Next up, we bring to you Roxanne Escobales, the Editor of The World Today. Founded in 1945, the bimonthly global affairs magazine presents authoritative analysis from Chatham House on a variety of current topics. The independent policy institute helps people, societies and governments understand and adapt to seismic change.
Roxanne has been the Editor of The World Today since 2021. Prior to this, she’s had a longstanding career as a digital content strategist and journalist, including roles at BBC World Service, The Guardian, and Oxfam.
1) What inspired you to get into writing as a career?
I didn’t choose journalism; journalism chose me. I was studying English Literature at university and had grand notions of becoming a poet when I landed an internship at a local alternative weekly newspaper in the mid-1990s. Within six months I became an editor, and for a long time I couldn’t believe my luck — I was getting paid to read and write. I haven’t looked back since. Journalism is just the right mix of analysis and creativity for me. Plus I love being plugged into current events and helping people understand the world a little better through the content I commission.
2) How do you ensure your work maintains editorial integrity?
In the age of disinformation, editorial integrity is more important than ever. If you put the needs of your audience in the heart of everything you do, it provides a sturdy framework for editorial standards. There are no shortcuts to experience, and I’ve been privileged to have worked at and developed my skills at some of the most respected news brands in the world, such as the BBC World Service and The Guardian. What also informs my work is the experience I’ve had outside of news, such as in international development when I was head of news at Oxfam or devising content strategies for third sector clients at agencies. This allowed me to tap into a spectrum of perspectives and methodologies which have only made my editorial judgement stronger. Here at Chatham House, I’m lucky to work with some of the top experts in their field, and they are my go-to source for reliable information and thinking.
3) What do you find to be the most challenging part of editing a magazine issue?
I think most editors will tell you it’s time and resources. We all need more of both, please! I am very proud of the quality of work we produce on our small team at The World Today. I have one content editor and one marketing manager, and we bring in some extra production support at the end of our cycle. Yet our content rivals some of our bigger competitors. We’re a bimonthly magazine with print and digital offerings on current international affairs. Two months is a long lifespan for a piece of content these days — and it has to work extra hard to stay relevant.
4) Is there a particular issue you are most proud of?
While I’m proud of every issue we produce, our current one for August/September 2022 makes me especially proud. We have dedicated the whole issue to exploring Africa, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Africa Programme at Chatham House. Representation is important to our editorial mission, so we commissioned mostly African contributors — only four aren’t from the continent, and one of those is from Barbados so I am counting her as Pan-African. We explore the state of African democracy with trends analysis from Afrobarometer and four stories from different countries. The former head of the South African Space Agency links Africa’s burgeoning space industry with as crucial to its development. A queer Afrofuturist artist and writer reviews a feminist essay collection from the Zimbabwean writer, Tsitsi Dangarembga. And lots of other exciting stories. It is also a visual treat: I commissioned a Nigerian photojournalist to act as our photo editor, and the gorgeous cover art is by a Sierra Leonean visual artist.
5) What’s the best part of working at The World Today?
It’s an honour to be given the opportunity to manifest our strong values of equality and inclusion on our platform. What do I mean by that? We are serious about righting the historical gender imbalance when it comes to who gets to tell the stories. I’m proud to say that last year we achieved a rate of 57 percent women contributors vs 43 percent men — that represents a reversal from the previous year. This year we are taking that one step further and are working towards a target to ensure we are publishing a range of global perspectives, which means actively seeking contributors from the Global South and marginalised groups. On top of that, working at Chatham House, with its long history of creating space for the exchange of ideas and convening global decision-makers, gives me access to world leaders, which can’t be beat.
6) Is there anything coming up that The World Today readers would like to know about?
We have lots of great content planned for the next six months, including diving into the cost of living crisis, lifting the veil on the Chinese Communist Party’s structures and exploring what the purpose of Britain is in a bipolar, post-Brexit world. But what I would really value would be to hear directly from our readers on what stories they would like to see in our pages, which stories they’ve enjoyed and how we could better serve their needs. They can give us a follow on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook and drop us a message. Or email us directly at email@example.com
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us Roxanne! Its inspiring to find out more about the positive impact Chatham House has, both on the world and within its own company.
Digital subscriptions to The World Today, which feature unlimited & fully-searchable access to the modern archive dating back to 2007, are available in the Exact Editions individual and institutional shops.