Shanghai Summer Programme 2011: Career Discovery in Communications
29 April 2011
JMSC Alumni Winners at Human Rights Awards
7 May 2011

Entrepreneurial BJs Publish University Magazine

A team of Bachelor of Journalism students from the JMSC has published a brand new magazine for Hong Kong University called The Echo.

The Echo editorial team

The Echo is billed as ‘a magazine for students, by students’ and, if the first edition is anything to go by, promises to be a huge success.

The magazine contains an eclectic mix of articles that deal specifically with student life, for example HKU exchange stories and a piece about looking for employment in the run-up to graduation. It also contains more general stories about Hong Kong life and includes sections on food, nightlife, the arts, theatre and film and fashion.

It is the brainchild of Editors-in-Chief, Isak Ladegaard and Lisa Onland, both second year undergraduates.

“Putting together an English language student magazine has been on our minds for more than a year, but it was all talk until we both sat down at the end of last semester,” said Ladegaard. “We made the first sketches and that’s basically where it began.”

“We reached out to journalism students we know and thought would be interested, met with them and made a much more thorough sketch of the magazine’s content. We decided that this group should be the editorial team,” he continued. “Luckily they were keen to take on the added responsibility and each went about collecting and editing the content for their respective sections,” added Onland.

Ladegaard explained how they picked the content: “As the hours put in for this project were all unpaid, we wanted the contributors to have fun. That’s at least how I was thinking; I told people to write about whatever interests them that will also be of interest to the average HKU student.”

The articles they received certainly reflect the diversity of what students find interesting, ranging from wine sales in Hong Kong to where to find the best mango pudding and how to survive in Hong Kong on a shoestring budget.

The team had the added pressure of finding find funding as well as sourcing content.

“This was certainly a challenge,” said Ladegaard. “We got some money from the Student Union’s Publication Fund, but that was not nearly enough to cover our printing expenses. One requirement for getting access to this fund was also that the magazine was free and ad-free, so we had to think about where the rest of the money would come from.”

“Luckily we received a very kind one-off donation from HKU’s Centre for Development and Resources (CEDARS) and are now in the process of planning a more sustainable fund-raising method for future issues,” said Onland.

The first print run was of a thousand copies, all of which disappeared within a week. They hope to print more next time, as well as have an online version up and running. The plan is to publish once or twice a semester.

“For the next issue, we are hoping to get more writers from other faculties and study fields of the university to contribute to the publication,” said Onland. “We want as many voices from as many different areas as possible.”

JMSC Teaching Consultant, Jeffrey Timmermans, acted as an advisor to the editorial team.

“What is especially impressive is the entrepreneurship these students have demonstrated – they pitched to the Student Union and the Dean of Students for funding and negotiated a hefty discount with a local printer,” said Timmermans. “They’re currently exploring sponsorships to make the magazine self-sustaining.”

JMSC Teaching Consultant, Masato Kajimoto, who also advised the team, added: “I think the magazine provided the students with a great opportunity to learn every aspect of magazine publishing. They went through the whole process from scratch — from discussing story ideas to assigning reporters to deciding focus to editing stories to designing pages to printing magazines to distributing copies — with minimum supervision and guidance from us.”

“I am particularly proud of the fact that they took the initiative and did everything on their own,” he continued. “I think this project represents the spirit of our ‘independent study’ in which our students can explore the topics they’re truly interested in for a semester and have a real hands-on experience they couldn’t get from any other courses.”

Onland and Ladegaard feel they have gained a valuable experience from putting together The Echo.

“This editorial experience has given us some insight into how a magazine comes to life and that is a very helpful experience,” said Ladegaard.

“Being on board for the entire process, from conception to writing to editing to fund-raising to publishing, was certainly a steep learning curve and one that we found both challenging and rewarding,” said Onland.