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Current Affairs: MSU Student Magazine Gets a Makeover

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M3 Group is known for being a branding and marketing agency, but we’re also a publisher. 

For years, we published Greater Lansing Business Monthly and Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine before merging the two to become 517 Magazine. 

Another magazine we’ve also published for quite some time is a Michigan State University student-run and -written publication, The Current, which was known previously as Ing magazine. 

During the pandemic, various workflow issues and less student availability put The Current on the back burner, and the publication was only released quarterly. Last year was also particularly tough on the students as they navigated the aftermath of a mass shooting on campus. 

While the students are still working through the trauma of that day last February, they are back, engaged and creating under the leadership of Dr. Kate Birdsall, director of the Cube and associate professor for the department of writing, rhetoric and culture at Michigan State University, and Kathryn Houghton, academic specialist for the same department, who has returned to the publication this year to lead student writers. 

As publisher of the magazine, and with great support from MSU Federal Credit Union, which owns M3 Group as a credit union service organization, M3 Group has worked to help the magazine get back on its feet with a new look, new editorial outline and new challenges to help inspire, motivate and create teaching moments for the students. 

Our publication’s team developed an editorial outline that would stretch the student’s writing into new territory by challenging them to fit articles into newly defined word counts and cross more campus boundaries by covering a rotating list of departments and general topics. The magazine’s goal for the students, as well as Birdsall’s and Houghton’s, is to give students real-life experience in working under the parameters and deadlines of a magazine. Together, they follow the suggested editorial outline by choosing their focus topics and sources.  

The students’ strength over the years has very obviously been writing about topics that are affecting them, including social equity, politics and current events, debunking stigmas, and mental health. They have strong opinions as youth, and writing has been a tremendous outlet for them as they learn to strengthen journalistic skills and work within the confines of publication project management. 

Some articles in the new format may be out of their comfort zones; others may seem too easy. Reporting a meaningful story in a shorter word count can be perplexing. Being assigned something that seems banal can almost be offensive to a serious, budding young journalist. 

What 20-year-old wants to write a recipe that you can simply Google? But therein lies the challenge of owning it and making it unique. Students won’t always get to write about the topics that move them most in their future workplaces, so they must make the best out of each assignment — that is how they grow. 

Birdsall and Houghton give them space to cover outside topics that move them that are readily available on the website at thecurrentmsu.com 

While the M3 Group team designed a template for students to follow, the student designer is also tasked with staying within those guidelines while still finding a way to be creative and pulling it all together.  

The biggest challenge is that the students came into a new semester with an intense new workload, as they had to meet a seriously tight deadline in both writing and design.  

We’re proud of how hard students worked to reach their goals, and we extend our thanks to the local business owners who have chosen to support the magazine.  

Introducing the first issue of the newly designed MSU student publication, The Current. Click here to view the latest issue. 

The magazine will be released bimonthly. 

If you’re interested in supporting through advertising, reach out to us at info@m3group.biz.

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