How does an issue of Fare come together? Q&A with editor, Ben Mervis
This interview first appeared in the Coverage email newsletter on February 14, 2018.
I've been a big fan of Fare since I first saw the first issue about Istanbul last year. It covered the city in a fantastic way, merging food, people and place into a really interesting package that I struggled to stop reading.
I've spent nearly half of my adult life in and around Helsinki, so it was with utter glee that I saw Fare's second issue was about my favourite city. 🇫🇮
I got in touch with editor, Ben Mervis, asked a few questions, dug around the issue and here is the first ever “Magazine Focus” special edition of Coverage.
Dan R: Generally, what’s your plan for creating each issue, from a city perspective?
Ben M: I’d like to say there was a master plan for tackling each city, but there isn’t. I like to do a deep dive in terms of reading books and articles about the place, having calls with people who live there or have lived there. Then of course once I’ve visited it all becomes so much clearer, and the ideas slowly formulate.
DR: Why Helsinki for your second issue?
BM: I wanted to choose a place that would contrast heavily against such a moody, chaotic, and fantastically surprising city like Istanbul. In Helsinki you have that, and you have the appealing “Nordic” culture that is currently riding a wave, but you also have a history of tug of war between Russian and Swedish influences, the story of a young city and an even younger nation. I’ve loved Helsinki since my first visit, and it was exciting to get to go back again and do more research there.
DR: Bringing out issues about different cities, are you worried that some issues may not be so popular due to their direct link to a certain place? Travel and visiting cities are closely tied to personal preference. How will you combat that?
BM: I don’t actually worry about that anymore. I was worried about it with Istanbul, since it was in such a difficult political period when I published Issue 1--and then people got super excited about it anyway. So if I’ve done my job well then people will want to visit!
DR: Food is a large part of Fare, and you have worked in the food industry. Yet Fare isn’t a typical food magazine. How much of your planning for an issue revolves around the food aspect, and how vital is food to Fare’s success as a magazine?
BM: Yeah, it’s sort of incidentally about food, which I think is perfect. We don’t shove it down your throat. But food is my starting point, it’s where I begin the conversations, begin the research, and also understand how the city ticks.