It’s not easy to transfer to a new job, but Meagan McGinnes (‘14), followed her passion and now she’s where she hoped to be. McGinnes started her career as a staff writer on the breaking news desk for Boston.com. In November 2016, she made the jump to Project NOSH as a senior reporter. Nearly two years later, in October 2018, she transitioned to NPR Affiliate WBUR in Boston as a Newsletter Editor.
“One of the things that I enjoyed the most about journalism is that audience engagement aspect and the fact that there are so many different platforms that you can reach consumers and readers and listeners,” McGinnes said.
The position of newsletter editor allows McGinnes to work on both the editorial and the business side of journalism. She starts the day as a reporter writing her daily morning newsletter. Then, she turns her attention to meeting and strategy sessions on how to get more audience engagement with the newsletter.
“The editorial product is always at the forefront,” McGinnes said. “If the newsletter stinks, and people don't want to read it, or they don't think it matches the quality of reporting that they hear on air or get on our website, then it's not going to do well.”
One of the most appealing aspects of WBUR for McGinnes is the independent journalism. WBUR is a nonprofit organization, which McGinnes had already had experience with at Ithaca College as an editor for Buzzsaw Magazine.
McGinnes said her experience at IC also helped her understand how to report across all platforms – a skill she views as crucial in today’s market. “The online world makes it impossible not to know how to write your own stories, shoot your own photos, edit your own video, even create your own charts and maps,” McGinnes said.
McGinnes said she learned many of these skills in her multimedia journalism course at IC. The class is structured as a working newsroom, pairing students up and sending them out into the community to report. “You will feel like a warrior by the end of the semester. You’ll learn how to pitch stories, to roll with the punches, and to make deadlines at all costs.”
Another course that sticks with her, especially in the current moment of the Black Lives Matter movement, was a course with James Rada, professor and chair of the Department of Journalism, on race in the media.
During her time at Ithaca College, McGinnes and several other Park students traveled with Professor James Rada to the nation’s capital to cover the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for PBS NewsHour Online. McGinnes and her group interviewed original March participants, bringing their stories to the screen a half-century later. “It was truly an honor to be able to meet the people I met and listen to the stories they told about their joy and struggles,” McGinnes said. “Hearing the President speak was an added bonus, too!”
D.C. was not the only place McGinnes visited through the Journalism Department. As an active member and former president of the Society of Professional Journalists on campus, McGinnes attended conferences all over the country.
“You could have an amazing resume, but if you don’t know how to connect with people and advocate for yourself in a meaningful way, then interviewing and landing that dream job will be difficult,” McGinnes said.
McGinnes stressed the role internships can play in the job search. As a student, she interned with many different platforms: FLEFF, The Ithaca Journal, and a TV news magazine. Each position provided a set of skills that helped McGinnes decide her journalistic path.
“I tried to cover many mediums through my internships to not only figure out what I was liking – and disliking – about the different types of journalism,” McGinnes said.
For budding journalists, McGinnes recommends a few things. Some reporters may dread the idea, but McGinnes says you need to be ready to move if the circumstances dictate it. “Don’t get too comfortable in your spot if you feel like you’re not learning anymore. It’s scary to start looking because you won’t find a job right away. However, that doesn’t speak to your professional level. You cannot let those fears stop you from learning how to be a better reporter and researcher,” McGinnes said.
McGinnes certainly isn’t letting fears stop her from learning. She is continuing her education at Boston University. To get a better perspective on the business side of journalism, she is working toward her MBA by taking night classes