100 Not Out!

Issue 100

As Northern Insight Magazine celebrates its centenary edition, Graham Courtney spoke to Managing Director, Michael Grahamslaw, about the past, present and future of the magazine.

If it was a Beatles song it would be called “The Long and Winding Road” but after nine rollercoaster years it is the 100th issue of what has become a staple read for the business community of the North East…Northern Insight.

It’s an important landmark but a magazine of this quality and size (frequently nudging 200 pages) doesn’t happen overnight. Michael has been involved in the region’s media industry for over 30 years, transcending both print and digital eras. A cultivator of long lasting business relationships he brings a wealth of experience to the table.

Michael said “I started my working life in 1990 with Newcastle Chronicle and Journal and loved the ‘cut and thrust’ of the publishing world immediately. I’ve always enjoyed meeting people and promoting their businesses. The job is both stimulating and rewarding in equal measure with each day providing unique challenges. I often compare compiling a magazine to putting a huge jigsaw puzzle together!”

From an early stage in his career Michael harboured ambitions to launch his own title and in 2015 finally took the plunge.

“As a starting point I approached the huge variety of contacts I had made over the previous 25 years and told them about my plans to launch an independent business and leisure magazine for the region. The reaction was staggering and truly humbling. After 48 days and over 100 face to face meetings we were ready to roll with issue one.”

With an experienced designer required to bring his dream to fruition, it was at this point that Lady Luck appeared as Michael received an email from Lu O’Rourke who he’d worked with way back in the 90s.

As Lu said “I’d had a great career, working as a Senior Designer and later as Studio Manager at some of the region’s top agencies, but chose to take some time out to be a full-time mum. Over the years, I’d worked extensively in print and advertising across a range of national and international brands. When I opted to return to work I dropped a speculative email to Michael and the rest is history. We met for a coffee, he told me about his plans and away we went. Being able to put my mark on the magazine from its inception has meant that I could iterate the design over the years.”

So in 2015 Northern Insight was born and it has continued to be published 11 months of every year since.

Michael said “Several businesses and individuals who appeared in issue one are in this 100th edition. The whole ethos of the magazine is to produce a high quality, independent local publication underpinned by value for money and great service. That will never change.”

He continued, “Of course this is very much a team effort. My wife Lisa handles all of our accounting as well as our website, my son Jack and daughter Holly contribute articles regularly for the magazine and I’m really lucky to have a specialist team of writers such as yourself Graham, who help clients to promote their stories. We are also blessed to have a wide variety of columnists, all experts in their fields.”

A huge percentage of the 100 front covers have been shot by the magazine’s lead photographer Simon Williams. Simon, who owns Crest Photography, is one of the most respected photographers in the country. He really does bring meaning to…’a picture paints a thousand words.’

Michael said “The loyalty from our clients has been unbelievable. We even managed to keep publishing Northern Insight throughout the Covid pandemic, something of which I’m really proud. To be honest, we’re like one huge family.”

And that family keeps growing. The North East business community is resilient and continues to evolve. As you’ll see in any edition of Northern Insight there are always new businesses appearing, businesses that are changing, new products, latest advice on innumerable subjects… you name it and you can guarantee that at some point over the 100 editions of Northern Insight, it will have appeared.

So…what of the future?

“I’d love to think I’ll be sitting here in just over nine years talking about our 200th edition. This job is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge, you are never done! There is always something new to report on, from our wonderful region, or a fantastic new business to promote. That’s what makes it so enjoyable.

To conclude I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved with Northern Insight. Without the terrific support from local businesses and the drive and diligence of the people who work alongside me, the magazine wouldn’t be what you see today.”

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