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Magazine

Magazine journalism at Medill has a storied history that has grown, adapted and embraced changes in the industry through the decades. Our alumni have launched print magazines, become editors in chief at big circulation glossies, won awards for feature writing, launched podcasts, built complex video features and become leaders in digital media. Medill Magazine students learn how to apply magazine thinking—story ideation, reporting, feature writing and editing, and more—to topics ranging from politics to sports, to finance, celebrities, food and fitness, and to do so in any storytelling medium.

About the Magazine specialization

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Students who join the Magazine specialization have varied goals—a passion for writing nonfiction features, or editing a fashion website or inventing new media platforms. Yet all of them put good storytelling at the core of their education. The Magazine specialization emphasizes learning the many different ways to tell stories as well as teaches you how to develop a single article, exploring the nuances of reporting, writing, building and editing a cohesive long-form narrative piece.

The Magazine specialization starts in the fall quarter.

Why magazine journalism?

In-depth narrative journalism is nuanced and complex. Although it takes time and dedication to master, the best pieces stir emotions and transport the reader or viewer to the scene or into the shoes of your main character.

The stories you remember are often those that brought a unique character to life, or vividly dropped you into a new world through deep reporting and eloquent writing. Whether text, audio, video, social or all four, audiences are hungry for narrative experiences.

Our graduates find jobs at consumer and trade publications, digital news sites, start-ups and even Fortune 500 companies because they know how to frame and build good stories.

What will I learn?

In this specialization, you’ll learn the ins and outs of print and digital magazine publishing, from pitch development to writing to production. You’ll take a deep dive into a newsworthy topic or topics, investing time into learning about a controversy, location, character or issue. You’ll have the freedom to pursue whatever interests you. Your writing might take the form of a personality profile, an explainer, an analysis, an op-ed or memoir. You’ll learn about each style and begin developing your own personal voice.

In addition, you’ll learn how to produce a multimedia piece that incorporates video, audio, photography and graphic elements. Our Chicago space offers the latest cameras and equipment.

Our experienced faculty, who have written for top-tier magazines, work closely with students on their pieces and publish them on the Medill News Service site–a good way to get “clips” that showcase in-depth, professional-quality reporting and writing. They also help students learn how to pitch their ideas to local and national publications.

Our Faculty

Patti Wolter

Patti Wolter

Wolter spent 22 years working as an editor or freelance writer in the investigative and women’s health spaces, including working in senior level jobs at Mother Jones magazine and Self magazine. At Medill, she specializes in magazine editing, narrative structure and health and science writing.

Charles Whitaker

Charles Whitaker

Charles Whitaker is dean and professor at Medill. Whitaker was one of the rotating directors of Medill’s graduate Magazine Publishing Project, an enterprise in which teams of students developed a new magazine or worked in collaboration with an existing publishing company to reinvigorate the editorial and business approach of an existing magazine.
Douglas Foster

Douglas Foster

Foster is a former newspaper reporter, magazine editor, television correspondent and documentary producer who now teaches feature writing. Before joining Medill, he was editor of a national magazine for five years.

Chris Benson

Chris Benson

Benson is a journalist, lawyer and former Johnson Publishing Company vice president. He co-authored a book with Emmett Till's mother about the teenager's life and brutal lynching and the changes that followed.

Mei-Ling Hopgood

Mei-Ling Hopgood

Hopgood is a freelance journalist and writer who has written for various publications, ranging from the National Geographic Traveler and Marie Claire to the Miami Herald and the Boston Globe. 

Alex Kotlowitz

Alex Kotlowitz

Kotlowitz is the author of four books, including the national bestseller "There Are No Children Here." A former staff writer for The Wall Street Journal, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and This American Life. 

Steven Thrasher

Steven Thrasher

Thrasher has worked as writer-at-large at the Guardian, staff writer at the Village Voice, and facilitator for the NPR StoryCorps project. His articles are regularly published in the New York Times, BuzzFeed News, Esquire, the Nation, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Daily Beast. He’s also a former researcher for Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update.”
Peter Slevin

Peter Slevin

Slevin spent a decade on The Washington Post’s national staff and is currently a contributing writer for The New Yorker, focusing on national politics. He teaches classes on politics and the media; the U.S. role in world affairs; and reporting strategies on current events, from the 2020 presidential campaign to the intersection of policing and race in Chicago.
Karen Springen

Karen Springen

Springen spent 24 years at Newsweek as a correspondent and she reported on stories about a wide range of topics. Over the years, she has published pieces in Publishers Weekly, Reader’s Digest, Elle, Marie Claire and more.

Your Medill Experience

Student looking at laptop

Curriculum

Choose from courses in freelancing, business-to-business media, news graphics and design, narrative structure and magazine editing. We also offer an innovation project that allows you to develop and launch a new magazine or work with an existing company to create a new product or re-imagine an existing publication.

Learn about the curriculum
Chicago skyline at sunset

Chicago

Chicago is a writer’s city, where opportunities for magazine-style writing abound. Prominent top-tier magazines were developed and published in Chicago, including Ebony and Jet. Our downtown Chicago space features sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the latest technology—the perfect setting for you to learn the craft of magazine writing and improve your techniques.

Learn about Medill's Chicago campus
Student group off campus

Medill Explores

Immerse yourself in a magazine journalism project by participating in Medill Explores. Led by faculty and staff, Medill Explores features week-long experiences that can take you to national or international locations.

Learn about Medill Explores
Group panel discussion in auditorium

Medill Fridays

Broaden your learning beyond the classroom during Medill Fridays, where magazine writers and freelancers provide honest insight into their careers and about the future of the industry.

Learn about Medill Fridays
Student getting advice from Career Services

Career Services

Our Career Services team can connect you with alumni and industry partners working for top-tier magazines as well as companies outside the media world that are embracing long-form storytelling as a way to connect with customers. Knowing how to create and curate meaningful content can open doors at prominent organizations.

Learn about Career Services

Our Alumni

Erica Duecy (MSJ03)

Erica Duecy
Editor-in-Chief and Chief Operating Officer
VinePair

Clara Jeffery (MSJ93)

Clara Jeffery
Editor-in-Chief
Mother Jones magazine

Katherine LaGrave (MSJ11)

Katherine LaGrave
Digital Features Editor
AFAR Media

Evan Smith (MSJ88)

Evan Smith
CEO and Co-Founder
The Texas Tribune

Laura Schocker (BSJ08, MSJ09)

Laura Schocker
Editor-in-Chief
Apartment Therapy

Gillian B. White (MSJ13)

Gillian B. White
Deputy Editor
The Atlantic

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