‘Passing the magazine test’ at #CMANYC13

I know it’s a little after the fact, but I have my notes typed up from a few other seminars I attended at this year’s College Media Association’s spring national college media convention in New York City (March 9-12, 2013) and thought it would be a good idea to post them.

I initially posted about the convention and about the seminar “Thinking Like an Editor” a couple of weeks after I went (see ‘Thinking like an editor’ at #CMANYC13).

One of the other seminars I went to in New York, was “Passing the Magazine Test” with Harriet Brown from Syracuse University.  According to the seminar’s description in the Official Convention Program, “When you apply for that internship or job at a magazine, will you be able to pass the editing test?  A magazine pro (Wigwag, American Girl, Redbook, New York Woman) walks you through a test so you’ll know the skills you MUST have.”

Brown had seminar attendees introduce themselves and say where they are going to school, what they are studying, what school publication they work for, what their position is and what their dream job is.  She explained she had everyone do that because if hoping to work in the media, they need to be able to speak up.

She said most magazines don’t use AP Style.  Rather:

  • Every magazine has its own style
  • Magazines generally use Chicago style

Brown said if applying for a job at a magazine, and an applicant has successfully made it through an interview, they will be given an Edit test, or a test in which the applicant is supposed to critique the magazine.  She said:

  • Editors are looking for whether applicants can think critically (i.e. tell us what you think of the last issue)
  • They’ll often ask what three things worked in a given issue, and three that could work better

–        Be specific

She said to have ideas specific to the publication at which you’re applying for a job:

  • Start thinking about what interests you, but then ask yourself if this audience would be interested in it
  • Think about audience – try to think of 3 subjects and ideas in 60 seconds

In terms of copyediting, she said to ask about the publication’s style

Brown said to study the publication’s web content:

  • Use good news judgment
  • Think about the news cycle

She said to look at blog posts to get a better sense of the publication’s audience and voice

Brown said to come up with ideas in terms of multimedia

She said to be specific when coming up with ideas for stories and to use expert sources

(Brown handed out copies of an example of an edit test)

On a personal note, I will be doing an internship at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine in Minneapolis, Minn. this summer.  Although I didn’t have to do an edit test following a phone interview (I was given a practice assignment that consisted of coming up with a list of 5-8 questions for a story and writing a 200-word or less profile on a chef), after this seminar, I felt like I had a better idea of what could be expected of me from the magazine.


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