From one great adventure to the next

Anyone who has ever asked me about what I want to do, knows that not long after graduation I hope to enter the world of magazines. I love The Pendulum. I love every part of The Pendulum process, but in the ideal world this will be my last time as part of a newspaper production team.

Sometimes that terrifies me. What will happen after this newspaper world? Will I be ready for the magazines world? During the first session I attended at the ACP/CMA conference titled ‘How to Transition from Newspapers to Magazines’ by Mark Mayfield from the University of Alabama, I learned the answer: yes. Newspapers are a great launching pad for a career in magazines.

Mayfield started out in college newspapers. He ended up working at USA Today as a features editor and writer. He say newspapers as one great adventure, and talked about all the ways that college newspaper experience can help you find your next great adventure. What was that for him? Magazines.

Magazines can take you to places you’d never go. You get to discover so much. It’s an adventure. Enjoy it.

For Mayfield he started off freelancing for magazines while working at USA Today and wrote about antiques. This led to him learning and writing about art and interior decorating. Each obsession and passion led to a new topic that he got to write about. He got to trace Van Gogh’s every step and go see the landscapes he painted, take pictures of them and place them beside the artworks. He has gotten to talk with three former presidents. He got to assign Pat Conroy a story. There is never a moment that is boring for a journalist and he reminded me of that.

Mayfield mentioned one of the most important things. Make sure you write. The love of writing is everywhere. But for me the thing that I related to even more. Is that you need to not only love to write, love to tell stories but you also need to love people. It is there stories you are telling.

The brown chair is boring. The people that made it are interesting. Tell their story.

At the end of the day this session made me realize that I am going after what I truly want. I do want to write. I do want to write features and profiles. I do want to inform people and meet people and get to have as many experiences as possible.

So what were Mayfield’s steps to getting there? Seeing it all as going from one adventure to the next. And that each adventure can be great. Learning how to add visual elements to stories, observing what is around you everyday, noticing little details like if people have stacks of books on their floor (which lets be real, the best people should), taking photos, applying for as many jobs as possible, making connections and most importantly — write every day. 

-Rebecca Smith


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