Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

Good Thinking! Editors Reveal Where They Get Pitch Ideas

By Christina Jedra

The ability to pitch ideas may be the strongest indicator of whether a whippersnapper sinks or swims in the magazine business, so it’s important that newcomers prove their worth by being constant sources of fresh ideas. But where can you find them, especially when so many mags work several months in advance of the publishing date? Some of Ed’s friends offer their tips:

Turn Science Into a Story
Lindsey Murray, editorial assistant at Health magazine, combs through a lot of scientific studies to find stories that health-minded readers would be interested in. (Websites like ScienceDaily.com and PubMed.gov are great for this.)

“One story that I wrote for the web came from a study I found on how watching cat videos on YouTube is associated with more energetic and positive moods,” Murray said. “I knew people loved cat videos and the fact that there was scientific data to back up this idea made me believe it was golden, and it was!”

Capture Everyday Moments
Gabrielle Hurwitz, editorial fellow at StyleMePretty.com, remembers one of her favorite stories she wrote when she was an editorial assistant at Cosmopolitan for the mag’s Manthropology section. For her, getting into the male mind was as easy as opening an app.

“I was on Tinder and noticed that over a third of the guys had a picture with a wild animal. Everything from snakes, tigers, elephants, and sharks.” she said. “I took that little tidbit and pitched the story, What Does the Wild Animal in His Picture Reveal About Him?”

It was a hit — and all it took was keeping her editor hat on in her everyday life.

“I try to stay super aware of things going on in my own life whether it’s a conversation between my friends or the guys I’ve gone on dates with. I take that and try to spin it so it feels fresh and new.”

Reinvent Topics That Have Been Covered
Melissa Bykofsky, associate editor at Parents magazine, relies on advice she once got from a grad school professor: “Don’t kick yourself if you can’t think of a brand new idea that no one’s talking about yet.”

Bykofsky compiles short pop culture-related news items for Parents’ front of book, and gets her ideas from reading industry news, blogs, and press releases. While many topics have been covered in one way or another before, her job is to bring something new to the already-existing conversation that will interest her readers: millennial moms.

“You’re not going to reinvent the wheel every time, and you don’t have to,” Bykofsky said. “What’s important is finding a new way to tell the story that hasn’t been done before.”

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