Category: News

A Bit of an Announcement


What you’re looking at above is my university magazine bookcase. The neatly boxed magazines on the lower shelf represent half the titles I receive from all of you, alphabetized by school. That upper shelf? That’s all the magazines that have landed in my mailbox but have not received any attention from me. Yeah, I’ve got some catching up to do, and some posts to write.

But…but…I have not been idle as Editorus Maximus of UMagazinology. In all that spare time we editors have, I’ve created a UMagazinology Flipboard magazine.

IMG_0199If you don’t know Flipboard, first go here. Flipboard is a mobile app for iOS and Android that facilitates the easy aggregation of web content into “magazines.” I can’t possibly write about every notable story I come across in our periodicals, but I can, without too much trouble, “flip” them into the UMag flipmag.

To read any of them, you need to download and install the app on your smartphone or tablet. Once you’ve done so, open the app, then do a quick search for “umagazinology.” Tap the button to follow it, and Bob’s your uncle, you’re now a UMagazinology reader. I’ve made an initial posting of a dozen or so stories, with more to come day by day.

Sorry to ask this of you

UMagazinology now receives more than 270 magazines, and we want more. But on September 3, the editorial offices of Johns Hopkins Magazine move to new space, so I have to make a request: Please note the change in mailing address and update your mailing lists, so the blog doesn’t miss a single issue of your work.

The new digs:

Dale Keiger

Johns Hopkins Magazine

3910 Keswick Rd., Suite N-2600

Baltimore, MD   21211

Thank you.

Welcome back

ndsucoverFrom a recent Facebook post—I get all my news via Facebook now, don’t you?—I learned that NDSU Magazine is back. This is welcome news. The magazine was created under the direction of editor Laura McDaniel in 2000. Ten years later, it suspended publication with its Fall 2009 issue. This was a real shame, because NDSU, from its inception, was a distinctive, well-crafted magazine, publishing a combination of university news, essays, and feature stories about North Dakota State researchers, scholars, and alumni, all dressed up with some superb photography and a lovely minimalist design aesthetic.

In a recent email exchange, McDaniel wrote, “We were forced to take a break for budget purposes, always with the goal of returning as soon as we had some other bills paid.”

The first issue of the revived publication is a bit skimpy, 28 pages versus the former 48-page issues. But it still looks great and has a feature story by Sean Plottner, better known in most parts as the editor of Dartmouth, about NDSU’s Vermont origins. You’ve read that right—Vermont origins, specifically Justin Smith Morrill, congressman and senator from Vermont and author of the Morrill Act, which did much to establish the land-grant system of universities that eventually included North Dakota State.

McDaniel said, “If you put an old issue next to this one, you’ll note some subtle facelift work and a slightly different mix in terms of content. We updated the flag, for example, and some inside fonts. Content wise, we’ve included more campus news. We will be pushing readers to more online material, such as class notes and obits. I should note that this issue is not the caliber to which I aspire. It takes a while to crank up the machine, and we did not make much progress on that, so this is rather cobbled together. But as ever, the idea is to produce a high-quality magazine that reflects favorably on North Dakota State University by producing a magazine people read.”

Or, as one of the magazine’s readers put it:

So many other university magazines I see are glossy, traditional house organs with a ho-hum promotional sameness about them. These are swiftly relegated to the recycle box in my garage. Your magazine, on the other hand, is flat-dab enjoyable to read, visually intriguing, and delightfully unpredictable. Reading it has become a small adventure I look forward to. So often, snobbishness invades publications containing quality writing and design, but you have managed to provide a full measure of quality and imagination with the intangible feeling of a smile and a firm handshake.

Well, that’s the sort of thing an editor likes to hear. As McDaniel observed, it doesn’t get much better than being flat-dab enjoyable.

Thank you

For the first time, the number of subscribers to UMagazinology has topped 1,000. We’re gratified and surprised in equal measure. Thank you for reading.



By the way, we’re not the only blog that speaks to alumni magazine editors. Dog Ear Consultants, better known to the dissipated crowd at the Editors Forum hotel bar as Maureen Harmon, Dan Morell, and Patrick Kirchner, maintain (I know, I know, I was supposed to say “curate”) the excellent Dogblog. I’m a reader, and you should be too.

Morsels from Minneapolis

I had every intention of blogging from the Editors Forum in balmy Minneapolis. (When I can count the degrees of a March morning temperature on the fingers of one hand . . . well, let’s just say viewer discretion is advised.) But what little time was left over after preparing to present, presenting, attending other presentations, meeting with editors, reading unfamiliar alumni magazines, eating, failing to prevent Matt Jennings from stealing my dessert flatware, and doing my part to support the brewers of the Upper Midwest had to be devoted to grabbing sleep. So here is a belated roundup for the 800 or so UMagazinology readers who did not attend the conference.

