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Why We Made a Radically Different Magazine

Brian W. Simpson, Editor
By Brian W. Simpson, MPH ’13, Editor

If you happen to be familiar with the geography and flora of North Texas, adjectives like “scraggly” and “parched” come to mind before “beautiful.” For kids, however, the land behind our houses—a valley of mesquite trees, cacti and wild grasses surrounded by low bluffs—was paradise. My friends and I built forts, swam in the muddy Wichita River and bloodied and bruised our way across hundreds of acres pursuing sheer fun.

Then one day it changed. Bulldozers cleared the spindly, gray-barked mesquite and leveled the hillocks and ditches we’d sprinted across. Very quickly, a newer version of our neighborhood sprang up. Families would fill the new houses and landscape with their own adventures and stories.

Although this will signal that I’m not a big fan of change, sometimes—especially when it’s essential—I embrace it. I don’t need to tell you that in today’s mediascape, standing still isn’t an option. (Favorite quote: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”—Gen. Eric Shinseki, retired U.S. Army chief of staff.)

So for several years, art director Robert Ollinger and I have talked about a redesign of the magazine. While the magazine has enjoyed great support from readers over the years, we began to feel hemmed in by an editorial structure that limited us mostly to doing short news stories and long features. Finally we stopped talking and started doing.

This spring Susan Sperry, David Croft, Maryalice Yakutchik, Jackie Powder, Konrad Crispino, Sue De Pasquale, Robert and I held focus groups, surveyed readers, arranged for a critique by Dog Ear Consultants and sought input from School leadership. We hired Dog Ear to help us create a publication that includes more articles and different ways of telling stories. (Look for essays, Q&As, conversations, infographics, etc.) It’s more vibrant, up-to-the-minute and forward-looking. I want to give a shout-out to the team for their work and to David’s digital team for crafting a great online publication. 

You’re holding in your hands a radically different, lovingly remade magazine. Spend some time with it. Let it warm you to its new style and ways of telling the Bloomberg School’s incomparable stories.

Embrace the change.

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