Pivoting within publishing

News / May 6, 2020
Written by Afton Brazzoni | Photos by Nicole Brandt and Britta Kokemor, Jager & Kokemor
How SAIT alumni and staff are helping the industry navigate a pandemic

Nancy Cope was in the middle of a photoshoot for the spring issue of SAIT’s alumni magazine, LINK, on March 12 when she heard the shoot’s next location had just shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Things were starting to move really fast. Just three days later, SAIT suspended classes. Employees began working from home and I was trying to keep the magazine moving forward,” says Cope, Communications Specialist at SAIT and Editor of LINK.

Over the next week, Cope and her team reviewed the magazine’s production schedule, knowing some stories would have to change to reflect a world that had shifted drastically in mere days.

“We realized this is a defining moment in history, so we wanted to capture stories of the pandemic experience among SAIT alumni — including those working on the front lines and providing essential services. What SAIT alumni do is so important to our community.”

Behind the scenes photo of Brian Bowman virtual photo shoot

Director of Alumni and Development, Brian Bowman — who is LINK’s Editor-in-Chief — participates in a virtual photoshoot with photographer Britta Kokemor with each in their own homes.

LINK was far enough away from its print deadline that the team was able to revise the schedule from a late May to an early July publication date. Over 80,000 alumni worldwide receive a copy of the award-winning magazine, and Cope wanted to ensure that this issue would serve readers well.

Cope is working to document life during the pandemic — including the impact of the crisis on the SAIT community as well as that community’s response — and to tell stories about how people’s lives are moving forward despite COVID.

“People have been supporting one another in amazing ways, but there has also been great upheaval and stress, and we want to provide a balanced view of what it’s been like living through this moment,” Cope says.

Suzanne Trudel echoes that sentiment. Trudel is the executive director of the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association (AMPA) and a SAIT alumna.

“Readers trust magazine brands to provide them with accurate information,” she says. “Publishers are facing a very challenging time, but they’re resilient and they have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. They’re adapting their business models to meet the needs of readers and advertisers.”

Throughout this crisis, Trudel has seen publishers working to find solutions to common problems. LINK has pivoted its approach to photoshoots to cope with cancellations by asking interviewees to submit selfies or have someone they live with take their photograph. The magazine is also relying more heavily on graphic design to depict visuals in stories.

Meanwhile, AMPA itself has continued to advocate to government on behalf of the industry and has been connecting publishers with one another to promote idea sharing.

“I’ve never been more proud of what AMPA does and can do,” Trudel says. “The periodical industry is vibrant and full of innovators.”

From Cope’s perspective, journalism as a profession is more important now than ever.

“This pandemic shows good journalism still matters, because we’re all relying on news stories as a source for credible, current information. At the same time, journalists also bring us the human stories that can illustrate our common experience.”

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