Category Archives: Reporters
How can we make a living as writers? Telling True Stories narrates wholly how we can improve our writing and achieve those goals. The final chapter of the book focuses on how to build a career in magazines and books. When approaching an editor, think of a story that only you can tell. Make sure to follow up. Think small.
Earlier in the book, we learn that it is key to tell a story well enough that your audience wants to finish it to its entirety. I have to admit that I am guilty of often times skimming through a story to the core of it and then putting it down after I got the gist of it. The shorter and more concise a story is, the easier it is to read. A story that has sixteen parts to it is less likely to be finished compared to a story that has three parts to it. So think small and concise. The more detailed and ongoing and repetitive a story seems, the less likely readers are to finish it.
After watching the film “Almost Famous,” Susannah Strumfeld, who has gone by “Zan” since age 13, knew she wanted to be a journalist. Since a young age, she envisioned herself following around a band, living a rock star lifestyle, and reporting what she saw. Her dreams are halfway there.
Immediately following her graduation from SUNY New Paltz as an English major and journalism and creative writing minor, her pursuit of happiness began. Zan, 22, was hired to work for The Spotlight, a weekly capital region newspaper, as a Colonie reporter. She has been with the paper for three months now and covers the news of Colonie, Menands, Loudonville, and some of Albany county.
“The hardest thing for me is that I have always written arts and features pieces and now I cover news and politics,” Strumfeld says.
She admits she is still adjusting to covering local politics. While at SUNY New Paltz, she worked for the school’s newspaper, The Oracle. She was a staff writer, arts and entertainment editor, features editor, copy editor, and assistant managing editor, a position that was created just for her. Strumfeld says she loves to copy edit, proof read, and find grammatical errors.
“It’s like detective work. I really love doing it,” she says grinning.
Aside from working with The Oracle, Strumfeld also interned at Chronogram Magazine, based in Kingston, for a summer during college. She worked 35 hours a week from June until August. It was a lot of work she admits, but it was an opportunity she could not pass up. She wrote four cover stories, learned how to tell a story in seven to ten words, and how to edit her own work, up to seven times just for a single story.
“It was the best summer of my life,” she says.
Her learning experience at SUNY New Paltz with the newspaper and her internship helped pave the path of where she is today. A typical work day for her includes finding her own stories and going out and making it happen. It varies day to day, which makes it difficult sometimes, Zan admits, but that is the fun in it. She writes six stories a week and has to come in touch with her creative side.
“I’m not doing this for the money,” she says.
She is doing it for her passion for writing. She likes writing because you can try it in any form you want. She has recently turned her writing into song lyrics. Reading and writing, it’s what she loves.
“If you can read and you can write, you can work anywhere,” Zan says.