Theodora Malison, ’15, ’16 M.A., is the managing editor of Suburban Life magazine.
Basically, my job is putting the whole book together. I work very closely with our editor in chief as well. My job is a lot of writing about different topics whether it’s fine dining, education, home improvement, health and fitness, and luxury living. I also manage the photography aspect of the publication. Because we distribute to four different regions, I have to pick all 25 magazine covers.
What does it take to be a good editor?
Anybody who works in publishing or journalism is constantly on deadline. Going into my second year, I’ve learned a whole different level of patience, whereas when I first started I used to be in panic mode. You can either panic, or you can sit back and realize this is the nature of the industry. To be a good editor, you not only have to be a good writer but you have to have a certain level of patience and you have to be level-headed because things are going to get crazy here and there.
What surprises you most about managing a magazine?
I’m actually always surprised at how we get a magazine out every month. We have an editorial meeting twice a week, and we always have a game plan for how we want to execute things, but nothing ever really goes to plan.
How do you approach stories when you know nothing about the topic?
When I first started with Suburban Life, my first story that I was assigned was on mold remediation. I didn’t know anything about mold remediation—I don’t even own a home—so sometimes you sit there and think what am I going to do? But again, you’re a journalist. It’s all about doing your research. When I got this mold remediation profile, I had to do a lot of research into this guy’s business: what areas he serves, what mold remediation was, what mold is toxic for you. You find out so many different things. We joke around at work and say we’re all like Snapple caps because we always have these random facts we know about things. It can be stressful, but if you have an open-minded approach, you’re going to learn something new, and everything will be okay in the end.
You worked as a magazine intern while you were a student at St. Joe’s. Now, you are in charge of interns. How do you measure whether an intern is up for an editing task?
Basically, like they say, you never know until you try. If I throw something at them, I’ll tell them to mark up the page, and if I see they’re getting things, then I know they’re on their way to being capable of handling larger responsibilities. But the reality is that we’ve had interns who haven’t gotten that far. If you see them missing basic grammatical errors or their writing isn’t up to speed with what we’re looking for, then we know they’re not ready. But it’s not to say you can’t help them and push them there. And that’s what I ultimately try to do: Push each intern that comes in to really put out their best work.
Suburban Life offers internships at its Marlton, New Jersey, office. For additional information, email Teddy Malison at email@example.com.
—Robert Cusella, ’14, ’19 M.A.