Aline Martins G'17

January 16, 2019

“Take whatever classes you think will be most beneficial to your career, but make sure to get as many digital skills as you can. Digital is not the future. It’s the present.”

Aline Martins G'17
Aline Martins G'17

Aline Martins graduated from Newhouse in 2017 with a master’s in magazine, newspaper and online journalism. In just a year, Martins has experienced a corporate acquisition and become the first commerce editor for TODAY.com at NBCUniversal. While at Newhouse, Martins originally wanted to be a political reporter but quickly developed a passion for magazines and the intersection of business and media. Her knack for data analysis, numbers and problem solving have led her to where she is today. She also interned with Syracuse.com and did an alumni exchange over winter break at NPR.

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

Right after leaving Newhouse, I became the assistant commerce editor at Rodale, where I pitched and wrote stories about deals and pulled revenue reports to share with editors at brands like Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Bicycling and Prevention.  I also worked on holiday gift guides for all the brands and helped editors implement commerce best practices.

Then, when Rodale was bought by Hearst in January, 2018, I was a casualty of the acquisition, but landed my current job on the TODAY.com staff. I was the first editorial person hired to do digital affiliate commerce for TODAY, since it’s a relatively new revenue stream. So, I became the editorial lead for commerce and have assigned and edited all content on TODAY.com/shop since March 2018. I led the strategy that created our 2018 interactive gift guides, worked to implement an SEO-focused commerce strategy and aim to continue to innovate every day.

What’s an average day like for you on the job? Take us through it.

My day really starts on my daily subway ride to 30 Rock, where I get out my work phone and start responding to Slacks and emails. Before I get to work, I’d estimate I respond to at least 20 new messages from my boss and co-workers about all things commerce.

Then, I get to work between 9:30 and 10 a.m. and immediately plan out what stories we’ll publish for the day—usually between four and six. At 11 a.m. we have our daily TODAY.com editorial meeting, where each section editor says what stories they’ll be publishing that day. I’ll usually present for commerce.

Then, throughout the day, I edit each story, find photos, choose headlines and publish them to the site. Sounds easy enough, but I also manage that between responding to emails from freelancers, going to various meetings with affiliate partners and other teams at NBC, like audience development and product, and planning out bigger editorial packages like gift guides and any holiday coverage.

I’ll leave around 6:30 and, depending on the time of year, will often head to a PR event for new or seasonal product launches, where I’ll chat with PR reps and other editors over a drink and appetizers.

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

Well, a large part of my job is editing lifestyle content, so naturally my magazine editing class with Professor Jim Shahin was extremely helpful. It taught me how to structure a lede and pick a good headline.

My internship with Syracuse.com was also immensely helpful since I was writing headlines for SEO (search engine optimization), which is a huge part of my content strategy for driving commerce revenue.

Media law was helpful since I often have meetings with our legal and standards department to figure out best practices. Affiliate commerce is a relatively new revenue stream for publishers, so we haven’t gotten clear guidance from advertising watchdogs or the FCC yet, but we are very cautious with our commerce content at NBC.

Professor Melissa Chessher’s capstone class was also helpful, since it taught me how to package digital content in a compelling way.

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

I knew I wanted to work in digital media, and it was one of the very few programs with the word “online” in the degree and all the classes were taught by former industry professionals. The school has enough equipment for everyone to learn video, graphic design and photography, all of which I thought were important. I also knew they were in the process of hiring someone (the lovely Professor Jodi Upton) to teach data journalism, which I was interested in.

How did the Newhouse Career Development Center aid you?

What was really helpful was the résumé help and career counseling. The first time I sent my résumé in for edits, there was so much red ink on it that I wanted to cry. Thankfully, I realized all their critiques were right and my résumé turned out much better after their help. I still use some of their tips on both résumé writing and networking now.

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

I went to school for magazine, newspaper and online journalism and now work at a TV company. Why? Because nowadays, all media companies, regardless of whether they’re broadcast or print, really compete with each other. People consume media through their phones more than anything else, so digital media skills are essential.

It’s also important to note that while the shakeup in the media industry is scary, it also provides lots of opportunity for innovation and growth. I was laid off from my first job when my company was acquired, which was scary, but then I ended up in a job with more responsibilities and got to build a commerce content strategy from scratch at NBC, one of the country’s largest media companies, for a TV show that I grew up watching. Pretty cool and a rare opportunity to get to truly innovate just a year out of grad school.

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

Well, getting laid off was, um, defining. It tested my ability to bounce back. Luckily, it turned out great. But, it was certainly a challenge.

Starting my job at TODAY was also exciting and challenging. My first day, my boss said, “Here’s the editorial calendar, Aline. It’s yours now.” All my fellow editors were skeptical of my lack of experience, and I was honestly a little scared that I wouldn’t become a quick enough editor to handle the job, but I learned every day. I’m still here and my team is shattering our goals.

You can follow Aline on Twitter and Instagram or check out her work on The Today Show.