Dressing down the revolution

John Beachamp


Or, the dangers of writing about current events in a monthly publication …

When printing a monthly magazine, there’s always the risk that what you print immediately becomes defunct from a news point of view. After all, having had to shift from printing a weekly newspaper to publishing a monthly magazine is something that all of us at the WBJ Observer have had to take in our stride. One of the greatest shifts has been with our sense of time, and I’m not talking about coming into work late or anything like that; it’s actually realizing that what may go to print may already be past its sell by date when it reaches the light of day. These are hurdles which have to be crossed, and so far we have done pretty well. But enough back-slapping.

Bad timing

However, it is not possible to get it right all the time. The Polish edition of Glamour – a fashion monthly – recently ran an article about fashion on the Maidan, the central square in Kiev where Ukrainians battled to oust President Yanukovych from power. The magazine proudly exclaimed on its Facebook page: “How does the life of a fashion girl change when there’s a bloody revolution?” All well and good, you may think, at least the girls at Glamour are following current events. The magazine ended up running a spread, complete with well-dressed revolucionista, written by a Ukrainian fashion journalist, about looking glam in essentially what became a warzone. However, little did the editorial team know that within hours of coming off the press, the Maidan revolution had turned bloody, going on to claim the lives of over 80 protestors. Very bad timing, admittedly. The magazine went on to apologize profusely, although it did say that “the majority of us didn’t expect such a turn of events.” Even the Ukrainian author of the text came out to explain what she had in mind when writing the article. So be it.

But why?

After the media storm calmed down, I found myself beginning to wonder why on earth such a magazine would even decide to run a feature on revolutionary fashion. That is, fashion during a revolution, not big changes to the things we wear. Whereas I understand that the events on the Maidan have gripped Poland – after all, Ukraine’s capital is less than 800 km away from Warsaw – did the editorial team of this esteemed fashion monthly really know what they were getting themselves into, whether or not there were rivers of blood flowing on the streets? It gives food for thought about jumping on the news bandwagon at any cost, and while the intentions I’m sure were noble, I’m not impressed.
John Beauchamp is managing editor of wbj.pl and formerly head of Polish Radio’s English Section

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