Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why We Do What We Do Despite Long Hours and No Pay

Last Friday when I was riding the subway home from work, I glanced over the shoulder of the man standing next to me to see what magazine he was reading. I always do that on the subway - it's interesting to put a face with a particular magazine's demographic. I couldn't see the cover of the magazine he was holding, but I recognized it immediately because it was the magazine I'm interning at. 

It's a national magazine, so I know people are reading it. I even know about how many million read each issue, thanks to research in our media kit. But it's a totally different experience to see one of those millions standing right in front of you, a visual reminder of the individuals who make up that statistic. I was glad I had a few more subway stops left because he was only a couple of pages from the story with my byline.  Sure enough, a minute or two later he flipped right to the page.

I don't know what I expected to happen next. I felt like I should have been ecstatic watching someone (who I wasn't related to and didn't have to bribe) read my words in print. But I've never been one to get overly worked up about seeing my byline. At this point in my career especially, bylines are more important to me as potential clips than they are as a chance to see my name written in black ink. I was excited, don't get me wrong. But as soon as I stepped out of the subway station, my mind was on other things. Given the amount of time it took for me to switch topics, that obviously wasn't a defining moment in my career.

That got me thinking about why I'm in this business in the first place. Not in a "why bother" kind of way, but more in a "I really should put this into words so I can adequately answer question number two" kind of way. I raised the topic with two of my magazine intern friends to find out why they're here. It was interesting that among the three of us, there were three wildly different answers. It's fitting, then, that we're at three wildly different magazines. For one, it's really all about seeing her name and her words in print. For the other, it's about providing readers with entertainment. As for me, I've always been more on the newsy side - providing informative and newsworthy content has always trumped pure entertainment in my mind.

One of the great things about this industry (aside from the huge amount of money we're all paid to do this) is that there's a place and a brand for each of us.

What made you choose magazines?

Until next Tuesday,
Edit intern

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