Thursday, June 29, 2017

Maisie Skidmore Gives Advice to Young Writers

Maisie Skidmore, as editor of anothermag.com, certainly knows a thing or two about the journalism industry. Here's her advice for people wanting to follow in her footsteps:

"I would advise and aspiring writer simply to write, as much as you can, and for whoever you can. You can refine your technique through experience, but when you're just starting out I'd say it's even more crucial to pursue your interests, be they are film, fashion, art, theatre...These are the passion[s] that will give you the unique perspective and tone which will single you out and send editors your way for years to come

Also, be kind, and work hard. This industry is small, people are busy, and diligence goes a long way."

Saturday, May 13, 2017

An interview with Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed may be best known for its listicles and clickbait, but the media company is more than that. It has made politics more accessible to the public. Headed by former Politco reporter Ben Smith, BuzzFeed is a sharp contrast to the more traditional media giants. I was able to briefly chat with Smith about his advice for an aspiring journalist.

Q: I think the main thing I want to ask is what is the reality of getting/having a job in the journalism industry? Everyone always tries to soft-pedal things for young people, but I want to know the truth. I am very passionate about journalism, I think I'm talented, and it's what I want to do. But how hard is it to get a job and keep it? Would you encourage someone like me to go into journalism? What advice do you have?

A: I think if you are willing to work hard and don't need to be in New York and Los Angeles and don't care too much about money, it's not a bad time to get into the business. There are newspapers and web outlets all over the country. Many are struggling-- but that can be an advantage for someoen starting out, because you get big stories even as a junior person.

Q: Secondly, where do you think the journalism industry is headed? I feel that BuzzFeed is always on the cutting edge as far as finding new ways to keep the audience interested without sacrificing content. I know that more traditional journalists have characterized the majority of its content as clickbait, but I think it's amazing how you guys have covered complex issues in an accessible way. Because of BuzzFeed, my friends are aware of current events that they otherwise would have been oblivious to. Granted, they mostly come to BuzzFeed for quizzes and listicles, but they stay for the heavier and more serious stories/information. Obviously, everyone is whispering about the death of journalism. In my eyes it looks alive and well; it seems to merely be shifting to digital and placing more emphasis on voice rather than objectivity. But what's the insider perspective? What skills so you think are important to have in order to survive in the changing industry? You've also spoken about how Trump has "breathed new life" into journalism/media. Do you think that this is temporary or will it have a lasting affect?

A: I think there are many different paths and skill sets but I'd say curiosity and a certain level of aggression in fighting to get answers are the key qualities. It also helps to love the internet and try to crack why some stories get big audiences.. Everything else-- writing, editing video, etc --you can learn by doing it.

Q: What kind of background should you have in order to succeed in journalism? From what I garner, experience is the most valuable tool, but how much weight is placed on education/degrees? Basically, as a high school junior, what should I be doing now and in the next few years to prepare for a career in journalism?

A: It's more important to have clips than to have a degree. If you're passionate about it, write for school papers or local papers, contribute whatever they'll let you-- sports is sometimes a good place to start --and study things that actually interest you in college. Better to learn a language or be an expert in a subject than to have a journalism degree, if you're doing it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

An Interview with Kristina Rodulfo, Associate Editor of ELLE.com

Elle.com is one of the most prominent fashion magazine websites out there, and I had the pleasure of speaking with the associate editor, Kristina Rodulfo. She explained the challenges and benefits of her job, as well as the work she is most proud of. 


1. What's the best part about your job? 

I work with an incredibly collaborative, creative team who I learn from everyday. I’m constantly in awe with the way they are always three steps ahead of the rest of the internet and have had the best training thanks to them. I also love that I get to cover a variety of topics from social issues to celebrity  news to beauty and fashion trends, as well as explore different kinds of writing from employing humor in quippy, short blog posts to flexing my longform skills in a profile.

2. What's the hardest part about your job? 

Because it is a digital publication, we work long hours at an incredibly fast pace, and are always “on.” If some news breaks over the weekend or late at night when you might regularly be off work, you have to jump on and figure out how to approach it. That can mean a difficulty achieving a work-life balance, but at least you always have your team in the trenches with you. In the end, it is always worth it.

