Alumni mag gets overhaul

By Kaia Arthur

Lynette Lamb, the recently hired managing editor of Macalester’s alumni magazine, “Macalester Today,” plans to redesign the magazine’s layout and content in the near future. The fall 2007 edition of the magazine was Lamb’s first, and featured a transitional design between the old format and Lamb’s new vision.Lamb replaced Jon Halvorsen in the spring when he retired after 18 years as managing editor of the quarterly alumni magazine.

“Part of her work is having the magazine redesigned and thinking in fresh ways about what stories we want to do,” said Nancy Peterson, who has served as the magazine’s executive editor since its first issue in the fall of 1986.

While Peterson has final decision-making power over the magazine, Lamb is responsible for its content and layout.

As the third managing editor of “Macalester Today” in 20 years, Lamb faces the challenge of modernizing a magazine that has experienced a strong sense of continuity, Peterson said. The magazine’s layout has only undergone subtle changes since its debut. Features such as campus news, alumni activities, Macalester community profiles and a “Book Notes” section on faculty and alumni publications have remained constant throughout its publication.

“The magazine has the same charge to be interesting, useful and informative to alumni, but it also needs to be engaging and entertaining,” Lamb said. “Even though it’s free, we’re still competing with other magazines on the coffee table.”

Lamb’s first changes were to hire a new freelance art director to redesign the magazine’s layout and to restructure sections to redirect the focus of the magazine’s 48 pages.

“We’ve done away with the two page ‘Book Notes’ and will now just be featuring the significant works to use that page better,” Lamb said.

The sports section has also been shortened to one feature story on a coach, student, or team, instead of giving season wrap-ups for each sport. Peterson explained that because alumni can use the college’s web site to access this information, having it in the magazine has become unnecessary.

“We’ll have more small interesting items to give a better sense of the energy here on campus,” Peterson said.

Peterson and Lamb have also added a new section on the last page, an essay by a student, faculty member or alum.

The magazine will continue to profile alumni, faculty and students who demonstrate the college’s focuses on internationalism, diversity and service, but will also include stories about alumni in a broad range of fields, Peterson said.

“For example,” Peterson said, “[Lamb] commissioned a story on an alum in the fashion industry, which is not what you would expect to see in ‘Macalester Today.'”

A former employee of “Minnesota Monthly Magazine” and a former professor at the University of Minnesota and St. Thomas University, Lamb has a wide network of contacts with local freelance writers that she will be utilizing. In the past, the magazine has commissioned freelance writers, some of them Macalester alumni, for articles.

“I’m not confining myself exclusively to alumni writers, but I certainly encourage them to contact me,” Lamb said.