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How the Music Issue made me a believer

How the Music Issue made me a believer

November 7, 2012 at 12:00am

deb-portrait-football-jersey1-380x570.jpgAs we launch our first digital-only magazine, I have to confess that I have become a believer. You see, I am a print person. I grew up working at newspapers – I got my first newspaper job when I was 15. I love holding a book, or a magazine or a newspaper, in my hands. I questioned how a digital magazine could be as engaging or interesting as flipping through a beautifully designed publication with thoughtful, well-written stories. Now I understand.

Putting this issue together was a joy. We had FUN. And it shows in the stories. These are stories that sing and move and talk to you. I am excited for the new digital magazine to reach so many in the FIU community who don’t regularly see the print edition: students, parents, everyone studying at our campus in China, our alumni working around the globe and anyone interested in learning about our university.

In the online spirit, I sat down with our digital media manager, Angeline Evans, to talk about FIU Magazine online. Take a listen:


— Deborah O’Neil MA ’09



FIU Magazine has gone online. The first online-only issue, the Music Issue, launched this month and features stories, photos, video and streaming audio. To go along with the aural theme, we interviewed editor Deborah O’Neil for her editor’s letter.

Deborah, why did you take FIU Magazine online?

I don’t think I took it online – I think it was sort of the inevitable migration of the content in the digital format. This is the way magazines are moving, and we recognize that we can reach many more people by having a strong and vibrant magazine online.

What was involved in creating an online version of the magazine?

Oh my goodness. Years of planning – literally, it’s been years in the works. We first started talking about this probably three years ago. We had to have a viable mechanism to do it. That came with a WordPress site and a lot of guidance from our web communications team and a lot of help from Matt Herzberger. We had to figure out how we were going to implement it and how we would integrate the digital and the print. Then, we had to figure out how the online magazine would work with the university’s news site, because it was very important to try to not necessary create a competing source of information but a complementary source of information.

We had a lot of planning meetings, we discussed a lot of different strategies, and I think we came up with the best possible plan – the magazine lives within the news site. The content can be cross-posted in both places, which is really cool. That means it maximizes viewership and readership. And it’s a site we can all use, technically speaking. I’m a print person – I was a reporter. I don’t even pretend I have a lot of technical skills because I don’t, but I can use a WordPress site, which means that I can be involved in the posting and the editing of stories online. It’s really easy for all of us to do that. There was a lot involved and it’s taken a tremendous effort, and you have been a really important part of that, too, Angeline, so I want to thank you for all of your hard work the last few months in helping getting the magazine off the ground.

You’re welcome. It’s been a ton of fun. Speaking of fun, what is your favorite part of this first digital-only magazine.

You know, I love the whole theme we went with. We thought a lot about what the first digital magazine would be. Would it be a catch-all magazine with a little bit of everything? I decided not to do that because I wanted to make the most of the digital format and the possibilities of a digital magazine, and I felt that music was that idea. We could create a magazine that sings to you, that plays music for you. You can’t do that in print, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

When you go into the stories, you’ll find music that you can listen to and videos. You’re going to find interviews that are entirely done, like this one, audio-only, sort of NPR style. You’re going to find sounds embedded into the print stories and some fantastic videos by our new senior multimedia producer, Doug Garland. It’s a really fun issue. It’s got a whole range of things from research to students making music to alumni making music. The other thing we did was we really tried to cover the spectrum of musical genres, so we have classical piano and we have Latin music and we have student-athletes playing their favorite hip hop music. We have a whole lot of things represented in this music issue that all together make it a really fun and dynamic experience for the readers and the listeners. See, listeners! You don’t get to say that in print. We have listeners for our magazine! How cool is that?

That’s really neat. What are your favorite stories in this online issue?

I love Mari’s marching band story [“One week at band camp“]. Marianela de Armas, who is our arts writer and who is just an amazingly creative person, went out and spent one week going through band camp with the band, which is just a hoot. And she wrote about it in first person and there’s a great video that accompanies it. There’s little embeds in there of the president talking to the students and interviews with some of the students. It’s a story that combines the best of what’s possible: It’s a full-length feature but it has all these really wonderful digital complements that make it a really multisensory experience.

Thank you, Deborah, for the radio inspired editor’s letter. For FIU Magazine, this is Angeline Evans.