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A new youth activism magazine: just so crazy it might work

In a move that flies in the face of received wisdom on the best way to grab the attention of today’s young activists, Christian Aid’s youth campaigning arm, Ctrl+Alt+Shift., launches a biannual print consumer magazine this week.

Although the charity is not saying how much the magazine cost to produce and distribute, the amount is likely to have been considerable because, as charities know, producing and distributing paper magazines is very expensive.

And for any publisher, launching a new consumer title in a recession is a risk, and this one has a cover price of £3.95.

To add to the challenge, the magazine is aimed at young adults who, we are told, are all broke and spend their time online reading content for free.

But Katrin Owusu, Christian Aid’s head of youth marketing and innovations, is confident the risk will pay off.

“It’s just another platform to build our community,” she says. “The idea that print is dead is not true; if it’s niche, of high-quality and interesting enough to collect then people are happy to part with money.”

Owusu isn’t just acting on a hunch. She points out that last year the organisation published a limited-edition graphic novel, Ctrl+Alt+Shift Unmasks Corruption, with a cover price of £5, that sold 7,000 copies.

And the new magazine is not strictly new: it existed up until last year, albeit in a much smaller format, as a free fanzine distributed in bars and galleries. The bigger, bolder consumer title, she says, has been called for by Ctrl+Alt+Shift. supporters across the world.

It’s is certainly a beautiful and thoughtfully produced product: stylish, weighty and full of wry comment on consumer culture – an affecting six-page fashion spread, for example, highlights interrogation methods at Guantanamo (headline: “Detention to Detail”).

Given the risks, it deserves to do well.

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