How to make a magazine: the Ryerson Review of Journalism
By Ann Hui
Love it or hate it, the Ryerson Review of Journalism gets people talking.
Over the past eight months, about 30 Ryerson magazine students (including myself) have managed, in the process of putting together the RRJ, to both earn praise from major editors, and incur the wrath of others.
Tonight is the culmination of those efforts, with the official launch party for both the Spring and Summer 2010 issues of the magazine.
What's in the magazines?
Some lucky insiders have already managed to get a sneak peek at the Spring issue, which features:
- A package of three profiles on the editors of the Star, the Globe and the Post, and their ideas for keeping their papers successful. (Hear writers Katherine Laidlaw, Matthew Halliday and Katie Hewitt describe their stories here.)
- Matthew Halliday's look at the media coverage of the Michael Bryant/Darcy Allan Sheppard incident in "Anatomy of a Tragedy."
- Mai Nguyen on why humour journalism and why Canadian magazines don't like to laugh
Some of the big draws in the Summer issue include:
- A look by Chelsea Murray at the scandal-plagued Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick, and how veteran editor Neil Reynolds plans to turn things around.
- Tyler Harper's take on recent changes at the CBC, and whether the public broadcaster faces the risk of becoming irrelevant.
- Putting the "free" in freelancer: Melissa Wilson looks at whether it's still possible to make a living on freelance wages.
How it all came together
(Photo credit: Jessica Lewis)
In mid-summer, most journalism students were working on their tan, playing frisbee at the park, or, perhaps, toiling away at an internship somewhere. Not the case for incoming RRJ students, who, in late July were already told to start brainstorming story ideas.
This was the first indication that working on the RRJ would be different from your average class.
The next indication was the first story idea meeting, where many students were told, quite mercilessly, that their ideas were crap. "Okay, so that's about 500 words. What are you going to write about for the next 2,000 words?" was the favourite saying of our instructor, Tim Falconer. (The instructor for the summer masthead, Lynn Cunningham, I'm told, was a little gentler.)
In other words, we were treated like real magazine staffers. There was no hand-holding. Keep up, or risk the wrath of either Tim, spring editor-in-chief Katherine Laidlaw, or really, all the other masthead members. Because by the end of the process, every one of us cared as much as either of them about the magazine.
During the course of the eight months, we each had a chance to research and write two features (one for our website and one for the magazine), work on front-of-book pieces, brainstorm and write display copy, fact-check and copy-edit. Each feature required a minimum of 40 interviews, and many of us had to resort to borderline-stalking in order to get this done.
There were tight deadlines and high expectations. During production, there were long nights of holding proofs up to the light, squinting to make out the blurred copy. There was yelling, of course. And a lot of swearing. All of this on top of our regular courseloads.
But the ultimate result -- a glossy, sexy magazine that brought tears to the eyes of some students, or, at the very least, had others reaching for their cameras -- made it all worth it.
So if you're in the area of Queen West tonight and are interested in journalism, come by and celebrate with us. Details here:
Ann Hui is a Radio Room reporter at the Star. She's also a final year master of journalism student at Ryerson University. firstname.lastname@example.org