Curb Pause: Reflections on a Year Interrupted

A group of students in gallery view on Zoom on an illustrated laptop. Beside the laptop are an illustrated pencil and cup of coffee.
Illustration by Channing Smith. Photo courtesy of Curb Magazine (

By Emily Knepple

Curb Magazine, a beloved J-School tradition, is the product of the semester-long course J417: Magazine Publishing. The course has students work on creating, editing and producing a magazine to be shared with an extensive community of UW-Madison students and alumni. 

In the Fall 2020 semester, course instructor Stacy Forster, Faculty Associate in SJMC, led 23 students through the process of magazine creation. Students were tasked with brainstorming ideas to arrive at a core theme for their publication, which for this semester, was Pause.

In a press release, the Curb team defined the theme as a chance for readers to reflect on necessary change, “Curb​ Pause emphasizes that we all should take an intentional pause to recognize injustices, reflect on historic parallels and amplify voices that have been muted for generations.” 

Students are split up into four different teams: Editorial, Design, Business and Online. Each team oversees one part of the magazine throughout the semester and this structure allows students to practice effective communication and mimic the real-world setting. On top of their specific responsibilities, each student in the class is responsible for an individual feature story corresponding with the overall magazine theme.

Managing Editor, Elise Goldstein, shared that the class is fast-paced and students jump right into their roles. Goldstein’s responsibilities included enforcing deadlines, fact-checking and proofreading stories.

For her individual feature story, Goldstein covered how congregations are actively responding to the restrictions COVID-19 has placed on their service. Other stories include the benefits of thrifting, how activists are fighting the climate crisis and how virtual learning is impacting families. 

A print copy of Curb magazine laying on a white surface next to a cup of coffee.
Photo courtesy of Curb Magazine (Facebook)

Pause means a lot of things. Everyone is in some sort of a pause this year and it’s a chance for us to rewind, pause and play,” said Goldstein. She also spoke about the hard but helpful conversations the class had regarding the privilege one has to pause their life, while others don’t have that luxury. 

The class is a chance for students to see how processes like these happen in the industry. Goldstein was eager to discuss the skills she’s learned over the past couple of months. She highlighted leadership and teamwork as two big takeaways from this course. 

Goldstein has previously interned at the Progressive Magazine. She was excited to see the parallels between her work there and in the classroom. She said that the course was similar to her work in the industry.

The class worked hard all semester to raise the necessary funds to publish the magazine and also received help from Sun Prairie-based Royle Printing, for the 11th year in a row. 

While the course is a chance for students to learn and strengthen their skills, it also allows alumni to engage with current J-Schoolers and reflect on their own time at the school. Curb Pause was distributed to 10,000 alumni across the state of Wisconsin and is also circulated in Dane County. 

For it’s 19th year, Curb Magazine was able to showcase the hard work and dedication of J-School students. With 2020 being unlike any year before, students stepped up to the plate and delivered meaningful work that is now available to read at