Ball State Professor Uses ABC Data to Teach the Business of Magazines


Professor David E. Sumner teaches magazine writing and management courses in the Department of Journalism at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Ball State’s department is one of the ten largest in the country. Sumner describes JOUR 328: Magazine Management as a “macroview of trends and issues in the magazine industry.”


Sumner’s magazine management class provides a glimpse into the world of magazine publishing. “I describe this course as everything about magazines except the writing,” he said. A major part of the magazine industry is analyzing trends and researching individual magazines and the industry in general. Sumner wanted his students to use the same information as media professionals to evaluate magazines.


As an associate academic member of ABC, Sumner can download PDFs of three years of newspaper and magazine data via eStatements. He is also able to purchase additional products at member rates. Sumner, who has written three books about magazines, chose to purchase the ABC Magazine Trend Report and put it on reserve for his students at the library.


Sumner’s students use ABC data for two major projects—a profile of a magazine publisher and a profile of a specific sector of magazines. These projects help prepare students for careers in magazine publishing. “I’ve heard from students who are able to go to work at a magazine and have a familiarity with the industry that their peers lack,” Sumner said. He added that this class introduces students to the vocabulary and issues common to the publishing industry and helps them transition to jobs where they use the data.

About ABC’s Associate Academic Membership

Using real-life data helps students understand what it means to work in the media industry before starting their careers. ABC reports also reflect the evolving publishing industry by including both print and digital data. ABC can provide your university with the same reports and services used in the media industry to unlock trends in circulation, prices, readership and more.

The goal of Sumner’s magazine management class is to teach students how the magazine industry works, and using actual ABC data facilitates these learning goals. Students use circulation data to profile a magazine publisher and track the company’s circulation trends. In another project, students choose a specific magazine sector, such as women’s or travel magazines, and profile at least 10 magazines of a specific sector.

“The students seem to appreciate having an understanding of how the magazine business works,” Sumner said.



Research Paper

Powerpoint Presentation


For More Information

More information about academic associate membership is available on ABC’s website. Applications for library resource center or academic department membership are also available. If you are interested in academic membership, please contact Eleanor Overton at 224-366-6484.

SumnerDavid E. Sumner, Ph.D., is a professor of journalism at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where he has taught magazine journalism since 1990. He was named the “Magazine Educator of the Year” by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in 2007. He has authored or co-authored five books.

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