By Dean Stattmann
On Thursday March 26, New York Press editor-in-chief Jerry Portwood stopped by Betty Ming Liu’s beat reporting class at New York University to discuss the state of print journalism, the future of the neighborhood weekly and most importantly, what today’s journalism students can do to grab a thread in this business.
Portwood, a graduate of Oglethorpe University, came to the New York Press in February 2006. He has since served as managing editor and arts and entertainment editor at the Manhattan Media publication, and in 2008 he took over as editor-in-chief.
But today, with print journalism in its current state, it’s becoming more and more of a challenge to put out the weekly paper with a minimal staff and freelancers whose voices often don’t match that of the publication. “It’s a difficult time in journalism,” he says.
Portwood, who admits to only taking one five day vacation in the last three years, is one of just two staffers on the paper’s masthead, and relies on freelancers for 90 percent of the paper’s content. But when asked about the future of the publication, he’s confident that we’ll be seeing a lot more of the New York Press.
And better yet, he’s confident that journalism students can hold off on changing their majors for a little longer. It’s a demoralizing time for seniors, with papers and magazines falling around them like graduation confetti, but Portwood believes that the freelance gigs are still out there. Here are Jerry’s tips for bagging a byline:
– Have realistic expectations
– Be passionate about your work
– Don’t feel entitled
– Pitch stories via email (wait a week to follow up)
– Include your nut graf in the email. Make them want it.