GQ&A with associate editor Lauren Bans

By Melia Robinson

March 4, 2013

GQ associate editor Lauren Bans kicked off the Magazine Department Speaker Series in a candid conversation about making it in the fast-changing magazine industry and the unique challenges of working at a men’s title.

Bans, famous for her Twitter banter, is a top up-and-comer who writes with a distinctive and humorous voice about celebrities and culture. Before landing at GQ in 2011, she reported for the independently run Nation, Slate’s feminist site XX Factor and News Corp’s shuttered tablet newspaper The Daily.

Lauren Bans

Bans preached back-to-basics to the packed room of 130 students. She talked about the merits of  “being nice” and about sharing embarrassing stories as approaches that help to loosen up sources during interviews. “The best reporting comes from when you connect with someone as a person,” she says. As does diligence, she adds, dismissing such a thing as "over-reporting." Bans encouraged students to always carry a notepad in the field, write often and dig for story ideas across mediums, like Twitter, Google Reader and newspapers.

She also tackled questions about reconciling her feminist roots with the bro’-voice of GQ. "At every workplace, you will have a different wall you bang your head against," she says, describing her disappointment that raunchy “click-bait” buries long-form, more serious content in online traffic. But in the GQ office, where Bans says she gets away with dressing down and fist-bumping when greeting her all-male co-workers, she’s not afraid to be the “humorless feminist” when a pitch or pun crosses a line. “I don’t think of niceness and standing up for something as mutually exclusive,” Bans says.

The Magazine Department Speaker Series returns next month with Keija Minor, editor-in-chief of Brides and the history-making first African-American to helm a Condé Nast title. She will discuss a wide range of issues relating to magazines, media, audience and diversity at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, in Newhouse 3's I-3 Center.


Melia Robinson is a magazine student.