OR: Bringing the 'wow' back to magazines

A group of journalism students have seen the future of digital publishing, and they’re pretty sure it looks something like OR Magazine.

OR is a digital magazine designed to be viewed on an Apple iPad. It’s the first student-produced iPad magazine built with Adobe’s digital publishing software, said Scott Landis, who with UO senior Max Brown served as co-editor-in-chief.

Max Brown and Scott Landis, co-editors in chief, OR Magazine.Produced last spring by a group of students for a class in the School of Journalism and Communications, the magazine was made available in Apple’s App Store on Feb. 1.

“It was wonderful to download it from the App Store and show everybody what was possible,” Landis said. “It’s nice to have that work out there.”

Brown said working on the front lines of an emerging technology was “really fun and interesting.”

“I learned that interactivity is another way to draw people into your stories and that’s really cool,” he said.

The issue includes features on the UO’s zebrafish lab, a course in music technology, the war in Afghanistan, Oregon Ultimate, a medieval combat society, bonobos and quantum physics.

The magazine was designed to take full advantage of the iPad’s multimedia capabilities, incorporating slide shows, videos, panoramic photos and interactive buttons.

The idea, Landis said, is “to turn readers into users.”

A study released last month by the Pew Research Center found that the number of adult Americans who own at least one tablet or E-book reader increased from 18 percent in December to 29 percent in January.

Landis graduated in 2011 with a degree in magazine journalism. He said the class helped give him a glimpse into the future of digital publishing.

“It gave me a new career path,” he said.

Fifteen students worked on the project, plus three others contributors, for a class taught by Ed Madison, a graduate teaching fellow.

Madison said students tried to make smart decisions about which technology to use with each story. For instance, some stories lent themselves more to still photography while video story-telling worked better with others.

“What’s exciting about digital publishing is that gives the sense of discovery back to the experience of reading a magazine,” Madison said. “You don’t know what’s on the next page. … It brings that ‘oh wow’ element back to magazines.”

Tim Christie

Ed Madison produced this video about the making of OR Magazine: