Internationally acclaimed Stuff magazine finally made its long awaited debut here in Cambodia last month with a stunning hot issue featuring how Kickstarter projects stack up against Mega-Corporations. Originally a British men’s magazine centred around gadgets and technology, Stuff has since expanded into 28 countries around the world including the US, Singapore, Malaysia, India and now Cambodia. The Cambodian edition features a smoking hot cover in Khmer as well as select articles in Khmer although the magazine content itself remains predominantly english. The team at Geeks in Cambodia managed to sit down with the editors of Stuff Magazine Ceridwen Williams and Sokunthea Soeurm to learn more about Stuff and their plans for the future.
(This interview has been edited for clarity)
Hi guys! Before we start I’d like to know a little bit more about you guys, what are your backgrounds, your previous experiences…
Ceridwen: I moved to Vietnam about 3 years ago. We have an urban culture magazine there for young Vietnamese youth and I’m also a video artist. I’ve been working in journalism since my degree, I studied journalism at the University of Arts in London and I’ve basically been focused on doing story-telling whether its visual or written, fictional or non-fictional for a long time.
Sokunthea: I used to be a journalist and I was an editor for 3 to 4 years with a Khmer magazine. I also have a degree in Khmer. So far all of my jobs have been related to being an editor and journalism.
What would you say the main goal of Stuff Magazine is?
Ceridwen: To bring global stories of technology, the weird, the cool and the sexy to the local market whilst integrating local stories like how people are using technology and how it improves their lives in a cool way.
How do you select content for the magazine? What goes into the decision of which articles are published in English and which are translated to Khmer?
Ceridwen: For instance you can see there’s a section in the magazine called vital statistics where we look at one of the latest Smartphones, that for the next issue will be fully in Khmer because it’s often a product that is actually available here and it’s a story that’s not led by the photo. It will be better for it to be in Khmer because we open ourselves up to a wider audience since a lot of people can afford to buy these gadgets as compared to another article which is photo led, where it’s a piece of sexy tech, we usually just have a small caption and maybe just a couple sentences in Khmer. That’s how we kind of decide but we’re building from this issue so the next one will have a lot more Khmer.
Sokunthea: We’re trying to have more articles in Khmer so as to attract more Cambodians to read and by summarising it in Khmer Cambodians can understand the article even if they don’t understand english as they can still read the Khmer summary.
Ceridwen: And for our longer features we usually just do a stand first in Khmer and then leave the rest in English because it’s quite difficult to be creative in Khmer.
So apart from the clear language barrier and the tight deadlines you guys face, are there any other challenges you encountered while putting out the magazine?
Ceridwen: The prices of tech actually, because when we receive the content and then localise it, it’s in sterling so we have to convert the prices and ring up stores to see if they have it here. I did a 300 word story and had to go to 10 websites to try and find the price in dollars so it’s quite the challenge. A minor but frustrating challenge I would say.
And are there any long term goals in you have in mind for the magazine?
Ceridwen: We’d like to have more local stories, that might mean that we have to go a little bit away from just technology and gadgets to more of lifestyle to suit the middle market audience. We’re still changing, we’ve learnt a lot just from the last issue and I’m sure we’ll do that again with the next issue. But as far as long term goals, I’m here to launch the magazine and I would like to be able to help build up our Khmer team because right now there’s just 3 of us.
It was an absolute pleasure to have the two very talented Stuff editors over for the interview and we would like to thank them once again for taking the time off to come talk with us and for giving us such honest yet light-hearted responses. Can’t get enough of Stuff? Grab your copy of Stuff now for only $2.25USD! (Available at all leading newsstands).