Behind the Scenes: City Magazine

May. 30, 2012 / By

When Cindy Frye, City Magazine advisor at Long Beach City College (LBCC), asked me to step up to the plate and become the Editor in Chief of the Magazine, I was beyond flattered. I was new to journalism when I wrote for the class a couple of semesters before and, even though I fell in love with it, I was unsure if I could actually do it.

My willingness to dive into the field has paid off, as I soon found myself writing for a local online news source before my first article was even printed. When I got the email from Cindy asking for my help, she also said there were already were a few problems with the way the class would be run.

I had an idea of what the guidelines for story ideas should be and luckily my Co-Editor in Chief agreed with them. I told the writers that they could pretty much write about anything they wanted to, it should be related to LBCC somehow, but if it wasn’t they could still run the idea by me and I would help them work it into something that could fit the criteria. I felt like the Magazine should represent Long Beach; the diverse tapestry of stories reflecting the student body of the college.

Right away, I had to work with our weaker writers to help cultivate their story ideas, and to oversee the expansion of that idea into a 1,200-word article. Many of the students had very little experience with any kind of writing, so molding their stories as they searched for their individual voices was a huge challenge. Implementing the AP Style guidelines was a different challenge altogether as the newer writers wanted to stick to the MLA format they wrote in for their English class papers.

I was also trying to find a more efficient way of having our writers and a separate class of photographers maintain constant communication, making sure to address any problems that arose on either end. Traditionally, the photography class would meet around the same time as the class for writers, which would allow both classes to meet as a group about once a week. We didn’t have that luxury this year since the photography class was over approximately 45 minutes before we met. I decided that we had to establish an online forum for both classes to communicate. I always made it a point to make sure they were in constant contact, and I went to the photography class every few weeks so that I could address any concerns.

Keep in mind, I still had to write a couple of stories, and do the same class work that every other student was expected to do.

The stories that were chosen had to be interesting and written well, they had to be fresh ideas that other colleges weren’t covering, and they had to be relevant to the diverse student body that comprises the community at LBCC.

Stories like the rant of a local barista and a story about the local clothing company were chosen because of their relevancy to our city. The story about employers utilizing social media and the one about returning veterans were printed because of the relevancy to what is happening now.

Those story topics seemed like they should go in the magazine.

Three stories that I really wanted to see make it through, just from the initial pitch, were; the story about the writers road through the BDSM community and how that helped her get to where she is today, the very controversial story which gives a glimpse on the “sugar baby/ sugar daddy” relationships, and after working on it a little, the rant and disappointment of a PC gamer who tears into why he believes console gaming should be an afterthought. Those three added depth and color to the magazine which I believe really set it apart from previous issues.

When we edited the stories, in the magazine editors class the following semester, the interest was apparent even in our small group. We went over each story at least three times in class and Melissa Gonzales; my Co-Editor in Chief, Tonia Ciancanelli, lead copy editor and I; went over the stories outside of class too many times to count. We also worked closely with the graphic design students who did an amazing job putting the photos and stories together.

This publication is important not only because it is a learning tool, but because it is truly student run. All of the stories have been written by student journalists, the photographs were all taken by students, the layout and page design was all created by students as well, and the managing and overseeing of everything was done by students as well. It is real, physical proof that working hard in a competitive environment will pay off. The magazines have been distributed all over both LBCC campuses as well as a few local businesses. More will be put out when the Fall semester begins, but can also be viewed online here.

This magazine has taught me not only how to become a better writer, a better editor and a managing editor, but I have also taken away the ability to work with other writers and multimedia experts.

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