SO, it’s week four on the third-year journalism course at Edinburgh Napier University, and, so far, the students are getting off to a good start.
I have been asked to help them produce an A5 magazine, that they will write, sub-edit, picture research, design, sell ads into and ultimately have printed. The 3,000 or so copies will then be distributed for free (by the students) around various cafes, hairdressers and galleries to an unsuspecting public.
All of this, of course, is an amazing opportunity for these journalism students. They will have a piece of work that they can take to a prospective employer at the end of their course. And more than any certificate, it will prove that they can survive in the cut and thrust world of magazines.
The publication, Impulse, has been produced by third years since 2001, and the character of the students has always shone through. They have eight weeks left, and if anyone reading this has ever been involved in a magazine, they will be smiling a wry smile to themselves.
How, you will be thinking, can 30 students work together in the pursuit of this goal, without killing each other, or at least taking a severe huff?
Well, I’ll need to get back to you on that one, but so far anyway (and this is my first time helping the students fulfill their goal) there appears to be general harmony. Volunteers for the various magazine roles are ‘rising to the occasion’ and motivating others in a way that is genuinely inspiring. I might change my mind, come production week, but I am impressed with people so far.
Of course, it’s not all about the printed product – there is an accompanying Impulse website, which needs to be managed and populated with content. There is a Twitter feed and a Facebook page too. The students decide how these will develop and how they will complement the physical magazine.
It’s an expensive job to print a magazine (I should know) and the students will also need to finance this part of the process too, through advertising sales. It’s tough selling space on a monthly mag, but one that comes out annually is much harder. You have to start from scratch.
It’s going to be an interesting journey, as we progress from story ideas to designing layouts, but I am looking forward to seeing the finished product.
Neil Braidwood is head of CMYK magazine design and publishing company. He is also vice-chair of PPA Scotland.