November 17, 2009 / Fall 2009

20 years and counting

Written by Idea File Staff

The look and feel of Idea File has changed during its 20 years of existence, but its purpose has remained the same.

“From day one our goal has been to provide our customers with quality educational resources,” said David Massy, marketing services manager and Idea File’s senior editor. “Idea File provides advisers with the tools they need to teach their students and themselves so they can produce a yearbook that they and their school community will be proud of.”

Idea File actually started in the 1989-90 school year as a monthly four-page newsletter that was three-hole punched, and went into a teal and gray three-ring binder provided to advisers by Walsworth. The binder had 11 dividers, and newsletters were placed in the binder behind the divider that was the topic of the front-page feature article.

The two biggest changes to Idea File happened in 1994. The holepunched newsletters ceased in the spring, and a magazine was born in the fall.

Also that year, a newsletter called Clip Board, which covered desktop technology for a few years, stopped and its coverage of technology topics was included in Idea File, since enough schools were using technology that it justified inclusion in the ‘mainstream’ publication.

Although there have been five assistant or copy editors of Idea File, Massy has been at the helm the entire time, directing coverage, selecting images and graphics, soliciting advisers to write articles, writing some himself, and overseeing design and printing.

One of those former copy editors is Susan Smith, who is now applications supervisor in Walsworth’s customer technology area. She said Idea File taught her a lot about our customers.

“The Idea File gave me a chance to see what our advisers deal with. It’s one thing to look at a book and imagine that a staff of 20 students put it together. It’s another thing to think about how that adviser motivates those students, or how they dealt with the issues they face on their end,” said Smith.

“I was also able to continue writing for the Idea File after I moved on to another position in the company, and I appreciated the opportunity to help our readers improve their yearbooks through technology,” Smith said.

The current editor, Elizabeth Braden, said she enjoys working with the authors of the articles.


“The part of putting together the magazine that I love the most is working with the editors on the Editor-in-chief’s Corner column. I enjoy working with the advisers who write for the publication, and the ones I interview, but I love the excitement from the student editors who are thrilled that their article will be published, and I’m always amazed at the level of writing they submit. They are incredible people,” Braden said.

“The talents of Tracey Zoeller and Amy Ohler, the two designers I have worked with on the magazine, are exceptional, and they have made working on the magazine fun,” Braden said.

Advisers have appreciated the information Idea File has provided over the years.

“With the technology of scholastic journalism changing so rapidly, it was hard to keep up, but Idea File was there to lend a hand,” said Bill Hankins, retired adviser from Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Mo.

“I also enjoyed becoming a part of that resource by writing the “Photo Quest” column on photography issues for six or seven years. It was a good way to share the joy of photography with the thousands of Idea File readers.” Hankins said.

“My staff always looks forward to receiving Idea File. It’s loaded with valuable, useful information for both staff members and advisers. It’s also a great feeling to see your staff’s work in the publication,” said Patricia Monroe, adviser at Burges High School in El Paso, Texas.

“(A) feature of the magazine I really like is the ‘how to.’ Step-by-step, a design effect or technique that may look complicated is broken down and easily explained,” said Sarah Ballard, former editor-in-chief at Boone High School in Orlando, Fla.

Like any magazine, Idea File has evolved with the times, Massy said.

“As always, it’s influenced by what’s happening in the publishing world and by what our readers are saying.”

He said it is ironic in the magazine’s 20th anniversary year that Idea File magazine has expanded to a prominent area of Walsworth’s updated website, where readers can get more information, but have access to it all of the time.

“There’s no difference in my mind anymore. They both do the same thing. They both have their own strengths,” he said.

The Idea File blog on the website enables Walsworth to provide more information and resources in a variety of multi-media formats that are always available.

“What the magazine does is help us focus the readers’ attention on one particular yearbook subject or topic,” Massy said.

And the magazine is not going away, he said.

“I believe people still want to smell ink. They still want to see images with the colors as vibrant as they can be on the printed page and not on a computer screen.”


Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.