After an eventful week with HGTV involving having two of my ideas chosen to be featured in a September article, the lifestyle director complimenting my creative progress to the executive editor of the magazine, helping out with my first photo shoot, going on fabric runs, learning how to use Adobe Bridge to organize photos of products to be printed for presentation boards, and much more, I ended on a high note by attending my first of several “intern meetings.” HGTV magazine organizes many informal discussions throughout the term that focus each time on a different department of the operation. This first meeting was between me, the five other interns, and most of the staff that work in the edit, copy, and managing editorial departments. They each described their job threads that led them to where they are now, as well as the roles each of them perform on a daily basis. Not only was this meeting very informational, but it allowed me to get to know people who work for the magazine more personally. I’ve detailed what I learned in this short hour below:
At most magazines, these are two separate departments, but at HGTV they work together. This department is responsible for making sure that the magazine has a consistent voice and that there are no grammar or factual errors. They are the last eyes on every page of the magazine before it is sent out to the printer. Often times, freelancers are hired to do that fact checking for major or technical features.
Managing editors, known as MEs, help make sure everybody in every role knows and is part of a timeline and that everything gets done in time before the next step. In addition to scheduling, they are in charge of legal contracts, licensing, tracking the production process, creating the ship schedule (the ship dates when the magazine is released to the printer), some partnerships (like for advertising purposes), and staffing. The managing editors at HGTV do such an efficient job that most issues have a “rolling close,” which means that everything is done slightly early and doesn’t require late night cramming before the issue needs to be released to shipping. Many of the employees in attendance at this meeting told us that it is really common at a lot of publications to be at the office until 3 in the morning the night before shipping, but this has never happened at HGTV. HGTV magazine has also never had a late fine from Hearst, which occurs when there are major production delays.
The edit staff are simply the ones that make the copy (writing). For larger features, they write the approved article and then send it to the art department for formatting. For segments that have lots of photos and only small amounts of text here and there, the art department creates the layout and inputs dummy text. Then, the edit team will write copy to fit the designated text areas.
Life Advice and General Information
Several of the staff members told us, including one person who is both an editorial assistant and the assistant to the editor-in-chief, that assistant jobs for “high up” employees are good first jobs because you have to make connections with everyone that needs to interact with the person you are creating schedules for and helping. It’s a major networking boost. In terms of affording to live in a major city like New York on a low-paying salary, they suggested selling your car if you have one, stacking up on roommates (a member of the Copy/Research department told us she once had 6 roommates in the city; one man who was sleeping on their couch for a few weeks is now an editor-in-chief of another magazine), and considering moving slightly outside of the city.