Initially a student magazine set up by a group of ten students, Kindred Magazine won Best Newcomer Publication at the Student Publication Association Awards a few months back. The team behind the publication were motivated to keep it going even after finishing their course and are in the process of transforming Kindred into a fully-fledged independent publication, helped with funding from the university.
"We saw our target audience as being a lot like ourselves; people from under-represented backgrounds," editor Reem Makari tells Journalism.co.uk.
"We were all sick of stories about people who are different only being shown when they are suffering - we wanted to make something celebratory of these people."
Though the magazine is small, it has an engaged audience, whether that is readers responding via Instagram, or interviewees and their friends and family getting in touch with feedback - Makari notes that some articles involve spending several days with sources.
And the team sticks to consistent routines to keep going and build up its community. Ever since its launch in November 2021, a new story has been posted each weekday at 6 pm.
The mission-led approach has also been a good way of finding new voices to create content. While the original editorial team were focusing on finishing their degrees, they brought in volunteer contributors to remove some of the workload from them.
"Lots of contributors were people who already liked what we do and became so engaged that they are now writing for us," says Makari, who shared tips for making inclusivity central to the reporting and commissioning process.
Tick multiple boxes
"You can’t just tick one diversity box, you have to tick more than one to actually be diverse," says Makari.
She notes that many publications approach diversity in a tokenistic way, for example by featuring just one non-white model in a photoshoot, or rarely featuring people who belong to more than one under-represented group, whereas Kindred wanted to "find people who hadn't been shown before".
One such interviewee was Antony Fitzgerald, a 57-year-old black model who runs a network for mature POC models.
Even though Kindred’s audience is mainly made up of students aged under 35, featuring people outside the core reader demographic is part of their mission to lift up new voices. And this is one reason Makari defines the target audience broadly: she believes that while people from under-represented groups will see themselves reflected in the articles, the magazine is also an opportunity for people who are not marginalised to understand and identify with others.
Diversity should run through each section
The magazine has a section called 'Identity', which includes interviews, features and first-person pieces exploring how different aspects of people's identity (race, gender, illness or disability, and sexual identity) intersect with other parts of their lives, and the magazine's first issue was titled the 'Identity Issue'.
Recent articles include a look at how women of colour experience university hook-up culture, an interview with a professional dominatrix, and a feature about the role that hobbies play in improving women's body image.
But it was important to the team from the start that people from under-represented groups were not only showcased as representatives of these groups but also featured throughout the magazine in its other sections, such as fashion, entertainment and lifestyle.
So a regular beauty feature profiles POC-owned beauty brands, and one article in the fashion pages features an influencer with muscular dystrophy.
A regular feature looking at new music takes time to incorporate lesser-known, up-and-coming artists alongside releases and events from those the audience will already be familiar with, to ensure that the full list is diverse in as many ways as possible.
Just put in the effort
Kindred’s team includes people from a wide range of backgrounds and the team actively encourages pitches from writers from diverse backgrounds, so some stories have been inspired by writers' own experiences or feature their personal connections.
Many reports have sounded the alarm over the lack of diversity in the UK media, which heightens the risk of overlooking or misrepresenting stories from communities journalists are not part of.
Makari's advice to journalists and editors is to make diversity and inclusivity a core value and part of every action that you take.
"It’s a matter of putting in the actual effort, trying to look at all the different areas that you can cover and doing lots of research. When you talk about diversity, you're not just talking about race or gender, you're talking about a bunch of other things that people can identify with," she says.
"If you’re going to push diversity, make that effort and go beyond the surface, try to see what people actually want and find a connection with your audiences and what diversity means to them," she adds.
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