COM 368A Magazine Publishing

Spring 2012

Professor: Dr. Michelle Ferrier

Office Phone: (336) 278-5737

Office: McEwen, Room 203C
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays from 10-10:50 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.; Other times by appointment.
Class Hours:Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:15PM - 01:25PM, McEwen 209

Course Description

This course examines the magazine publishing industry from its origins to today. Students explore industry trends toward specialization and magazine publishing processes including concept, planning, writing, editing, advertising, production, promotion and distribution of a finished product. 4 credit hours

Course Goal and Expectations

This course is designed to teach accepted practices and skills used in launching and publishing a magazine. This class is designed to simulate the real-world launch of a magazine product. The course focus is on audience and content, two concepts that are critical to magazine publishing regardless of the platform.

With this understanding, students may complete projects using Adobe InDesign, Adobe Flash, Photoshop, FinalCutPro, Wordpress and other software. In addition, students may use Twitter, Facebook and other online tools for understanding and analyzing content and audiences. This software will not be taught in this class. Students are expected to be able to apply prior knowledge and take advantage of the knowledge of their peers and online resources. The underlying goal of the course is to create self-directed learners that will be able to continually update their knowledge and skills as new technologies emerge in the marketplace.

Because this is an upper-level class, students are expected to participate in classroom discussions on the topic at hand. While the professor may present some lectures to the class, much of the class will be experiential, with students engaged in hands-on work and in generating conversation in class. You are responsible for your learning and for what your peers get out of the class.

Course Objectives

During the semester, students will:
  • Learn the history of the magazine
  • Compare magazine characteristics to other media
  • Examine trends in both print and web magazines
  • Discuss content management systems and their use in online delivery
  • Discuss innovations in mobile delivery platforms
  • Understand roles and responsibilities of magazine staff
  • Write feature and department content for a magazine
  • Develop financial strategies for a successful launch
  • Produce a prototype magazine

Course Readings

Woodard, Cheryl. (2006) Starting & Running a Successful Newsletter or Magazine, 5th ed. Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press.

Magazine Subscription: You will be required to purchase or subscribe to a magazine of your choice throughout the semester that will be delivered to your campus address. You will need three editions (February, March, and April) of your selected magazine, along with any online/mobile editions available to subscribers.

Readings As Assigned:
Johnson, Sammye and Patricia Prijatel, (2007) The Magazine from Cover to Cover, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford Press. On Blackboard and on reserve in the library for the semester.

Online Website and Articles As Assigned:
Magazine Launch:
Folio Magazine:
Fast Company:
And other readings as assigned.

You are responsible for reading all assigned material for the class before the class as indicated on the course outline. You are also responsible for the material whether it is discussed in class or not. Any assigned readings, print or electronic, may be content for quizzes and tests.

Other Classroom Activities/Homework/Participation. I expect you to participate in classroom activities and complete deliverables as I assign them throughout the semester. I also expect you to participate in class discussions. These activities and the "+ or –" assignments count toward your participation score (10 percent of your final grade).

Amendments to the Syllabus and Course Outline: The professor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus. Changes will be announced either in class, through email or via Blackboard.

Classroom and Course Policies

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Attendance Policy

COM 368 is course that demands your presence. We expect students in a professional school to come to class every time on time and be prepared to work for the entire session. Participation is an important component of success. You will be doing graded work during nearly every class session, thus if you miss a session it will have even more negative impact on your grade. The School of Communications attendance policy is attached to this document. It states: Teachers will lower the final grade in a class for each absence beyond the equivalent of one week of class (three absences for classes meeting three times a week, two absences for classes meeting twice a week, and one absence during winter term or a summer session). Students participating in university-sponsored travel must submit a written request in advance to the professor. Such students will be expected to work ahead to complete work due during the anticipated absence. A student who misses more than 20 percent of scheduled classes in a term for any reason, excused or not, automatically receives an F because the student has missed too much content and participation to pass a course in a professional school.