— Tina Hay and Penn State commanded much of the first day’s sessions with the notable story of how she and The Penn Stater handled the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse debacle. She made the very smart observation that it would behoove an alumni magazine editor and staff to not ignore but to cover some smaller problems that arise on campus, as a way to proactively set some precedent for covering controversy should a big one suddenly burst through the gates of Hell and descend on the school. If something big happens, you may find your path to covering it smoother because you’ve already set some precedent, and you’ve also established with the higher powers that you can do that coverage responsibly and professionally and your readers will take it in stride.

— Hay also advised writing some sort of template for crisis coverage now, before the gates of Hell open etc . . .

— I think I speak for a lot of people when I express my thanks to and respect for Rod Kirsch for appearing at the conference with Hay. Kirsch is senior vice president for development and alumni relations at Penn State. Also known as Hay’s Big Boss. He talked about how he saw the magazine as a means for Penn State to counter the discouraging amount of bad journalism, blogging, and commentary that was devoted to the scandal. He admitted that he did not like the now-famous Penn Stater black cover on the issue devoted to the scandal, and might have lobbied for changing it had he seen it beforehand. He won me over by also admitting that now he’s glad that was the magazine’s cover. He also personally sent copies of the magazine to some key people and told them they had to read it. That, my friends, is a vice president of an editor’s dreams.

— I had read the description of the last session of Day One, titled “What Would You Do?” and pretty much an open mic night for other editors to talk about their dilemmas, and figured I’d last about 10 minutes as editors lined up to complain about what passed for a professional crisis in their offices. But I was riveted by the stories of what some of our colleagues have to contend with. Magazines at Roman Catholic colleges that cannot even mention certain topics or people because of church doctrine. The magazine that can’t write about a scientist’s evidence that fracking might induce earthquakes because the school has a major donor who made his fortune in extractive industries. The school with a climate scientist that  dares not write about his work because of an ultra-conservative and, I would argue, ultra-ignorant state legislature that might penalize the school. On and on. Sort of diminishes my complaint about the member of the Class of 1951 who calls to bitch at me for not writing enough about the Johns Hopkins football team.

— Kristina Halvorsen, CEO of Brain Traffic, asked rhetorically how the Web became such a content landfill. She also made the point that digital content on the Web is not static, like a print magazine. We can’t just post it and forget about it. We say that Web content “goes live” for a reason—it is live in significant ways. It moves around the interwebs, it gets linked to, social media picks it up and bats it around. This means alumni magazines and university communications departments need a digital content strategy. That very phrase gives me the jitters, but she’s right.

— Anyone who wishes to comment on breakout sessions should do so in Comments. I could only attend a few, obviously, and don’t want to slight the ones I did not hear.

— The one place the conference sagged was the session by photographer Steve Woit. Seemed like an amiable guy with a dry wit and a wealth of professional experience working with alumni magazines, but he was not an engaging presenter and I didn’t come away from his session knowing anything I didn’t already know. A forthcoming CASE conference should give serious thought to presenting a photographer who can help editors see photos as a photographer sees them, to better understand why one image works and another one that looks almost the same to the untrained eye does not work. I’d go to that one, and I’m a photographer.

— Jacqui Banaszynski presented at an Editors Forum for the fifth time—at least we counted five at lunch after the conference—and gave ample evidence why she keeps getting invited back. She talked about the power of and profound human need for storytelling, and moved much of the room to tears. (Not me, because I’m a really tough guy, a man’s man. OK, maybe I had to swallow hard a few times. And my eyes filled once. Maybe two times.) She was tremendous, as always, powerful and smart and energetic and funny.

— Did I mention that Minneapolis was cold? But the people sure were warm, at least those I encountered. Unfailingly polite and pleasant in a way that warmed this Midwestern boy’s heart.

— Never have I seen a security line like what I encountered at the Minneapolis airport. I’d allowed a couple of hours and good thing. By the time I cleared security, I had five minutes to choke down a sandwich before boarding my flight to Baltimore. Jeesh what a mob.

— Kudos to co-chairs Susan Blystone and Suzanne Gray. I’ve co-chaired two Editors Forums (Fora?) and have a pretty good eye for when the people in charge have to scramble to patch a pothole or stick a finger in the dike. As far as I could tell, the Soozes had everything humming like a tuned-up Aston Martin. Also many thanks to Emily DeYoung and her staff, who were exemplary.

— Last note: At the magazine exchange, I saw a lot of magazines that do not send copies to me for consideration by the blog. Ahem. You know who you are. Send me your publications. Don’t make me repeat myself.

Nothing more to say but . . . see you in New Orleans. Yes, the next conference will be sited in New Orleans. The Dale abides.