Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Swings and roundabouts for Time Out team

Thanks to anon for tipping us off that ITP is opening up in Mumbai.

It's not so long ago that Time Out Sydney was launched - the licence was won by Print and Digital Publishing, whose founder and joint CEO is Justin Etheridge, formerly publisher of Time Out Dubai and ITP stalwart (he previously headed up Charged and the sadly departed Photography Middle East). Our moles tell us ITP had been considering Time Out for the Sydney market for some time, but Etheridge's team - which includes another familiar name, Nik Howe - won the franchise.

Rather sweetly, Justin's former colleague Tim Burrowes (late of Campaign) writes in the Australian marketing & media magazine B&T:

You may notice the review of TimeOut Sydney and observe that one of the proprietors is Justin Etheridge. We’ve got previous.
Back in the day, I used to edit a marketing mag in Dubai. He ran TimeOut Dubai, which was in the same publishing stable. We used to snipe at each other in our diary columns. Until TimeOut won the day.
One day, with deadline approaching, we lost a picture of the restaurant we were reviewing. Our sub-editor resourcefully (and illegally) searched Google for a picture of sushi, and stole it.
He failed to wonder why it was called sushimouse.jpg. Or to notice that it did indeed contain a picture of a plate of sushi with a mouse on it.
Unfortunately, after we published it, Mr Etheridge’s team was more observant and naturally shared it with their readers. The subsequent phone call I had to make to the restaurant was one of the most surreal conversations I’ve ever had.
So if you spot any cock-ups in TimeOut Sydney, you know who to call.
I’ll be very grateful.


Nice to see the old banter's still there....

In the most interesting turnaround of all, it seems like the whole world will now be reporting to Marcus Webb, the most recent former editor of Time Out Dubai, who is uber-guru for quality control for Time Out London, and used to work for Justin while at ITP. Funny how life works out.

106 comments:

Tim Burrowes said...

For what it's worth, Time Out Sydney's going to have no quality control issues with Marcus - it's already very good.
And I bumped into Justin on the bus (Sydney's public transport system is somewhat more editor-friendly than Dubai's) just yesterday. Sounds like they're onto a commercial winner too.

Anonymous said...

So who's leading the charge at TOD nowadays?

Talking of Tim Burrowes, Dubai's media is a much poorer place without him and Campaign.

Anonymous said...

I'm new What's Campaign?

Anonymous said...

What's Campaign? Ha! Ask Ian Fairservice.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Campaign was a huge loss to Dubai. Not sure about Tim though, he was good but not that good and also mildly irritating. What's the score with Motivate and its licence to 'publish' Campaign? Will it ever see the light of day again?

Anonymous said...

You're not allowed to work at ITP unless you're deeply irritating.

Anonymous said...

The last man standing on Campaign at Demotivate is now on Gulf Business.

Anonymous said...

It was a real shame about Campaign closing down. Tim did a good job under tricky circumstances. I don't suppose ITP made life easy for him. Time Out Dubai's been consistently excellent over the past few years so I'm sure TO Sydney/London are in capable hands.

It seems somehow wrong to leave a mostly positive comment here. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Grudgingly, although Campaign could be quite annoying, I must admit I do miss it.

Anonymous said...

Just don't tell Fairservice that Time Out is doing a good job. Or Viva, or Arabian Business or Emirates Home. He prefers to take a bury-his-head-in-the sand approach to dealing with competition.

Anonymous said...

Viva! You're kidding right?

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I'm writing an essay on press freedom in the Gulf for my Master's degree in London.

I'm trying to find out if the government directly censors journalists in Dubai. Does anybody have any examples of censorship in Dubai? What would happen if a newspaper criticised Sheikh Mohammed's policies?

Any answers would be really useful - thanks!

John Matheson

Anonymous said...

Campaign - constantly negative.
If it wanted to fit in in Dubai it should have taken the trouble to showcase all the good things in the media here, but they were more interested in bad news.

Anonymous said...

John,

What's your email contact?

Anonymous said...

Anon 02.26: so you think that journalists' job is to "showcase all the good things" in Dubai. Do you happen to work at AMG?

Anonymous said...

No, I think the comment is referring to balance - you know, point, counterpoint (that tired old journalistic tradition).

Anonymous said...

If you work in Dubai, part of the deal is to be positive about it. Campaign was more interested in slagging off Emirates Today, which was a good launch, than in doing its bit to talk up the UAE and its developing media.

Anonymous said...

Rubbish. The first thing journalists are taught is that the definition of news is publishing things that somebody, somewhere doesn't want to be revealed.
Not accentuating the positive.
It sickens me that people calling themselves journalists believe their job is to pat Dubai on the head, patronise it, and tell it that it's just as good as the rest of the world.
This self delusion is half the reason why it's not.

