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From Local to National Publications, Size Doesn't Matter (Sort of)

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

What it's like to go from writing for a small town publication in Ohio to an internship at O, The Oprah Magazine.

by Katie Pittman

Despite being from and studying in a small town, I’ve always been surrounded by a multitude of publications. There are three newspapers, three local magazines, and a plethora of student-led magazines in Athens, Ohio. Thankfully, working for these local and student publications gave me the foundation I needed to start my internship at O, The Oprah Magazine. However, there are a ton of technical differences that come with working at a national publication that I often didn’t think about while working with at my local and student magazines.

Great writing basics are a necessity no matter the size of the publication. Luckily, the magazines I’ve worked at (Thread, Southeast Ohio, and Ohio Journalist) all have similar writing and fact checking standards compared to the ones we have at O. Each story is run through multiple rounds of copy editing and fact checking, passed along to editors in physical folders. Just like the other magazines I’ve worked at, there’s no joy like the final hand-off of a fact checked and copy edited story.

Although I had experienced the general copy editing and fact checking process, I had not experienced the madness that is ship week. I’ve worked with staffs of varying sizes, but I have never seen panic quite like that of when the magazine is about to go to press. Even more insane: when you experience the stopping of the presses. After a few copies of O were printed, they had to stop the presses after a small error was found after shipment. It was corrected and the issues stopped in time, but the terror in the office was palpable. However, I love the energy of working in an office with everyone who’s on the same page (sometimes literally).

Normally, I’ve produced magazines in small offices, classrooms, or in student organizations. I’ve worked with staffs as small as one (me, myself, and I creating a magazine prototype), five, and 25. But, on the other hand, I regularly work with a staff of over 100 students for Thread magazine, Ohio University’s fashion magazine, as editor-in-chief. Coming to a publication like O, I was expecting a huge staff full of photographers, stylists, writers, and designers. Much to my surprise, our office only has about 25 on the editorial side. We may be small, but the creativity and drive that comes from the O staff is absolutely inspiring. The high that comes from getting a finished issue in the office is hard to explain.

Once the upcoming issue is in our hands at the O office, everyone starts buzzing. Editors have seen stories a hundred times over, but there’s nothing like seeing it in print. Everyone is so supportive of each other, praising the hard work and long hours that go into every issue. I’m so thankful to be working for a publication that is uplifting in every aspect, and I cannot wait to carry what I’ve learned this summer back to my publications in Ohio.

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