By: Anthony Gallo
Kimberley Noble has had seven years of experience running the University of Guelph-Humber’s student-driven print and web magazine ‘Emerge’. She has been through the humble beginnings, in which she asked the students what they wanted to do in their final year, and has seen the struggles that each student goes through when trying to create a successful project.
Noble’s vision was to change an outdated magazine class, and turn it into a fun-filled and educational experience for her students. She says students have been offered jobs because of this project.
The Emerge magazine has also seen heights of being awarded a 2015 Pacemaker from the Associated Collegiate Press, and more than 80 college and university awards in both Canada and the United States.
Emerge has grown from being a 30 to 40-member student class, to having at least 70 students participating in creating print, online and Instagram magazines. These teams are also part of a team of 150 or more graduating media students who also produce an annual conference and awards ceremony. On the day of the conference, Emerge’s new 2017 Editorial Engagement team asked the founding academic advisors to share their stories.
Where did the name ‘Emerge’ come from?
KN: [In 2011, I asked students] ‘What do you want to do? What stories do you want to tell? How would you like to package it? What do you want to do this term to have something to show for your final year at GH?’ So they came up with the concept, and that is what you see in that kind of ‘Spacing Magazine’ type publication from the first year.
The name Emerge came down to two entries. The last two still standing, when they were doing runoffs for the name, were Launch or Emerge.
I actually liked Launch, but the students voted for Emerge, and we are all kind of glad they did because I think it’s had a bit more staying power.
How did the students come up with the name and concept of Emerge?
KN: The students came up with the name in 2011 because it was the second-last year in the old journalism program [at Guelph-Humber]. We had always ended with a term of internships, and the research paper in those years went for two terms.
The students would be split up and half would do a magazine program in the fall and the other half would do it in the winter. They would write a story and layout a page in InDesign and then sometimes have it printed.
The year I was asked to take it over, [it was ready] to be wound down. It was an old magazine program, it had been the subject of fights and stories in Radix [Guelph-Humber’s news site] as often as it had produced magazines. I was willing to take [the magazine class], as long as I could…ask students what they wanted to do with it. My vision was it was a truck that kept being driven into a wall expecting the wall to move.
I put it to the students that year. They were a class that had come in just before all the poop hit the fan with the media business. So they came into the program at a time when journalism and media still looked very robust, and then they spent their time here listening to how terrible everything was and how there would be no jobs. So they felt very betrayed and tired of journalism.
What did the students do for Emerge?
KN: [In 2011, they produced an amazing little Spacing-type print magazine. By 2012] they did four platforms. We had the print magazine, a website, we did social media and then we did this weird little TV operation on our WordPress site that the journalism students were pulling together. But it was really fun. We have people working in the magazine industry as a result of that project.
Jerry [Chomyn] put me together with Kathy Ullyott, Paul Eekhoff and Nick Farnell, and we just started brainstorming down at a pub on the lakeshore near the Humber campus where Nick was working at that time and thought, ‘What could we do?’
How did Emerge’s ‘Instazine’ come about?
KN: The Instazine was created in 2016. It just came out of a line that I read during the summer, some fashion guru in London, England saying, ‘If I had another magazine to launch I’d make it an ‘Instazine.’
I thought that sounds like a great name and it also sounded like something the Image Arts students could run without having to go through the journalism students for approval or assignments.
How has your role changed over the years with Emerge?
KN: My involvement varies each year depending on what students want or need. Some years students will really involve me quite closely from the very beginning; they’ll want to run stories and story ideas past me. Some years they are more independent and show me finished products.
My image for my own role has been that I am driving the 18-wheeler down the road and [the students] are all in the back bouncing around, and my job is to keep you on the road and to see if there is somebody in another vehicle going off in another direction.
I try to keep it on track, try to make sure everyone has enough work to both satisfy the contracts I get [students] to each sign, but also to have something to show for the term.
I still try to use it as a teaching opportunity, for students who are interested in sitting down and going through copy, doing professional line edits, really zipping it up on the page and making use of that skill that I learned by sitting beside dozens or hundreds of editors over the years.
What are you most proud of with Emerge?
KN: When you see the website, when you see the video series, when you see this as an artifact, there is something very satisfying about it. But on the other hand, the years in which the students come up with stories and experiences and organizational stories, I think, in the long run, that is the best thing to bring away from this.
There have been years in which things have changed, and [a previous story has] grown. What I always love is when students look at [what they have done] and they learn something more and they add to their story or they replace it with a totally different one.
How do you keep up with changes in the media?
KN: We started with print because it’s meaningful, it’s still meaningful to students and it’s meaningful to people [to produce] the print artifact.
[But EMERGE keeps changing to reflect the changes that have been taking place in print media.] It is going in these two directions; you have the ‘Super Digest’ [produced in 2016 and 2017], the interesting portable, useful form of print, and then you have the big beautiful increasingly-art style books.
There’s still some role for print, but I guess every year we look at what’s going on out there, what are people using, what kind of social media [is being included, so EMERGE keeps reflecting whatever is happening in professional media].