Anonymous said...

On another note, and despite refusing to confirm or deny this to a journo at Communicate magazine, I see that ITP is launching in India with Greg Wilson leading the charge:
(Advert from Gorkana.com)

International Publishing House, Business Editors

An international publishing house, with a portfolio of over 50 magazines, is bringing its range of business-to-business titles to India.

We are searching for experienced business editors, who have a proven track record in business publishing to lead the company’s expansion into the market. Experience with building and leading teams and a strong nose is a must for these positions. Experience with Indesign is beneficial.

All positions are based in Mumbai. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

For the right candidates, we offer generous salaries and non-stop career advancement.

Please contact: gwilson74@gmail.com by the 25/01/08


Job Type: Trade Magazine
Job Roles: Editorial
Job Location: Asia
Email CVs to: gwilson74@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

so who is in charge at Time Out now that Marcus has left?

Anonymous said...

thought Greg Wilson had been moved sideways to Bahrain for ITP?

Jason said...

I think Justin deserves huge credit for having the guts to take this step. He was clearly one of the very best operators in Dubai and I've no doubt he will make a success of the Sydney venture.
As for Campaign, I thought it was generally an excellent publication and a lot of that was down to Tim.
For the record, I thought his/Campaign's treatment of ET was perfectly fair and ironically some of the valid criticisms gave us some 'weapons' to use internally in a bid to change certain things... albeit in vain.
The challenge for Dubai going forwards is going to be retention of talent - if they want to attain higher publishing standards, companies will have to find the right strategies to keep the Tims and Justins of 'tomorrow' and using their talents to drive growth, rather than losing them after a few years when they take their talents to more established, mature media markets.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree about Campaign being excellent. It would frequently be highly critical of easy targets, such as 7days, but would never dare criticise anyone with any clout. The fawning interview with Abul Latif before ET launched is a case in point. He had grand ambitions, and there's no harm in reporting that, but Campaign made no effort to ask him any proper questions, such as whether he actually had the experience to take over the world, and how the idea of a free press sat with government ownership. Of course I'm sure the fact that ITP was fishing to be bought by AMG at the time had nothing to do with it. In the end Campaign was beholden to various interests, as is everyone else here, but to critcise others for exactly that undermined their credibility in my eyes.

Anonymous said...

So your complaint is that they quoted some grandiose claims before Toady launched? Weren't they the ones that kept coming taking the piss once it didn't live up to its promises?

Anonymous said...

Campaign 'picking on' Toady was a reflection of the facts IMO. Pop quiz: Which was the more worthy target...the badly edited Toady, or the possibly not-even-edited 6,5,4 Days?

Worth considering that the one without major funding (or, indeed, clout) has far outlived the other.

Anonymous said...

7 Days shows the power of knowing your audience. Get that right and you can get away with syntactic murder.

Anonymous said...

The barely literate standard of the unedited Letters To The Editor in 7 Days indicates exactly where that paper pitches itself. But is it still working?

Anonymous said...

I'm bored of hearing about Dubai Has Beens. Justin, Marcus, Jason and Tim have all buggered off. Let's talk about somebody who's actually still here.

Anonymous said...

Have just arrived in Dubai after several years spent writing for national newspapers and high-quality magazines in the UK. I now have a relatively senior position at one of Dubai's headline magazines. My first impressions are very poor. The city is a complete hole with all the hassles of both the first/developing without any of the corresponding benefits of a well-developed civil society/joyful chaos. I am amazed by the crapness of everything - nothing works very well, the build quality of stuff is as bad as places like Cambodia; endless rows of appallingly tasteless villas populated with people who think golf courses and shopping centres are the apogee of human culture.
The company I am working for is overrun with 2nd rate spivs and the entire operation is set-up just like a contract publisher. For all the Bentleys in the car park I still have to get permission to buy £50/AED350 of essential resources.
Thankfully I dont have a family and am relatively mobile so it should be easy enough to head home when I need to.
There is also a paucity of talent - I am the only member of the entire team who has any serious writing experience. And I include people senior to me.
I don't want to say at this point who I work for and on what publication but probably will do so in the future - after I am sitting in the departure lounge on a flight back to the real world.

Anonymous said...

I work for one of the leading news outlets in the region and have worked for one of the leading newswires in the world.

My personal view is that most of us suffer far too much of 'the grass is greener' elsewhere. There is much that is good here, as well as much that is not.

I would suggest anonymous 8:02 is feeling a little homesick, and that that is colouring his vision, and obscuring a sense of balance.

Given his experience he should take the opportunity of developing a new skill set - mentoring his team, and raising the standards of his magazine or newspaper. That is a great opportunity to have.

