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Writers' Retreat: IC's Chapter of Ed2010 Visits Magazine Editors and Writers in the Big Apple

Written by Matthew Biddle '11
1/11/2010

Kaydi Poirier '11 and Matthew Biddle '11 visit the "Entertainment Weekly" offices. Photo courtesy of the author.

During fall break, I was part of a group of 12 students, mostly journalism or writing majors, who visited magazine writers and editors in New York City to learn about the business and network with alumni.

Sponsored by the IC chapter of Ed2010, a national community of professional and aspiring magazine writers and editors working together to help further their careers, the trip took weeks of intense preparation by Ed2010 president Allison Musante ’10 and writing professor Barbara Adams. Both worked tirelessly to raise money and arrange meetings.

Woman’s Day

The first stop on our whirlwind tour of the magazine biz -- and surprisingly one of my favorites -- was Woman’s Day magazine. Brynn Mannino ’06, assistant editor for WomansDay.com, assembled a team of editors to talk to our group before we toured the office. “Go for an internship at a smaller magazine,” Mannino advised us. She said that while a major national publication might look great on a resume, local publications usually allow its interns to do more hands-on work.

Mannino took us around the office and invited the girls in our group to take samples from the beauty closet -- an entire room full of makeup, skin-care, and hair products. We also visited the kitchen, where all of the delicious treats pictured on the magazine’s cover are designed, baked, and assembled.

Entertainment Weekly

After a brief meeting at SmartMoney with senior consumer reporter Kelli Grant ’04, we arrived at Entertainment Weekly. As a subscriber, I was especially intrigued to learn the ins and outs of working at EW. Tanner Stransky, an EW correspondent, was our host for the afternoon, and he assembled a team of editors, critics, photographers, and page designers to give us an overview of what goes into each issue of the mag.

Of all the places we visited, “Entertainment Weekly was definitely my favorite,” said Aaron Edwards ’12, another student who went on the trip. “Not only because it's a place that I'd love to work, but because the willingness of the editors to speak with us showed that there are a lot of professionals out there looking to help up-and-coming journalists.”

The most valuable lesson I learned here was the importance of immersing yourself in all aspects of the communications world. Journalists are no longer expected to be just writers or photographers; they’re better off being videographers, layout designers, photographers, and more in today’s age of convergence.

GQ

Our last stop of the day was at a café to talk with Cole Louison ’00, a writer for GQ, another one of my favorite publications. Louison has also spoken on campus in the past; he, like many IC alums, is more than willing to help IC grads. From there, a few of us ventured to a delicious Mexican restaurant on the opposite side of town.

Time Out New York

Bright and early the following morning, we arrived at Time Out New York, a weekly events magazine for the city. Amy Plitt, the editorial coordinator, was our guide for this site, which also has sister publications in London and Chicago. She showed the group around the large loft-style office.

At this magazine, our group learned not to discount the value of small jobs. Plitt said many of their editors or staff writers started as office assistants before proving they could handle writing assignments. In other words, sometimes it’s necessary to take a position just to get your foot in the door.

W

A subway ride and a mad dash across several city blocks later, we entered the offices of W, a high-end fashion magazine under the Condé Nast corporate umbrella. Jane Larkworthy ’84, W’s beauty editor, led us to a conference room where she discussed the internship program at Condé Nast, which also publishes such titles as Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Vogue, and GQ.

Larkworthy worked her way up to her position by writing pieces for most of the major women’s magazines, including Glamour, Mademoiselle, and Jane, before landing her current gig at W. “Use temp agencies,” Larkworthy told us, echoing Plitt’s advice to take any job that might lead to a staff position.

Star

Following a tour of the W offices, the group headed over to the Park Avenue offices of American Media, Inc. Here, we first visited Star, a tabloid-like magazine completely different from the publications we’d visited so far. Editor-in-chief Candace Trunzo dished on everything from dealing with paparazzi to keeping up on celebrity gossip.

She also told us about the competition between tabloid-style magazines, which include Us Weekly and People. “It’s an impulse buy for most people,” she said, noting that their covers need to be flashy and eye-catching in order to sell.

Men’s Fitness

Across the hall, Sean Hyson ’03 took us into the offices of Men’s Fitness. Hyson, the fitness editor, stressed the importance of diversifying our education and learning valuable skills outside the realm of reporting. He told us that anything you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd is beneficial.

From New Woman to Marie Claire to More

The last meeting on our schedule was with Abby Ellin ’89, a successful freelancer who’s written for everything from Time and the New York Times to Glamour and the Daily Beast. She talked about the reality of living paycheck to paycheck and told us candid stories from her time at IC. Like Hyson, she emphasized being versatile and being willing to tackle different topics and develop multimedia skills in order to make it in today’s industry.

The End of the Trip

To end the night, a few of us stopped at the Museum of Modern Art and then hopped on the subway to Little Italy, where we gorged on delicious pasta and desserts. All of us on the trip agreed that not only was it a ton of fun, but it was also a great learning experience. Plus, one of the students on the trip, Jessie Cacciola ’09, landed a postgraduate internship with Time Out New York, partly thanks to this visit.

Said Aaron Edwards: “Getting the opportunity to go on the trip showed me that being a successful journalist takes time but is by no means undoable. Seeing IC grads as chief editors and writers of publications like W and Men's Fitness just proves that it's all in reach. It's just a matter of working for it.”



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