The partnership was developed by Cheryl Brody Franklin ’04, director of the Newhouse NYC program, and Alessandra Foresto, editorial operations director and head of the Voices contributing writer program at PopSugar.
Franklin, who graduated from the Newhouse School with a degree in magazine journalism, became friends with Foresto while they worked together at Ed2010 early in their careers. Last year, they began discussing a partnership program that would allow Newhouse students to write for PopSugar, which has over 1,000 active contributing writers.
“We’re always looking to give writers the opportunity to get their byline on our site and share their stories,” Foresto says. “Partnering with Syracuse seemed like the perfect way to get new writers on the site at PopSugar and give students the opportunity to work as freelance writers.”
Melissa Chessher, chair of the MND department, was quick to approve of the program once Franklin and Foresto approached her with the idea of a partnership program. “It was wonderful from the downbeat for me,” said Chessher. “It’s a great opportunity for our students to get clips and our commitment as a department is to always look for ways to provide and create more opportunities for students to get experience outside the classroom.”
Now, in their first month of the program, students can either pitch three article ideas per week or select assignments from the company’s dashboard for writers.
“[I’d seen] PopSugar before on social media and knew they were a really great publication that would offer me a lot of experience,” says Chandler Plante, a junior magazine student participating in the program. Plante is the executive digital director for Jerk Magazine and the former managing editor for Equal Time magazine. She hopes that the position at PopSugar will help her sharpen her skills as a professional.
“Learning how to handle if your pitch doesn’t get chosen… learning how to be flexible and how to take different pitches and adjust them to the style of the publication, and learning what a publication wants and writing in their voice are all really important things I want to take from this job,” Plante says.
Other students in the program agree that learning how to work with editors and other writers is a big benefit of this position.
“It’s definitely hard working alongside full-time, freelance writers who aren’t college students and have more free time… claim article ideas,” says Staci Soslowitz, a senior magazine student and editor-in-chief at Zipped magazine.
Soslowitz is determined to write “a great fashion story that gets a lot of traction” this semester.
“Having my name on the website is the most exciting part for me,” Soslowitz says.
Though the students work remotely, Franklin describes the program as a writer-in-residence position rather than an internship or fellowship.
“This is a real gig, because they are contributing writers for the site. They are pitching and coming up with three story ideas a week. It’s a very different position from a traditional internship because they are able to contribute to the site just like any other freelance writer. It’s a huge honor to get an opportunity like this at any time in your career, but as a student, it’s an even bigger deal,” Franklin says.
Franklin and Foresto hope the program will continue and gain more interest among Newhouse students in the future.
“My hope is that eventually there is so much interest in Syracuse students that we can [work with more students] than we are currently,” says Foresto. “Another goal is that the students who are currently in the program right now continue to write with us in their free time even after the semester is over.”
Taylor Huang is a first-year dual newspaper and online journalism major at the Newhouse School and information management and technology major at the School of Information Studies.