Of course some people like everything to be easy. There is no doubt a newsroom in London, with all its systems and policies that straitjacket any chance of creativity, is that.

Anonymous said...

I agree - take the opportunity to make a difference and raise the standard. This place is a developing nation and not everything is in step yet but instead of moaning because you haven't landed in a job just like the one at home.

Anonymous said...

My complaint about Campaign is not that they printed grandiose claims about ET before it launched - if he said them then by all means report it. My issue is that the claims were clearly at best very, very ambitious. Proper journalism would have been to have questioned those claims. If you don't want to do proper journalism then fine, lots of people here don't and make plenty of money doing it. But don't appoint yourself the guardian of standards you don't follow yourself.

Anonymous said...

I am the previous 8.02 anonymous poster ....

The thing is, you come in to raise the standard, point out what the weaknesses are and then get upbraided for doing so. At this juncture I am actively being stopped from doing my job. I really don't have the time to deal with a 'maturing' market - I am employed by a Western owned company filled with Western staff and the same company claimed they were a sophisticated company with a lot of intellectual capital. That is absolutely not the case. They also misled me about the position.
I've been working around the world for years and am very used to being away from home for months, so being homesick doesn't really come into it. I've worked in very poor, extremely chaotic cities for weeks on end and found them far more engaging than Dubai could ever hope to be. Dubai is absolutely all about the Emperor's New Clothes - if you come in and say how rubbish it is, people don't like to hear it.
This is my opinion for which I normally get paid to give. If certain people on this blog think I shouldn't be entitled to it then it sounds like they are a perfect match for the UAE.
Finally, in terms of me not getting same job back home I have here, what on earth is that meant to mean? I am not some, inexperienced kid eager to prove himself...

Neil said...

RE: Anon, 23 January, 2008 08:02

You could only be referring to the meat grinder that is ITP.

Take my advice, and the advice of many before us. Leave while you can before you get too bitter about wasting your time here at ITP :)

....if you stay too long you might become one of us. Your ethics will change. You'll do as the romans do.

When you realise that that you don't know anyone on the lift up to get your costa coffee, it's too late. All the old school have left and your one of the veterans. Your one of us just toeing the line.

PS: But if you really hang in there and stay here, you might just get that Bentley too. But then you've just lost 7 years of your life.

boomshanka.

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest frustrations out here is people coming here from more mature media markets and instead of using their experience - and the experience of the people they hire - to change the culture here for the better, they instead just embrace the mediocrity of this place. Worse still, is the mentality of these people telling the owners what they want to hear when they really should know better.

Like DeMotivate. Fairservice seems to believe, because he has been told by others, that it is perfectly fine to have three subs for so many titles. Anyone who has any experience in a mature media market's publishing company knows this to be ridiculous. But think of all the money he is saving in salaries by not having so many pesky subs.

Anonymous said...

ITP? A bit of a meat grinder? Yes...ish.
BUT... it's all about market forces. Editorial investment is only as good as the market demands.
For now, ITP makes money by being the best of a bad bunch - indeed, I'd argue they invest more in editorial than they need to. They're not a charity and until advertisers reward them appropriately, how can they invest in western-style qualities of journalism?
But it's complex. Flawed as he surely is, Robert Serafin is a publisher first, businessman second.
While you're at ITP, at least you're in the game.
Same goes for Campaign. Was it perfect? No. Was it the best in its market? Yes.
ITP shouldn't have closed it. (By the way - does anyone know why they did shut it?) But overall, Dubai's media scene is better off for having ITP in it.

Anonymous said...

Talking of Campaign, came across this written by one of its former contributors. A very good article on what it's like to be a journalist in Dubai, perhaps the world even... written by a PR!

http://www.arabianbusiness.com/509147-the-journalist-and-the-machine?ln=en

Anonymous said...

Keeping in the spirit of anonymity - I heard that one of the new Time Out editorial team was sacked today after only being in the job ten days. Apparently he was a respected, well-established freelance brought in to improve creativity. Unconfirmed rumours are he was the 08.02 blogger and management decided to sack him for it. Upshot is - be very careful what you post on here. People are watching and listening. Even, it seems, publishers/editors/writers who say they believe in press freedom.

Anonymous said...

It also appears that 802's comments were being monitored by his journalist colleagues and then reported to management.
How's that for journalistic integrity? Watch your backs bloggers...

Anonymous said...

To go on here and say that there was a paucity of talent and that he was the only decent member of the team after only a few days in Dubai is going to piss people off. And rightly so. That's got nothing to do with journalistic integrity, that's being a two-faced arrogant writer who made no effort to help the situation he was in.

crackle said...

"It also appears that 802's comments were being monitored by his journalist colleagues and then reported to management."

