The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

College senior Mira Sydow and Meg Gladieux, first year at the Graduate School of Education, are founders of a new student magazine at Penn, The Woodlands (Photo courtesy of Julian Valgora).

Three Penn students founded The Woodlands magazine, which features reported nonfiction and creative writing, to explore forms of journalism that emphasize creativity and collaboration.

2023 College graduate and first year at the Graduate School of Education Meg Gladieux, College senior Mira Sydow, and College senior Tyler Kliem created the publication in spring 2023. The Woodlands, now in its second issue, aims to amplify writers’ voices and publish unconventional journalism pieces.

The idea for the publication began with Gladieux and Sydow's, both former 34th Street Magazine editors, desire to create a journalism environment that moved away from the stress of strict deadlines. They applied for and received the 2023 Sachs Grant for Arts Innovation, which funds creative projects in the Penn community. Part of the grant allowed their vision for the magazine to become a print and digital product.

The rest of the funds went toward paying writers for their artistic contributions. Gladieux said that writer compensation was a central goal when they founded the magazine.

“Writing is work,” Gladieux said. “Student journalism is a great way to get your name out there and practice writing, but it also is work that you’re not getting paid for.”

Gladieux noted that the Woodlands’ type of writing was broader than news journalism. 

“It’s important to tell stories about the lives that we live and to highlight underrepresented stories,” she said. “That might not be breaking news, but it is a story worth sharing that can spread awareness or help people find community.”

Unlike many student publications, which require writers to submit finished pieces for review, the application system for The Woodlands is pitch-based. Writers pitch their story idea in a two-hundred-word essay and submit brief writing samples. The editorial board works to train each individual writer depending on their experience levels, Gladieux said. 

The first issue of The Woodlands launched in April 2023. Its theme was In/Out, Out/In, featuring stories on how the internal world translates to the outside world and vice versa. This issue’s theme, Living/Dead, will continue exploring the idea of dichotomies.

College junior Armando Chardiet, who joined the magazine’s editorial board this fall, said that the theme opens up many possibilities for writers. 

“I think there’s a lot to be written about in terms of the boundaries between the living and the dead,” Chardiet said. “There’s a certain liminality to the space in between living and dead that I think is fascinating and has a lot of artistic potential.”

Now that the grant has established the magazine’s preliminary production process, Gladieux and Sydow plan to hold fundraising events on Locust Walk in hopes of raising more money to sustain their writers’ current compensation.

Gladieux said that stories worth writing about can take a variety of forms, from a lengthy article to a podcast to an Instagram story. 

“When people read the magazine, I hope they recognize the idea that journalism does not have to just be nonfiction or something that is inaccessible,” Gladieux said. “Anything can be a story.”