Editor’s Note: The Great Masthead Debate

Today’s Machining World Archives January/February 2011 Volume 7 Issue 1

Orginally printed in the very first issue of Screw Machine World, Nov/Dec 2000.

Dan, Pels our publishing guru for Screw Machine World magazine, thought he was asking a simple question yesterday, “What title should we put on the masthead under your name, Lloyd?”

He set off a day of heavy wrestling with the issue because, for me, it was crucial to the magazine and how I define myself.

“Would you call yourself an editor, a publisher or a writer?” he asked innocently. I stared blankly at the whiteboard on the wall looking for a clue. None of those titles felt right. They were too generic. They were too white bread, too Chevrolet. I thought for a while, and then announced a proposed title for myself. “Call me ‘Chief Space Filler,’” I said.

Dan looked at me with anguish and annoyance. He sees his role as shepherding an idea for a trade publication from the initial musing stages and turning it into a professional, moneymaking, ink-and-paper entity in weeks.

“Lloyd, if you do this, they’d use it against you. Your competitors will tell advertisers, ‘Look at their masthead, they aren’t serious people. This is just Lloyd Graff playing around and asking you to support his indulgences.’”

This hurt, because Dan is correct in a way.

“You have a point, but this is a way of expressing to our readers that we want to have fun, and we want them to have fun when they read the magazine,” I replied. “It’s a way of saying we are risk takers, that we are serious about what we are doing, but we’re also a little goofy, too.”

“Lloyd, I implore you, don’t do this. You can send this message in your choice of content. Don’t do it on the masthead, it’s a mistake,” Dan said.

“Dan, if I’m going to do another typical trade publication, it’s not worth doing for me,” I went on. “Screw Machine World can’t be your grandmother’s publication. It has to have energy, a point of view, a sense of joy, or I don’t even want my name on the masthead.”

The meeting was over, but of course the conversation in my head was raging. What is my role? Does anybody really read the masthead? Can I synthesize my unique contribution in a title? No. But we can use a word to approximate, to set the tone.

So, my official title for this issue only is “Chief Space Filler.” I reserve the right to change it for the next issue. I’d love to know what you would call yourself on your company’s masthead, on your resumé, or even in your obituary.

Lloyd Graff

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One thought on “Editor’s Note: The Great Masthead Debate

  1. shawn arnold

    I would not use it against you ( I kinda have a competitive magazine) and doubt if other magazines would either. I think advertisers are smart enough to know if they want to advertise in your magazine or not regardless of if you doing this for a living or for fun so it would not matter what reps said any way.


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