Hmmmm, not a case of monitoring. When you're slagging off everything and everybody around you to anyone who'll listen, then you hardly need a covert operation to stitch you up. And abusively haranguing your former colleagues for hours after you've been escorted off the premises obviously points to someone with issues.

Nobody is forced to stay in Dubai. Love it, hate it, put up with it or leave it, but don't assume that everyone who chooses to live and work here is a talentless as*hole.

Anonymous said...

The plot sickens...

Two faced? Assholes? Personal issues?

Seems like some people have taken everything very personally... smacks of insecurity and paranoia - and of course nobody has the courage to do this face to face or even speak to the person concerned directly and find out what was really going on. They just work on assumptions. Remember - they dont need good people they need obedient ones.

Quite clearly the person in question had been completely mis-recruited and totally misinformed about his role. He didn't know that what they needed was a glorified list editor who would keep his mouth shut. Nor did he know that any robust criticism was going to leave the entire team whining like hairdressers. After all he was supposed to be working with some of the most opinionated and forthright journalists in the entire region - most of whom were/are too scared to say boo to a goose. In fact the same person would've welcomed a frank open real-life discussion like this and was almost hoping someone from the team would challenge him directly. That's the kind of passionate, creative journalists that are needed. Not meek, brow-beaten people who are so overloaded with work they have little space or time to develop.

Nor did he realise that anonymous comments on a blog - a space designed for complete free expression (isn't this why we all became writers, journalists etc?) and which would attract no attention at all in other settings (in fact they would just be laughed at) - would be taken so, so seriously by everyone.

I've heard rumours that said person is off to review a 5star spa resort for a few days for a UK national paper. I'm sure he'll have plenty of time to think about all of this while he is being paid to chill out by the pool.

Finally, there's an old maxim about people becoming more and more bitter/politicking the less there is at stake. It does seem like a perfect epitaph for this episode.

Anonymous said...

Dubai media politics rears it ugly head again. What is highly amusing is that people can put up with shit from their employers for years but are very quick to turn against someone new. I think psychologists call this projection.

Anonymous said...

The now legendary 802 blogger didn't make any personal attacks but seems to be getting it in the neck from certain sections. Maybe he just told some home-truths that hit home, hence the over-reaction?

Anonymous said...

It didn't take 802 long to slip into the Dubai lifestyle. The irony of him accepting a three day spa jolly in the city of fakes and phoneys seems to have escaped him.

Anonymous said...

Company who runs the spa is not in dubai - as if he'd sully himself with that - it's with a company known as the "bodyshop" of the resort world. They refuse to set up in Dubai on ethical grounds. Said writer is perfectly happy to support them in anyway he can and is personal friend of the owners. No pr or marketing people to deal with makes things much easier.

Anonymous said...

Well thats a strange thread! if time out did sack one of its editorial team for posting a blog, they got the wrong person & probably ejected some decent talent. (which was much needed)

Anonymous said...

Time Out Dubai is a very good publication - we all know it. If someone came in and after three days caused this much trouble, it seems no surprise to me that 8:02 was, is and shall probably remain forever a freelancer.

He may or may not have had talent, but a magazine's strength is its team, and 8:02 was clearly poison.

How can someone be in a job for just three days and be so black and white about the professionalism of his peers?

It sounds like they god rid of someone before he she or it did real damage.

Anonymous said...

ITP can be a difficult company to work for - they expect employees to devote their lives to the job and their obsessive and paranoid surveillance of this blog is a little scary.

But it seems they've done the sensible thing in this instance. Anonymous seems surprised by this, but Dubai is developing and the media in Dubai is also in the early stages of its development. It's not London. There are lots of people at magazines such as Time Out who don't have years of experience, but they're motivated and focussed and doing a good job. We can all see it's a very strong brand here.

As argued by others, the correct thing for Anonymous to do in his senior position is share his experience with colleagues and help strengthen the team. That's precisely why he was hired. Unfortunately his arrogance and unwillingness to cooperate turned people against him and he's out of work already.

Brezy said...

After reading this as a neutral observer, my only thought is that Time Out were probably right to ditch someone who seems to only refer to him or herself in the third person - and a rather bitter third person at that!

Anonymous said...

I agrre sounds like a total weapon - best rid of him - any name???

Anonymous said...

You don't need to know any names. They won't add anything to the story. We all post anonymously so it's only reasonable we keep our targets anonymous too.

Anonymous said...

I can't see that the 'anonymous' 802 blogger personally attacked anyone - just questioned abilities, something he's perfectly entitled to do. You don't have to agree with that but personal attacks with everyone gathered around like dogs taking a bite when seemingly not one of the same people had the courage to say anything to his face, looks even worse. Nobody is coming out of this with any credit right now and it's best to back off and let it lie.

Anonymous said...

