Magazine, news and digital journalism students tour top New York publishing companies

by Emily Kelleher

February 6, 2020

Students get valuable advice from alumni, industry leaders on annual Glavin Trip

Students in a New York subway station between site visits
Magazine, news and digital journalism students waiting for their next site visit in New York City. Photo by Melissa Chessher

During winter break before their last semester of college, 13 magazine, news and digital journalism (MND) students gathered in conference rooms across New York City, visiting a dozen publication offices to glean wisdom from professionals in the industry they will soon be entering. The annual Glavin trip is made possible by a generous donation from Eric and Stacey Mindich ’86. Stacey Mindich is a former student of the late professor William A. Glavin, for whom the trip is named.

Vanity Fair  Elle  Cosmopolitan  Bon Appetit  Wired  Condé Nast Traveler  Fortune  Fast Company  Town and Country  Seventeen  Shape  People  Food Network Magazine  Insider Inc.

In addition to site visits, students networked with Newhouse alumni; attended talks from professionals at all levels and ranks; submitted their résumés for critique by staffers at publications such as Glamour and Entertainment Weekly; and asked a panel of recent graduates about their experiences landing first jobs and moving to New York. 

At both legacy print and digital-only publications, alumni discussed their roles in the changing industry. People’s Style and Beauty director Andrea Lavinthal ’01 said her publication’s biggest competition lies not in other magazines but in celebrities’ own social media accounts. 

“When I started, celebs were still relying on People to debut their babies, their weddings, their new hair colors,” she said. “Now we’re reporting on news they’ve already broken.” 

Ariana Phillips Tessier ’04, food editor at Food Network Magazine, also commented on the shifts in the industry. “There’s a misconception that print is dying, and it’s not. It’s changing.”

Emma Baty ’17, associate entertainment editor at Cosmopolitan, stressed the importance of being comfortable working with various platforms.

“It’s about finding your readers where they are,” Baty said. Some examples shared on Baty’s panel: Seventeen magazine produced a video series about dating on YouTube, and Town and Country produced a Downton Abbey-themed print edition.

“The content is going to stay the same no matter where it is,” said Julie Kosin ’14, senior culture editor at Elle. “It doesn’t matter where you’re reading it, and hopefully you’re paying for it.”

During panels, professor and MND chair Melissa Chessher asked the young professionals to share how they landed their first jobs. Many spoke of moving home to save money after graduation, freelancing or taking on post-graduation internships. They also shared advice on pitching and the value of strong reporting skills.

“Just make five more calls,” said Brian O’Keefe, deputy editor of Fortune. “It’s amazing how many people don’t do that.”

Aric Jenkins, a staff writer at Fortune, said that the most important thing for freelancers to do is create a plan for the story they want to write.

“Anyone can freelance for any brand. Don’t be put off that it’s Rolling Stone or The New Yorker,” Jenkins said.

Lale Arikoglu, senior lifestyle editor at Condé Nast Traveler, instructed students to study a publication’s regular articles before pitching. She suggested pitching with a working headline, and asking yourself the following questions: Why now? Why is this important? Why is it right for this publication? What sources will you use? Why are you the right writer for this article?

Meryl Rothstein, features editor at Bon Appétit, encouraged students to think visually and include photos in their pitches. Above all, editors told students they need to know the magazine’s brand.

“Learn the rhythm of the way we write and approach stories,” said Lara Sorokanich ’15, associate editor at Fast Company. “It’s not that hard to crack.” 

At Shape, Food Network, Fortune and Vanity Fair, industry insiders told students about the increasing importance of building a personal brand with their social media presence. O’Keefe encouraged students to have an active Twitter account that demonstrates a point of view. Phillips Tessier said that when job applicants mention a passion of theirs, like food, she’ll often look for it in their social presence, saying that something like a food-focused Instagram account can serve as an informal portfolio.

Maura Fritz, editorial recruiter at Hearst, told students that when it comes to résumés, relevant experience should take priority over chronology, and that while color is a nice thought, it’s lost on Hearst’s black-and-white printers. For cover letters, she said that calling oneself a “storyteller” has “lost its magic” due to overuse. She also urged students not to start a letter with “I applied for x job.”

At the end the trip, students attended a live taping of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” thanks to executive producer and showrunner Chris Licht ‘93, a broadcast and digital journalism alumnus. After the show, students prepared to head back to Syracuse, with much to think about.

"The moments I appreciated the most were those when editors were very honest with us about what it’s like to be young and starting out in New York,” said MND senior Claire Miller. “Our conversations with them were not just about what it is to be a journalist. They were about what it is to be human in a crazy industry and a crazier city."

Emily Kelleher is a senior magazine, news and digital journalism major in the Newhouse School and political science major in the Maxwell School.