Redesigning the Magazine

Steve WilliamsFor over 25 years Penn State Agriculture has been a welcome arrival at our readers’ homes and offices. I was involved when editors Charlotte Murphy and Evelyn Buckalew and art director Jim McClure pitched the idea to create it to then-dean Sam Smith. Excitement was high then, and is now, for the magazine you’re reading. So why change? The simplest response is that the magazine needed to catch up with the college. The College of Agriculture in the early 1980s is not the College of Agricultural Sciences in 2010. Penn State Ag Science reflects those changes.

In response to a readership survey, we’ve made changes to how we develop and present stories. Features will generally be a bit shorter, but they’ll focus more on specific people and their work. And we’ll reach beyond the work of faculty, staff, and extension educators to include stories about everyone associated with our college community—alumni, friends, and supporters. We’ll focus on stories that matter and talk about how they affect your life. Our college touches people across the planet, and that will be reflected in Penn State Ag Science.

On a more practical level, we’ve increased the font size in the features to make them easier to read. We’ve also shortened the items about news in the departments so we can present more stories. We always have more stories and pictures than we can publish in print. So with the delivery of this issue of Penn State Ag Science we’re rolling out a new Web site, where you’ll be able to see the additional pictures and stories we wish we had room to print.

We will begin publishing letters from readers.

As editor I feel a big part of my job is to represent you, find the stories you
need to hear, and present them in a manner that you’ll want to read. I want to extend an invitation for your feedback and input. Let me know what you like and don’t like, pitch ideas for new stories, and suggest how I can make the magazine better. I see our magazine as a collaboration among the college community.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the passion and excitement about who we are and what we do. You can expect the same great writing and photography as we cover the most basic research story to an alumnus developing the tastiest chocolate ever made (I want to write that story).

Please join me on this new adventure. Submit ideas and opinions on our Web site, or mail me note—I’m always happy to see real letters land on my desk.

Steve Williams