When PWR and Communications Collide: Reflecting on my Editorial Internship  

Hallie Milstein ’22 (Journalism major PWS minor)

I entered college indicating my intention to be a journalism major with the expectation of graduating and writing for a newspaper. Now a senior, my ambitions have shifted a bit, though still with the underlying goal of being a writer.  I now find myself interested in editorial work, specifically within the magazine publishing industry.  

I have just finished my third editorial internship since widening my horizons to magazine publishing last spring. For this PWR internship, I was an editorial intern for Modern Luxury, a large luxury media publishing company with brands across the United States. I wrote for southwestern markets, specifically Scottsdale, East Valley, Dallas, Houston, Palm Springs, and Hawaii. In this role with Modern Luxury, I was given many more opportunities to write than in past roles. Copyediting, fact-checking, and conducting photo outreach were also important parts of my daily internship, with the added benefit of bylines to help build my portfolio.   

Putting my foot in the door to the professional world as an intern has been a learning curve, and it definitely doesn’t fit into the mold of journalism that my major had anticipated. Rather, this internship was interdisciplinary. I see editorial work as a combination of journalism and PWR, my major and minor respectively, and drawing on skills from each discipline. In many ways, skills learned from PWR have filled in the gaps in my journalism education when applied to the magazine publishing industry. The key has been reflecting on my education and identifying which journalism and PWS skills apply to the editorial field and my internship specifically.   

One journalism skill that carried over was the emphasis placed on AP Style. Journalism courses at Elon have ingrained the stylebook into my mind, setting a standard for how language can be used for writing accompanying audio, video, and interactive graphics. This has helped prepare me for professional publications, even with the addition of house styles. However, I did not have to do as much multimedia work in this internship as anticipated by journalism courses. Rather, the magazines have separate design departments that handle visual elements and I just got to focus on writing. Upon being assigned a story, my process involved reaching out to sources over email; I would introduce myself and Modern Luxury, state my intention to feature them/their business, ask questions, and request that they submit high-definition photos before beginning the writing process with AP and house-added styles in mind.    

Another deviation from expectations set by journalism coursework is that I was not working in a fast-paced newsroom reporting breaking news. Rather, I interned virtually with longer deadlines, writing cultural features and recommendation listicles about food, design, and real estate. For example, I wrote two stories on restaurants where readers could eat Thanksgiving dinner instead of cooking. Though hardly strict news and not crucial for people to know, this story was still informational for the target audience. Perhaps the most useful skill I gained from four years of journalism courses has been the ability to recognize news value. Even if I am not reporting hard news, it is important to identify the pieces of the story that need to be told and that the whole article can be shaped around. This relies on my ability to identify factors such as timeliness, prominence, and human interest. For instance, when writing for Modern Luxury’s “The Guide” section that lists new and noteworthy things to do and places to be within the magazine’s market location, both timeliness and proximity were to be emphasized.  

This internship also involved a level of marketing. The stories were more human interest-focused rather than need-to-know news, and this publication specifically focuses on sharing the grandeur of luxury markets, often involving the “best” and “most exclusive” products and services. For instance, when writing a story informing readers about an upcoming design festival, I sought to emphasize the exclusive and appealing aspects so that the audience will not only want to keep reading the article but also potentially attend the festival.   

My PWR skills came into play when adapting to this new, nontraditional journalistic setting. On the first day of PWR 211 we learned about rhetorical situations, a lesson that has proved important in my current role. I had to take a step back and analyze the rhetorical situation at hand, especially focusing on audience, purpose, and genre. What does it mean to write for luxury audiences in Arizona when I’m a college student in North Carolina? And what are the expectations of different subject areas within this magazine, including real estate and art?  

One way that I have adapted to the rhetorical situation has been by incorporating keywords. For instance, using words like “exclusive” and “dazzling” that emphasize the luxury of the subject proved useful. Researching insider lingo to the location, like references to different neighborhoods, is also helpful in writing to an audience hundreds of miles away. This also applies to writing about different subjects like food or architecture where keywords are useful descriptors to appear knowledgable about the subject material.  

PWR has also helped me adjust to the expectations of writing online versus print publications. In this role, I have written mostly for the print magazine and have only written for the digital edition a few times. However, I have had to convert several print pieces written by others to online formats for digital reading. PWR stresses understanding the mediums for writing and how they impact comprehension and circulation. As such, I have had to prioritize search engine optimization, online formatting, and what will entice readership when scrolling through lists of headlines on the website. This involves reformatting such as breaking writing into smaller paragraphs and hyperlinking when necessary, tagging and assigning the story a URL, and changing creative and short print headlines to more descriptive titles that will encourage readers to click on the article. Outside of the writing process, PWR has also facilitated my ability to work in a virtual environment, helping me understand the expectations of a professional email and adapt to Zoom communication models.   

Overall, this internship has acted as a culmination of my journalism and PWR education. I plan to continue working for Modern Luxury through the spring semester and have also accepted a secondary editorial internship at a different magazine to add as much as possible to my portfolio. As I continue to analyze how PWR and journalism interface within editorial contexts, I hope to expand my understanding of the industry’s expectations, growing as a writer and contributor in the process. I intend to pursue a job in magazine publishing after graduation in May of 2022, and my goal is to continue to learn as an editorial writer, combining both journalistic and PWR skills.  

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