Kent State Students Combine Expertise to Produce Digital Magazine

Kent State University journalism professors Gordon Murray, Ph.D., and Jacqueline Marino tasked students in their Mobile Publishing class with a special project to create a magazine designed for tablets. The course brought together students from the schools of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Digital Sciences to create an interactive magazine with an accompanying website.

Kent State University students from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the School of Digital Sciences collaborated to publish a digital magazine called Branches that focuses on conservation.The class, in its first semester, was something that Murray and Marino envisioned and conceptualized together.

“Both Jacqueline and I are used to working in creative, collaborative environments, and that’s what we wanted to create for the course,” says Murray. “The class is designed to help students get the expertise and knowledge of the magazine publishing process and the theory behind it.”

At the start of the class, the students were given a focus for the magazine, which was conservation. The intended audience for the magazine was young, college-age adults. The students then applied for positions at Branches magazine and got to work on creating the product. 

The 22 students in the class were in charge of all aspects of the project, from creating the content to developing the mobile application.

“Students run this. They picked the stories, they designed it, they wrote everything,” says Marino. “We give them feedback and grade them, but the magazine is their work.”

Murray and Marino partnered with the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio, which is one of the largest arboretums and botanical gardens in the country. Students visited the arboretum to learn about conservation and to develop story ideas, conduct interviews, take pictures and shoot video for the magazine.

Clinton Wright, senior digital sciences major, is the chief of user experience for Branches. His role was to learn about the different software and decide if they were reasonable choices for the magazine. He says the digital science students and the journalism students got along well.

“Although not all students from each college interacted with each other while working, I think that we all learned a little bit about each other’s schools and skill sets,” says Wright.

For the first part of the class, the journalism students used what they learned at the arboretum and developed content for the magazine. Once the editorial work was complete, the digital sciences students began to work on transforming the content into a magazine and finding a user-friendly magazine publishing solution.

Kelli Fitzpatrick, senior magazine journalism major and magazine editor-in-chief, says this was her first time working with digital sciences students.

“It’s an interesting balance between journalism and digital, and I’m glad it wasn’t just journalism students in the class,” says Fitzpatrick. “It was cool to see the samples the design team showed us and to see our pieces becoming part of an interactive element.”

The class presented a soft launch of the magazine to Holden Arboretum staff on April 22. The public launch of the magazine will take place May 8 at the First Energy classroom in Franklin Hall at 12:45 p.m. The launch is free and open to the public. After the full launch of the magazine, it will be available to download on iTunes for free. The website for Branches can be found at

For more information about the Mobile Publishing class or Branches magazine, contact Marino at or Murray at

POSTED: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 02:06 PM
UPDATED: Thursday, May 23, 2024 02:18 AM