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Want to be an Online Writer, Editor, Webmaster?

posted by LIM College

describe the imageMy summertime issues of W, Vogue and Allure have arrived, and I have glossy high-resolution images of all the top models, columns of celebrity gossip, how-to articles, over-the-top ads, and most importantly, the latest fashion trends—a monthly Bible of fashion inspiration—to hold in my hands.

But now every print publication features some version of the message “To read more about this topic, please visit our website.” As publications compete to fully integrate with Faceboook and Twitter, and to offer blogs that supplement or replace print content, everyone has a theory about what fashion communication will be like tomorrow. 

So, I decided to interview Karen Wilson, who has been involved in the transition from print to online for a number of years. (I worked with Karen during my internship at Allure.)  She is currently a web producer, editor, and writer for as well for Karen has also contributed to Paper, Interview,, Radar, The Village Voice,, House & Garden, Architectural Digest, W, Lucky, Gold for Women and

Jenna:  How have magazine's missions for their websites differed from magazine to magazine?

Karen: When I started working in magazines it was the early days of the web. Then the mission was to archive past content, and I spent hours encoding text from old issues and sorting through photo spreads. Now magazine websites are moving to create complementary experiences for fans of the publications’ brand with online-only content, blogging, video, podcasts, and contests.

Would you advise a student just starting to work for publications to avoid magazines and choose a website instead?  What do you recommend they look for in their first couple of jobs?

Karen: Unfortunately, journalism is a hard industry to break into, whether in print or online. But there is a bright side in growth in online. If a student is passionate about online publications they should go for them, but be realistic about how much pounding the pavement they will have to do to get in. The biggest things to look for in first jobs are mentors and room to grow in the company. Find a boss who is connected, has seen your hard work, problem-solving skills and potential, so that they can offer a strong personal recommendation.

Jenna: What are two or three of the most important trends you've noticed in on-line publications recently?

Karen: The rise of social networking in media is huge. Most websites are trying to capitalize on their brands by adding Facebook fan pages and Twitter followers. We're just seeing the beginning of how this can create a richer experience with media for the audience, not to mention higher traffic and subsequent advertising dollars. Everyone in the industry is also excited about getting their content into media readers like the iPhone, iPad and Kindles. I don't know if this will save print, but I do know that people still need exciting content. We just have to figure out how to deliver it. Finally, I think the issue of whether major websites like and will institute pay walls is a big one. Obviously writers, editors, photographers and designers need to be paid a fair wage for their work. Consumers will pay for good content if we can devise a seamless way for them to do it.

Jenna: What are the skills that have been most valuable to you as a webmaster, whether technical or in your attitude, approach or background? How do you stay in demand in a tough job market?

Karen: When I was fresh out of college in 1999, I took introductory classes in basic html and Photoshop at a non-profit arts organization where I was interning. With those rudimentary skills I was able to build a website for myself, and later a blog, which really helped me have a sense of how a website is put together. For graduates now interested in getting into web production, I'd strongly recommend getting familiar with coding programs like Dreamweaver, become comfortable with Photoshop and blogging software like Movable Type, and even get a little video editing under your belt. Having those skills will you apart as an applicant and make you indispensible to bosses looking for quick content production on the cheap. The best way to stay in demand is to keep up on trends in the industry and have demonstrable skills, like recommendations from supervisors or a website with clips and links to your work. Being able to point potential employers to work you've done in the past, even if you did it for fun in your free time, can give them a sense of what you're capable of producing.

-- Jenna Gallo

An early article about the death of print from Fast Company:

An opposite point of view from the Public Broadcasting Service:

A site that offers free advice for would-be webmasters:

Topics: fashion industry