For my PEP160 module, I have been tasked with creating four article features. The specifics are as followed:
An additional requirement for this project is that I create a critical and reflective log, outlining my creative journey as the creator of these articles. This is where we begin.
Article 1 - The Power of Dogs
From the moment this project was outlined to me, I knew I had to do at least one of my articles about dogs. I have eleven dogs and they are very important to me as I’m a huge animal lover, which is why I wanted to do one about canines. I was made aware of a website called issuu.com, which houses a range of online copies of magazine publications. For a general search I typed in ‘dogs’ and the first magazine to appear was a publication called ‘Dog’s Monthly’. I briefly flicked through it, gaining a basic overview of it’s content and style and soon realised that it would be a perfect magazine to use. I began thinking of potential stories to write and came up with one about a rescue charity local to where I live in Kent but I later voided that idea for this magazine because when I sat down to fully read and examine it, I was rather disappointed to discover the magazine had already done the story I’d been thinking of. I didn’t dismiss the idea completely however, but merely filed it away for another article and publication. With my initial idea out of the picture I sat down and made a note of all the sorts of content published in ‘Dog’s Monthly’ magazine, basing my findings off of two issues of the magazine online for better consistency.
After identifying the sections, themes and types of stories, it wasn’t very difficult for me to come up with an idea.
I decided to create an article on how dogs can relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression and how they can benefit mental and physical health.
I had done a segment on stress relief and ways to relieve mental health symptoms in my IB psychology class in the previous years and pets had been mentioned. I retrieved some of my old notes and conducted further research, thus coming up with solid content and direction for my article.
Next I sat and wrote the article, which wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as I thought it would be because I knew what I was talking about due to previous study and my own personal interest. The much harder part was to edit the content afterwards. Initially, I wrote 1005 words for this article. I chose to focus on: stress, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, loneliness, confidence and exercise, as I felt they widely covered physical and mental health. In my first draft, all the sections varied widely in size, with the largest being 123 words and the smallest being 26 words, and I had a feeling that this would need to change. Before I began my second draft I sent my work to a journalism professor as the University and asked his feedback and he told me what I suspected, that each section should be roughly the same size. He set me a target of either 50 or 100 per section. I opted for the latter because I know I have a habit of overwriting. The second draft of the content was 1066 words and each of the sections sat between 90 -100 words. With the content sorted, I moved onto images. Due to the content of the article, the photos needed to be of owners and their dogs. I went to Gylly beach because I’ve discovered it’s a popular place for owners to take their pets. I visited twice, for about an hour each time and approached anyone with a dog to take pictures of.
Finally, I tackled design. I identified all key elements in the layout and incorporated them into my layout so that my article design best resembled the actual publication.
Article 2 - Death Row Dogs
I revisited my initial idea of the dog rescue charity called New Hope Animal Rescue, but wanted to approach a different angle to the story that I’d seen in the ‘Dog’s Monthly’ magazine. I got in contact with and spoke to the founder Niall Lester and he told me more about the specifics of the rescue and a certain comment peaked my interest. New Hope is dedicated to helping animals on death row and with medical or behavioural needs. I quickly became interested in the concept of animals on death row so I decided to focus my approach on death row dogs with a sub-focus on how New Hope helps these dogs. Next I needed a magazine. My first attempt at a search was successful, I went to the animal magazine section in WHSmiths, and came across ‘Dog’s Today’ magazine. I purchased and analysed the magazine.
The magazine included a lot of informative stories as well as more serious stories about puppy farming and dog theft for example, which I thought would work well considering the subject of my article.
I organised my shoot and decided to write the article after the shoot so that I could further talk to Niall, getting a better sense of the subject. I met a wide range of dogs who had been saved from death row and heard their stories. I had hoped to go inside one of the pounds to take more photos but they wouldn’t allow it.
I gathered my research and wrote the article. The first draft was 2008 words of content. After asking the journalism professor to review the work, he suggested I try to cut down as much as possible due to my limit of only two A3 pages because the amount I had would better work for three A3 pages. I struggled but managed to cut the content to 1947 words. I found this really difficult because I had a lot to write about on the subject, and I plan to continue this project in the future.
When it came to design, I analysed an article layout and based my first layout on that but I wasn’t overly happy with the way it looked. I purchased another issue of the magazine and found it’s articles laid out differently to the previous issue so I changed my whole design and compared them, deciding that the new one looked much better.
Article 3 - The Anyone, Anywhere 30 Day Challenge for Strength and Endurance
I’m around a lot of fitness related stuff when I’m at home because my mum is a fitness instructor and, although I don’t partake in much fitness myself, I have a good knowledge of fitness in general as a result. I decided to create a piece based on fitness and use my mums expert opinion in order to create it.
I looked at magazines first before I decided on the specifics of the article so it would be easier to narrow down what the article would focus on, based on what the magazine does. I looked at Women’s Fitness and Your Fitness but ultimately settled on ‘Fit & Well’ because I discovered that it has a section called ’30 Days’ which is the 30 day challenge. I know that my mum gets her personal training clients to complete 30 day challenges. I sat with her and we developed a 30 day challenge, focusing it on the fact that she has a wide range of clients and develops workouts that pertain to all ages and fitness abilities. I then further focused the article for strength and endurance. I analysed the section to identify key elements in the design.
The magazine is designed in a very specific way, and the first thing I did was build the challenge table from scratch to resemble the one in the publication.
The table took the longest to create then the rest of the design and content was fairly quick and easy to produce from there. The last thing I did was take the photographs because I then knew exactly what workout moves I needed to photograph.
I ran into many issues with the photos. I didn't have a studio so had to make do with the best space available and limited time. If I did this project again I’d be sure to conduct the shoot in a studio to get the images how I actually want them.
Article 4 - Easter Cupcakes
After quite easily coming up with my first three ideas I struggled with a fourth. Fortunately, the deadline for this project and Easter are rather close to one another so I came up with the idea to do an Easter themed project. For Easter I always bake Easter cakes for friends and family and decided to base my finale project on cupcakes, specifically Easter themed ones. In my search for a publication, I used issuu.com and found an American magazine called ‘Cupcakes’ by Better Homes and Gardens.
After analysing it, I discovered it was ideal because it has a seasonal section. I looked through its pages to pinpoint specific design themes and content to be sure my article matches.
I’m a big cake-baker, as is my aunt, and I also know some professional cupcake makers. I got some professionally made cupcakes and I also made and decorated some myself to take photographs of. I photographed the cupcakes first as I made a few different types of cake because I wasn’t sure which recipes I would use yet. I edited and chose my images then got to writing the content for the article, consisting of a title, ingredients and a step-by-step baking guide.
After initially struggling to come up with an idea, once I started I found this article really fun and easy to create.
I pitched articles 1, 2 and 4 to the publications because I felt they were my strongest pieces.
Overall I really enjoyed this project and am really please with how my articles have turned out.