3. What college did you go to? 

I went to NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

4. What did you major in? 

At Gallatin we could create our own major–so I made Creative Non-Fiction, which was a combination of traditional journalism specialized with writing longform (think: personal essays, 5000-word profiles, etc) focused on writers in the diaspora, who wrote about their immigrant-hyphenate identities (like Edwidge Danticat). 

5. What's your favorite piece that you've written for Elle? 

It’s hard to pick from since I can write up to five stories a day! I think I really loved “Young Muslim American Women are Fighting Stereotypes with Self Defense.” When Islamaphobia  was taking root last year amidst the presidential election, I spent a day with a group of Muslim American women who not only gave high school and college aged women the leadership skills to fight back, but literal fighting skills in case of physical danger (an all too terrifying reality for many Muslim women). I produced a video and wrote this piece. 




Sunday, August 21, 2016

An Interview with the Staff of the Onion

It's nearly impossible to discuss satire in this day and age without making mention of the Onion. Pioneering the trend of satirical online publications, the Onion has been churning out quality content for 28 years. No one seems to strike the balance between funny and meaningful quite as well as the Oniom media empire has. Growing up with the site, the Onion inspired me to take journalism classes, and now as editor-in-chief of my school newsmagazine I was even more interested in hearing about their process and experience. I reached out to them for an interview, and they graciously answered my questions. 

1) What's the most difficult part of writing satire?
Originality. In a world where there are so many observations being made and then published by so many people, it can be tough to find an angle or approach on a topic that hasn't already been covered. We never want to be derivative so there’s a lot of pressure to find fresh perspectives on everything.

2) Do you ever worry about offending people? What's the worst you've ever offended someone?
We don’t worry about offending people, and there are two reasons for that. First, there will always be someone who is, considering we publish content online and in the history of the internet, there has probably never been a thing posted that hasn’t upset somebody. I mean, we published this harmless, dumb story about a fat salmon and received some angry response. If we worried about people not liking something of ours, we’d never have a happy moment in our lives. Second, we only published things we’re 100% confident to stand behind. We're always trying to punch up, not down, so that affects the way we approach sensitive subjects. You’ll notice we’re always poking at those in positions of power, society itself, the media, etc. and never the victims, the downtrodden, etc. There’s a motto that traditionally runs through the world of satire to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted” and we hold strong to that. We try to offer commentary on the world around us; we never actively try to offend people. There's no point to us being offensive without purpose. It isn’t a productive way of offering commentary. So if people are offended by something we publish, hopefully they're at least thinking about why they're offended.

3) How do you deal with the pressure to be funny/clever on a strict schedule/time limit?
I think everyone deals with this differently, but mostly it comes down to taking mental breaks. We set up our production schedule to allow our writers to take time off when they need to recharge. We store up a lot of good ideas so when we need to take a break, we can tap into those reserves instead of writing new stuff. We also try to rotate content topics and types in ways that keep the writers from getting locked into any one thing. The DNC and RNC were tough in part because many of the writers were working almost exclusively on those topics. Coming out of the DNC, everyone has made it a point to pitch non-political headlines and jokes to change things up. Basically, we set up our system to eliminate most of the intense pressure and the rest is just every individual writer finding their ways of managing their stress (ex. writing an hour, then exercising, then writing another hour—whatever works for them).

4) What advice do you have for a young satirist?
Write your brains out and then get ready for rejection. The Onion writers submit hundreds of headlines each week, and we throw away easily 97% of them, if not more. Sometimes brilliant headlines will be pitched that won't work for very strange and specific reasons (e.g., we've done a joke that's thematically just a bit too similar, or the headline is great but the story wouldn't work well when written out, or the target of the joke isn’t clear enough). Our writers are world-class comedians and write constantly … yet nearly all of their ideas get rejected. That’s how great stuff is made.

