By Mahee Mustapha
As the first demographic to have grown up on the internet, Generation-Z find themselves in a rather strange situation: despite being a mainstay of online media consumption, much of the content Gen-Z engage with is made by older creators. It is not uncommon for young creatives to feel locked out of an arts and media industry that values conformity and experience over hearing fresh voices. We recently spoke to Nalisha Vansia about GenZournal, an arts and culture magazine which focuses on insights and contributions from Gen-Z writers, and why such a project is necessary for giving young people a platform to express themselves creatively.
Nalisha launched GenZournal back in August 2020, meaning the magazine has just celebrated its first birthday. The project was started as a space to provide young people the opportunity to expand and develop their own artistic and journalistic talents, without a standardised barrier or style to conform to. “We don’t over-edit anyone’s work, so it doesn’t feel like theirs anymore – we appreciate different styles and edit to get the best version of that person's work out there. We wanted a space where people could write about their passions and build up their experience and portfolio, especially in a world where work experience in the creative industries is hard to come by.” The magazine currently has three sections: “Review”, where critics review books, films, television programmes and theatre; “Comment”, for commentary and opinion pieces; and “Create”, where people can showcase their own fiction, poetry and artwork.
Starting up a magazine has been a rich and rewarding experience. Working with a diverse array of creatives and confronting the challenges posed by remote working and the pandemic has equipped Nalisha with communication and organisational skills. “Being proactive and an all-rounder (editing, designing, advertising), as well as having an eye for detail, will probably be the skills I'm most likely to take forward with me.”
Nalisha’s main priority for GenZournal in the coming months is keeping the project fun for everyone involved and not becoming distracted by numbers and growth. “Since we all have university and other commitments, our only goal is to continue to work with other young people to publish interesting and thoughtful pieces that appeal to a Gen-Z audience.”
Nalisha was enthusiastic about one day working in the publishing industry. Her dream job would be in a fiction editorial role at an imprint which focuses on underrepresented voices, such as The Good Literary Agency or #MerkyBooks. Working with the author and raw manuscript directly holds a particular appeal for her. “The idea of directly helping them to craft their novel really excites me,” she said.
Nalisha’s impetus for wanting to work in publishing stems from both her love of reading books and the excitement of being involved in the process of creating them. Nalisha also hopes to be able to make an impact, however small, “in helping to publish voices and stories that are underrepresented and to make the publishing industry more diverse.”
Having been involved in the Society of Young Publishers and attending events and seminars about publishing, Nalisha has only become more determined to join the industry. “Working on books with people who love books couldn’t be more appealing,” she confided. “Through all this I’ve also come to appreciate the business side of the industry and would love to know the ins and outs of how publishers market their books, how they gain market knowledge and data and use that in their processes, editorial decisions based off of marketability … basically the reasons behind everything!”
Nalisha’s ongoing journey into the publishing industry started with her desire to see more young voices represented in media, a cause that led her to start up GenZournal. This passion will hopefully allow her to realise her dream job and break into an industry where more diverse voices are needed. In the meantime, Nalisha and GenZournal are open for submissions: “If you have something you’d like to pitch or know someone who does, check out our collab section on genzournal.com for all the details on getting in touch. We’re a friendly bunch so our submission process is not overly formal or intimidating at all.”