Author Archives: rkanigel

Week 4 Elevator Pitches

Week 4 2/13/2017

Quiz on Chapters 3 and 5

Today we’ll hear your elevator pitches for new magazines and then form teams for your magazine launch projects. Prepare to present a 1- to 2-minute “elevator pitch” for the magazine project you’d like to work on this semester. Your pitch should include:

  • a working title
  • a specific target audience
  • potential advertisers
  • outline of editorial content
  • ideas for alternative streams of revenue (events, ancillary products, custom publishing, apps, e-commerce, etc.)

Then we’ll choose the best four magazines and form teams.

Once teams are formed we will go over the Final Project Assignment and roles and responsibilities for each team. In assigning roles take an inventory of your team member’s skills, traits, strengths and weaknesses.

Then begin to discuss magazine mission statements.  Examples of magazine prototypes:

Creating a Magazine Prototype

Magazine Masthead

You’ll meet with your teams to:

1) Assign each person on your team to a position

2) Refine the working title for your magazine

3) Start defining your target readership and your magazine’s mission.

Clarify Your Magazine’s Mission Statement, WestGold Editorial

A good magazine mission statement:

  • Describes the publication
  • Defines how the publication is different from the competition
  • Defines how the audience benefits from reading the publication
  • Should be short and pithy (usually about 3-4 sentences)
  • Captures the spirit and tone of the magazine

Examples of Magazine Mission Statements:

New York Magazine

The Atlantic

Sunset Magazine


Family Circle

Rolling Stone

Travel & Leisure


Week 3 The Art of the Elevator Pitch/San Francisco Magazine

Feb. 6

This week we’ll look at what a magazine needs to survive and how to present a good elevator pitch. At 3:45 p.m. we’ll meet Diablo Magazine Editor-in-Chief Kat Rowlands.

Here’s the agenda for today’s class:

Kat Rowlands

Quiz on Chapters 1 and 4

The three-legged stool: Advertising, Circulation/Audience, Editorial.

Steps for identifying a good subject for a magazine:

  1. Find a niche that’s not already filled.
  2. Consider the audience — be specific.
  3. Think about products and services that go along with this topic/audience. It’s hard to have a successful magazine without advertising.
  4. Consider multiple streams of revenue in addition to advertising.
  5. Get the word out to your audience.
  6. Build a relationship with readers — provide not just what they want but what they need.

Multiple streams of revenue:

Example: The New Yorker

Example: Vice

  • 1994: starts as Voice of Montreal
  • 1996: drops the O and changes name to Vice; launches Viceland website
  • Late 1990s: moves to NYC
  • 2002: Vice UK
  • 2006: documentary, TV, feature films
  • 2013: HBO show, Vice News
  • Shane Smith interview
  • Magazine
  • City Guides
  • Vice Video

We’ll also talk about what a magazine needs to survive and how to craft and pitch an idea in preparation for your magazine elevator pitches next week:

  • Defined audience
  • A need/needs that are not being met
  • Products/services to sell to this audience
  • Unique selling proposition — how is your magazine different from others out there
  • Editorial content

Make your Pitch Perfect: The Elevator Pitch

6 Tips for Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch

How to Give a Flawless Elevator Pitch

Sample Pitches:

The Emerald Magazine

Outlier Magazine

Kazoo magazine

For next week: Prepare a 1- to 2-minute elevator pitch for the magazine you’d like to work on this semester. Describe your target audience, the need you plan to fill, how it’s different from competitors and how you will make money.

Week 2 The Magazine Industry

Week 2 Jan. 30 An Overview of Magazines

What is a magazine?

The magazine industry

Is the magazine industry dying?
CBS Interview with Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of More magazine

Anatomy of a Magazine

Magazine Terminology

Alliance for Audited Media Consolidated Media Reports


Case Study Assignment To Do List:

  • Make contact with someone from your magazine this week.
  • Try to set up an interview, tour or other in-person meeting with an editor or other professional from the magazine.
  • Review the publication’s website.
  • Monitor the publication’s presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr and other social media channels.
  • Try to get current and past issues from a newsstand, a library, a friend who subscribes or someone at the magazine office willing to send you some back issues.
  • Make a list of interview questions.
  • Think about how you can get the most out of this assignment, particularly if you’re interested in interning, freelancing or working for this publication someday.

Remember, this assignment is due March 6, five weeks from today!

Magazine Pitch To Do List:

  • Start thinking about a magazine you’d like to work on this semester.
  • Consider a magazine you’d not only like to read, but one that there’s a need for. What niche isn’t being filled? What community isn’t being served?
  • Think beyond simply content; consider opportunities for creating events, developing audience, attracting advertisers, even selling other products. You’ll need to come up with a magazine that’s financially viable, one that has multiple streams of revenue.
  • Each student must do an individual pitch but you can start to think about who in the class you’d like to work with.

Your 1- to 2-minute elevator pitch is due Feb. 13, two weeks from today!


Week 1 Introduction to The Contemporary Magazine

Week 1 1/23/2017

What this course is about

Syllabus review

How to get the most out of this class


Magazine Introductions

Small group discussion: What’s your favorite magazine? What role do magazines play in your life? How is your relationship with magazines different from other publications?

First Assignment: Magazine Case Study

Welcome to The Contemporary Magazine to the website for JOUR 500 The Contemporary Magazine, a course in San Francisco State University’s Journalism Department taught by Professor Rachele Kanigel.

In this course we’ll explore all aspects of magazine publishing, including the history of the industry; new developments, such as digital and tablet publishing; audience development; editorial content; design; production; distribution; business plan writing; and alternative revenue models. This semester, we’ll hear from a number of leaders and innovators in the magazine publishing field, including:

  • Kat Rowlands, editor-in-chief of Diablo Magazine
  • Reid Cammack, creative director of Gloss Magazine
  • Indhira Rojas, founder of Anxy Magazine
  • Eva Rodriguez, Adam Needs and Andrea Garcia-Vargas of OZY
  • Harry Spitzer of Epic Magazine

This course goes beyond theory and study; the most important aspect will be the final group project. For much of the semester students will work in teams to create a launch plan and prototype for a new publication. You’ll also have opportunities to meet and network with magazine professionals on your own. Start thinking of a Bay Area magazine you’d like to delve into.

Get ready to immerse yourself in the world of magazine publishing and get a taste of what it’s like to be a media entrepreneur!