News from magazine editors: future is online

With the rise of Internet publishing, upcoming reporters often wonder what prospects exist for them in the new medium. A panel of three online magazine editors, sponsored by Ed@TCNJ and Unbound, the College’s online magazine, sought to give students insight in the opportunities open to them.

“There’s a lot of hiring going on for online editorial positions,” Blake Wilson, editorial assistant for the online magazine Slate, said.

According to Ray Hennessey, Editor in Chief for, while print journalism isn’t going away any time soon, it is still important for reporters to be flexible and willing to work in both mediums. A reporter who is determined to stay in only print or online publishing is less likely to be hired in either medium.

“Now moreso than ever, I think staying in one platform is indicative of stale thinking,” Jillian St. Charles, editor for Redbook online, said.

St. Charles said she sees journalism as the combination of all forms of journalism, both print and electronic. She noted that a Web site won’t cannibalize its print counterpart, and that Redbook actually sells more print subscriptions through advertisements on its online stories than through traditional inserts in its print edition.

All three panelists agreed that it is easier for a young journalist to be published online rather than in print. Since there are no space restrictions in the online platform, online publications are able to give untested writers a chance without worrying about wasting valuable space and are easily able to give exposure to stories that unexpectedly turn out well.

She also said that journalists should work with and learn from bloggers, rather than pretend they don’t exist. Civic journalism, with more emphasis on being part of the community at the expense of being less objective, is on the rise.

He said the cycle is similar to that of print news, but at a much faster pace. Wilson described Slate as having the style and presentation of a weekly magazine despite being updated with new stories and features on a daily basis, with e-mail and instant messaging (IM) providing instant contact with other reporters and editors no matter the distance.

“The culture of the online magazine flourishes in IM and e-mail,” Wilson said.

Hennessey said that one of the advantages of the online cycle is that editors know where exactly their readership lies. By looking at the number of hits each individual story receives, he said, you can see what topics draw readers and how many readers are watching the site in general, something newspapers lack.

The availability of space and jobs makes online journalism a good prospect for new reporters. However, despite the difference between the two mediums, traditional points like the wall between the news and business staff still exists.

“Left to their own devices, the business side will always make (the Web site) look like a NASCAR car,” Hennessey said.