What My 19-Year-Old Shadow Thinks of the Publishing Game


Today I have the pleasure of having a young man by the name of John Michel, a recent grad of the vaunted St. Mark’s School of Texas, follow me around all day. He’ll be going to Dartmouth next year. So I guess he thinks a day at D Magazine will give him some sort of insight into the world of publishing. We’ll get an update from him later today, but here are his thoughts going into his understudy.

The newspaper staff consumed a significant portion of my time in high school. I was news editor and editorial director for my junior and senior years respectively, so I’m familiar — or at least I think I’m familiar — with the strictly journalistic side of the process: reporting, writing, editing, designing, delegating tasks to younger staff members, etc. It’s my impression, though, that professional journalism presents a new set of challenges and is vastly different from its high school equivalent; I’d like to learn the goals, difficulties, risks, and advantages of magazine production. After leafing through a couple of issues of D, despite the obvious discrepancies from the type of journalism I’m used to, I notice trends similar to what I’ve both seen in large newspapers and had to deal with in St. Mark’s newspaper: more alternative copy; less wordy, cumbersome stories; and lots of advertising. I’d like to know what it is that you do — where you make your money, how you find your stories, and how you advertise yourself, among other things. My guess is that the majority of your revenue comes from advertising, but that’s completely conjecture. I’m interested, too, in the most immediate concerns of the publication industry — how you allocate your time, how the industry has changed over time, how you hedge against any adverse changes, and where you think print publications are going in the future.

My prediction: this guy is way too serious. At the end of the day, he’ll consider this a waste of his time.


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  • suzanne

    Dartmouth? I was going to guess Brown and future semiotics major. Dartmouth? Future lawyer or investment banker.

  • journy

    yea, dartmouth? great school. but he will ditch the journalism ideals and get a nice path carved into wall street.

    it’s just how it is.

    good luck.

  • PR

    What an arse kisser.

  • Rawlins Gilliland

    I love his generation. His parents…who may well be Gen Xers still in their early mid 40s….worry that he is facing a world of the unknown, etc. But John, the many people I meet your age-30 yrs make it easier for me to sleep at night. It’s exhausting some times, like speaking Spanish w/someone who speaks Portugeese…but overall they strike me ultimately as relaxing, like iced green tea w/ginseng, fresh mint & key limes & raw honey. Go John Go. Make your parents proud. Make us all proud. I’ll appreciate it. And so will your country.

  • He wants to know “how you allocate your time”? Old Monk, D headquarters, Old Monk, Finfrocking. Not necessarily in that order.

  • laurie

    Hey guys, let’s give a cheer for an intelligent, idealistic kid who isn’t loafing on the couch all summer. He’s the kind of person who won’t be on welfare, who will pay his taxes (and a lot of them, making his millions on Wall Street, as you suggest), and who will be one of the few supporting us as we geezers collect our pitiful Social Security checks granted to us starting at age 85.

  • Hidyhoo

    He isn’t loafing? He’ll support us as we age?

    Isn’t he going into journalism??

  • Daniel

    I’m impressed that tomorrow’s meteorologists and journalists are industriously frocking their fins. Hell, when I was his age, I lay around on the sofa defrocking my old monk.

  • hm

    Why should the child have to work on Wall Street? His parents have plenty of money. So much money, in fact, that he can afford to be idealistic and to take a little job in the publishing industry. Just to give him something to do.
    Sweet that he expects publishers must “hedge.”

  • Sammy

    Get a shave, punk.

  • Neal

    Did you digitally alter his eyebrows?

  • Joe Murray

    John obviously has more on-the-ball than Neal or Sammy (last two comments). You guys are a couple of losers. As for John, you’re going to do great, at Dartmouth and in life. How about a D-Blog from the Ivy League? Could be interesting …