I would dispute the point by 15:20. I have nothing to do with Time Out, but if someone new entered my team, and started posting on DMO three days later, I would have done exactly the same thing. It shows decisiveness, and I think they have come out of 'it' like a strong, credible team who saw a danger, and removed it.

8:02 meanwhile just sounds like a bad tempered misanthrope, who seems to blame everyone but himself for what has happened. Please go back to wherever you have come from.

Dubai really does not need another I know best, you're all crap, know it alls.

Has anyone else noticed the better someone is, the less they normally shout about it?

Anonymous said...

so how was this guy on a one to one basis? Was he walking around the office screaming and shouting at everyone, telling all how rubbish they were? Was he tearing strips off people and arrogantly dismissing everyone? Sounds like he was - or is this entire poison, arrogant, misanthropic, evil judgment based on one posting? If it was the former, fair enough - it was the latter then you guys really need to get over yourselves.

Anonymous said...

The elephant in the room here is that ITP is trying to do more with the Time Out brand than ever before (supplements, guides, awards, etc), at the same time as it is experiencing defections to Abu Dhabi and walk-outs.

Obviously, the reason to hire senior people from outside the region is to try to bridge that widening gap.

Anyone who thinks anon 802 was the first to be a critical voice around this issue obviously hasn't drank in the Cellar bar recently. Half of ITP is slagging off the other half on a fairly regular basis.

Anonymous said...

Here here - It's no secret that ITP/TO staff regularly bitch about each other's talents and abilities and are always politicking against each other. The stories I could tell would make 802's comments look positively lightweight.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 18:13 - fire away :-)

Anonymous said...

I've heard that some TO staff, up until the point of sacking, were actually saying that they were pleased this guy was there and were looking forward to working with him. And that he kept his most forthright comments for editorial meetings and said editors sat there and didn't attempt to defend their staff in any way. Now while his 802 blog may have been misjudged, where he comes from it would be completely ignored or laughed at.

Anonymous said...

apparently there's a back story to the sacking of 802 - the blog thing is a cover by ITP management - sure they were pissed off about it but it was just an excuse - more to follow at a later date - it's quite juicy too.

Rima said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rima said...

Ooops. Wrong post. I'm not too tech-savvy.

sorry.secrets out. said...

RE: monitoring web usage at ITP

ITP regularly monitor internet usage using Sarg - Squid Analysis Report Generator is a tool that allow you to view "where" your users are going to on the Internet. Sarg provides lots of information about Squid users activities: times, bytes, sites, etc...

Just type sarg/daily in your internet explorer and you'll see a lovely list of where everyone is visiting. You too can spy on all your colleagues. I do. Actually I watch the sites where the boss goes.

IP addresses (your computer) are listed, match that to your boss. ta da. It's all there in your front of face if you really look for it. It's been there all along.

bad news. it does state in our staff book that ITP will monitor emails AND internet access (read it again kids)

Anonymous said...

The sarg thing works! omg.

secrets out mentioned monitoring emails. I know this from someone else here who says that a certain manager (my guess is Serafin) monitors all emails with the word 'Motivate' in them.

Such a wonderful company that we work in. Staff don't trust the managers, and the managers don't trust the staff.

Anonymous said...

Emails sent from any ITP email address to anyone at Motivate mysteriously never seem to get there.

Anonymous said...

18:15s comments are just not true. I emailed someone from Motivate regularly enticing them to come to ITP - no problemo, mafi mishkala, etc.

I also tried Sarg - no joy. Are you sure you are actually working for ITP, or just wish you did?

Anonymous said...

I'm not a computer nerd but not everyone can see this sarg thing as I've checked on other computers and not all work. The monitoring of emails IS true. Certain phrases and keywords are noted when emails arrive at ITP and emails forwarded to 'them' to view. It does happen and is happening.

Anonymous said...

--

Anonymous said...

Why are ITP so paranoid? Seems a bit pathological.... what are they so scared of?

Anonymous said...

I'm 18.15.
It doesn't seem to be all the time, but it does seem to happen. But I had a couple of instances where a mate at Motivate emailed me to meet for a drink. I'd reply to say yes, then hear nothing back and forget about it.
Later it would transpire that she never got my reply; while I'd just asumed she'd done the usual Dubai thing of changing her mind.
It could be a coincidence, but on and off it does go on.

Anonymous said...

All the stuff earlier on this thread makes ITP look very weak and a bit paranoid - imagine sacking someone for posting on a blog? there must be more to that than meets the eye. There's something that doesn't seem right about it - is it really that insular and narrow minded in Dubai?

Anonymous said...

further to 05.18, this seems to work both ways.
having left ITP and taken a couple of staff with me, it appears that my emails were blocked, on and off.
i'd invite former colleagues out for a drink - sometimes my email would get through, sometimes not.
either that or they just didn't want to share a drink with me ;-p

Anonymous said...

