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New magazine sections: A long and arduous journey 

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We’re launching a series of informal articles written by Cafébabel staff to explain the changes the magazine is going through. Most importantly: a new editorial line, new sections, new plans, new faces... in short, it's a whole new world!

Moving towards an increasingly professional online magazine meant redefining Cafébabel’s four magazine sections. Our four new sections are pillars that support the magazine’s new editorial line. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were these four pillars. 

Our standard section names “politics”, “lifestyle”, “culture” and “society” were dead to us. As our new editorial line became more defined, these old sections became more restrictive. In the newsroom, we would always ask each other the same question: “Guys, where do I publish this article?” We decided it was time for a makeover. So without further ado, I’d like to announce our new chosen sections: “impact”, “creative”, “experience” and “raw”. Just in time for the new website, which will be coming out soon.

From the very first brainstorming sessions, we knew how to divide the sections. The real war began when we had to decide on names. Should we use verbs, adjectives or nouns? Do they have to be linked to one another? But above all: do we keep them in English for all language versions or do we translate them?

The newfound Cafébabel is no longer covering Europe through its institutions. We needed to find sections that would encompass a European vision; what is happening on the ground today and what the continent’s future looks like.

We decided that one of our new sections had to contain all the initiatives, movements, organisations and change-makers that are shaping the Europe of tomorrow. We chose “impact” as the English title. In other languages, we played with the idea of naming this section “tomorrow”, “visions” or even “ideas for the future”.

The second section would focus on everything cultural and creative, from technological innovation to cinema. We called it “creative”.

The third section was born from our recent experiments with gonzo and first-person journalism; articles that take the reader through a story, allowing them to experience what it’s like to be in the contributor’s shoes. We called it “experience”.

The last section was the most complex. It embodies the hard truth. In it, you will find stories that are sometimes difficult to digest. This is the place we will be publishing all of our investigative pieces, our in-depth stories on migration, work, discrimination, poverty and conflict. All we needed was three letters to define this section: “raw”. But is this English word translatable? Does it make sense to non-English speakers? Is it accessible?  Translating this word into Spanish or Italian seemed like an impossible task, and keeping the English word would potentially confuse readers who aren’t as adept when it comes to Anglo-Saxon terminology. We lost sleep over this one.

For Lara, the editor of Cafébabel’s English version, the names we chose for our new sections were ample and exemplary; they fit. The other journalists and editors weren’t so sure. We decided to make a survey and ask our community of contributors what they thought. Translators, writers, photographers and readers expressed their preferences via email. There was a tidal wave of suggestions for translations, some creative and some… less so. Some were quite original, like calling our “experience” section “backpack” or calling our “creative” section “eureka”. But the majority of our community voted for coherence. Why?

Even though Cafébabel is a magazine that thrives off multilingualism, its main goal is to unite the continent’s younger generation. After many (healthy) clashes over the name “raw”, especially given that the name was unknown to most of us before, we started getting used to it. We were even surprised to see that we started using it in our everyday lives. Saw a homeless family on the streets of Paris on your way to work? Raw. Our article about digital abuse and teenage relationships in Romania? Raw. But this is how we gave birth to our four new sections, even if we were in labour for weeks. It was a raw experience. 

Translated from Le quattro sezioni e il lungo parto per la scelta