approach them rather than the other way around, but this is only because many PR campaigns can be very badly focused. For example, if I receive 100 PR releases about something dull and
unrelated to my area, such as photocopiers or corporate results, then I tend to miss the all important release from that person packed full of vital info. I sometimes wish that PR people would work harder to target their press releases and try to understand the magazines and people they're aiming at. But I suppose they haven't got time.

2. Do you produce a features list? Why? Why not?
We produce one largely for advertising reasons. Feature lists are slightly flawed things in that they go out of date easily - I might bring a feature forward, or put it back. I also worry about my competitors getting hold of it and running spoilers. Like I said, I'd much rather approach a PR myself than have one phone me out of the blue based on a feature list.

3. Do you have any advice for PRs?
Lots of personal service, I think - just be kind to us journalists. I know lots of us are arrogant and I suspect PR work can be a thankless task, that is you supply the info which makes a story for us and we don't even drop you a line to say we received the email. I have been in touch with some PR companies, not naming names, who are more like estate agents - they have a slight contempt for the people they're dealing with and force the journalist to chase them constantly. This just means more work for me and I then only get in touch if I have no other choice.
Maybe this is what they want?

About you:

1. What does your job involve?
Editing, commissioning, logistics - the whole thing.

2. What interests you most about it?
Although I could never see a computer again and not suffer, I'm basically a nerd at heart. But I'm a journalist first of all. So I enjoy the chance to write and express myself. Doing this with regard to computers is just a natural choice.

3. How did you wind up working as editor of LinuxUser & Developer?
I'd previously edited several other titles. We acquired the magazine and struggled to give it direction and take control, so I suggested I give it a go. Luckily I've got enlightened employers who listened to what I had to say.

4. Is this what you wanted to do when you were five?
God, no! I used to love computer magazines as a kid (Crash, Zzzap! and so on), but I never dreamt I'd end up running one.

5. Are you a cat or a dog person?
Allergic to both, I'm afraid, but I love the stupidity and loyalty of dogs. I hate cats. I realise that around 70% of your female readership will now hate me.

6. Do you like Marmite?
I've got to eat it because I'm vegan. So I've no choice. If I don't eat it I'll shrivel up and die from lack of vitamins. Probably.

7. Favourite song?
True Faith by New Order.