The who, what, why and WTF behind The Grub Street Journal...

Who’s behind The Grub Street Journal?

Who? The Grub Street Gang, that’s who. Founded by Peter Houston and Joanna Cummings, there is only one criteria for joining our gang – you need to be a magazine person.

We make the magazine with our creative director, Nicola Craig. Jo handles the editing and production, Peter writes and takes care of the commercials and Nic makes sure it’s all put together in a way you’ll want to read.

But we’re only part of the gang. Our contributors, interviewees and readers are our most valuable co-conspirators. Grub Street is all about being brutally honest about the magazine industry, honest, but also optimistic.

What is The Grub Street Journal?

Back in the 18th century, it was a satirical journal that made fun of the hacks working in the London home of journalism, Grub Street. These days, it’s a quarterly indie print magazine taking a similar sideways look at the business of magazine publishing.

We’ve been asked if Grub Street is a love letter to magazines. The answer? Absolutely not. We love magazines, but we know there are issues.

Maybe think of Grub Street as a family intervention or a call to action from the therapist's couch. Not a cry for help, but a statement of intent founded on an honest acknowledgement of the challenges the magazine industry faces, coupled with a fierce desire to chase down some solutions.

All of that packed into a quarterly print publication 60-odd pages long. We have a newsletter and Spotify playlists and we’re planning a digital version and a podcast. But the Grub Street Gang’s manifesto is printed every 90 days or so.

When did you start the Grub Street Journal?

We launched on April Fool’s Day, 2023, asking the question ‘What kind of idiots still make magazines?’. We knew the answer, but we wanted to hear people say it out loud.

From activists to entrepreneurs, we heard that magazine people make magazines. People who love the craft, the rhythm, the potential of printed pages. People who want to communicate and connect, and people who see the commercial opportunities.

Our second issue came out a little later than it should have in August 2023. The cover story zoomed in on those commercial opportunities, asking ‘Where’s the money in magazines?’. As an indie startup we really needed to know the answer. TL;DR: deliver unique value to your audience and advertisers.

Our big question for Halloween 2023, the release date of our ‘Walking Dead’ issue, is ‘Why won’t print just lie down and die?’. Our answer is a resounding, ‘Why the Hell should it?’.

Beyond our cover stories we’ve looked at magazines in the movies, magazine ASMR and a US TV series about erotic magazines. We’ve asked if designers, editors and sales people are just Magazine Monkeys. We’ve offered career advice, tips on how to use AI and highlighted the fact that diversity and inclusion is an issue for everyone that works in the industry.

Why are you making The Grub Street Journal?

Easy. Because magazines matter.

The Grub Street Gang cares about magazines – whether they work to make them, or just love reading them, they all care. We see our job as being to make it easier to care. We want magazine makers to feel supported in the challenges they face, if only by being brutally honest about what they are.

And we want to share the energy, enthusiasm and bloody-mindedness that magazine people invest in their publications. We worry that if we don’t, maybe when we’re as old as the original Grub Street Journal, people won’t be asking ‘What kind of idiots make magazines?’, but ‘what was a magazine?’. We can’t have that, can we?

  • Peter Houston


    Peter talks and writes about the media for a living, with bylines in everything from InPublishing to The New Statesman. His magazine career started the same year as the Simpsons and, over 30 years later, he shares the reputation of a certain groundskeeper for being a “sentimental but deeply cynical” Scot.

  • Joanna Cummings

    Editorial Director

    Joanna has edited magazines about chemistry, cannabis and crocheting, moving effortlessly from niche B2B to consumer newsstand. The one thing that ties the strands of her magazine career together is an unshakeable belief in the power of writing, that and a finely honed talent for spotting the perfect pun.

  • Nic Vernon-Smith

    Creative Director

    Now a freelance graphic designer, the unflappable Nic has worked both for independent agencies and international publishing companies, and is an expert in branding, web design, and illustration. The fact she’s been in The Face and looks like the bass player from a 90s punk band is just a bonus.

  • Loui Camino

    Digital Content Coordinator

    The newest addition to our gang! The extremely suave Loui is on board to help us with our digital content and subscriptions, all while completing his BA in Journalism & Creative Writing at Falmouth University. Whatta guy.

    Definitely one to keep your eye on...