And on the second day, no rest for us. A full day of keynote presentations and elective sessions.
— From Evan Ratliff, co-founder of The Atavist and the Longform podcast (who was superb): “We’ve just experienced a radical failure of comprehension. You can’t fix that with hard news. You fix that with stories.”
— More from Ratliff: If you are ever describing your story to someone, notice the first thing you tell them about it. And never take that thing out of the written piece.
— And more: Stories, deep meaningful stories, are essential to our primary mission, to engaging an audience in the only way that matters—sustained reading. And what matters is not the digital media metrics. “You’re trying to reach people. Clicks are not people. Tweets are not people. Downloads are not people.”
— Kerry Temple, Notre Dame Magazine: “A Notre Dame education does not end when students graduate. Notre Dame Magazine extends continuing education to them.”
— Temple again: “When I say we cover the institution, we cover the institution. We are not a mouthpiece for the administration.”
— And again: In anticipation of controversy over a story you want to do, address the concerns of your bosses early in the process. “Don’t get too far out in front of your blockers.”
— And: “When readers get the magazine, I want them to feel like they’re having a visit to campus.”
— Kat Braz, Purdue Alumnus: Question the rules about what’s acceptable in magazine design; you might find that you want to break some.
— More Braz: “Crop [photos] like a mofo.”
— Sean Plottner and Wendy McMillan, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine: Stop shooting pictures of professors and students standing next to a globe, a bookshelf, or an open laptop.
— More McPlottner: Stop worrying about stealing. Stop running crappy headshots. Stop with the boring history. Stop being so serious with science stories. Stop with all the meetings. Stop running cutesy author’s bios. Stop running editor’s notes. And stop using semicolons.
— Richard Rhys, Wharton Magazine, and Renee Olsen, TCNJ Magazine: Casual conversations with senior administrators over lunch are much more fruitful than office meetings.
— Matt Jennings, Middlebury Magazine: “Recording an interview frees you up to notice things the digital device doesn’t. That doesn’t mean get lazy.”
— Jennings again: “Have a good plan [for an interview], but plan on deviating from your plan. The interview subject is driving the train.”
— Madeleine Baran, American Public Media and the podcast In the Dark: “Start [reporting] by assuming you’re wrong.” Continue reporting until you’ve run out of good arguments for being wrong. Only then are you probably right.
— Some more Baran: “It’s not just about knowing the facts of a place. It’s also important to know the feel of a place.”