Surrounded by balloons, photo stations, cupcakes and students at the journalism school, journalist Amy Odell shared her experiences redefining women's media in a Q&A on Tuesday.
Odell is a graduate of NYU and worked for many publications including New York Magazine, The Cut, Buzzfeed and, the most prestigious organization on her resume, Cosmopolitan as editor and designer of a new website. She spoke at the final Ed2010 Q&A with fourth-year journalism student Lexi Hill, who organized the event.
“Ed2010 is new to campus, it’s also a national organization, and our goal has always been provide an environment that was laid back and transparent so students could learn what they needed to learn before graduation so they were able to succeed in their career,” Hill said.
Ed2010 is a series of talks and networking events brought to the university by the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship. The crowd at Odell’s Q&A was made up of young women, primarily journalism students, looking to learn how to make a career out of journalism or be an entrepreneur in other fields.
“I thought it was really, really cool that you guys were bringing in this amazing national editor to campus and the opportunity to, at a student level and at a professional level, to just be able to listen to what she has to say, what’s her advice, how she got there and how can we learn from her tips,” USC graduate Ashley Cady said.
Freelance journalism is Odell’s current focus and may be for other students because of the changing face of media. Odell’s advice is to experiment and travel to wherever an event is or if something interesting happens.
“I think if you’re willing to go to events … and like rallies and going on the road, that’s really grueling, and that’s the sort of political journalism work that people don’t want to do past a certain age,” Odell said. “So when you’re young, get on the bus and hang out with a candidate.”
Social media helps publications brand themselves and share their content. Because Odell worked with both Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan, she understands the importance of social marketing and the platform social media can develop.
“I think if you don’t want to do Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat, pick a thing that you can do just kind of lean into that thing,” Odell said.
Odell has left her job at Cosmo and is getting ready to have a baby after finishing her first book. This book is entitled "Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider’s View from Inside the Fashion Industry" and tells stories from her life as a journalist.
“I did write the book when I first started at Cosmo, which was super hard. I basically wrote it on the weekends so I didn’t make any plans and I didn't have a social life,” Odell said. “I would stay home on the weekend and I wrote my book.”
Men’s and women’s magazines are very different in appearance and content. One of these differences is in the way stories are written and the picture they give of a person or the world, but according to Odell, one of the similarities is the quality of work they will start requiring in the near future.
“More places are really going to be investing in and reporting on high quality journalism because more places are trying to erect paywalls,” Odell said. “That’s the kind of content you need if you’re going to have a successful paywall.”
Hill hopes that students will take advantage of talks like ED2010 and the skills it gives new journalists. Journalism is a field that can scare students because of its low-pay, high-stress reputation, but Hill hopes that centering the talk around social media and empowering women.
“I think that media is changing and that is an awesome opportunity for all students because they have so much more opportunity when they go after graduation so I think learning from Amy’s freelance career and Amy’s book career is a really good opportunity,” Hill said. “Plus they can learn a little more about the social media side of running a women’s interest internet site.”
Odell and Hill ended the Q&A on a positive note telling students that they do have opportunities to go into media, regardless about what they want to cover or where they want to work.
“You guys are going to do great ... Hard work really will pay off, and you guys are all going to be fine. And don’t be afraid to go into journalism,” Odell said. “I feel like so many people are so afraid to pursue careers in media and journalism and it’s like, it’s so much fun. It’s the best.”