Eight questions for Sean Plottner

The editor of Dartmouth Alumni Magazine steps up and faces the UMagazinology questionnaire.

How long have you been in your job?

Eleven years.

What has proven to be the most significant thing you had to learn to do that job?

Learning the lexicon of academia. My prior magazine experience in New York did little to provide me with an understanding of what a provost is, what deans do, and how a development office operates.

What has been your best experience at the magazine?

Winning the Sibley Award as best alumni magazine in 2008.

What has proven to be your biggest frustration?

Getting the magazine online. It’s a long and not uncommon story. We’re finally up and running, but we’re still not close to meeting our electronic potential.

What part of your magazine never quite satisfies you, despite everybody’s best effort?

Our front-of-the-book news section. I think we’re strong when it comes to features, design, profiles, pacing, display copy, etc. But campus news? Not so strong.

What story are you proudest to have published?

Our July/August 2007 cover story about the warring alumni factions battling over representation on the board of trustees, a battle that has led to ongoing lawsuits that pit alums against their alma mater and trustee against trustee. As the fur was flying we got Washington Post political reporter Matt Mosk to investigate and sift through all the controversy and the soundbites. He did an excellent job of reporting and cut through a lot of pro- and anti-administration propaganda to give readers a balanced look at the players, issues and allegations involved. It was juicy stuff for a little alumni magazine.

If you could commission a story from any writer in the world, who would it be?

I can’t decide between Frank Deford, still the best sportswriter of our time (his 2002 Sports Illustrated remembrance of Johnny “YOU-ni-tass,” is but one example), or Chris Jones, who’s rightfully won a few National Magazine Awards for feature writing. His 2008 Esquire story, “The Things That Carried Him,” is the best piece of magazine feature writing I’ve ever encountered.

If you weren’t an editor, what would your dream job be?

Defensive back, Cleveland Browns.

One comment

  1. Lisa Thatcher Kresl

    Thinking of you and your Springsteen obsession as I watch the documentary while letting my 16 year old girl drive into the night. For football because it’s Texas.

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