May 1, 2001
PRESS RELEASE: BACKGROUND ON ISSUES MAGAZINE
It all started in a writer's forum on the internet at the beginning of 2001...
Print writer Earl R. Dingman made a dashed remark about wanting to put together an online magazine. Shortly after, several other forum members got into the discussion and, after a few days, Kaya Casper asked if this possible undertaking was a serious one. The reply was 'yes' and on January 20th at 9:34 pm she created a forum where all interested parties could explore the possibilities of creating the magazine.
About 14 or so people joined the forum. Some stayed, some left, and a few could only make part-time contributions. Posts were made, e-mails exchanged and one day they began holding virtual IM meetings. One member posted visual aids, such as sample layouts from print magazines. Another member put up voting areas to secure a name for the magazine. Discussions were held about content, advertising, editorial and layout.
Various contributors sent in their articles to be used for mock-ups during the development stage. Different people tried their hand at layouts and fabrications of mini-sites. Since Krista Barrett -- a professional internet writer and managing editor of two other, more technical, web based magazines -- was putting out the best looking mock-up, she was dubbed the Art Director, designing all the original and primary elements for the magazine.
Kaya Casper -- another web-based writer, who also edits a poetry magazine -- was doing web site design and Java. She began to fabricate the material into a functional web site, working in tandem with Krista, and also doing all the back-end coding to make the elements work.
Loretta Stradley became the magazine's behind-the-scene choreographer, seeing to operational 'chores' such as contacting photographers and major media to secure permission to use artwork in the magazine. She composed all the form letters and turned hastily-dashed memos into formal written inquiries. She administrated the mail services and took care of the incoming reports and responses. She also staged and produced the logo photo used on the main index page, based on the original artwork concept by Krista. Finally, she was also writing new, original copy for the magazine as well as proofing and copy editing the existing material.
Earl and Loretta kept in contact with the other contributors who were not directly involved in the day-to-day construction work. Earl was also busy contacting media representatives to arrange for profiles and promotional materials. He also worked with Kaya on building internal tools to fabricate the web pages and columns.
Krista, Kaya, Loretta and Earl -- the architects of what was to debut in May 2001 -- were holding regular weekly meetings, doing virtual work in virtual space. They also held editorial conferences with some of the contributors who were to be involved in the editorial but were not part of the infrastructure creation team.
Issues magazine is a truly virtual publication. None of the people working on this project have ever worked together prior to this venture. None of them live in the same regions of the country. There is no true office for the magazine (and there may never be one because in the virtual world there are no physical boundaries). It wasn't until the biographies were done that any of the team even knew what the members looked like (and none of them have yet heard a fellow member's voice)!
It's a piece of writing in cyberspace, written by cyberspace writers for readers who surf the net. There are no bankers or venture capitalists to answer to (or perform for) so the magazine -- which is a definite labor of love -- can grow at whatever pace a given day dictates. The only deadline the team faces is the next issue (and they are starting out bi-monthly just to keep things under control, but there is talk of possibly going monthly somewhere down the line).
While the team has worked on other projects, making this venture come together faced some wrong turns and dead ends. More than once Kaya had to go back to the computer and re-program whole pages, departments and indexes to fit the needs of the readers, writers, art work, the screen resolution, or the pest looking over her virtual shoulder while she worked.
Near the end, Earl put together the essential elements of one whole department -- Entertainment -- so that Kaya could fabricate the site. Loretta worked on reviews and copy to add to this final mock-up. Once they had a fully functional model they set out to complete it. By now it was the middle of March and they figured they could have everything else done by May, so that became the light at the end of the tunnel...the new goal.
After that, Kaya disappeared into the virtual world of fabricating everything (often with no concept of "what" something was supposed to do or be). Articles were shuffled to Loretta for copy editing, who also started fabricating pages even though she had never previously programmed. Krista and Earl also worked on the fabrication end. The memorial pictures arrived two weeks before the street date for the magazine and Jennifer Smith set about the separate task of making commentaries on the photos by M. E. Schmitt. Loretta and Earl added separate commentaries on the pending McVeigh execution. Features on current "hot" topics such as the Middle East were also worked into shape.
Also joining the fun on a more part-time basis were contributors Darrell Moore and Mary Simmons who got involved at the end with columns and copy review. Jennifer Smith, with the rest of the team, gave the site a once-over correcting wrong items.
Beginning on April 27 and continuing right up until 10 pm on April 30th, Loretta, Kaya, Krista and Earl were checking copy, testing links, fixing code, putting in ad or banners, and inserting last minute artwork (somewhere in the midst of all this Kaya managed to find time to do some original artwork that appears in some of the stories). Each faced the ills of overwork (disappearing into comas disguised as sleep) leaving those still possessing energy to carry on the last minute marathon of putting the finishing touches on a May 1st deadline.
Each also experienced the old 'crash and burn' caused by having too many browsers of IE 5.5 open at one time, along with Word 2000, Photo Shop, Note Pad, etc. Without notice, a mouse click would send any one of them into re-boot land.
But on the morning of May 1st, Issues Magazine was up and running. And the team now turns its attention toward more important matters: July - August, Issues #2....
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