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From paper to pixels

25 June 2013 By Thomas Martinson, Staff Writer 3 Comments

What first started out as a hobby for two Towson alumna has now turned into a potential career.

Two former students, Ali Pannoni and Shelby Newsome have started their own online magazines after experimenting with digital publishing in some of their classes at Towson.

Pannoni gained inspiration from her work with the online magazine “Her Campus,” which she founded during her sophomore year.

What initially started out as an independent study course about web design and digital magazines during her last semester on campus turned into a new business opportunity for Pannoni.

“I decided to [choose this outlet] because I was really interested in web design, specifically digital magazines and web journalism,” Pannoni said. “I already had experience with ‘Her Campus Towson,’ so with this I thought why not get a Maryland business license and pursue my passion.”

Pannoni’s digital magazine, Buster&Ellie is geared toward the college-age demographic, particularly for current students and recent graduates.

“Its for people figuring out life in their 20’s as our topics range from music, fashion, living with your parents again, finding a job, managing your money and how to negotiate your first car purchase,” Pannoni said.

Buster&Ellie is written by Pannoni and 16 other contributing writers, whom are all going through the same phase of life, though each person brings a different perspective and outlook as they all work together and try to figure out what life in their 20’s is really about.

“I chose this niche because as someone who is going through this lifestyle of growing up, moving back home after graduating while trying to find a job, I felt there really wasn’t anything out there that deals this these topics,” Pannoni said.

Among the contributing writers for Buster&Ellie is recent University of Northern Colorado graduate Katie Owston who began an interesting friendship with Pannoni.

“Two years ago I was at a conference in New York for Women in Communications, I sent out a tweet with the conference hash tag, she saw it and sent me one back and we have been in communication ever since,” Owston said.

Although they both have never officially met before in person that has not stopped the two of them from building a friendship based off common interests and similarities. Once Pannoni asked Owston if she would like to be a contributing writer for Buster&Ellie, she felt this would be a great chance to get her work recognized.

As a former Her Campus Towson contributor, Newsome also plans to embark on a career with her digital magazine for college-aged women, Totemag.com

“I noticed there really isn’t many magazines for college women,” Newsome said. “There are teen magazines or adult magazines like ‘Cosmopolitan,’ but there really isn’t anything for the college age. I really wanted to focus on that because I felt there was a need for it.”

As a magazine enthusiast, she has always wanted to create her very own publication, but explained that as a society filled with technology and social media, everything is moving towards online publications, which is something she wanted to capitalize on.

“For me I didn’t want to do print because it wouldn’t be as efficient for the crowd that I am targeting towards but I still wanted that quality of a magazine where you can actually be able to flip through it online,” Newsome said. “I felt it combined the best of both words were you still got the feel that it was a print publication but access it online anytime you want.”

Currently Newsome is working with a student in web design, a graphic designer and multiple contributing writers to both improve and further grow Totemag.

“With the first issue there are so many things I would have loved to change, but all of them are little things. Mainly the reason I didn’t like what I did originally was because I did it by myself and just needed help,” Newsome said. “Everything is trail and error, but the with my second issue I am hoping for it to be just a little bit better and a little more professional.”

Both Newsome and Pannoni have gained a lot through their experiences with online media. But Pannoni said that this didn’t come from waiting for the opportunity to happen.

“Just dive into it,” Pannoni said. “You can read all the books and tutorials in the world, but until you really begin to start a project, that is when you learn. You can start off with a small blog on WordPress and write about whatever you like. By just doing that, you will see if you like it, you will figure it out and learn by doing it. Just go for it.”


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