Story Matters

First Word

When Picas and Disco Ruled

Our guest editor traces the evolution of magazines.

When I started in the publishing business as a newsletter editor, the pica pole (and disco) ruled, copy was sent out to a typesetter, and galleys of type were hot-waxed and hand-placed on layout boards. Imagine the constraints editors and art directors faced. Yet magazines flourished in those analog days. Esquire, Rolling Stone, In Health, The New York Times and Texas Monthly all thrived.

Publishers today deal with different constraints: the never-satisfied maw of the web, a data dumping ground of metrics, and different devices to serve.

Journey Group faces these demands, too—and daily. So we’ve thought long and hard about how to carry the best of print publishing onto the web. What editing features wouldn’t we want to part with? How could we preserve the beauty of print design and photography—even on phone screens? What amount of flexibility and structure would feel just right?

We set out to build an intuitive, mobile-responsive, magazine platform—something readily accessible and editor-friendly, that would allow magazine-makers to publish their print pieces online and create new stories digitally, from start to finish.

The outcome: a software called WebEdition. This issue, in fact, was produced with WebEdition. And given the cutthroat editing process involved in building the software—a feat of abandoning good ideas in favor of great ones—it’s appropriate that the unveiling of WebEdition coincides with the theme of this Story Matters edition. Constraints.

In our professional lives, we are constantly negotiating constraints: competing ideas, client needs, deadlines, budgets. Often, we’re at our best when the client’s core conflict—their greatest need—is delineated. That’s when experience, intuition, brainstorming, research, dreaming and revising—in other words, the elements that feed creativity—combine for a satisfying, even surprising, result.

We hope you enjoy—

Richard Sowienski
Guest Editor

This summer, Sowienski has served as Journey Group’s writer-in-residence. Starting in the fall, he’ll direct the new Publishing major at Belmont University in Nashville. He has also served as managing editor of The Missouri Review, senior editor of Better Homes & Gardens and Country America, and advertising and promotion manager for Successful Farming magazine. He has been a Journey Group groupie since the company’s founding.

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