Of course it is that narrow-minded and insular. ITP will do anything to make money and to protect their goal of making money. Firing someone for not following the company's MO is par for the course with that kind of company.

Anonymous said...

My impression of ITP is that it is a bit cult-like. You're either in or out. And staff seem to turn against ex-employees (read the above) in a heartbeat. Insular, narrow-minded and a bit nasty.

Anonymous said...

Kiss the right butts and you'll be well-rewarded at ITP and Motivate whether you're any good or not. Both companies are losing good people but the butt-kissers stay on.

Anonymous said...

When I was at ITP it was very clear some of the practices were very very shoddy and badly done. I questioned existing senior staff and pointed out the failings - their very defensive response? "Why do you want to change it? That's the way we've always done it." It was such as lame work culture that I slowly felt myself being crushed by an overwhelming tide of mediocrity of the worst kind. This is the biggest threat to their supposed expansion - the lack of scope for creativity - it is such a controlled and frightened work environment, where open discussion is frowned upon, that they will be never be able to free any potential.

Anonymous said...

This is not the ITP I work currently in.

Yes, it is a commercial company - and thank God for that. It means I, as a journalist, know that my product has to stand on its own two feet. It has to be interesting to its audience, and that that audience has to be interesting to an advertiser. That's the same everywhere in the world - in successful magazine publishing.

The evidence suggests that ITP has got where it is because it promotes good people. If only ass kissers remained, how would you explain it not only surviving, but achieving stellar growth rates over the last decade?

Clearly Robert Serafin has put some extremely bright people around him. If they were just telling him what he wanted to hear, do you honestly think the company would have done so well over the last decade?

ITP doesn't waste time with idiots (8:02), or people who do not add value. Yes it probably monitors who is downloading pornography all day (which big company doesn't), and no, I very much doubt it monitors emails.

ITP is serious publishing, in often trying conditions, and for all ambitious, serious journalists in the region, the company presently, really is the place to be.

It is a very refreshing, professional environment - and one I greatly enjoy working within.

Anonymous said...

Another ITP yes man posts in defiance of reality. Management practice there is an 80s throwback (no HR department or training??) and ITP would last 5minutes in the real world.
ITP is basically a contract publishing house - there's little or no 'real' journalism going on there at all - it is purely about pushing out as much product as possible in the shortest possible time with little regard for standards. Which is fine but ITP keeps wandering off brief and thinking it is some kind of publishing genius. Sure it is profitable but so is McDonalds and nobody would ever suggest their food deserves a Michelin Star just cos it makes money. And I'm sure, for some, McDonalds is also a rewarding place to work.
As for ITP being the only place to be, why are the most talented folk jumping ship or resigning? Why doesn't journalistic talent brought in from the UK hang around very long? Because of poor management, a weird work culture and low standards and because papers such as the Abu Dhabi paper pay more and offer more creative potential.
Simply put, the way ITP is run now it will never raise much cultural capital - which will be essential to growth - because it doesn't really respect creativity which is, in the main, based on human values. The environment is too stifling with a paranoid management and a lack of openness.
Much like the rest of Dubai, ITP has made the mistake of believing in its own PR.
Finally, I do think ITP does have at least the financial potential to make an impact - on this front it runs a very tight ship. However, whether it can survive expansion (the trickiest phase in any business) and become more than just a large regional contract publisher is uncertain. The rumours of sell-off in this scenario make much more sense.

Anonymous said...

jeez -still going on about the 802 poster? He must've really got under your skin....

Anonymous said...

I think 9:39 hit it spot on. ITP produces the best mags in the region, which stand up to international scrutiny - Ahlan!, Time Out, Construction Week... I could go on.

It has the best journalists in the region, and usually only lets go the ones it really doesn't want - with few exceptions (and they usually come back).

Anonymous said...

Construction Week??? Ahlan??? You're joking, right????

Anonymous said...

Nope - they are a perfect fit for their markets.

Anonymous said...

Surely 09:39 has a very strong point. It can't have been that successful for the length it has been if it was run by the moronic and paranoid. It has shown incredible ambition and launched into a variety of different markets, and each time produced market leaders. That takes skill, intelligence, know how, creativity and passion.

ITP's competitors are clearly huge fans on the quiet - you don't take staff from products you think are sub standard, do you?

Anonymous said...

But ITP's competitors are even more appalling - motivate etc. And just because it makes money is meaningless when it comes to quality. In terms of international standards it doesn't really stand up - and please don't trot out the old line that "we're in an emerging market." That's called an excuse.

