The Making of a Magazine

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The Making of a Magazine

The occasion of the Wisconsin Lawyer 75th anniversary gives us an opportunity to pause, to recognize the impact this magazine has had on documenting the development of the practice of law in Wisconsin. Thumbing gingerly through the yellowed pages of the late 1920s and early 30s, you'll witness the practical impact Prohibition, gangster violence, the Great Depression, and the introduction of automobiles had on the profession.

WL Staff

Representing Wisconsin Lawyer editorial, production, and advertising staff are (from left) Jean Anderson, design/production manager; Karlé Lester, associate editor; Joyce Hastings, communications director/editor; and Karen Richter, advertising manager.

Examining nearly eight decades of magazines - that's about 550 issues - in preparation for the following anniversary salute article, was no small feat. Assigning decade reviews to members of the editorial board and staff, we found it impossible to avoid getting drawn into the magazine's pages. Ask editorial board chair Jim Peterson, who elicited the help of his lawyer-wife Susan Collins, to review the 1950s. Or, editorial board members Ann Nelson, Kevin Palmersheim, and Liz Estes who spent an afternoon at the Bar Center, only able to tackle a handful of issues because they couldn't resist interruptions to read bits of history. And, for staff, this review took on an additional dimension, wincing at our growing pains, beaming with pride at our success, thinking about what is ahead.

With the reader in mind

In the following pages, freelance writer Dianne Molvig, who has been a part of this magazine since her first article appeared in 1995 - 69 articles ago - tells the story of the maturing of the State Bar's flagship publication. After burying Dianne with background - it was all interesting to us - she tactfully reminded us that the article easily could turn into one of those family vacation slide shows people put on for their friends. Showing slide after slide, treasuring every moment, the folks in the audience are nodding off.

"Readers want the highlights, the interesting stuff, and, as an outsider, I can be more objective about assessing that," Dianne writes in an email explaining why she left volumes of material on the cutting room floor. Associate editor Karlé Lester and I laughed after reading the message. Yes, we know; after all, we utter those same words to our authors month after month. "Keep the reader in mind."

You, our reader, have been center stage since the publication's debut in 1927. Gilson Glasier, our first editor, in his second issue of the Bulletin of the State Bar, repeats his call for frank reader opinion and constructive criticism. He cites as the publication's purpose keeping members informed of the business of the association and progress of its committees, leaving the printing of technical articles and notes to cases to other publications. Through continued calls for regular reader feedback and periodic readership surveys, the magazine has evolved into something much different today.

Working behind the scenes

Reflecting on our past allows us to recognize what it takes to produce a quality publication year after year - the support of the State Bar's leadership, our loyal readers, the editorial advisory board, our contributors who generously share their expertise, and the advertisers providing the necessary financial support.

The Wisconsin Lawyer also is a source of pride for the professional staff who work behind the scenes to do it just a bit better than the month before. Associate editor Karlé Lester's work with authors, and painstaking attention to accuracy, organization, grammar, and style, is the reason the magazine reads as well as it does. Production manager Jean Anderson's design work gives Wisconsin Lawyer its visual zing, and her attention to evolving production technologies ensures we're producing an efficient and cost-effective magazine. Advertising manager Karen Richter's efforts gives us the financial resources to print this magazine, while providing a valuable reader service.

I'd also like to acknowledge the work of part-time graphic designer Donna Collingwood who assists with the magazine's design/production and produces the online Wisconsin Lawyer; Nancy Repyak, providing the important administrative work to support this publication; Deb Heneghan, who authors the "Legal News & Trends" column along with her other writing responsibilities; on-call proofreaders attorney Margie DeWind and Barb Sanford; and our regular contributors too numerous to name.

Over the past 75 years, the Wisconsin Lawyer has endured three title changes, at least six major facelifts, and five editors - three of whom have held this position for more than 20 years. With your continued involvement, we will deliver a forward-looking, insightful publication that meets the changing needs of this profession.

The Wisconsin Lawyer, I hope you'll agree, has aged gracefully.

Joyce Hastings

Celebrating 75 Years - September 2003