Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dreaming of Bylines

Many of you are probably interested in magazine journalism because you want to write. That was definitely a big reason why I wanted to get into the industry. Three weeks into my internship, though, I haven’t really gotten the chance to show off what I can do. I was a little discouraged this week when I found out that another intern had gotten the chance to cover an event. I hate to sound like I’m whining, Edsters, but I’m really itching to get that byline!

I spent last summer working at my local paper, and I got to write a story pretty much every day. I was just like a regular staff reporter, and I got used to seeing my work in the paper a few times a week. Bylines at the Mag, though, have been a little harder to come by. It’s interesting to see the differences between the way newspapers and magazines work, but it’s also been a challenge getting used to the change of pace.

For one, when I worked at the newspaper, other reporters would give me stories they didn’t have time to do, which meant that I got to do lots of fun pieces about things happening in the community. Since newspapers are churning out copy on a much quicker schedule, there were always opportunities for me to write, even as a lowly intern. But now I realize that I was lucky—these stories were pretty much handed to me. At the Mag, the best chances I have to write are for stories that I pitch myself. Since editors are looking for very specific things to fill the limited space they have in the Mag, pitching is much easier said than done. Not to mention the fact that we’re usually working two months ahead of time. Maybe I should work on my future-telling skills instead!

Another thing that I’ve noticed about magazines is that experience matters. Magazine internships are all about working your way up the totem pole. I do have to say, though, that working at a regional Mag like I do has its perks. The staff is relatively small, so we get to do important things like proofreading and fact-checking. I’ve heard plenty of stories about interns spending their days on mindless tasks and coffee runs, but I haven’t done anything like that at my internship. Still, you have to prove you can work hard before editors see they can trust you with a story.  

Though it wasn’t enough to get a byline, I did get to rewrite a restaurant listing this week. It’s just a small snippet that goes in the back of the magazine, but it was nice to do something other than fact check for once. So I’ve set a goal for myself: start pitching stories.

Here’s what I know so far about pitching stories for the Mag: pitches should be well-researched, current, and specific to the Mag. The story should also look at a topic in a way that hasn’t been done before. My plan is to pitch at least one story idea this week. I’m more than a little nervous about this—what if they hate my ideas? More to come on how that goes…

Until next week,
Ed's Regional Intern


  1. Great post! I have almost the opposite experience. I come from a magazine background and now I'm interning at a newspaper, which as you mentioned are world's different. I'm hoping to get back into magazines because I do like working ahead of time and telling readers what to anticipate rather than the daily grind of newspapers. But my experience has been mostly at regional publications, and I can tell you that if you continue to do a good job and show initiative, then the bylines will come. The thing about working for a big titles is that it does often involve errands and less writing so you're in the right position to getting that story/byline you've been dreaming about.Just be confident and approach something that's been done or worked well for that mag or other similar publications but rework it from a fresh angle for your publication. Good luck with your pitches!!

  2. That's awesome advice, thanks! It can be tough to think of something completely new, but we'll just have to see how it goes! Got any advice from a pitch that's worked in the past?