* If you are ill or if you must miss a class due to an unforeseen problem, please inform mebefore class or as soon as possible afterward by sending an e-mail or by leaving a phone message.

It is important to make full use of the few minutes we have each day. Late arrival to class (more than 5 minutes) counts as a missed class for that day. After three late arrivals, your final course grade will automatically be reduced by a full grade level. Four late arrivals may result in an "F" for the course.**


If you miss a class because of illness, participation in a university-sponsored activity, job interview or other causes, you have missed valuable content and engaged learning. In this sense, excused and unexcused absences are no different. The School of Communications policy says that to ensure that you avoid a gap in your progression in this course, your professor may assign additional work. For example, you may be asked to write a 400-word summary of material covered in a missed class session or you may be asked to complete an additional assignment that demonstrates comprehension of material covered. No missed writing or discussion assignment can be made up later without written documentation showing an acceptable reason for your delay (near-death experiences may be considered acceptable). Receiving an excused absence includes making up the work within one week. It is your responsibility to inquire about making up missed work.

Tests and Assignments

Final Exam: You are expected to take the final exam at the scheduled time. Because the final exam is a presentation to your peers and judges, there is no makeup for this date.

Assignments/Deliverables: When you work with clients or in a business launch, you have deliverables, not assignments. Deliverables are just that…work that is due to be delivered on a specific day. Deliverables must be turned in when they are due…no exceptions.

Honor Code

All students are expected to abide by the Elon University Honor Code - "On my honor, I will uphold the values of Elon University: honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect." Adherence to these values is expected from students at all times in and out of the classroom. Breaches of these values will result in an academic or social honor code violation report. In this class, honor code violations, including plagiarism, fabrication of content, lying, cheating and facilitating academic dishonesty may result in a lower grade or failure of the course. "Intent" is not a factor in determining responsibility for an offense; know and understand what plagiarism, cheating and fabrication are, and do not commit these acts. You can learn more about the honor code, the adjudication process and possible sanctions at Contact me about any behavior or activity that might be a violation of the code.

All work in this class is expected to be your own original work. No plagiarizing. No recycling of work from previous courses. No cutting and pasting. I will spot-check and verify quoted sources.


Follow your syllabus and your professor's assignments/deliverables carefully! Complete assigned text and other readings prior to class sessions. Complete assigned writing assignments or outside tasks prior to set deadlines. If you work ahead, you have time to go back over your work and check for thoroughness, errors, etc. Come to class prepared to answer questions about assigned readings. It is a good idea to save your work “in the cloud” so it is accessible at all times from any computer.


The university defines grades as follows:
A indicates distinguished performance,
B indicates above-average performance,
C indicates an average performance in which a basic understanding of the
subject has been demonstrated,
D indicates a passing performance despite some deficiencies, and
F indicates failure.


Points Possible
Individual Work
Class Blog Contributions
5 x 10 points = 50 points
Historical Magazine Analysis
50 points
Current Magazine Analysis
50 points
Feature Article/Layout*
50 points
Department/Column Layout*
50 points
Table of Contents Sample*
50 points
Group Work

9-Square Business Analysis and Testing
50 points
Target Audience/Competitive Analysis
50 points
Revenue Spreadsheet
100 points
Online/Mobile Strategy/Wireframes
100 points
Media Kit
-Editorial Statement

-Editorial Calendar

-List of Potential Advertisers
100 points
-Logo/Cover Design

-Table of Contents*


-Feature Articles *
100 points
Magazine Pitch
100 points
Classroom Participation
100 points
1,000 points
*Individual work contributes to group project prototype

Points on deliverables will translate into these letter grades: A, 930-1000; B, 850-929; C, 770-849; D, 700-769; F, below 700.

