CMMW 2018: Building a Better Journal

By Grace Aldis

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the College Mega Media Workshop in Minneapolis, but I jumped at the opportunity to promote our undergraduate art and literary journal Underground while learning and meeting new people. I wondered at first whether or not the workshop would cater to literary journals since it seemed to focus on newspaper groups, but I found that my workshop session did have a good amount of others working on literary journals such as ours. Overall, I thought the experience was invaluable, and I left with a fresh head of ideas to help make Underground the best it can be. 

I was concerned about the yearbook and magazine track not applying to my work at the literary journal, but I ended up learning a lot at my session and making valuable connections with others in my field. The instructors for my track, Kelley and Adrianne, had known each other for a long time and were fun to work with. Kelley mostly did presentations on things like design elements, leadership organization, and marketing, while Adrianne led fun team-building exercises. I got a lot of useful information out of Kelley’s presentations, such as a break-down of different types of fonts and how they should be used, how to effectively manage my team, and how to best promote what we do. One of my main learning goals for this conference was to have a better understanding of design since I do not have a huge background in design and it is an imperative skill for making a quality literary journal. I feel that this workshop gave me a lot of the knowledge I need to grow more and create a better journal. 

Another very helpful aspect of this conference was the critiques. I had the two previous issues of Underground critiqued by two experts: one being Kelley, and the other’s name was Lisa, a former editor of the Booth literary magazine. Neither one held back in their critiques, and I had to hear some somewhat harsh truths about our journal. I had never questioned the concept of our logo, a lantern, and how it relates to the idea of being “underground,” but both Lisa and Kelley didn’t make that connection. Kelley said it looked more like “a disembodied lamp post” and thought it related more to Sherlock Holmes than a literary magazine for undergraduate students. I realize this means we will have to reconsider our logo, or at least redesign it and make a clearer connection to the “underground” aspect and our history. Lisa was more concerned with the fact that we are now a national journal, and said we need to be more forthright with the purpose of our journal if not to directly benefit GSU students. Both critiques made me realize that there needs to be a change in how we approach things at Underground, no matter what changes we decide to make in the future.

One of the best things I got out of this trip was getting to know others in student media in and outside of GSU. I enjoyed getting to know the individuals on the trip, as well as learning about their organizations. I’ve said before that I think GSU does a great job of supporting student organizations, but now I have a better appreciation for what many of those organizations put together. I have the hope that GSU’s student media continues to collaborate in the future, as I see a lot of potential in that unification.