By Rhiannon Russell
When I walked into the school as a green, wannabe reporter and set eyes on the Ryerson Review of Journalism, I was already planning to be on that masthead.
Over the next four years at Ryerson University, as I passed by the magazine lab’s glass-encased room (aptly nicknamed the fishbowl), I’d look in at the tired yet buzzing students and feel a weird mix of excitement and longing.
This year was my—our—turn. I applied for the role of editor. I wanted to give fourth year my all and I’d purposely earned enough credits in prior semesters so my course load would be light. I knew it would be a challenge, but I felt it was a good way for me to push myself in final year.
The role involves overseeing every aspect of the magazine (and liaising with other editors such as visuals, front of book, and online), ensuring everything is moving as smoothly as possible, running meetings, and keeping morale up. By no means, though, was I the boss. The RRJ is a collaborative project, so we made decisions as a group, with the direction of our instructor Lynn Cunningham. Lynn first worked on the RRJ back in the ‘80s, so we couldn’t have asked for a more experienced mentor.
Fortunately too, our masthead was full of people willing to devote themselves to the RRJ. This allowed us to work efficiently, as a true team (and made my job as team motivator much easier).
I’d heard about the hellish time that is RRJ production, and I envisioned months of no sleep and seven-day weeks in the magazine lab. That didn’t quite happen. Our production period lasted three weeks. Yes, it was busy and there was a lot of work to be done. Yes, we worked through reading week, and yes, we had to work one weekend.
But instead of falling apart as things got stressful, we grew closer. From having silly, sleep-deprived chats in the fishbowl to going out for nachos after one particularly long day, we got through all of the proofing, fact-checking, and display-writing with many fun memories.
When it came time to choose our cover story, the decision was unanimous. We knew our piece on Margaret Wente’s plagiarism at The Globe and Mail was the one that journalists would be most interested in. We puzzled over how the cover would look visually—how does one illustrate a plagiarism scandal?—but our art director, Tim Davin, worked some creative magic.
As Ivor Shapiro put it at our launch party on April 5, this issue is a juicy one with stories about controversy, food and drink, and sex! Joking aside, it’s not just a juicy read. The stories within its pages are diverse and colourful—from a profile of political humourist Tabatha Southey to a critique of men’s fashion magazine Sharp and an analysis of Hispanic media. I honestly believe there’s something in this issue for everyone.
As Shapiro announced in March, the RRJ is scaling back to publish once annually. Ours will be the last Summer issue. I foresee both positive and negative outcomes of this. On one hand, one issue a year will allow students more time to work on the website and the magazine. We had a short lull with our online content during magazine production. From podcasts to videos, there’s definitely more that can be done with rrj.ca. But on the other hand, unless the masthead swells to 25+ members, the cut means fewer students will be accepted into the RRJ next year. Either way, it will, I’m sure, be interesting to see how this change affects content.
Until then, please keep an eye out for the Summer 2013 issue, on newsstands in mid-April. Hope you enjoy.
Rhiannon Russell is editor of the Summer 2013 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism. She has also worked for the Hamilton Spectator and J-Source, and will be interning at the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, New Brunswick, this summer.
Related content on J-Source
- Ryerson Review defends itself Wentegate analysis
- Willfully blind: A closer look at the Margaret Wente plagiarism scandal and what it says about The Globe and Mail's institutional arrogance
- Ryerson Review of Journalism cutting down to single annual issue effective immediately