Kaitlin Tambuscio, senior journalism major and president of magazine networking group Ed2010, knew she wanted Joanna Saltz to come to the College as soon as she heard her speak last April.
Tambuscio was one of several students representing the College at the Ed2010 Conference in New York City, a four-day event designed to accomplish the same goals as the organization itself — to teach students more about the magazine industry so they can “fulfill (their) dreams of landing top editing and writing positions,” according to the club’s online mission statement. The conference featured many prominent speakers, including Saltz, Seventeen magazine executive editor.
An alumna of the College’s journalism program, Saltz arrived last Thursday to speak about “How an Idea Becomes a Story.” She created an intimate, relaxed atmosphere in the spacious auditorium of the Physics Building with her engaging demeanor and lighthearted sense of humor.
“I’d like to keep this as informal as possible,” she told the crowd before informing them, with a smile, that she brought cookies to pass around.
According to Saltz, a story comes from “everywhere.” She described the gradual emergence of a story from an idea by focusing her presentation on the development of a story called “Datemares” that appeared in Seventeen. The story ran four pages in the magazine, and Saltz emphasized the considerable amount of work it took to get the story to print.
“Every element of each story is painfully thought through,” she said.
Saltz also emphasized one of her favorite aspects of working for Seventeen, its constant rapport with its readers. As executive editor, Saltz oversees an estimated 80 to 90 percent of the magazine’s content with a readership of about 13 million. In order to continue providing readers with information they find appealing and relevant, it is important to keep a constant barometer on their interests to ensure they keep coming back for more, she said.
“It’s all about understanding who you’re talking to and what you want them to get out of it,” she said, noting that appreciating feedback is key.
“If you talk to your readers, they will respond.”
Saltz left the audience with a key piece of advice to guide journalistic careers.
“Take any interview,” she said. “You never know how it’s going to pan out.” She also urged students to take advantage of the resources available to them in college, growing nostalgic after speaking of her return to the College, where she met her husband and wrote for The Signal as a member of the class of 1999.
“You have access to so much that will open up worlds for you … you’ll never have the free access to information that you have in college. I implore you to take advantage of it.”
Tambuscio, who has editorial aspirations, was inspired by the presentation.
“The most important point Joanna impressed upon me was that you are what you make of yourself,” she said. “I think that’s so empowering … knowing that no one else can hold you back.”