Magazine workshops inspire new concepts

Guest instructor Cynthia Wang studies magazine concepts created by cherubs. Photo by Danielle Bennett

Cam Medrano hadn’t worked in magazine journalism before coming to cherubs. Medrano of Roseville, California, is editor-in-chief for her school’s print newspaper and writes primarily news and opinion pieces. The thought of writing for magazines hadn’t crossed her mind.

“I never even considered it,” Medrano said.

For 25 years, cherubs have been thrown into magazine journalism through two workshops: magazine writing and magazine reporting. Cynthia Wang, a reporter for Australia’s TV Week magazine and a 1988 cherub, has been hosting the workshops since founding them.

Wang’s workshops include more than lectures. All 83 cherubs get hands-on experience in writing and reporting through immersive activities that engage the class. Students understand the many steps needed to start a magazine by creating one of their own in groups. They also do a fact checking exercise with a small paragraph from People magazine, where Wang also worked, and learn the importance of verifying information, even in a magazine focused on celebrity gossip.

Wang modifies the lesson plans slightly each year, but the learning points are all the same.

“With magazine writing, I always started with the idea that you should be a good reader before you become a good writer,” Wang said. “It seemed if you understand what’s written and the audience, it was then a natural progression to think about the big picture and to look at magazines being produced as a whole.”

Medrano said Wang’s teaching style helped include the whole class.

“Cynthia did a great job of making sure that everyone was participating and making sure that we all had a vision,” Medrano said. “A lot of times with lectures you sit in a chair and take notes, and then you’re done within an hour and a half. With the magazine workshops you were constantly collaborating, talking with one another, getting feedback from Cynthia. The ability to talk to your instructor while working is helpful.”

Lalla-Aicha Adouim of New York City doesn’t write for magazines but is an avid reader of them. She said the workshops, including one for writing reviews, also taught by Wang, were well organized and that the hands-on experience helped.

“She taught me how to write better, especially reviews, so now I have a better appreciation for doing it,” Adouim said. “You can listen to something but you’ll never understand how to do something until you get experience with it. Experience is the only way that you can learn.”

Adouim said the workshops excited her more about the industry.

“I have a lot of dreams in my life, but I would like to have my own magazine one day,” Adouim said. “I love the entertainment industry. If I can get paid to rant about movies, comic books and the works, I will be incredibly happy.”

Wang teaches these courses every year and hopes her classes encourage more cherubs to go into magazine journalism.

“I hope they get inspired to come along into my field,” Wang said. “I love to see more people becoming writers and editors at magazines. Cherubs can definitely preserve magazines as a medium and hopefully become my bosses.”

Medrano isn’t planning to go into magazine journalism, but she appreciates the workshops and their connection to journalism as a whole.

“While I’m not considering it for a career, it’s important to appreciate other people’s work and different fields,” Medrano said. “We’re all journalists with the same goal. It’s to reach out to our audience. It’s to inform people.”