Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Think Magazine: Spring 09

Think magazine, started in 2007 as the capstone project for Drake magazine and news-Internet majors, will launch its third issue May 1.  Meanwhile, the online magazine is quite impressive. Check it out!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Drake students win more awards

Guess who won first, second AND third places in the Best Student Magazines category in the Society of Professional Journalist's regional awards last weekend?  It starts with a "D", ends with an "e" and it's not Duke. Check out the winning Drake magazines here.  

Friday, April 24, 2009

Class of 1999: Janeen Levine

I moved back to the East Coast in 1999 and settled in suburban Philadelphia, where I continue to live and work.  In 2004, I earned my M.Ed. degree and PA certification in Elementary Education.  I spent six years working for Knowledge Learning Corporation as a kindergarten teacher and program specialist.  Currently, I work for Creative Beginnings, which is the preschool that serves the children of Fox Chase Cancer Center employees.  After many years of casting about, I found a niche that integrates everything I love best—while challenging me to grow as an educator, an administrator, a trainer, and an advocate.  My snappy title is “Learning and Behavioral Specialist,” and my role encompasses a myriad of responsibilities.  As an onsite trainer, much of my time is spent writing and delivering responsive training workshops for our teachers and administrators.  The main focus of my job, however, is to support the identification, referral, and inclusion of children with learning differences.  I am fortunate to collaborate with five other administrators who share the same level of passion, ambition, and commitment to the field.  And I still firmly believe that my background in writing has served my career as an educator very well.
In 2007, I edited seven nursing textbooks in the
Incredibly Easy
series published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.  It was an interesting gig that taught me a lot about positioning myself as a freelance editor and believing in both my skills and pedigree as a Drake-educated writer.  My fellow 515 pioneers may be surprised to learn that I earned a lofty photo credit for a clinical photo shoot I completed in 2007, as well. Additionally, I hold a position on the leadership team for ETS (Educational Testing Service), the publishers of the national Praxis teacher certification exams.  I continue to serve as a freelance test question developer and respondent for ETS in the division of Education of Young Children.  When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my 4-year-old niece, traveling, reading, and attending live theatre.   

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ten Years Later: Drake Magazine grads of 1999

They started 515, won tons of awards, and then went off to make their own way in the world.  I have asked for updates on the grads of 1999.  Here's a start.

Amanda (Bradford) Cortright:  Goodness, 10 years ago I would have never thought I'd dive into the newspaper industry, but here I am. After Drake, I started at a small paper on the southwest coast of Florida as a copy editor and designer. About a year later, I moved to Daytona Beach where I started out again as a copy editor and designer. Over the past nine years here I've moved around within the newspaper, being promoted at points. I started designing 1A on a regular basis, then was moved into the Features department where I was their primary designer. Now I'm the Assitant Features Editor here (the Daytona Beach News-Journal) mainly designing still, but working with reporters/photographers on developing the packages. Fun stuff most days, tho the newspaper industry definitely has its drawbacks lately.

Nicholas Fonseca left Entertainment Weekly on in April; he and his partner Ben are moving to Australia.  Here’s his farewell note to EW: I’m grateful for all of the opportunities that I have had at EW. I’ve wanted to work here since I was 12 years old, and in fact, it’s the reason I went into journalism in the first place. I was blessed enough to get a job here, and it’s a job that has been incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. But it’s time to move on and figure out what else I want in life. Ben and I have both been wanting to try out Australia for a few years, and we want to do it while we are young. New York City is always going to be home, and I have no doubt that I’ll be coming back. But why not give something else a try? We will be traveling all over Australia for about six months, participating in a program called WWOOF (, through which we’ll join people on their farms/homesteads and helping them out with everything from picking avocados to shearing sheep to regenerating farmland name it. Essentially, we’re going to be living off the land for the rest of the year. It’s a big leap (and a long way from my seat at the Oscars a few years ago), but I’m thrilled to be trying it out. We’ll settle in Sydney around Dec./Jan., and figure out what we want to do next. I’ve got some magazine contacts down under that I’m hoping to utilize. Or maybe I’ll finally become the yoga teacher that I always said I wanted to be.

Jason Oswald: I earned an MBA at Butler University and, in late 2006, Securian Financial Group offered me the opportunity to take a position in the parent company, and I moved to St. Paul in early 2007. I work in mergers and acquisitions, across all of our divisions and businesses, at the enterprise level. Our group also works on corporate strategy, strategic partnerships, and other development activities. I love it! Plus, I still get to use my writing and communications skills. For a while, I had been concerned I was  'losing my edge' - I wasn't excited about the work I was doing and not being able to use anything I had learned. This new position has really re-energized me.

Amanda, Nicholas, and Jason are all on Facebook, as am I.