Inappropriate Classroom Behaviors

"Participation" points docked for…

  • Reading materials or surfing Web sites not related to this class
  • Sending e-mail, IM-ing, using a cell phone, or text messaging
  • Whispering/talking during lectures/and for non-participation in discussions
  • Not having questions prepared for guest speakers
  • Coming to class late and/or unprepared
If you break these rules, I will take note and dock the points. I will not discuss this with you or disrupt the class to point it out; I will just do it.

E-mail and Course Expectations

I will e-mail you to provide you with updates about deliverables or the class schedule. Please make sure that you check your Elon e-mail address at least once daily.

Students with Special Needs & Circumstances
If you are a student with a documented disability who will require accommodations in this course, please register with Disabilities Services in the Duke Building, Room 108 (278-6500) for assistance in developing a plan to address your academic needs.

Religious Holidays

Elon University embraces the mission of an academic community that influences and transforms mind, body, and spirit. The following policy guiding procedure for the observance of recognized holydays is consistent with and complementary to the University’s mission.

In recognition that observance of recognized religious holidays <> may affect students' classroom attendance and the submission of graded work in courses, Elon University has established procedures to be followed by students for notifying their instructors of an absence necessitated by the observance. This policy reflects the University's commitment to being responsive to our increasing diversity and to encourage students' spiritual development. In accordance with the policy, students who miss class to observe a specified religious holiday are required to discuss with their instructor when and how any missed assignments will be made up. The student should consult his or her academic dean if an instructor is unable or unwilling to grant the request. Absence from class due to observance of a religious holiday is excused according to University policy.

School of Communications
Professional Standards Policies

The School of Communications has adopted the following minimum policies to provide students with a clear understanding and consistent application of course expectations, since journalism and communications are disciplines with rigorous professional standards. Teachers may designate more stringent policies on their course syllabi.

Attendance Policy

Students in the School of Communications are expected to attend all classes. Just as professionals go to work each day, we expect students in a professional school to come to class on time and be prepared to work.

A student who misses more than 20% of scheduled classes in a term (more than eight absences for classes meeting three times a week, more than five absences for classes meeting twice a week, more than three absences for classes meeting once a week) automatically receives an F because the student has missed too much content and participation to pass a course in a professional school.

Teachers will lower the final grade in a class for each absence beyond the equivalent of one week of class (three absences for classes meeting three times a week, two absences for classes meeting twice a week, and one absence during winter term, a summer session, or a once-a-week class during a regular semester) as indicated in the course syllabus. An exception may exist for a student who misses more than a week of classes for a sanctioned university activity, such as presenting research at a national forum, class travel or university athletic travel. Students participating in such events must submit a written request in advance to the professor.


If students miss a class because of illness, participation in a university-sponsored activity, job interview or other causes, they have missed valuable content and engaged learning. In this sense, excused and unexcused absences are no different. To ensure that students avoid gaps in the progression of a course, professors may assign additional work. For example, a professor may require a student to write a 400-word summary of material covered in a missed class session or complete an additional lab assignment that demonstrates comprehension of material covered.

Tests and Examinations

If students miss a quiz, test or examination they must submit a written request for a makeup to the professor. Students who miss a final examination must secure permission for a makeup from the department chair. As indicated in the Elon University Faculty Handbook, “students are not guaranteed permission to make up examinations and have no guarantees about the impact of the absence on their final grade for the course.”


Professionals meet deadlines. All assignments should be submitted on time, and they are due on the assigned date even if the student is absent from class. A teacher may choose not to accept late work, or to lower a grade by one letter for each weekday it is late.

Honor Code

All students are expected to uphold the four fundamental values of the Elon Honor Code:
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Responsibility
  • Respect

Breaches of these values will result in an academic or social honor code violation report. Honor code violations include: plagiarism, lying, cheating, stealing or vandalism, and facilitating academic dishonesty. These violations may result in the lowering of a grade or failure of a class. While “intent” may be considered in assigning sanctions, it is not a factor in determining responsibility for an offense. Students should consult with their professor if they are uncertain about whether specific activities are violations of the honor code.

