‘Make the transition from newspapers to magazines’ at #CMANYC13

I attended a seminar called “Make the Transition from Newspapers to Magazines” at this year’s College Media Association’s spring national college media convention in New York City (March 9-12, 2013).  I thought it would be a good idea to go to, because I had applied for an editorial internship at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine in Minneapolis, Minn. for this summer and wanted to learn more about the difference between magazines and newspapers, since I have only worked for newspapers so far (I have since found out I got the internship!).

Mark Mayfield, from the University of Alabama and former editor-in-chief of House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Southern Accents and Art & Antiques magazines (he was also a founder of USA Today), recommended doing both writing and editing.

He said the only way to transition to magazines and become a feature writer is to “write, write, write.”

He said the lede of a story should go from specific to general

  • Focus on a person, scene, etc. that illustrates the main point of the story
  • This is narrative writing, but don’t forget to explain why the subject (or person) is important

Mayfield said to make sure there is an ending, and usually one that refers back to the lede of the story.

He said one-sentence ledes are good, and to use good quotes.

He recommended recording interviews, but writing down the time at which a good quote was said.

He said to have good supporting sources, and to end with a good quote.

Mayfield said to give a sense of place.

He said to become an expert on something.

He said to learn as much as possible about photography, graphics and design.

He said to read magazines that interest you

  • Learn the departments/sections of those magazines
  • Study the writing
  • Study the subject matter
  • Over a period of time, familiarize yourself with what has been published and what hasn’t

Come up with a unique idea and ask yourself, why should the magazine give you an assignment?  How would the publication’s readers benefit from reading this story?

Mayfield said to learn the publication’s masthead and to focus on section editors, and to only email – not call

He also said to learn how to produce a shoot.


I also attended the seminars “Headless in a Topless Bar,” “Chicken Salad II,” and “The Social-Media Resume.”  I attended each of the Keynote speaker sessions and also went to “The Sweet Spot: Landing a Journalism Job.”

For more #CMANYC13 tips, check out my posts ‘Thinking like an editor’ at #CMANYC13, ‘Passing the magazine test’ at #CMANYC13, ‘Becoming a pitch-perfect writer’ at #CMANYC13 and ‘Covering a catastrophe’ at #CMANYC13.


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