Degree(s): MA '05
What does your job entail?
I am the editor of an independent magazine called Decât o Revista, or DoR. DoR (the title roughly translates as Just a Magazine) covers various aspects of modern Romanian life – social change, personal development, cultural trends, politics and technology. We produce a collectable magazine of stories because they are the tool we’ve decided to use to understand who we are, and where we wish to go. As editor I handle both editorial and administrative tasks. I assign stories, draft flatplans, approve illustrations, manage the budget, etc. Since we’re a small team, I’m pretty much a cross between a publisher, an editor-in-chief and an articles editor. Occasionally, I also get to write.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The best part of this job is the challenge. Creating a media product – especially one with a strong print DNA – in a country where long-form writing is still in its infancy is not easy. But I believe that stories can make us better people and help us lead better lives, so having that as a job requirement is the best thing I could ask for.
Was this the type of journalism career you had in mind while you were in the J-School?
Close enough. I came in dreaming of a job with a newsweekly. I graduated wishing I could write narrative journalism and in-depth pieces. Now I assign and edit these pieces, and I also teach narrative to budding reporters. I still hope there’ll come a day when I’ll get to report and write a little more.
What has been your greatest professional challenge? How has it changed the way you view journalism as a profession?
I’m facing it every day. The challenges I had as a reporter and writer sometimes seem trivial compared to the challenges of running a small magazine. I have to face everybody’s challenges and my occasional failures, as I can’t always find the best solution. I understand the importance of sales, distribution and how hard it is to strike the right balance between advertising and editorial. It hasn’t made me change my views on the importance of journalism, but it has made me appreciate the people who work behind the scenes to keep it alive.
How did you get started in your career?
I started writing in high school and freelanced a lot in college before coming to the U.S. for a master’s. Then, after graduation, I worked as a training coordinator for the Committee of Concerned Journalists and later as a reporter and junior editor at the Christian Science Monitor. Then, back in Romania, I began writing and editing for magazines. I guess my point is that I started with really wanting to write about the world. That still remains my goal.
What personal characteristics must a person have to succeed as a journalist?
Curiosity and enthusiasm. I am more and more convinced that these two are crucial. Because they can make for a good reporter. A good reporter is someone who is humble, hard working, thirsty for knowledge, honest (with himself and the audience) and willing to stand up for the principles he believes in.
Who do you aspire to be or look up to in your profession?
There are many people I admire in this profession. I admire Bill Kovach for his amazing integrity and passion for the craft. I admire Tom Rosenstiel for his wit and his stubborn desire to push the profession toward excellence. I love Ira Glass and “This American Life” for the best storytelling I have ever come across. I adore Tom Junod, Chris Jones, Gene Weingarten, Malcolm Gladwell and countless others. Anyone interested in narrative is a friend of mine.
How has your education at the Missouri School of Journalism helped you in your professional career?
Mizzou was the best thing that happened to me. It’s where I learned about storytelling. It’s also where I grew up and understood the role of this profession. They pushed me and challenged me and made me think harder about every story that anyone has done since. They raised the bar on every level.
What advantages has it given you?
The two years I spent in the newsroom of the Missourian were some of the best of my life. I came in as a foreigner who made tons of language faux-pas, and they didn’t quit on me. Many people going into that newsroom don’t understand the most important thing about it – if you want to push yourself and your journalism, the editors there will let you do it and will more often than not hold your hand in the process. Liz Brixey let me cover anything and everything I thought was interesting about MU. John Schneller trusted me to manage the calendar of Sunday cover stories. Tom Warhover was an inspiration throughout my time at MU; he is an amazing thinker and editor. I finished my time at the Missourian with a 20-page special section called the “Soul of Islam,” a project on which I worked with five photographers, two graphics reporters, a designer, a copy editor and a boat-load of editors. It was my idea, and the Missourian not only let me do it but worked hard to make it great. I can’t thank that team enough. The point is that anyone walking in that newsroom can do it if they want to and if they work for it. Where else do you get that kind experience when you are in your 20s?
What is one thing someone might not know about you?
I was an e-wrestling World Champion.
Since you have only been out of the J-School for a few years, do you have any advice for students interested in a career like yours?
It’s hard not to be corny when giving advice. What I always tell my reporters and students is that they should try. Yes, they should read the theory and wonder how it’d be like to do great pieces, but they should also be out there in the world experimenting, reporting, coding, taping, whatever. If you want to do journalism – no matter the form – you don’t need permission.
What tips do you have for recent graduates that are just getting started in their careers?
There’s a book by Joan Didion called, “We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live.” No matter how the form or delivery mechanisms will change, that will stay true. We need reporters to document the world around us. We need to learn about who we are and what we believe. So don’t spend too much time thinking about whether you’ll have a future in the business. Tell stories, and you’ll be fine.
Updated: November 9, 2011