Inside the Editing Process: Classroom Close-up

Pels (center back) and students enjoy an animated classroom conversation!

What’s it really like to be a student in the NYU MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program? To give you an inside look, we are beginning an occasional series in which we invite students to write about their classroom experience from their perspective. This post was written by graduate student Diana Sánchez Yaber about Editing Creative Content, a 14-week course focusing on assigning and editing effective content across multiple platforms, including print, web, mobile and video. The course just concluded for the spring semester. Here is Diana’s report:

This course is perfectly structured to give students a firsthand picture of what it’s like to be a content editor in the current media landscape. We were so lucky to have Jessica Pels, Digital Director at Marie Claire, as a professor. She has held editorial positions at Teen Vogue, “I Like What You’re Wearing,” and Glamour. Her background in print and her current passion for digital gave us an honest inside look at the industry.

Our professor made sure that every class was unexpected (Yes, we have a syllabus, but she always brought some fresh, new element!) and challenging, since the assignments demanded skills and knowledge on many levels. We got to pitch ideas, edit a magazine feature, create visuals, and develop a complete roll-out plan for content across multiple platforms, all of this in a learning environment that encouraged creativity and participation. “It seemed like we were able to touch on every aspect of editing and practice using the skills we’ve learned in real-life scenarios”, said student Bridgette Langdon, who worked on a class team project involving creating a digital package for Wired about the risks of being hacked.

Editing flow chart: basis for classroom discussion

As intimidating as some projects looked on paper, in-class activities were a perfect addition to the course because we could test our abilities as writers and editors before we tackled the more complex assignments. Meeting tight deadlines, making executive decisions, and participating in mock meetings with advertisers, among other classroom elements, showed us the fast pace at which this job has to be done in a continually evolving industry. By the end of the semester, we were successfully able to implement the skills required to be a multidimensional editor of today.

We were also privileged to learn from guest speakers. Randy Minor, Art Director at New York magazine, gave an amazing presentation on the art director’s role in producing the annual Spring Fashion issue of the magazine. Shruti Ganguly, a filmmaker and co-founder of Fictionless, talked about the production of Vogue’s “73 Questions” video series, which she worked on while at Condé Nast. Eric Sullivan, Senior Editor at Esquire, talked about creating remarkable features. “Each speaker was excited and very candid about their experiences, and provided advice about entering a digital publishing world,” said student Morgan Garces.

But more than the mix of lectures and the influential speakers, what we appreciated most were the experiences that our instructor shared with us about this challenging business. “The speakers who came in reflected the optimism that Jessica brought to class every day,” added Morgan Garces. “If anyone has an opportunity to take a class with Jessica, I would tell them to jump on it.”

Jessica Pels | photo credit: Kathryn Wirsing

Of course, we wanted to hear from our professor, so we asked her comments as well. Here is what she said about US!

“In an industry that evolves quickly and sometimes unpredictably, I’m always on my toes,” said Jessica Pels. “But there’s nothing like being thrown curveball questions by smart, perceptive students to cast everything in a new light. Seeing media through their eyes—especially since they’re the target consumers—was an invaluable gut check on how we operate and what our priorities are.”

So, it sounds like it was a rewarding experience for both the professor and the students, which is what we expect from the classroom.

by Diana Sánchez Yaber

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