Notes on a Periodical: An Example of Editorial Analysis

by Elana Singer

In the Test and Publishing Studies course at David Yellin College, one the of the assignments is  to  give a five to ten minute oral presentation of an analysis of a text (e.g. financial reports, F-Y-I books, Atlantic Magazine) in terms of its text elements: mission, readership, language, form, format, design, frame of reference, terms of discourse. This exercise is meant to raise awareness of the components of discourse an editor might want to take note of before embarking on an editing task. Following is the work done by Elana Singer, student of the 2013—2014 class based on a book published by The Worldwatch Institute. These notes were the basis of her presentation.

Title of the journal series: State of the World

Title of the 2011 issue: Innovations that Nourish the Planet

Published by: The Worldwatch Institute – founded in 1974 as an independent research institute devoted to global environmental concerns.


Mission statement of The Worldwatch Institute:

“Through research and outreach that inspire action, the Worldwatch Institute works to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world that meets human needs. The Institute’s top mission objectives are universal access to renewable energy and nutritious food, expansion of environmentally sound jobs and development, transformation of cultures from consumerism to sustainability, and an early end to population growth through healthy and intentional childbearing.”

About the State of the World Series

Worldwatch’s flagship publication, State of the World. The book has been published in 36 languages, deals with issues ranging from population, energy, and agriculture to materials use, health, and trade policy. Topics are covered from a global perspective, emphasize innovation and problem-solving.

This 2011 edition addresses the global food crisis. It spotlights innovations in agriculture that will reduce poverty and malnutrition for millions of people, while restoring rural economies, creating livelihoods, and sustaining the natural resource base on which agriculture depends. It outlines 15 particular solutions that have already been successful.

The targeted readership for this report: governments, policymakers, NGOs, and donors that seek solutions to hunger and poverty, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Even though the information is to be used by national governments, UN agencies, development workers and law-makers, it is readable also for the general public.

Cover photograph: Palm fruit harvest in Togo

The only color in the booklet; dramatic use of red – draws one’s attention – balanced by the red print on the back cover.

Very effective image highlights the contrast between one/many; shortage /lack and plenty – the basket full and the bowl with one kernel, suggesting that this is the state of the world – there is an uneven distribution where some people have plenty and others go without. The goal of the institute is to redress these problems. In the picture, the full basket holds the empty bowl –implying that we are all in the same basket, and that it behooves the well-nourished communities to help sustain the undernourished; state of inequality – Suggestion it can go either way – with correct approach, the empty bowl can fill up and vice versa. Ultimately there are global ramifications.

In the top right corner – the logo of Earthscan –on the back cover – the full branding. Earthscan is an English language publisher of books and journals on subjects to do with climate change and environmental issues, written for academic, professional and general readers.

Front Matter: Elements:

  • Acknowledgements: to the advisory groups, board of directors, financial supporters, foundations, organizations that support, publishing partners
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword– by Olivier De Schutter – UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food – about the need to improve the ability of developing countries to feed themselves by supporting agricultural production that respects the environment and benefits the poor in rural areas.
  • PREFACE – by Christopher Flavin, President, Worldwatch Institute:

The mistaken idea that world hunger can be eliminated with money and technology; need to build sustainable, nourishing agricultural systems and this is increasingly happening in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the basis of Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet project. = documented in this book.

  • State of the World: The Year in Review consists of a timeline covering significant announcements and reports from Oct. 2009 – Sept. 2010 –showing progress and

Back Matter:

  • Notes – extensive, organized by chapter
  • Index


  • This publication is an annual report – published in the form of a book. This is solid, weighty and serious material, the result of extensive research and analysis and the publication is relevant for the year and meant to last – has a relatively long life span. It is an Informational book that uses a persuasive tone. It gives reports, and presents research from the field, with in-depth analysis. It is formal, serious, thorough, and clearly written. Everything is relevant to the message and mission. No advertisements, callouts etc. No extraneous material. The publication presents field studies that describe particular cases of innovative developments already being implemented with success – relevant to the issues discussed in the chapters

Form and Format:

Text and pictures are monochromatic, in shades of black, white and grey, which resonates with the serious message and mission.

The book uses mixed media– information is given in visuals as well as words and there are informational graphics: charts and tables. This breaks the monotony of the text and enhances the ease of read.

There are boxes elaborating on particular points, extra information, again giving the reader a choice of paths – you can stop and read them immediately or go back to them later, or skip.

In the body of the text, the field studies are signaled with a different design and formatting showing the small picture of workers in the field/ heading “from the field” and title in different italicized font. Here it is white on black, as opposed to the chapter titles which are black on white. It is all very clear, very neat, and consistent.

Pages/Layout– the text is laid out in 2 columns throughout; sometimes visuals placed exactly flush with the columns, sometimes text wrapped around images. Always very neat, exact and consistent.

Every chapter starts with a picture, depicting the innovation that is the subject of that chapter. (Most chapters have at least one other picture as well.)

The layout is very clear and elegant.

Levels of Structure – Hierarchy:

Table of Contents – describes the internal structure of the work.

Chapters are numbered and have titles in bold, which  comprise level one headings

subsections within the chapters– from the field (case studies) – have subheadings – no further numbering, but a different font is used, which comprise level two headings

Pagination – all the front matter uses Roman numerals and then the text body/annual report starts with numbered pages.




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