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Eminent EICs Offer Advice to Aspiring Media Pros

Previously, we gathered some of the highlights of last night’s “Media Talk” panel at NYU. Here, we’ll bring you advice from all the panelists: James Bennet of The Atlantic, Joanna Coles of Cosmopolitan, Chris Hughes of The New Republic and Jane Pratt of xoJane. The panel was moderated by David Carr, who asked the panelists to offer their advice for students who want to get into the media biz. Here are their edited responses:

Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan:

This business is all about ideas. If you have a good idea, I or one of my team, will hire you to write it. It can’t be a subject or topic you happen to be interested in, it has to be a genuine idea, you have to have a story.

Jane Pratt, editor-in-chief of xojane.com:

A strong social media is really helpful, and a willingness to put yourself out there in a very raw, real-time kind of way. Tell your personal story too, because that’s one of the ways to know that your ideas are unique to you. If it’s something that you’ve’ personally gone through, than no-one else has gone through it.

Video and photography skills [are] super helpful.

James Bennet, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic:

Your job as a journalist is to learn something new every day. It’s a tremendous privilege to be in a profession where it’s a lifetime of learning.

I think what’s important is to be straight in your head about what your values are, what you care about doing. What kind of ideas, what kind of stories you want to tell and why you’re in the business in the first place.

Chris Hughes, editor-in-chief, The New Republic:

My biggest suggestion would be: tweet. And not just because twitter is really important, but I think everything that goes into being active on Twitter helps your career. You can’t wait for anybody to come to you.

It’s not just being on social media. You got to be on social media but you got to be showing that you’re curious, that you’re well informed, that you’re open to discourse, that you’re a self-starter, because I would much rather see the flashpoints of smart social media usage to understand a person than a resume.

David Carr, writer and reporter, The New York Times:

You have the tools in your hands. You have to make stuff. I think pitching ideas is one thing, but you have to be sort of like James Franco was in Spring Breakers which is, ‘This is my… stuff… this is what I did, this is what I made.’

As Joanna explained, ideas are important, but I used to hire a lot of young people, and I want to see what you made with your own two little hands.  I want to see a blog about something else besides you and your cat and how he rolled over. I want to see who you are, reflected through the prism of social media, through digital media that you’ve manipulated with your own hands. I want to see that you’re intellectually curious.

Many of these CMS’s that have been put in your hands are beautiful, you can make amazing things, just show me what you can do.

So there you have it, aspiring media pros. Get to it!

Photo Credit: ©NYU Photo Bureau/Elena Olivo

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