By: Michelle Bedley & Christopher Coletta
Stepping into class on the first day of our final semester, we were prepared to slay Emerge. We were then immediately smacked in the face with the reality that this would be the hardest project we would endure in four years of university–although, it has also proved to be the most rewarding.
Now, in the final stretch, we can say that all the passive-aggressive emails and proverbial elbows we had to throw to have our particular say in this year’s Emerge magazine have been worth it.
We were given the shiny new role of Editorial Engagement editors-in-chief. I totally
know what you’re thinking: “What in the world is editorial engagement?” And to that we say:
We totally understand that some people don’t exactly know what Editorial Engagement is, so here’s a quick summary. Essentially, we are in charge of the research and analytics of the magazine. It’s our job to filter the stories, design and pitches destined for the magazine, to ensure they match our target audience and their interests.
Although our role is very new and our guidelines were few, we blazed forward filled with cool ideas and expecting our fellow peers to be equally as excited as we were.
No one cares about the new role, nor do they want to understand it or how it can help their team out. They’ve got deadlines, editing and a cake to make grammatical errors on (what? Nothing.) But you know what, we didn’t really care. It’s been a hassle to get noticed this semester, but we were relentless, tough and ready to make our special mark on Emerge.
Our single hardest job all semester long was proving that we are useful and not a nuisance. This didn’t strike us as being fair, and it definitely affected our work, but hey, as our instructors keep reminding us: that’s life, especially if you’re going to work in media.
After looking at articles that show how useful –and necessary–an Editorial Engagement function has become in newsrooms and publications across the globe, we gleaned a sense of the major responsibility this role really has. With so many options for readers and media consumers, it is now more important than ever for any publication that wants to be successful to interact with and engage its readers.
Taking notes from Mono, Ont.-based Headwaters Magazine’s success in creating community engagement through unveiling ceremonies of the print magazine cover featuring community faces, we were inspired to create a similarly engaging cover. Through the many trials and tribulations of working alongside multiple teams–each of which, we must add, had their own vision–the engagement-centric world in which we dreamed of full control over the cover came crashing down around us. But, as our instructors keep telling us, adaptability is key in the media industry. So we rallied to pull together a focus group of GH media students who told us exactly what they wanted to see on the cover of the 2017 Emerge print magazine.
This led to the image and theme–“Out of Media Rehab: Exiting the Post-Truth Era” –that you can now see on the cover of the 2017 print magazine. Pick up a copy at the April 25 and 26 Emerge events, or look at the home page of this website to see what students chose.
We can now say this: our determined little team is all the more strong and capable for having to carve out a space for itself within the Emerge brand. Luckily ,we were equipped with the most amazing people (S/O Madison, Anthony and Alison) who worked tirelessly to be there for other teams to ensure that our content is what readers actually want to read. We hope those who follow can make that space a bit bigger in the future. And take heed: others will follow. It’s not only that we showed this year what Engagement can accomplish. It’s also because the increasingly important role Engagement now plays in the media industry.
So at the end of this semester, we leave future Engagement Editors with this advice: always bite off more than you can chew. Even though you find yourself pitching new ideas that nobody cares about and seem impossible to follow through with, the reality is that you get to work alongside every other team. This means that even if your ideas don’t always pan out, some form of attainable collaboration will come out of it. Your single greatest resource this semester is other teams, and though you will find that engagement might feel like in a constant tightrope walk to maintain some kind of balance or control, these unforeseen collaborations will lead to some of the best outcomes and genuinely engaging media material.
Michelle Bedley and Christopher Coletta, Editorial Engagement Editors-in-Chief