Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

DePaul Magazine’s editor explains how the magazine comes together.

By Marilyn Ferdinand

Every issue of DePaul Magazine is designed to help you engage with your alma mater and provide you with information we hope you’ll find interesting and useful. But how do we decide what goes into each issue? At a university as large and diverse as DePaul, it takes teamwork!

As editor-in-chief, it’s my job to stay informed about new and expanding programs, academic research, honors and other goings-on of interest to the DePaul alumni and friends who read the magazine. I do this by staying in touch with faculty and staff around the university via email and especially through the service of some of the people on the DePaul Magazine Editorial Advisory Board (EAB). The EAB, comprising faculty from various colleges and schools and staff from administrative departments like Academic Advising and Public Relations and Communications, meets three times a year to brainstorm ideas, share the latest information from around campus and highlight the interesting and outstanding people and programs that make up DePaul.

DePaul_magazine_winter_2019
From start to finish, each issue of DePaul Magazine takes months to produce.

Oftentimes, I will suggest a theme to help the EAB focus their suggestions, but in some cases, a unifying theme will emerge from these discussions. Some of the themes we have acted on over the years include women of DePaul, innovation, creativity and home.

I also need to keep track of alumni who have taken their DePaul education in fascinating directions through their careers or avocations. Google alerts, online research and recommendations from the EAB and colleagues throughout the university provide me with story leads that sometimes turn into feature articles.

I also keep track of what’s making news generally. For example, a computer hack of a large company gave me the idea to feature an article on cybersecurity from the point of view of faculty and alumni experts in the field.

Based on the recommendations of the EAB and my own research on alumni and timely issues, I assemble a story list that forms the table of contents for the upcoming issue. I then assign the stories to our team of in-house editors. They have an approximate page length for each story, but during their research and interviews, they may suggest a story needs to be a bit longer or shorter. There may be more to a story than what we all first thought, or an angle we thought would be worth investigating turns out not to bear much fruit.

All copy goes through a fact-checking phase and is shared with sources to ensure that nobody was misquoted, facts were not misrepresented and information is as up-to-date as possible. We make changes as late in the magazine production process as necessary and possible when new information comes to light.

Putting together a single issue of DePaul Magazine takes months, but it is only through thorough planning and execution that we can deliver a publication that we—and you—can be proud of.

Marilyn Ferdinand is the editorial director at DePaul University.

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