Students, professors and alumni filled the Kelly Writers House on Monday for a day dedicated to careers in media, giving students the chance to mingle with alumni from Entertainment Weekly, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other major publications.
This year’s Media Day brought together experts in the fields of journalism and publishing to speak about their experiences and to give advice to listeners. Open to students, staff, faculty and the local community, the event was held for those interested in learning more about media careers and opportunities.
The first part of Media Day took place at noon in the Kelly Writers House. It included a roundtable discussion moderated by Dick Polman, a national political columnist at NewsWorks and full-time “writer in residence” at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at Penn. The discussion covered topics such as Penn’s journalism minor, strategies for exploring nonfiction courses, independent studies, grants and prizes.
The lunchtime panel, hosted by the Creative Writing Program, included Polman as well as Avery Rome, a longtime journalist, teacher and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Students in the journalism minor — including College seniors Taylor Hosking, former 34th Street Ego Editor Casey Quackenbush and former Daily Pennsylvanian Sports Editor Laine Higgins — also joined in the discussion.
Later in the evening, the Kelly Writers House held an alumni panel on Careers in Media, co-sponsored by the Daily Pennsylvanian and the Nora Magid Mentorship Prize. The panel fielded questions on how students can prepare for careers in print, broadcast and online media, publishing and related fields, as well as how to make decisions about extracurriculars, internships and graduate school in these areas.
This year’s panel included Washingtonian magazine food editor and 2008 College graduate Jessica Sidman, 2007 College graduate and founder of Brainpickings.com Maria Popova, 2012 College graduate and Digital News Editor of Entertainment Weekly Jessica Goodman and 1990 College graduate and author David Borgenicht.
The panel was moderated by 1979 College graduate Stephen Fried, who is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author and professor at Penn and the Columbia School of Journalism, where he mentors longform nonfiction writers.
One opportunity the panelists discussed was the RealArts program at Penn, which Fried described as a way to fund internships at places that cannot otherwise afford to pay interns. Goodman also spoke about her experiences as a RealArts intern at Rolling Stone Magazine.
Fried commented on the growing skill set young journalists may need.
“Is it nice to be able to shoot video? Is it nice to be able to take pictures? Is it nice to be more computer literate than me?” he asked. “Yes, of course it is. But we don’t want you to ever hear those things and find them to be exclusionary or reasons to be scared and not do the work.”
Popova agreed that doing what you love is extremely important.
“Ideally, you will get good at the thing you’re interested in, but there’s absolutely no value in investing time and skill and resources in getting good at something you’re not interested in,” she said. “Then you just become an employee and not someone with a career.”
Goodman spoke about the importance of working on projects you care about while still at Penn.
“When you get into a full time job, you’re not going to have that much time to jump into that many passion projects,” she said. “When I was at Penn, I felt like I really could follow any lead to any story.”
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