T&C‘s web editor, Sam Dangremond, discusses how he got his start in journalism and his go-to networking trick.
What is your career backstory? Did you always want to go into journalism?
I trace the beginning of my career to when Peter Frew, now the director of admissions at my boarding school, Taft, handed me a digital camera so I could shoot athletic events for the school paper and website. I discovered a love of photography that progressed into a passion for journalistic writing. I became the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, The Taft Papyrus, and knew that I wanted to focus on writing when I got to college. I wrote and shot for my college newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed the Columbia Publishing Course at Columbia Journalism School after I graduated. I can’t say enough great things about that course, because I really believe it launched my career in the magazine industry. (Our editor in chief at Town & Country, Jay Fielden, actually did the same course when it was based at Radcliffe, and we had one of the same instructors.) I got an internship at The Daily Beast and New York magazine, and I ended up staying at New York for about a year, reporting and fact-checking on a freelance basis. New York was the first place I worked in the online world, and I learned how to write quickly and succinctly under great editors like Helen Rosner, Jada Yuan, and Jared Hohlt. It was Jared who connected me to Hanya Yanagihara, who hired me at T&C in 2010 and has since gone onto become a world-famous novelist.
You worked at the student newspaper as an undergraduate in college. How did that prepare you for going into the magazine world after graduating?
The Daily Pennsylvanian is the de facto journalism department at Penn, and serving as a senior writer at the paper helped me build the reporting chops I use every day today. I was an English major, and I interned at two newspapers, The Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror and The Philadelphia Inquirer, during my college years. Those were very different places to work but both were incredibly valuable experiences. One taught me what it’s like to work at a local newspaper in one of the world’s prime summer spots and the other exposed me to the thrill of reporting for a major urban news outlet.
What drew you to web rather than print?
I spent about four-and-a-half years on the print side of T&C before moving to the digital division in June. One of the biggest draws of the web was the opportunity to work side-by-side with my friend Micaela English. Micaela launched our website in 2013 and had been running it with gusto as a one woman show until I transitioned to Hearst Digital to take over online news coverage. I was—and continue to be—excited about being able to report and publish stories on tight deadlines. I always used to want to be a newspaper reporter, but I love magazines, so working as an online magazine editor is basically the best of both worlds!
What is a typical day for a web editor?
I read a lot in the morning, looking for stories that might be a good fit for the site. Micaela, our social media editor Logan Sykes, our site director Michael Mraz, and I have a group chat that we keep going all day. We talk about stories that other outlets have covered and articles we’re working on. I typically write two to three stories a day, but some days are especially productive; for example, today I’ve written about the Frick Collection’s 80th anniversary, the sale of the world’s most expensive home, J.F.K.’s rocking chair going up for auction, and two studies, one that showed the richest person in each decade from their 20s to their 90s and another that found the most affordable times to visit the priciest destinations around the world. What’s nice about being a web editor is that I can work from anywhere, so if a news story develops after I’ve gone home for the night or over the weekend, I can still cover it from wherever I am. I love the pace of the Internet and the variety of the topics I’m able to cover. I might begin the day visiting a new clothing shop that our market editor, Will Kahn, has recommended and end it at a new cocktail bar or restaurant, since I serve as the de facto cocktail editor for the magazine.
What do you look for when hiring interns (or co-workers)?
A strong grasp of social media and a dynamic presence in real life. Both are key to thriving at a place like Town & Country.
What is your favorite piece you’ve published or contributed to? Why?
That’s a very tough question, since I’ve gotten to cover some incredible things in my tenure at T&C. A few that stand out were traveling to Burning Man, wearing a green Masters jacket around Grand Central Terminal, and reporting on a group of young people at Occupy Wall Street who were committed to giving away their trust funds. But if I had to pick my favorite story of 2015, it would be a piece I did about into Rao’s, the Italian institution in East Harlem where people pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of a reservation. I walked in on a cold and rainy night last winter and was able to talk Frank Pellegrino, one of the most charming men I’ve ever met, into giving me a table.
What is a networking tip you swear by?
Talk to everyone. And always be ready to talk about what you’re interested in. I’ve developed a lot of varied interests—I’m a pilot, an emergency medical technician, and a master scuba diver—and have realized that if you have a lot of interests you can always find something to talk to someone about. You never know where the conversation might lead.
What is your holiday season obsession?
I’ve become known as the resident mixologist in the office and like to mix cocktails here and at home as often as I can. Bourbon is my go-to winter tipple and on the bar cart at my desk right now are bottles from Michter’s, Bulleit, Kings County, Russell’s Reserve, and Hillrock Estate, all of which I like to sample from time to time—both neat and in cocktails. I worked on a project where we created a cocktail called the Town & Country (it’s basically a Manhattan/Old Fashioned hybrid), and this year I came up with the recipe for a cocktail kit that we sent out to advertisers. The drink is called The T&C Royal Ginger, and it’s comprised of bourbon, elderflower tonic, lemon juice, and ginger soda.
Photo: Joslyn Blair