Some people ask me how I get ideas for the magazine. Well, story ideas are pretty easy to come by since there are so many UT alumni doing interesting things. Also, there are fascinating research and teaching projects on all the campuses. The hard part is deciding what not to put in the magazine.
If you are interested in how a publication comes together, then I can briefly explain the process for the Alumnus. Planning is a constant process. I keep a list of contents for the next two to three issues, and that list changes as needed to drop or add stories. Because the Alumnus is a UT System publication, then I need to make sure each campus and institute is represented in some way in each issue. I check in with the public relations folks on each campus and institute during the planning process to see what they have cooking and what may be a good story to have. I strive to include stories that are well written and interesting. This is a magazine not a brochure, so it needs to hold the attention of readers with various interests. I keep our office and the UT Foundation, which oversees alumni and development for the UT System, informed about what’s going to be in the magazine. It is a fairly organic process for such a large institution, and I consider myself lucky to have so much independence to plan.
The magazine could not come together without the support of the UT Foundation and all the communications offices of each campus and institute. I rely on many of my colleagues across the state to write stories and take photos. I also hire freelance writers and photographers. And since I like to write, I write some stories myself. We have a freelance copy editor, Jan Avent, who is retired from the Knoxville News-Sentinel, and designer, Laura Barroso, who is based in Knoxville. Laura just finished designing her first issue, winter 2014, which I’ll talk about more in a later post. Our advertising is handled by John Lacey, who works in the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing and also does other tasks. Alison Ross is our business manager and handles paying the bills and invoicing people. Erica Jenkins helps manage all the photo archives for the magazine, which is a big job because we repurpose many of the photos we use in the magazine in other publications and media. For the past several semesters, Alex Cate, a student intern, has been writing and helping me with the magazine. Overall, we have a very small operation, but the magazine gets done on time. We are also striving to improve the magazine, and we hope it makes alumni proud of the University of Tennessee.