Also the idea that ITP offers some kind of journalistic genius is completely absurd. It is a contract publisher that's all. Nothing more and nothing less. It doesn't even offer proper journalistic training to its staff nor is linked into things like external NCTJ courses. How many NCTJ or properly trained staff does it have on its books? Does it even check such things when it recruits people?

It certainly makes money but adds little cultural or journalistic value to the world - the notion that Construction Week and Ahlan do that is beyond ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Ask someone in the construction industry if they value Construction Week. They will say that they do.

Tell my wife that she is not getting another Ahlan! She will beat me.

Both products are excellent, and are valued by their audience. That's surely the point...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there's a mag out there called Table Makers Weekly but neither the people who produce it nor the people who read it would claim it to signify some grand cultural moment.

That's what I don't get.

ITP produce fairly average magazines yet think they have reached some pinnacle of creativity.

ITP is, in the grand scheme of things of the publishing world, just about average. They have got big in this market because there is no decent competition and they are completely ruthless. Sure ITP has a few reasonably smart managers but the entire context of Dubai stifles genuine creativity.

Finally, my partner reads gossip mags and she reads the economist. She certainly knows which one is home to good journalism.

I guess ultimately it depends on your vision - if it only stretches to Ahlan and Construction Week then you've actually made my point for me.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame this thread is slipping down the running order as it's still quite interesting.

The ITP poster is wrong - most of the senior management of ITP are duffers. It's driven by the vision and (messed-up) charisma of Robert Serafin.

But he's found a model that works - surround himself with yes-men who may not be the brightest, but work extremely hard, and show blind loyalty. Then churn and burn through subsequent layers of the company.

That'll take ITP for a certain distance. The challenge will be whether he can reinvent the culture into something less fucked up when the company hits a certain level of size and maturity, or moves into markets where it is competing for staff with companies who treat their staff better.

Anonymous said...

Exactly the point i've been making. ITP won't grow further as they lack the cultural intelligence to see that such a shift requires the best corporate governance. Serafin will need to step aside at some point, as will most of the existing board, if they are to get beyond their parochial mindset and take the financial capital they certainly have into an international context. They are a contract publisher run by a flawed, charismatic figure - that places severe limitations on growth. If a big investor stepped in they would insist the present set-up is completely overhauled. They have no HR dept, no training and a weak and confused managment culture.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing thread and an amazing blog. 802's demise has me anxious about posting and I'm in the UK!

I'm a journalist actively pursuing a writing position in Dubai and I'm thinking, where do the rest of you work if ITP and Motivate have the shortcomings described?

Also, it would be much appreciated if you can offer an indication of salary expectations as a senior contributor (rather than editor) on a monthly tech mag?
Thanks again for a rich, varied and entertaining read.

Anonymous said...

If you have a good, proven publishing record in the 'real' media outside of Dubai (which is largely insular and self-serving) then you can negotiate your wages upwards if you're smart. Thing to remember is that most media in Dubai is staffed by inexperienced, young people who are getting their first bite of the cherry (one very well known title is currently edited by a pub singer). Don't appear too keen though.
I can only comment on the ITP work culture but I would suggest that it's very very low brow. They have only created one or two titles, with the rest on licence or contracted in. So, it is no hothouse of creativity but a money making maching. Dubai living is also pretty crap, with little culture to experience. Everything is very expensive and poor quality as well.
Companies like ITP also have no HR department and you get almost zero support when you move over, so don't expect to have much of a welcome. It's a bit like a battery farm really - long hours, no scope for creativity, rote tasks. They are also notorious for changing job spec at the last minute.
If you can make a go of it in the UK or elsewhere I'd suggest staying there. If you do come over hang onto your passport for as long as possible (first 10days?) - once they've got it they will make it difficult for you to get it back if the job aint for you. Oh, and it's also better to get fired than resign - that way you can save almost 850quid in moving fees.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, that's a great help. I've a proven record, lots of experience, just looking to broaden my skills away from my niche area. Also freelance rates have been static here for too long. Tech mags have certainly got thinner thanks to the Interweb.

So a change of scenery, new challenges in different tech arenas and a regular (and hopefully healthy) paypacket would be a tonic I'd appreciate.

Do you know if companies discriminate regarding age? Do they prefer younger so they can pay them less or do they appreciate that a thing called 'experience' does actually take time to accumulate?

Thanks again... and if I do make it out there and I need to 'move on', then the 8.02 poster is the model exit strategy to follow, surely?

Anonymous said...

Wait, why do they hold onto your passport? Suppose you want to go on a weekend trip or something? Is it hard getting a job back home in London after leaving ITP or do people respect the experience there?

Anonymous said...

