Editors at Work: Philadelphia Magazine

Tom McGrath is chief content and strategy officer at Metro Corp., which publishes Philadelphia and Boston magazines.

How do you distinguish Philly Mag from your competitors?  

It’s not what we cover but how we cover it. Magazine writers have a point of view on the material whereas newspaper writers aren’t really in the story. They’re just presenting the facts. Magazine writers are encouraged to have a take on the story and bring a perspective and be engaging. We try to do that with our daily online stories too. We want the content to be fun, and we want to produce different stories.

Are there any advantages still to print?

For the print magazine, it’s still the best way to do longform journalism. No one wants to sit and read 5,000 words on their phone. It’s also more visually pleasing. It’s cooler to look at a beautiful photograph on a nicely printed magazine than it is on the tiny little screen on your phone. When it comes to print journalism, you can also be creative and in-depth.

How has the rise of digital media affected that print product?

Commercially, it’s affected advertising. The ad revenue for print has been flat for the past few years. However, ads on the website have gone up a lot. Digital has also affected the number of copies on the newsstand that have sold. I think digital media is just where people are getting their news from now. There’s not a need to pick up a magazine at the checkout line.

As a writer or editor, do you have one moment that has stood out to you as your biggest accomplishment?

Writing a book was fun. The day the box showed up with the first copies of the book was kind of cool.

What about in terms of Philly Mag?

I’m proud of the quality of the print magazine since I’ve been editor. We’ve won a whole bunch of awards since then. I’m also proud of the fact that we have been able to make this transition into the digital side of things. It wasn’t easy to do.

What do you look for in a potential writer for the magazine?

It’s a talent business. One of the things I look for when hiring is: Can you write? It sounds simplistic, but it’s the first thing I look for. The cover letter you send says something. Use it as an opportunity to write for me. Get the editor’s attention through the cover letter because I will dig down deeper.

Advice for students looking for jobs right out of college?

Start looking at smaller publications. They hire people without as much experience. I always tell people that you want any experience that you can get. An editor that wants to hire you wants to know you can do this, even if you weren’t paid for it.


Philadelphia Magazine offers editorial internships during the academic year and the summer. Internships are unpaid, and students must receive academic credit.

—Katie McLaughlin, ’16