‘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.


‘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.