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

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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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