I would love to hear from more 1999 alums.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Des Moines' ED2010 WIns National Award

The Des Moines ED2010 has won the national group’s first-ever Chapter of the Year award.  This recognition was based on the fact that the group has been active since its inception in 2001 and regularly holds events, including happy hours and discussions of publishing trends.  And the judges in the Ed2010 national chapter also appreciated the group’s connection to Drake’s Ed on Campus group.

ED2010 in Des Moines is headed by Drake grad Renee Freemon Mulvihill (’96), one of the founders of the national group.

DEAR PEP: Should I Go To Grad School?

BoldI am planning on going to graduate school to make me more qualified (and desirable) in such abysmal times. I have also thought about teaching journalism at college one day as well. Regardless, I am interested in attending a graduate school that will advance my skills, boost my resume, and prepare me for the future.

In all honesty, is a Master’s in Communications a truly beneficial addition formy career in magazine journalism--or is it not needed?

I would appreciate a realistic list of graduate schools I should apply for. I would also just like to discuss the preparation needed for the GRE and applying to schools in general. It seems like most deadlines for application are next winter.                     —Drake junior


Realistically, a graduate degree seldom helps you unless it is in something that expands your B.A.  (Or if you have a B.A. in sociology or something similar and want to get up to speed.) You could make important contacts in graduate school, which could help your job prospects. Still, you could get the same from an entry level job.  Employers will hire you for what you can do for them, not for the degree you hold.

As for suggestions, you have a great many excellent schools to choose from. For master’s that offer additional journalism preparation, I would start with Columbia, Berkeley and Northwestern.The M.S. At Columbia is highlypractical and has some great opportunities in new media work, but much of it repeats what we do at Drake.  And Northwestern's graduate program is also sort of redundant of what you will already have done at Drake, especially in magazines, but their Integrated Marketing Communications program does provide you with a difference perspective and could broaden your horizons. Berkeley is also very pragmatic.  

If, however, you want to teach, I would suggest biting the bullet and getting a Ph.D.  I am not convinced good teachers need a Ph.D., but many schools require it. Fortunately, Drake does not.

For a Ph.D., I would consider some of the biggies:The University of North Carolina, Stanford, Columbia, Ohio State, the University of Illinois. Missouri offers an integrated Ph.D/law program that is sort of intriguing.

Application deadlines vary, but most are in the winter.  The best prep for the GRE is to sleep well the night before.  There are preparation programs, some online, but I doubt you need that. You might revisit some math problems, as that is what usually kills journalism students.

I repeat, though, if you want to be a practicing journalist, grad school is not really the route to take.  There will be entry level jobs for you out there.  The field will be competitive in this economy, but a Drake education will prepare you well.

Don't head to grad school out of fear.

DEAR PEP: Can I Trust a Grant-Funded Job?

The job search is starting to be a bit more fruitful. I had an interview last week that I felt hopeful about and I have one lined up at a local university next week, for an academic journal.  It would be super convenient commute-wise and I'd get the benefits of working at a university, but the only thing that worries me is the disclaimer they put on the position listing, which reads: 

"This position is funded by an external grant source. If the grant terminates for any reason, or if the grant funding is lost or reduced for any reason, employment with the university will be immediately discontinued."

Is this standard or common at academic journals and publications? Is it worrisome? I realize trade and consumer magazines are in similar situations right now but don't have the guts to advertise that in a job posting. And no publication is 100 percent stable, so I get that. But should I beware? Hopefully it's not as stark as it sounds, and i appreciate their being upfront.
         —Hopeful About the Search


The grant could last forever; it could be gone in a few months.  That’s pretty much the same thing you could say about many media outlets, as you say.  It sounds like an excellent opportunity, and I would embrace it enthusiastically, for as long as it might last.  You will be gaining excellent experience and contacts.  Increasingly, university programs are funded by outside sources, so this is pretty common. Good luck.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Michelle Obama: One-Woman Cure for Magazine Woes?

Will Michelle Obama save the magazine industry? Check out Gawker's take. She and her husband the president upped People's February 2 single copy sales by 38 percent. Oprah's first-ever shared cover, with Michelle, brought in 25 percent more readers. It's no surprise that Michelle improved Essence readership--but by 83 percent? Wow!  New York's Michelle cover, though, added nada--zero additional readers.   How and why people respond to magazine covers has always been somewhat mysterious.  Yet Jackie O and Princess Di were best-selling favorites.  Is our new first lady following in that same tradition?  Publishers sure hope so.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Drake's Tanner Stransky On NYC TV

Our own Tanner Stransky (05) was the guest on Good Day New York  April 8, talking about American Idol contestants.  Savvy, cool, and looking great.  Tanner was recently promoted to correspondent for Entertainment Weekly.