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Cool class: Students produce travel magazine “Stowaway”

After her first horseback ride at age eleven, Lindsay Brown fell in love with all things equine. And thanks to a capstone project at BYU, she’s got a job offer that will combine her fancy for horses with her skills in writing and editing.

What sealed the deal was her cover story for the latest issue of Stowaway, an award-winning travel magazine published by students who minor in editing at BYU. The article profiles Darley Newman, the creator, writer, producer and host of the Emmy Award-winning travel show "Equitrekking," which films Newman’s adventures from the saddle.

 “It’s my dream to emulate Newman by carving out a career where I can also combine my skills with my passions,” Lindsay says.

She’s already well on her way thanks to her work on Stowaway. In fact, one of her magazine articles already hangs in her future office at SmartPak, a Boston company specializing in horse nutrition that hired her to write and edit for their publications after graduation.

“They were impressed with my magazine work, simple as that,” she said.

Stowaway is produced every semester by students in the capstone course for the editing minor. Though their majors range from linguistics to chemistry, they come together to experience the ins and outs of publishing a print and online magazine.

They sit in a roundtable meeting—teams of editors, web editors, art directors and business managers—to discuss proposals, edits and page designs. BYU Professor Marvin Gardner, former editor at the Ensign and Liahona magazines for nearly 30 years, operates the class like a real-world magazine staff. Students apply for all staff positions, hold staff meetings and work through the various production stages.

“I give the students opportunities, but then it’s hands-off,” Gardner said. “I advise them but I let them make the decisions and grow. Then after 14 weeks, they walk out with tangible proof of what they can do. They can plop a hard copy of the issue onto a potential employer’s desk – or open the website – and say, ‘This is what I can do for you.’”

Since its first issue in January 2010, Stowaway highlights how to travel on a budget for adventure, education and service. But while it dishes on culture, art, food and travel tips, Stowaway isn’t your average travel magazine.

“They’re good, useful, entertaining articles,” said Lindsay, who was the managing editor for the current issue. From chickpea recipes around the world to finding your way around Boston, its pages will give you a personal perspective on travel.

“Most of these college students have lived in or traveled to the places they write about,” Gardner said. “Their insights on travel really make Stowaway unique. You can’t find another travel magazine quite like this.”

In the last year Stowaway has earned two national awards, one from the 2011 APEX Awards for Publication Excellence and another from the 2011 ContentWise Magnum Opus Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Custom Media.

Stowaway is entirely self-sustaining. To make everything come together, the lab often recruits help from departments across campus, including illustration, photography, computers and the humanities, geography and business management.

“We really benefit from being part of a university community,” Gardner said. “We have at our fingertips so many willing mentors and contributors who are experts in their fields.”

For former Stowaway managing editor Stetson Robinson, the greatest advantage of the experience is that it allows students to apply their study to real life.

“In many classes, assignments are primed for some test,” Stetson said. “But in the real world, it’s about whether you can make a deadline or not or sell an ad in time. Getting that kind of experience is invaluable.”

Stetson knows because it landed him a job—he’ll start in May as a technical writer and editor for Imagine Learning, a language and literacy software company.

Stowaway was extremely advantageous to getting that job,” Stetson said. “My new employers know I can carry my own.”

With just days till the final deadline, the current staff is putting the final touches on the Summer 2012 issue. Complete with around-the-world weddings, the upcoming London Olympics, and article titles like, “Shakespeare’s Dead, Let’s Surf Instead,” the issue will add to the style and flair the magazine has already garnered so far.

Lindsay Stevens, managing editor of the upcoming summer edition, has dedicated this issue to her adventure-loving father, who passed away while she and her staff were working on this issue.

 “I knew he would’ve wanted me to keep at it—to do what I love and do it well,” she said. “We’ve really accomplished something with this project, and I’m excited to see the final product. I know this experience will make a difference to my profession just as it has had great impact on my personal life.”

Read Stowaway magazine at

Writer: Kristi Smith

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