“I hope I don’t throw up.”
That was the visceral reaction of one SFSU student preparing to pitch her magazine idea to Bay Area industry pros on her class’s Pitch Day. The event is the brainchild of SFSU’s Rachele Kanigel, who writes about the experience in the blog EducationShift.
“I’ve taught the [Journalism 500: The Contemporary Magazine] course, developed by my colleague John Burks, for several years,” Kanigel explains.
“In the past, I’ve always had students present their magazine business plans to their classmates in a festive but low-key final class. But this year, after participating in the 3rd annual Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute at the Cronkite School at Arizona State University and learning the art of the pitch, I decided to raise the stakes and bring in professionals to critique their work. With a few emails and phone calls, I quickly assembled an impressive – and, to my students, somewhat intimidating – panel of judges.”
The point of the exercise is to make sure her student gain a thorough understand of the business behind magazine publishing, what Burks called “magazinology,” learning everything “from advertising and budgeting to white space and zines.”
Pitch Day was a hit for all four magazine pitch teams, with students getting rare access into the hearts and minds of working magazine professionals. They had clearly prepared their pitches giving full consideration to both the editorial and the financial sides of the business, both of which are so vitally important in this business.
And the winner? “Liquid Bread [a quarterly about craft beer],” says Kanigel.
“Judges liked the concept and the look of the magazine, as well as the passion the team brought to the project,” Kanigel reports. “One judge emailed a student the day after the pitch, suggesting the team consider applying for a spot in a local startup accelerator’s next class.”
This kind of comprehensive study is critical in a quickly changing industry, and courses this like provide a solid footing for the types of people we want to work with. Kudos to all the students, and many thanks to the panel who participated.
Oh, and yes, congratulations to the one student for not throwing up. Strong stomachs are a great asset in this field.