Shane Peterson and Marvin Gardner, English Language
It’s hard to believe that we’ve made it this far. In a matter of months, Mormon Insights went from being an idea Brother Gardner had thought of to an actual online publication and editing capstone course. We’ve been hard at work the entire time, trying to create a quality student journal that makes LDS scholarship more accessible to a global audience. In all, we’ve made some incredible progress in creating the first issue of the journal and establishing the Mormon Insights website for future articles.
For each article we selected to link to our website, we wrote 250 word summaries for each one. The articles, talks, or speeches that we chose had been written by general authorities, BYU professors, church spokesmen, and other religious writers, which all discuss various gospel topics. I should also mention that we have changed our approach to creating these summaries multiple times before the semester began. At first, we wanted to cut and shorten the articles to half of their original length. Then we decided that we didn’t want change the authors’ original material, so we decided to create the summaries instead. We readjusted the format for these summaries multiple times until they contained a title, a kicker, the actual summary, the link to the actual article, expandable summaries for the website, and a byline for the name of the author of the summary.
After writing proposals and sending them to Brother Gardner for approval, we wrote a summary of the article in a way that not only provides a synopsis of the author’s main points but also encourages the reader to click on the provided link to the article itself. Essentially, our intention for this website is to advertise these talks to other readers, teaching them more about the church, and enticing them study important gospel topics in more depth.
After writing the summaries, we had two or three other staff members edit them, first for substantive editing and then for copyediting. After receiving feedback from a staff member, we would make revisions and proceed to the next round of edits. After revising and editing each summary a total of three times or so, we would send them back to Brother Gardner for a final approval.
Then we moved on to the design portion of the publication process, where we selected photos to post with our summaries or to design memes to advertise the summaries on social media sites. We would then post the summaries online through the Mormon Insights website and share them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pintrest.
Mormon Insights has made some excellent progress during the past semester. Brother Gardner, the TA, and the rest of the support staff created the class curriculum and schedule for the entire term, as well as other class policies. When the class began, we had the students apply for various positions on staff, such as the managing editor, senior designer, copyeditor, social media director, web director, and other various positions. The students who filled each position had certain responsibilities to fulfill. They also had to fill out weekly progress reports to explain the work they had conducted for that week, which would count for their final grade.
Thankfully, we had a very enthusiastic staff for this first semester that was very hardworking and passionate. They met all their deadlines, improved their work as much as possible, always kept up to speed, and provided high-quality material. With their help, we established the website itself and published more than seventy-five articles online (and counting). We also have 695 likes on Facebook and 82 followers on Twitter. So we did more than create a template for future staff members and issues; we created a complete website that has already plenty of content published there that we can keep adding onto.
I have been a part of four other student publications during my time at BYU, but this is the first time that I have been involved with the creation of a new student journal from the ground up, particularly an online journal. I decided to work with Brother Gardner for this very reason. I wanted to have the experience of helping a professional editor create a new publication, organize a staff of people, and distribute educational and uplifting content to readers everywhere.
During my time with Mormon Insights, I learned more about working for an online magazine during its inception, how to write or edit articles according to Global English, how to create articles that can appeal to a mass audience, and how to put together an entirely new school course. Aside from a great experience on its own, working with Mormon Insights was great practice for the professional world of publishing.
It’s been a rare privilege serving on the staff of Mormon Insights and working with Brother Gardner to create this unique journal. I have already seen it have a positive influence on others, particularly its staff members and our beloved editor-in-chief. Through our efforts, we’ve successfully created a website that brings uplifting, insightful gospel messages to readers all across the world. What’s more, I have learned more about given gospel topics through the articles and talks that I wrote about. Finally, I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity that I had to witness the creation of a publication of a journal from start to finish.