When you begin work in Dubai you hand over your passport to your employees. They then get your visa sorted. This can take 3weeks. Some employers then hang onto it so you can't jump jobs or just leave. Once you've got your visa (and hopefully your passport back) you have to have it cancelled before you leave the country or you could be arrested. So there's no real freedom of movement or labour (weren't these essential to Adam Smith's model of the free market?). Before this is cancelled you have to have all outstanding grievances resolved. At this point, your employer may begin acting weird and unhelpful. That's because, unlike properly managed companies, ITP et al take a resignation/sacking personally and then seem to enjoy causing as much hassle as possible.

Anonymous said...

So if you resign from your position, you need to call the Department of Labour or whatever it is that they call it and let them know that you are leaving your position and plan on leaving the country two weeks later? Or do you need to have your company cancel your visa for you?
Is it illegal to take holiday or do you need a letter from your employer giving you permission to the leave the country? Will I basically be trapped in Dubai for the next two years of my life?

Anonymous said...

ITP normally give you your passport back - other companies might not - and yes, in some cases, you may need permission to travel. Also your company will cancel your visa.
There is a lot stuff your employer won't tell you about. The big lie is quality of life - it's piss poor. Sure, you'll be offered huge loans to pay for stuff but be aware your visa won't be cancelled and you won't be able to leave until they are paid off.
Companies like ITP offer nothing in the way of resettlement support except a couple of months 1/2 price at some godforsaken apartment. One of these company apartments is notorious for being filled with cockroaches. I've known of people arriving and their kids ending up in hospital and ITP do nothing to help.
In the UAE there is no taxation but there are plenty of state monopolies so they do get your money. However, it is mostly used to support Emirati's and not develop civil society or infrastructure.
So, don't expect libraries, museums or even a rational legal system.

Anonymous said...

In which cases do you need permission to travel out of the country? So it's loans that they are offering to help pay for accommodation, it's not a typical expat package? Is there room for negotiation when it comes to this? A flat full of cockroaches? What have I gotten myself into?

Anonymous said...

loans are provided by banks or by car companies etc. If you are already questioning your move to ITP I would strongly suggest you think it through properly. They have a very high turn over of staff and care little if you're not the right fit for the job - they'll either sack you or you'll find it so miserable you'll resign quickly. Then you're left to pick up the pieces. Most people with a bit of experience tend to leave very quickly. Even their recruitment is a complete farce as they just have this one clueless bloke in the UK doing it all (if he tells you that this blog is worthless ignore him). If you are a member of the NUJ speak to them first, get some proper advice and really think the whole thing through. My advice is until ITP start recruiting properly and treating their incoming staff better, you shouldn't go.

Anonymous said...

It is against UAE law for an employer to hold on to your passport so do make sure you get it back once your visa is processed. If not, threaten to call the labour department. Employers here will often try to prey on people's ignorance by holding on to your passport but one of the few rights you have as worker here is to have custody of your passport.

Anonymous said...

It could only be in the UAE that the right to keep your own passport is held up as a beacon of an effective labour law. Amazing.
The single biggest reason that the cultural capital is so, so low in Dubai is that freethinking, creative people can't abide the place, the rules, the tikka-tinged ex-pats and the talentless pillocks who populate companies like ITP.

Anonymous said...

19:46 - I can only assume your bitterness regarding ITP is that you were either not good enough to get in, or, not good enough to keep your job there.

I don't work at ITP, but I would like to one day. It clearly has the market's leading magazines.

Anonymous said...

anon at 0938: why is it that you presume that everyone who disagrees with ITP was either sacked from there, or wasn't good enough to get a job there? It's simply not the case. Some people have actually chosen not to go and work there, whether they were offered a job there or whether they just know it's not for them.

Andrew said...

Actually, and this may sound arrogant, ITP is not good enough for me. What publication of international note does it produce? Everything is licensed in or contract published (except, of course, that groundbreaking magazine, Construction Week). There's no journalistic or editorial passion there. No real creativity and it's filled with chinless wonders.
So, you can go and work for ITP on one of their startingly bad publications and I"ll carry on contributing to proper newspapers, magazines, broadcast networks etc etc.

Anonymous said...

given the fact ITP trouser 6000AED if you walk isnt it better to get fired if you want to leave?

Anonymous said...

anon at 11.24 : on the whole, that's the case with any job in Dubai thanks to the staggeringly efficient labour law .... resign and you get screwed over gratuity, but get yourself fired and you're laughing.

Anonymous said...

Your company still need to cancel your visa. This can take days and the company won't make it easy for you. Remember these are not professional companies as you'd experience in the UK. If you don't have another job they will escort you to the border/airport to make sure you leave. Hence a previous comment here that you hang onto your passport as long as possible at the beginning of your employment - I think you can stretch it to two weeks which means if you realise job isn't for you then you are free to do whatever you want.
The best case scenario if you're unsure is hang onto your passport as long as possible and get fired if you don't want to stay.

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