Academic Honesty
The School of Communications takes plagiarism seriously, just as businesses and other media organizations and scholars do.

All forms of dishonesty mentioned above may result in an F in a course and expulsion from the university. Although all of these are clear violations of the university Honor Code, plagiarism is a special concern for communications professionals and scholars.

What is plagiarism? It is using someone else’s work such as passages, photographs, music, video, graphics and other images, and claiming it as your own. It can be copying work that has appeared in a journal, a magazine, a newspaper or online – anywhere, really – and presenting it as your own. Cutting and pasting passages from the Web into your work, for example, is plagiarism unless you credit the source of the material or images. Take this as your guiding principle: If you quote someone else’s words or appropriate their image, attribute the source.

In brief, you may not adopt or reproduce the ideas, words or statements of another person without acknowledgment or attribution. In many cases, such work is copyrighted. Acknowledgment is required when borrowing facts, statistics, images or illustrative material, unless that information is common knowledge or in the public domain. (Example: China is the most populous nation on Earth. Or: Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system.)

If you quote someone else’s words or use information or material acquired or created by someone else, then you must attribute the source.

Definitions and examples of Elon Honor Code violations above may be found at

I have read the syllabus for COM 368 Magazine Publishing and I am prepared to engage fully with the professor, class, course materials and other requirements as outlined in this document.

Signed Date

Printed Name ___



Introduction to Magazines
Introduction to Class
Historical reports/signups
Woodard, Intro/Chapter 1
File: 494week1.htm


The Magazine as a Historical Document

Class Blog Instructions
Johnson and Prijatel, Chapter 3 (on Blackboard)
File: 494week3.htm
Historical Magazine Analysis

Historical Magazine Presentations


The Magazine as Social Barometer
Johnson and Prijatel, Chapter 4 (on Blackboard)

CASE STUDY: Wired Magazine
Historical Magazine Presentations
Essence Magazine


Who is your target audience?
Creating a Content Plan
Building Team, Managing Employees
Magazine Writing
Woodard, Chapter 2, 10
File: 494week4.htm
Assigned reading on feature writing.
Table of Contents Sample Due

Target Audience/Competitive Analysis Due
Field Trip to Barnes and Noble, Alamance Crossing


The Money Team
Revenue Streams
SKILLS: Using Excel
Woodard, Chapter 3, 4, 5
Department Content Due

9-Square Business Analysis & Testing Due
Diverse Women Magazine


Affiliate Marketing
Evaluating Magazine Business Plan Ideas
Woodard, Chapter 6, 8
File: 494week13.htm
Financial Strategies Spreadsheet Due


Design: Print and Multimedia
User Interface Design
Graphic Design Standards
Pretesting Design Ideas
Maintaining Websites
File: 494week6.htm
File: 494week7.htm
File: 494week11.htm

CASE STUDY: Real Simple Magazine
Current Magazine Analysis
Current Magazine Presentations


No Class: Spring Break


Thinking Online and Mobile
Site Design
Mobile Strategies
Content Management Systems: Wordpress, Drupal, Django, Ellington, etc.
URL Selection
Engagement Strategies
Woodard, Chapter 11
File: 494week5.htm; 494week10.htm; 494week16.htm

CASE STUDY: Fast Company Magazine


Raising Money and Working with Investors; Other People
Woodard, Chapter 7, 9
Online/Mobile Strategy and Wireframes Due


Maintaining Your Magazine Property/Extending Your Brand
Woodard, Chapter 12, 13

Readers Digest: Croatia


Media Kit Due

Editorial Statement

Editorial Calendar

List of Potential Advertisers


Prototype Issue Due

Final Table of Contents, Feature Article/Layout, Department Article/Layout Due



Meeting with Teams


5/7 ONLY

Work on Magazine Pitch: 10 minutes, 5 minutes Q&A; prototype copies to pitch judges

Final Exam
Group presentations/pitches
Thursday, May 10, 2012
11:30 AM to 2:30 PM