Alexis Jones G'18

January 2, 2020

“The classes I took at Newhouse most definitely prepared me for the job I have now!”

Alexis Jones G'18
Alexis Jones G'18 Photo courtesy of Alexis Jones

In 2018, Alexis Jones graduated from Newhouse with a master’s degree in magazine, newspaper and online journalism (MNO). While at Syracuse, Jones fostered her writing and design skills and utilized them through her positions as front of book (FOB) editor with 360 Magazine and project manager for the Working: Syracuse podcast. Currently she works as assistant editor for Women’s Health at Hearst Magazines in the greater New York City area.

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

Prior to joining the Women’s Health team at Hearst Magazines, I was the editorial/administrative assistant for the vice president of content Brooke Siegel and chief content strategy officer Kristine Brabson. In that role, I assisted two incredibly smart, supportive and busy high-level executives while freelancing for several of Hearst’s publications, including Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar and Prevention.

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

My day to day changes often! It’s part of what I love about my job. But typically, on Mondays I work on health stories, Wednesdays I tackle fitness and Fridays [I cover] love and life. In between that, I’m also writing news stories and working on pieces for the print magazine.

When I get into the office, I start by checking Google analytics to see how yesterday’s stories have performed and look at what’s clicking this morning. Then I scan Instagram, Twitter and other publications for celebrity news, which we tend to cover in the morning. I’ll post those ideas in our news channel. Those will then either be assigned out to freelancers/stringers or written by the news writer and/or myself. If I’m not tackling a news story in the morning, I’ll typically start working on some of my longer evergreen stories: whether it’s a culture piece on the new show "Unbelievable" or a story on what to do when the honeymoon phase ends. Then I’ll move on to interviews. I usually have two or three a week with doctors, psychologists, relationship experts, etc. for my reported pieces. I try to transcribe those as soon as I’m done! After interviews, I toggle back and forth between writing news and evergreen pieces and working on stories for print. I might have a digital editor’s meeting in the afternoon or run to search engine optimization (SEO) office hours for a question on optimization. Then it’s back to writing and eventually heading out of the office for the day. 

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse definitely prepared me for the role I hold now: whether that was perfecting a nut graf with Professor [Teri] Weaver, developing critical writing skills and magazine packaging with Professor [Jim] Shahin, or learning how to think about a story on platforms beyond digital and print with Professors [Melissa] Chessher and [Adam] Peruta.

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?

Absolutely! I never would have considered something like podcasting before coming to Newhouse. Professor [Corey] Takahashi’s class encouraged me to explore technology instead of being afraid of it. I learned that it doesn’t take a tech whiz to figure out a TASCAM and that you can shoot some pretty decent footage with a steady hand and an iPhone.

Once I developed those multimedia skills, I was able to use them in Professors Chessher and Peruta’s class to create a podcast and website [with my fellow students], known as Working: Syracuse. That project is one of my proudest accomplishments from Newhouse. Some of the stories we were able to tell through audio and video brought me to tears. And I never would have considered that aspect of journalism before coming to Newhouse.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

When applying to graduate schools, I thought about curriculum and the kinds of stories I’d learn to tell at each school. But I also thought a lot about the connections that would help me when I got out into the industry. The Newhouse network is insane. No matter where I go, whether it’s a press event, panel, or a job interview, there’s someone who went to Syracuse or Newhouse. I love knowing that wherever I go, I can connect with someone else who has been to the same school, understands the merit that it carries and is eager and excited to connect!

How did the Newhouse Career Development Center (CDC) aid you?

Being in the MNO program, you’re only at Newhouse for a little over a year so you don’t have as much time as the undergrads to figure out your next steps. But the CDC capitalizes on the time we have at Newhouse by providing résumé workshops, one-on-one career sessions and Q&A’s with journalists already in the industry, which I loved! Attending these events helped me to make great connections and taught me how to make myself desirable to exactly the kinds of publications I wanted to work for.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

Journalism is not dying—it’s changing. Once you’re out in the industry, it’s hard not to get stressed out by the media company buyouts and quick staff turnovers. But that’s not to say that journalism is coming to a halting stop. It’s just evolving, and maybe quicker than we anticipated. So, don’t give up on it because you’re scared you’ll have an unstable career; some days it will feel that way! But the industry needs good journalists who are willing to tell truthful, exciting and captivating stories. And if that person is you, you’ll find the job that fits. Just mentally prepare yourself for the fact that your role can and will change over time, and maybe faster than you expected it to. Make sure you can adapt!

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

Oftentimes as journalists, we’re writing stories and we can check the analytics and see that 85,000 users have seen it or 300 people shared it on Facebook. But it’s different when people are reaching out and personally conveying how much they liked your work. Maybe it entertained them, helped them or made them feel seen. Those are the moments that have been most exciting to me. Whenever someone reaches out via email or social media to say that the story I wrote helped them in some way, I feel like I’ve done something right!

Another thing that I still can’t get over is having one of my stories appear on the side of the Hearst Tower in New York City. It was definitely one of the most exciting moments of my career! I made my friend come outside and video tape me walking along the side of the building as my story wrapped along the Tower’s edges. It was an amazing feeling!

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend?

It’s school, so of course you’ll be focused on the grades and your success. But make sure to also take classes that aren’t in your wheelhouse, whether that’s critical writing, podcasting or maybe even photography. You might be surprised by what you’re actually good at!

Do not leave Newhouse without taking classes with Professors Shahin and Chessher. They pushed me to be my best at all times, and every class I had with them reminded me why I wanted to go into journalism!

When you have graphic design with Professor Soo Hong, be grateful! Her blunt criticism and honesty will only make you better. And the lessons you learn in her class extend far beyond design. 

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