Reinventing Rutgers Magazine

Memo to Donna Thornton:

Rutgers Magazine soon moves to a free for all circulation – multiplying distribution to all alums, in a move we support – and, supposedly, the need to cut costs is partly what motivated Rutgers vice president Donna Thornton and her gaggle in Alumni Relations to trim printed Class Notes (putting the bulk of them online, at essentially no cost). We have a better idea. Put out a slimmed down, tight magazine that hacks away the inert and superfluous and you’ll have saved all the money you need to, with no change in how class notes are handled.

Case in point is the Spring 2008 issue, only 88 pages, plus covers – but at least 15% is absolutely wasted space filled with stultifying material. We asked New York editorial professionals to recommend what to cut from the magazine and there was no shortage of possibilities.

Nobody suggested cutting class notes – which run from roughly page 57 through 87 (hard to pinpoint exactly because the editorial grid is about as organized as traffic in Bangalore, India). That content is all many alums read. Trimming it back makes absolutely no sense.

But there is much to cut:

· *     * The spread photo on the inside front cover and page 1. (A similar photo is on page 15.) (2 pages saved)

· * * The entire feature, “I Do at RU,” pages 46-49. Just boring. (6 pages saved, total)

* Editor letter, 1 column, p. 4 (6-1/3 pages saved, total). Editor letters are low-cost “facing edit” for ad sales purposes…but when you sell so few ads you don’t need facing edit. Duh.

·* * “The Gender of Politics,” p. 8, one-half page. No RU relevance. (6-5/6 pages saved. Total.)

· *        * Misc. “Insights” – just cut pp. 32-35, boring boring. (10-5/6 pages saved, total).

· * * “Rutgers 24/7,” pp. 42-45. Pointless filler. (14-5/6 pages saved, total.)

Right there we’ve slashed roughly 1/6th of the pagination – saving 1/6th of the budget – with no loss in quality or readership.

We could fine-tune this and easily cut another 5-1/6 pages (bringing the total to 20 pp cut).

Just ask any magazine professional. The current Rutgers Magazine is flatulent, poorly edited. Tighten it up and there will be ample room for extended class notes in print – which, as we said, is about all anybody reads in the magazine anyway.

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