5) What's the most fun part about working for the Onion?
Ultimately we’re sitting in a room with our friends pitching jokes all the time, so how could anything be better than that? To take it a step further, in any career, there’s nothing more rewarding than getting to do something you’re passionate about for a living while also making a difference in society—and we’re even more lucky to get to do that through humor and pointed satire. We get to make something we love with people we love and people love what we make. It’s a beautiful cycle.

6) The Onion has been mistaken for a real news source on many occasions. How do you achieve that sense of realness?
Perhaps surprisingly, given how often we're mistaken for real news, that's not something the writers aim for. The Onion seems like a real news source sometimes because it needs to reflect and imitate what it's satirizing, and that's often how those instances of reader confusion originate.

7) Do you have a favorite Onion article?
Each person here has a very different favorite. The serious articles are more universally agreed upon; one of the office's favorites is "‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens," which gets adapted for each new shooting. We've found it resonates with our audience and captures the hopelessness and frustration we all feel with mass shootings and the fact that nothing seems to change afterward to prevent the next one.

On the lighter side of the Onion, though, we polled everyone on staff and here’s the collection of their favorites:
Meat

8) What satirists inspire you?
Strangely, there aren’t a ton of external satirists who inspire us—the majority of the staff is in their 20s and grew up with The Onion, so if there’s any shared inspiration, it’s the original staff of The Onion. We’re here to uphold a brilliant 28-year tradition and so when we need inspiration, we simply look to the people who started and then maintained that tradition.

9) What makes a good satire piece?
A good piece of satire ideally sparks thought in readers or resonates strongly (that is, it "feels real"). Sometimes, a good satire piece approaches its subject from a unique or clever angle and makes its point while still being funny. But it can also be a piece that just makes an original observation and runs with it — for example, "Dollar Store Has Great Deal On Fig Nortons," where the joke plays off of those weird off-brand versions of food you always see in dollar stores. Maybe the best way to summarize it is this: We want to take the sentiments everyone shares but nobody knows how to articulate or realizes they think and then we bring them to the forefront.

10) Does a lot of the Onion staff come from a particular background (comedy, journalism, etc) or is there more of a variety?

We’re all over the map background-wise. In fact, only one person on our 15-person core staff came from a journalism background. We’re widely distributed in our geographic origins and even more widely distributed in our educational backgrounds. We have people who majored in such varied things as English, sociology, economics, mathematics, history, film, French, and music. We have college dropouts. We have people who worked in advertising, trade publications, temp agencies, even at the Lego Store before working here. In order to have various perspectives in our paper, we have to have a staff with widely varying experiences and viewpoints on the world.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Purchase my zine!

Hey everyone,
A couple of months ago I asked you to submit to my Bad Art Zine. At first, I created a simple, black and white zine that I made with my personal photocopier, but I decided I should also do something bigger. I'm proud to announce that you can now purchase Bad Art Annual on Blurb.com. I've linked to it below-- be sure to grab a physical copy, or a PDF/ebook-- you won't wanna miss out on this one.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Bad Art Zine: Now accepting submissions!

Hello Everyone!
I'm just popping in really quick here to say that I have decided to create a zine. The theme of my zine is going to be Bad Art. I think that some people are afraid to be creative because they don't think they "measure up" to others and that their work is "bad". I want to stop this and ignite a creative spark in people (in the vein of art for art's sake). On that note, if you have any bad writing, drawings, photos, etc. please send them to: theavantgardetweener@gmail.com by November 25th. Thank you!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bonne Chance Collections Giveaway!//CLOSED

Hey everyone! Guess who's putting on their first ever giveaway! Me! I'm collaborating with Bonne Chance Collections to give one lucky reader a dress! The winner can pick any dress that's in stock, and I will give them the coupon code to enter at checkout so they get it for FREE! All you have to do is follow the simple form below:

You must:
Follow The Avant Garde Tweener on GFC
Follow the Avant Garde Tweener on Bloglovin'
Like on Facebook
Follow Bonne Chance Collections on Twitter and Polyvore

Be sure to comment your email address!!!



Their new collection will be released the first week in May, so if you have willpower, the winner might want to wait and use the code then! But here are some of my favorite pieces:




The giveaway is now closed! Congrats to the winner, Adi!